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?
www.foodireland.com 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. www.balsonbutchers.com
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?
HOT WINTER KISS
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?