Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Costco sells a little bit of America

I finally made it to Costco recently, as my mother-in-law has a membership.  There was a buzz about it on a facebook site, I frequent, called American Ex-pats in UK.  I needed to see how much of America they really stock here in UK.  There were some nice surprises like finding Carters Clothing, pajamas and playwear for young children and infants. Other American items I noticed were Poppycock, Paul Newman's grape juice, various hershey chocolates, skippy peanut butter, chicken of the sea tuna and everything bagels. I was most impressed with the lunch cafe'.  Probably the cheapest place I've ever eaten in the U.K.---baked (jacket) potato with tuna for £1.25 and hot dog with unlimited soda for about the same.  Worth a scooch if someone you know is already a member.  

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Tesco Sells American Beef

While British Farmers are outraged that Tesco is selling American beef, I am overjoyed.  I have lived in Europe for 12 years now and find eating continental and UK beef a challenge.  I find it is tougher and less flavourful than American Beef.  The reason is that American beef is grain (corn) feed and British beef is grass fed. Supposedly the Americans also use hormones and tenderizing agents, although the Tesco imports are supposedly free of these. I ordered my American (branded Black Angus Sirloin or Ribeye) beef online.( Only some of the bigger Tescos carry it in store).  It is about $18 a pound (£24.99 per kilo) for the rib eye and a little less for the sirloin.  Definitely a bit dearer than buying a British ribeye which is around $11.50 per pound (£15.99 per kilo) and a whole lot dearer than American supermarket prices that range from $6-10 a pound.  Mind you, I won't be eating American steak every week but now prefer the every once in a while treat of a steak, at home with a baked potato and Caesar salad.  

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Lands End Outlet

Finally months of gentle persuasion (nagging) paid off with hubby taking me to a day out to the Lands' End outlet this past weekend. Truth be know, I've never shopped at Lands' End before but had looked on it's online catalogue.  It had a feel of a sportier Gap.  In the end, we spent 2 hours in Lands' End and didn't make it to any of the other shops. We had hoped to find some winter coats for the girls but their coat stock seemed low. Most of the tags said they were catalogue returns but we were pleased with the quality. My husband got 2 jeans for £20 and the kids still got some reasonably priced jeans, t-shirts and shoes. Nothing for me this time, except the experience and unexpectedly an A & W root beer from an oriental cafe' across the way.   
May 2013 Update- as Land's End no longer in Maidenhead, Check out this website to see the location nearest to you..,en_GB,pg.htm
Also, have a look at Debenhams next time you are in, as they are starting to carry Lands' End merchandise.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Whoopie pies

Just a little bloggie about a whoopie pie I found the other day.  It was at our local Co op. made by the cutely named United Cakes of America.  It is the first whoopie pie I've ever tried, so I don't have much to go on but I thought it was pretty nice.  It wasn't too sweet (which is usually my complaint when it comes to buying store bought) and had a nice caramel flavor.

Country Markets

Country markets are a much smaller version (think church hall) of a farmers market but sell a lot of the same things.  It took me over 5 years to discover the one in my town ,so it is almost a word of mouth kind of place.  It was originally started by the W.I. and some have been around for 25+ years. There are over 250 country markets throughout the U.K. with 10 markets in Oxfordshire.  Some of the slightly bigger ones in Oxfordshire are Wallingford, Abingdon and Eynsham. I started baking for the country markets this past spring. A friend of a friend was already doing it, so that helped to get me going.  I had visions of having a little homebaking business and also selling American kitchen products. Fastforward to now and I bake once a week for our local market.  I cover my costs and make a little but it is really just a hobby for now. I do mostly brownies and recently started doing pies.  I've done apple and pear, summer fruits, wild plum and apple and hoping to do wild blackberry and apple this week.   I've had some weeks where it has been slow and not much has sold and then other weeks where I sell out.  My kids think its great because they know at least once a week the house will smell gorgeous with baking and have deemed themselves the official tasters!  I can recommend country markets as either joining as a baker or trying it out as a consumer. For even more info go to