When my husband was first offered a job in England, we felt we needed to mull it over for a couple of days. It was a good job, with the potential of becoming a great job so we jumped on it. After months of preparation, which included two garage sales and the birth of our second child, we somehow found ourselves on the outbound platform of the Gatwick Express at 6 am, in the middle of January, with two young children, six large suitcases, a stroller, two car seats, and a partridge in a pear tree. Our little caravan then made its way to Victoria Station. From there we took a taxi to St. Pancras, where we boarded the Midland Mainline, rode it to its termination point and caught another taxi to our new address.
Finally, twenty hours after leaving Houston, we were in Nottingham in the little flat that my husband had called home for the few months prior to our arrival. He had decorated the children’s room like only a dad can. He had purchased the smallest crib that I had ever seen, dressed our daughter’s bed in a mature looking light gray and white duvet and tacked a couple of Disney posters on the wall. I was really quite amazed that he had managed to arrange all of this in a room the size of my walk-in closet back in the States. After a quick survey of our new surroundings, I deemed the flat adequate for the short time we would be there before we could find a more family friendly abode. The kitchen had everything I needed, a stove, microwave, refrigerator and washer. The only problem was that the appliances were on a scale for Barbie and Ken’s life in the UK, not ours. Oh well, I decided to worry about that tomorrow because the new found sensation of jetlag had set in and I felt like I had been hit by a truck.
On the trip over, the four of us had amassed a small mountain of dirty clothes so first thing the next morning, I got started. At first I was delighted to see that the washer was also a dryer. How clever! After fifteen minutes or so of studying the Martian looking symbols on the dial, I slammed the door shut on the handful of clothes that fit inside. Once I figured out where the detergent went, I started it up and got on with my other housekeeping chores. Three hours later, our clothes were still being tossed inside the tiny machine. Finally, out of sheer frustration, I managed to pry the door open to check the clothes on the inside. I was totally dismayed to discover that my husband’s jeans were half wet, half French fry. At this stage in my life I had become quite the laundress so I knew that there was only one thing to do; douse them with water and start all over again.
With the laundry going for the next few hours, I bundled up the children and made the trek from our flat to the Sainsbury’s that was located across the street. Once at the entrance, I was amazed to see that the trolleys were all threaded together in some manner that was so confounding, I didn’t even attempt it after the washer ordeal. Thank goodness for hand baskets. Basically the only thing I recognized in the entire building was the produce. I have to say, I was truly amazed at the beauty and variety of the fruits and vegetables. I was mostly amazed, and still am, by the beauty that is English bacon. America could learn a thing or two from England in the bacon category. Of course, England could learn a thing or two from America in the Tex-Mex category. Corn tortillas in a can are just unnatural in my opinion but hey, any old port in a storm.
It took us a few months, but we found a big beautiful home, figured out the trolleys, met new friends and yes, I learned to drive, and no one got hurt. Most importantly, we learned to bloom where we were planted.
When we needed a bit of comfort, I’d make the recipe I'm sharing with you here. It’s a reflection of my roots in south Texas. Since it's on the milder side, it appeals to everyone. I hope you enjoy it and it brings you a bit of comfort too.