Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harry Potter Food Week 2!

It's almost time.  Are you guys ready?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
comes to theaters on July 15th, 2011.  This movie marks the end of a series of 8 movies spanning across 10 years.  It is the last vestige of a beloved fictional story, which first came to life on a train in Kings Cross Station, London, 20 years ago.  This concluding film marks the end of an era for dedicated fans everywhere.  Many of us grew up with Harry, and with each Hogwarts year that he matured, we also matured.   Others got to work backwards, starting at adulthood and reliving their childhood dreams through each page.  Still others discover their love of the Wizarding World each day, even now.  Young and old across the earth have found a friend and a hero in Harry Potter.  And now, we must say goodbye.

Those who haven't read it don't get it.  There are also those who just couldn't get into it.  For them, the only reason to celebrate this last movie is because the Pottermania will finally be over.  That's fine.  But for us fans, Harry Potter will never really end, because it isn't just a story.  It's a world of learning and growth, of laughter and tears.  On those books' pages, we learned the value of courage, wisdom, loyalty, and ambition; of sacrifice, friendship, and love.  It's the magical realm where we decided exactly where we stood in our own lives, morally and intellectually, and realized our true potential as human beings.  I know the story has it's limits -- it's a fictional universe, after all -- but I would go so far as to say that in some measure, either small or large, Harry Potter defined our lives.

With that in mind, fellow friends and fans, I propose that we celebrate the end of this saga in a manner that truly reflects how dear the series is to us. If we have to say farewell, let's go out in style!

So we are introducing part two of our Harry Potter cookery.  Anna and I have been planning out the best selections from the books (that Julie and I haven't already covered during our first Harry Potter Food Week) in order to provide you with as many delicious options as possible during your last hurrah with Harry.  We have about two weeks worth of recipes that we are definitely going to share with you (so those of you who cringe at the word "wizard," it's probably best if you avoid the blog for the first half of July).  That's right, when we say this is Harry Potter Food Week 2, we not only mean that it's the second installment, but that it will last 2 weeks.   This should be enough time and build up that you readers can cook up some of the food for yourselves before the big premiere.

However, we would like you to help with a few recipes we are having a hard time narrowing down.  In the left sidebar is a poll.  We have a few choices for you, and you can select the treat which you would most like to see us make.  Reminder: we are cooking a lot more than just those options, so don't fret if the thing you really want us to make isn't there.  However, if you're really worried that we'll miss your favorite Potter treat, please leave a comment on this post with your suggestions.  If it's not already in our list of foods we're for sure going to cook, we'll add it to the poll.  When the poll expires on July 7th at 11:59 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, we'll whip up the recipe with the most votes.

In the meantime, however, I still have 2 or 3 more posts for the tea party to finish up this week. So don't go away just yet, Anti-Potter people!  We've got something for everybody.

Update: Here are the foods we made for Harry Potter Food Week 2:
If you would like to look at the Harry Potter recipes we did back in November for the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 opening, check out our first Harry Potter Food Week post.

P.S. Remember this image?

It occurred to me that other fans might like to have this image as well.  I spent quite a lot of time on it, and I would hate for it to go to waste, so I thought I'd share it with you.  If you would like a "Harry Potter Addicts Anonymous" badge for your blog/site during the close of the Harry Potter season, feel free to use this html code:
<a href="http://ataleof2foodies.blogspot.com/2011/06/harry-potter-food-week-2.html"><img src="http://i478.photobucket.com/albums/rr150/Holtemore/HarryPotterAddictsAnonymousbadge-1.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket" /></a>
The link leads back to this entry, so anyone who follows it will be able to get one, too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

English Tea Party: Tea Bread

I love the British.  They’re so interesting with their odd names for things.  For instance, this is called tea bread:
Not a very good shot, sorry.

...which more has the consistency of cake.  

Which is not to be confused with teacakes...

...that have the consistency of cookies.  

And cookies, in the UK, are called biscuits.  Whereas biscuits in America look like this:

Which are much more similar to muffins in England...

...which are nothing like our muffins. 

It’s all delightfully confusing.  And that's without bothering to bring up any mix-ups with bacon, chips, or jelly (and don’t worry, we’ll address those things in a couple of weeks). 

Of course, we can’t go getting annoyed at the British for their odd names.  After all, we named our food long after they named theirs.  And for the most part, we renamed stuff just for the sake of being different from the British.  I blame Noah Webster, who wrote the first set of American dictionaries, the most notable one published in 1828, and changed the spelling of a bunch of stuff in order to celebrate American nationalism.  It was a nice enough idea, I suppose, and it is convenient to not have to worry about superfluous U’s in words like “color” or “favorite.”  But it’s good to remember that, while some aspects of British culture seem odd to us, we were the ones who actually changed stuff.

Tangent over.  Back to tea bread.  Julie chose this recipe because it has chocolate in it.  I approved.  It was my second favorite treat we made after the teacakes.  It’s delicious, and super easy.  You should try it, too!

Conversions for weird British recipes (And I feel justified in saying "weird" since they're the ones who switched to metric on us.  We still use the English system!): 225 grams = 8 ounces = 1 cup = 16 tablespoons.  Therefore, 2 tbsp = 1 oz and 3 oz = 6 tbsp, or ¼ cup + 2 tbsp.

Follow the links for caster sugar and self-raising flour if you need substitutes for those ingredients.  For caster sugar, you have to scroll down a bit.

Marbled Chocolate Teabread
Servings: about 10 slices
225 g (8 oz) butter – 2 sticks/1 cup
225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
225 g (8 oz) self-raising flour
finely grated rind of 1 large orange
15 ml (1 tbsp) orange juice
few drops orange flower water (optional)
75 g (3 oz) plain chocolate
15 ml (1 tbsp) cocoa powder

  1. Grease a 900 ml (2 pint) loaf tin and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour.
  3. Transfer half of the mixture to another bowl and beat in the orange rind, juice and orange flower water, if using.
  4. Break the chocolate into pieces, put into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water . Stir until the chocolate melts. (Or heat up for 2o seconds in the microwave, stir, and repeat until chocolate is melted.  Careful not to burn it!)  Stir into the remaining cake mixture with the cocoa powder.
  5. Put alternate spoonfuls of the two mixtures into the prepared tin. Use a knife to swirl through the mixture to make a marbled effect, then level the surface.
  6. Bake at 180°C (350°F) mark 4 for 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours, until well risen and firm to the touch. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool. Serve cut in slices.

Zesting is such a pain.

Aww... I miss Julie.

Mixing chocolate into chocolate portion

Wow, my bangs were outta control.  It looks like I have a small mammal on my forehead!

Yay us!  Adding alternating spoonfuls of each portion.

Look at that beauty!

It’s so easy, and so yummy!  I love that chocolate orange flavor.  If you love that flavor combo, too, try this and let me know what you think!  You'll come to understand why Gwendolen preferred bread over cake, because this stuff is pretty darn yummy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

English Tea Party: Teacakes

And we’re back!  Sorry you haven't had a food post from me in so long.  It’s been pretty crazy at my house with lots (anywhere between 2 and 10) of my nieces and nephews running around in the last month or so.  It was loads of fun!  But now we’re back to normal.  Time for tea! 

I don’t remember if Julie mentioned this, but we did base our tea party on a particular piece of literature.  As many of you know, tea is an essential part of English culture, so we could have pulled our recipes from just about any British book.  We focused our search to the Victorian Era of literature (during Queen Victoria’s reign, 1837-1901) and chose to settle on one of the most hilarious plays ever written, and certainly the funniest from the Victorian Era: The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde.

I’m sure anyone who has seen the play or movie is bouncing up and down with excitement.  If you are unfamiliar with this play, I’ll give you a quick synopsis.  Be warned – you might get a little confused.  It’s the nature of the play. (For those who have read/seen the play, you can skip this next paragraph.)

Jack Worthing lives a boring life in the country, and so pretends he has a wayward brother named Ernest, who often gets into trouble so that Jack must go to London to sort out his problems.  While in London, Jack calls himself Ernest so he can party with his good friend Algernon and court his love, Gwendolen.  Algernon, in turn, has an overpowering aunt that he likes to run away from, so he has invented a dear sickly friend named Bunbury who he must go to the country and attend to often.  One day, Algernon learns Jack’s secret that his real name is not Ernest, and also that Jack has a young and beautiful ward, named Cecily, who lives at his home in the country.  So Algernon tells everyone that he is going to visit poor sickly Bunbury, and then sneaks off to Jack’s home to meet Cecily.  There, Algernon introduces himself as Jack’s younger brother, Ernest, and he and Cecily quickly fall in love.  Chaos quickly ensues when Gwendolen comes to the country and meets Cecily, and they both profess to be in love with “Ernest.”

There’s so much more to the story.  Every line is packed with wit, and the plot is intricately woven with heavy irony.  I highly recommend watching the newer movie, which has Colin Firth as Jack, Rupert Everett as Algernon, Frances O’Connor as Gwendolen, and Reese Witherspoon as Cecily.  These actors are amazing, and they leave you howling with laughter as you watch.  It’s also fairly true to Wilde’s original script.

The following scene is my favorite part in the play, when Cecily and Gwendolen think they are both engaged to the same man, Ernest.  As such, they are very upset with each other.

Cecily: May I offer you some tea, Miss Fairfax?
Gwendolen: [with elaborate politeness] Thank you. [Aside.] Detestable girl! But I require tea!
Cecily: [Sweetly.] Sugar?
Gwendolen: [Superciliously.]  No, thank you.  Sugar is not fashionable any more. [Cecily looks angrily at her, takes up the tongs and puts four lumps of sugar in the cup.]
Cecily: [Severely] Cake or bread and butter?
Gwendolen: [In a bored manner.]  Bread and butter, please.  Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays.
Cecily: [Cuts a very large slice of cake, and puts it on the tray.]  Hand that to Miss Fairfax.
[Merriman does so, and goes out with footman.  Gwendolen drinks the tea and makes a grimace.  Puts down cup at once, reaches out her hand to the bread and butter, looks at it, and finds it is cake.  Rises in indignation.]
Gwendolen: You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake.  I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far. (Wilde 2250-51)
Soon after this, Algernon and Jack enter to reveal that actually neither of them are called Ernest, which leads to an even bigger upset.  It’s greatness!

Okay, so you may have noticed that this scene deals with tea.  This is largely what we based our tea party menu on (although there’s another piece to this scene that I’ll address in a later post, which includes even more teatime treats).  Julie already told us about tea and butter.  Now we’re going to talk about cake, and tomorrow bread.

When we originally put this tea party together, I was searching for a teacake recipe, not a cake recipe, because “teacake” was mentioned in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (this was before we settled on just using Importance of Being Earnest).  Teacake is different from cake – it’s more like a thick shortbread cookie.  So it doesn’t really go with what’s mentioned specifically in the scene from Earnest, but it is a classic English teatime treat.  And trust me, you do NOT want to miss out on these babies!  They were a huge hit at our little party.

English Tea Cake
(Source: AllRecipes)
Yields: 30
2 cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
Walnut halves
Strawberry Jam
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls into greased muffin cups; flatten slightly. You have two options for the center:
    1. Press a walnut half into the center of each. Press down the edges with a fork.  Sprinkle a little nutmeg on top.
    2. Separate each tablespoon of dough into 1/3 and 2/3 portions.  Press the 2/3 into the bottom of the muffin tin.  Drop a teaspoon of strawberry jam onto the center.  Then take the 1/3 portion, flatten it on your palm, and poke a hole in the center of it with your finger.  Lay the 1/3 portion on top of the 2/3 portion so that the hole reveals the strawberry jam.  You can mold the dough to make the hole look nice and neat.  Press down the edges with a fork.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans and placing onto wire racks.  Caution: Jam centers will be very hot!
Click here to view this recipe's Nutrition Facts.

Mixing dough

Julie adding walnut halves.  Don't her fingernails look fabulous?

Creating the top 1/3 for the strawberry jam teacakes

We did a half recipe, which seemed like plenty as we were baking them.  However, these little treats were the first to go!  They were absolutely delicious, and I’ve been craving them ever since.  And the great part is, they’re super easy and don’t use that many ingredients.  I highly recommend you try them, too!  Seriously, of all the sweets I’ve made for this blog, this is definitely my favorite.  I think cake is rarely seen in the best houses because it’s eaten up immediately!

Be sure to watch or read The Importance of Being Earnest!  You won’t regret it!  If you would like a little taste of what the tea scene is like acted out, click here to watch a clip from the movie (go to 8:51 to start at the beginning of the scene, 12:44 to just watch the part that I quoted).  Enjoy!

Work Cited
Wilde, Oscar. "The Importance of Being Earnest." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt, et al. 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2006. 2222-2263

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Julie's Gone... Now What?!

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since Julie reported to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  She’ll be shipping off to Denmark sometime in August.  Very exciting stuff!  If you're not LDS and you want to know why Julie (or any Mormon for that matter) chose to serve a mission, feel free to visit Mormon.org for more info.

Naturally, since Julie is gone for the next year and a half, A Tale of 2 Foodies has to change its dynamic a bit.  Julie mentioned a little bit of what’s going to happen in the previous post. I’ll explain a little bit more. 

I will still be posting new recipes from literature regularly (my goal is at least once every two weeks – hopefully much more).  Julie is planning to send along cool food info and possibly recipes from Denmark.  I don’t know how much she can tell us about Denmark before she gets there, but for now the plan is a quick howdy from the Land of the Danes once a month.

Now, this blog is a lot of work to keep up by myself, but I definitely want there to be as much cool food/literature posted on here as often as possible.  So I’m recruiting help. 

First: I’ve invited a close friend and ex-roommate from Southern Virginia University, Anna, to help write stuff on the blog.  Don’t worry; I got permission from Julie first.  There’s no usurping of authorship here.  :)   Anna is a Dietetics major at BYU Provo, and is an amazing cook.  She knows tons of cool cooking techniques, as well as the science behind food, so she’s an excellent person to have on hand as a recurring guest on A Tale of Two Foodies.  We hope to hear from Anna at least once a month. 

Second: I’m offering you guys the chance to be authors as well.  Do you love to cook?  Do you love to read?  Would you like to pitch in a post to our humble blog?  The fact of the matter is, there are countless books out there, and everyone has their own genre preferences.  So the more varied literature and food we have, the more awesome our collection of recipes will be!

We need your help!!

If you would like to submit a blog post, please email ataleof2foodies@hotmail[dot]com with the subject “Guest Foodie.”  If you have the perfect recipe from a piece of literature, but you don’t want to write for the blog, please email me your ideas!  You can also leave a comment on any post and I’ll get the message.  Any input would be fantastic!

Basically, the point of this whole post is to say that we’re going to work hard to have a post up every week.  The more input/ideas we get, the more often we can post.  So help us make this blog a regular hub for avid readers and foodies alike!  Send us stuff!

I suppose now the blog name is a little inaccurate.  It should be A Tale of 2 Foodies and Their Awesome Friends. I hope you readers know that both Julie and I love you guys and especially love hearing from you.  We’ve been having so much fun on our food blog adventure and hope that you are, too!

Thanks so much for reading.  We’ll get back to our regular programming shortly.  (There’s still more of the tea party to report on.  Be excited!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Danish Dessert and 'Farvel'!

Okay, I wish I had more time to post more of the tea party...but I'm going to have to leave you in the very capable hands of Mary Julia. Getting all the stuff ready for a mission has been a ton of work and extremely time consuming! Not to mention all the goodbyes that I've had to say.
I can't make this a long post, because I'm not supposed to be on the computer long, but the plan for the next year and a half is that I'll find some cool Danish recipes while on my mission in Denmark and send them back! I hope to see you all in 18 months!
Without further ado, here is Danish Dessert

It came in a box and I followed the directions...woohoo! It was a lot like Jell-o but more tart. It said on the box it was made in New Jersey or something...so that was a disappointment. It told me to add strawberries or raspberries and I happened to have some! It thickened really quick and was REALLY bright red. I enjoyed it and so did my parents! I would have gotten Cool Whip for it though, to add a little more sweetness. It would have been neat as a parfait too!

I made two other Danish recipes lately for my Farewell party. I unfortunately didn't take pictures...but I'll post the recipes here really quick!

This first one is Risalamande which is a almond and rice pudding with cherry sauce. It is traditionally served at Christmas and oh my gosh! I could eat it everyday. It was surprisingly easy and sooooo delicious! I can't wait until Christmas in Denmark!


This second one didn't give much information about its origin. They are called Danished Glazed Mushrooms and they were also delicious and SUPER easy!


I hope to come back to many followers who have become big fans of our blog! I hope Mary doesn't get mad at me for contributing so little! 'Farvel' for 18 months, blogosphere!