Monday, December 17, 2012

Special Guest JoAnne Kenrick!

Hi everyone, and welcome to Monday's edition of the Christmas blog party! For a complete list of the posts and current giveaways up for grabs, please visit here.

Today I'm thrilled to have JoAnne Kenrick as our special guest, sharing her holiday preparations.  It goes without saying that any post that mentions sausage bacon rolls is an instant winner in my book.

So without further ado (or drooling), please welcome JoAnne!

An expat Christmas
by JoAnne Kenrick

Ho. Ho. Ho. It's almost here. The holiday season countdown has begun, advent calendars are nearing the end, and all the candy and chocolate treats hidden behind each window pretty much claimed and consumed! Children will be signing off school, and running amok around the house as excitement builds. Trees are up. Carols are a playing. Yes. SANTA'S COMING!

I'm really thrilled to be apart of Jodi's blog celebrations for the holiday, and after thinking long and hard (rem, really, after eating a ton of tree chocolates) I thought I'd share how I prep for the holidays…

As a British expat in the USA, Christmas preparations have to be done super early if I'm going to have those traditional treats I know so well from my childhood. Presents need to be bought and shipped before December even starts, or premium shipping costs will be incurred. Food items need to be ordered, or my favorites will be out of stock. And of course, holiday TV needs to be organized.

So…how do I ensure our family has that British Christmas experience in the States? What do I buy? And where do I buy it from? have been super good to us this year.
We were able to snag a long time favorite for all the family. Something we've not been able to get here in the States since arriving some five years ago.
Walkers cheese and onion crisps- thats potato chips in USA talk. A whole box of them. That's 48 bags of pure salty bliss! Mr. Kippling's Cherry Bakewells and Jaffa Cakes were another little treat. But the biggest treat for us was Quality Street; tins of mixed choccies is a long time traditional for the typical British family, and quite frankly, USA chocolate just doesn't do it for it. And if ever there was a time to dive in a treat ourselves, it's Christmas, don't ya think?

Then there's the dinner must haves -- Paxo (pre-made turkey stuffing mix) stuffing. I usually try and make my own, hoping it will turn out somewhere near Paxo. But I've not be successful to date. Yeay for having Paxo this year. All I need to do is add water, and WHAM! Instant turkey stuffing. Yes, we have turkey. Turkey is THE traditional Christmas dinner. And to go with that turkey, lots of gravy. Again, USA gravy doesn't taste anything like our beloved gravy from good old Blighty, so I also got some Bisto gravy browning in. Perfect.

Dinner and treat supplies are almost complete. But there is one thing I haven't mentioned yet. My most favorite part of the British Christmas dinner experience.
Sausage bacon rolls! 
For the bangers/sausages, I use a most excellent British butcher right here in the States.
British sausages are a must for us. But to complete the recipe, I need USA bacon to make this as close as I can get to the British taste - we haven't been able to find a supplier for streaky bacon as we know it. But that's not to say I didn't order a pile of British smoked bacon from Balson's, too. Another tradition for us Brits is bacon buttes-sandwiches-with fresh bread, lurpak butter, and a dash of HP brown sauce (bit like BBQ sauce, but not) for that breaky (breakfast) after all presents have been torn open and before the toy set-up commences. You know, when you have to open those impossibly packed items, or instal programs, find batteries…you know, the fun stuff.

The sausage bacon rolls are super easy to make, and any left over bacon is used to cover the top of the turkey for extra taste and moisture.

But not everyone can get their hands on the British meats (although I do think Balson's are still taking Christmas orders for a few more days). Before we discovered them, this is how we made our rolls for the dinner trimmings:

It's basically a cocktail sausage wrapped in bacon. They take around 25 minutes to bake. I usually throw them in with the turkey toward the end of its baking time.
Closet thing we've found taste wise is the Jimmy Dean breakfast sausages. But with no honey or maple syrup junk in them.
Simply wrap them up with bacon, place on a tray, and bake.
They compliment the turkey and trimmings so very well. And I can't wait to dive into my almost British versions this year.
This is how they'd look if you were to buy them ready to bake in the UK -- These are Asda's brand. Which is Walmart's franchise in the UK. Actually, Walmart surprised me this year. They had Christmas Crackers! YEAY. They are a must for the dinner table. As is making everyone wear those silly paper crowns inside them for at least until dinner is finished.

Whatever is planned for your Christmas dinner, expat or not, I hope you managed to find everything you wanted for your table. ENJOY!

Oh, you know who else is having a very tasty Christmas? Sandra from Bell's Irish Pub…she's off on a holiday vacation she's not likely to forget in a hurry. How does being snowed in with an Irish hottie in a castle over the holidays grab you?

by JoAnne Kenrick

For trailer, excerpt and more click HERE

Hot winter kisses to warm broken hearts….

Sick of tending to everyone else’s needs around the holidays, divorced barmaid and granny Sandra ferries it from London to Belfast. All she wants for Christmas is some peace with a romance story in front of a roaring fire in a remote Irish castle. What she gets is a most unexpected Christmas present from her friends at Bell’s—A 1Night Stand with a young Irishman.

Can she hack it in the real world of romance, or are life’s complications and treacherous snowstorms best left to the pages of a book?

Newly widowed Ardan Draighean owns Ballygalley castle. Once run as a hotel with his late wife, the stone building now serves as a home for him and his son. After hearing about Madame Eve’s matchmaking skills, he contacts her in search of the perfect match. Although much older than him—by fifteen years—Sandra is his ideal woman. He be damned if he’ll let a good story get in the way of his happy ever after with her.

Hot winter kisses are all this couple needs to stay warm this Christmas, but will the heat stay long after the magical season of mistletoe has finished?

Author Links


Lucy Felthouse said...

Wow, I really take our food for granted, don't I? Bacon and sausages are delicious, but together?! Heaven.

Pigs in blankets rock!! They've been available in our Sainbury's for a while and we've had them with a couple of meals already. It seems my dad couldn't wait until Christmas for pigs in blankets ;)

Happy Holidays! :)

JoAnne Kenrick said...

*waves* Hi, Lucy! Thanks for stopping by xx
I'm envious... yummy. All the bacon sausage rolls you can eat. *sigh*

Oh, pigs in a blanket are what we call sausage rolls in the States ;) And although they are similar, they aren't the real deal. So that's another thing I have to home bake when we have Brit sausages in the house.

I'm tellin' ya, this whole expat thing has forced me into learning how to bake. I was terrible before. I'd only have to look at a cupcake mix and I'd screw it up. Now I'm making them from scratch!

I hope you enjoy all your pigs in a blanket, and that you pull a cracker for me!! But if you do, you better post a piccie of you wearing your crown ;)

JoAnne Kenrick said...

And a huge thanks, Jodi, for letting me be one of your authors on the naughty list. I think Santa would agree with you...I've been really naughty this year. I'm expecting a lump of cole in my stocking ;)

Anonymous said...

Bacon *and* sausages? Oh my, sounds excellent!


petula said...

As a british ex pat myself. Living in Spain I know exactly what you mean about missing certain foods. The sausages are a big one. I love pigs in blankets with christmas dinner. The other food I miss is English Cheddar cheese. I can get it but its so expensive. Happy Holidays

elaing8 said...

Now I'm craving bacon ;)
Enjoyed reading your post.Happy Holidays.

Joanne said...

Bacon and sausage together? Yum. I'm going to have to try to make something like this now.
Thanks for the fun post.


JoAnne Kenrick said...

Petula, oh cheese... yes, expensive. I feel your pain. Share in it. All we can get hold of here is Irish cheddar. It's not what we would ordinarily choose if we were in the UK, but it's as close as we'll be getting here. And it's expensive. But so worth the extra cost. I find American cheese just a tad to oily...and orange for me. The kids love it, though.

Yeay for bacon, Elaing8 and Joanne!!

Thanks for stopping xxx

Anonymous said...

Your posting about food was so interesting. I must say that bacon added to most anything makes it extra tasty. How is the taste of American chocolate different from British chocolate? Do you mean Hersey milk chocolate when referring to American chocolate?

strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

laurie said...

two thirds of my family emmigrated FROM the UK TO canada so all those foods are like a little slice of home LITTERALLY for me. my scottish grandma'd make these panckaes you ate cold w/ butter and jam smothered all over em. my brother and i use to wolf them down with lots of bacon and saussages


bas1chs said...

Wow, I feel completely out of place here as being a non-ex-pat, but just born and breed American. But I love traditions from all over the world so it was great to be able to learn about some in your post and in the replies. Thanks for that!
bas1chsemail at gmail dot com

Lasha said...

I miss crumpets. (I lived in Australia as a teen). Great post, it made me hungry!

Happy Holidays.

mslasha at gmail dot com

JoAnne Kenrick said...

Oh.... Lasha and Laurie! Now I'm hankering after Scotch pancakes (which I can bake-learned after a two year period living in the Aberdeen area) and crumpets (yet to master). With lurpak butter and strawberry jam.

JoAnne Kenrick said...

A lot of American chocolate is too sweet for us, Hersey being the main offender, but many others, too. We tend to buy the available European chocolates instead, or the Cadbury's/Nestle bars. There is lots of choice, so we're not starved of chocolate ;) But ordering in our favorites from our home country is an extra special treat. Oh and from time to time, we find Aero bars here, too; the milk chocolate ones. I'm often in a store, squealing and jumping because I found a treat from home. Walmart is especially good for these little surprises. Our local one just started stocking Chocolate digestive biscuits-cookies to Americans-and Cadbury's chocolate fingers. So we stock up on them, knowing they only get those in every few months.

Bea said...

I haven't eaten breakfast yet, now I'm very hungry and craving bacon. It's an evil plan of Jodi's I'm sure, the wicked wench. :P

Enjoy your treats!

bn100 said...

That looks tasty.


JoAnne Kenrick said...

Mwahaha Pinky and the Brain are planning World Domination... and their weapon of choice is bacon! LOL

flchen1 said...

LOL! I think that would totally work, JoAnne--bacon would figure prominently in any successful world take-over ;)

Hope you get to enjoy all your favorite treats this Christmas, and thanks for sharing today!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Booksrforever123 said...

wow, you brits eat some weird food. thanks for the great excerpt. I'll have to look for it.
j-coverholser at sbcglobal dot net