Growing up in Florida and having lived in England for nearly three years now, I’ve had my fill of ‘firsts’ and it sure does keep things exciting. It’s a good laugh for the people around me, and I like to think it keeps things interesting. Like celebrating my first UK pancake day with my brother-in-laws and cooking them the only way I knew how – big, thick American diner-style portions piled high with whipped cream, syrup and Nutella. If you’re British or live in the UK, you’re probably shaking your head right now… or salivating.
Any expat living abroad knows that there are true hardships that come along with living in a country that isn’t your own, but when they tell you that the good times outweigh the bad, they are in my case telling you the truth. When the occasional case of homesickness kicks in, I’ve learned it’s good to stick to your roots. Whether it’s catching up with an expat friend for a coffee and a chat or calling home to just talk about the day you’ve had. But for me, nothing soothes a home-sore soul more than cooking a dish that’s nostalgic to your own culture and home.
Growing up in my family house, the Fourth of July included every patriotic cliché imaginable – barbecue, sunshine, a swimming pool and country music blaring over fireworks. Say what you want, but it’s a cracking good day and it’s up there as far as food is concerned. Living in London, I’ve learned to embrace the ‘American’ and it has served me well. For the most part, I think people appreciate that and expect certain things so it’s exactly what I give them. Dished out and served up in the form of the annual Thanksgiving dinner I put on for my British friends and family. Or my mother’s homemade pulled pork, potato salad and baked beans dish…
Mom’s slow cooker pulled pork with homemade baked beans and potato salad
yield: about four servings
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
One Boston Butt (pork shoulder joint)
Mojo Marinade (You can buy this or make your own. I used this simple recipe for it here.)
Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce (You can order online in the UK here.)
Brioche buns or pretzel buns
Pour mojo marinade over the meat and slow cook on high for four to six hours, or until tender. When done, pour out marinade leaving a small amount in the slow cooker for taste. On a separate dish, pull pork apart then transfer back into the slow cooker. Add your favourite BBQ sauce to the slow cooker (mine is Sweet Baby Ray’s!) Then let warm for about a half an hour or until you’re ready to serve.
Southern U.S. Baked Beans
2 cans or one bag of navy beans also known as haricot beans
1-2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 medium sweet onion
1/4 cup unsulphered molasses (or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup of ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard
Pre-heat oven to 325 f or 160 c. Pour beans into a medium pot. In a skillet, add diced bacon, onion and garlic. Cook until bacon is crispy and onion is tender. Add to the beans and mix. Then add the Worcestershire, unsulphered molasses, dark brown sugar, ketchup, mustard and stir. Pour everything into a deep dish and cook for 45 minutes. Increase temperature to 425 f or 220 c for 10 minutes. Let cool and serve!
Southern U.S. Potato Salad
3 hard-boiled eggs
2 large pickles
1/3 cut red onion (or substitute for green onion)
Yellow mustard, mayonnaise (mix to taste)
Bring pot to a boil and cook your potatoes for about ten minutes or until softened. Peel your potatos then cut into small chunks and throw into a mixing bowl. Chop up your pickles, onions and eggs to mix in with potatoes. Add in mayonnaise, yellow mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
You can get the recipe for Jack Daniels Lynchburg Lemonade directly from their website. It’s a classic and favourite cocktail of mine!