When I first came here to the UK, I was a bit, how shall I say, disappointed in some of the foods available. There were items I was so used to getting in the states that it would frustrate me when I couldn’t find them over here, not even a reasonable replacement. Two items that spring to mind are chocolate chips and Cup-a-Soup.
Both of these are available here, but not in the size or selection I would like. Chocolate chips for example are available in small packets with weights of 100g. That’s about 3 1/2 oz.
I wanted to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies for humans, not Barbie dolls!
I had to buy four bags to even come close to the normal sized bag of chips you get in the states. I ended up resorting to having family members send bags of chips over from across the pond. Now, I just buy bars of plain chocolate aka semi-sweet chocolate and break them up into chip size pieces.
And the Cup-a-Soup? I’ve yet to find any that have noodles in them. I really don’t eat these anymore, so it’s not such a big deal.
It took a bit of getting used to, but over time I’ve learned to compensate for what I can’t find and for what I can find.
I’ve also learned to enjoy some of the English foods that I never thought I would eat. I was never a big lamb eater until my hubby made a leg of lamb one night. It didn’t have that horrid smell while it was cooking and it was absolutely delicious! We enjoy it often now. I also now eat chutney (along with making it!) and haggis; but not together! I absolutely love oatcakes especially with Blue Stilton cheese.
There are also some things I won’t eat, although I have tried. Offal, black pudding and kidneys are three of them. One of the items I make to sell is pickled onions. I love onions…as long as they’re cooked. I will not eat these as they are basically raw. They do sit in a brine overnight but they are still raw as far as I’m concerned.
The English love their pickled onions; in fact they enjoy lots of things pickled. I purchased a rather large bag of pickling onions…a 5kg/11lb bag to be precise. I’ll be making a lot of pickled onions over the coming weeks.
The preparation of the onions takes the longest and is a bit tedious as they are small and vary in size from perhaps the size of your thumb to golf ball size.
After they are peeled the onions are put into a brine consisting of water and salt (1 litre water to 100g of salt) and left overnight.
The pickle is made using malt vinegar and pickling spices consisting of dried chilis, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, mace blades, allspice berries, bay leaf, peppercorns and fresh ginger. The mixture is brought to the boil, then simmered for 5 minutes and left to infuse overnight.
The next day the onions are drained and rinsed in cold water and stuffed into hot, sterilised jars. The vinegar mix is reheated and brought to the boil. I then pour it over the onions and seal the jars.
Most recipes for pickled onions will say to just pour the cold vinegar over but I prefer to heat it so that the jars vacuum seal properly. When I hear the ‘pop’ of the lid, then I know they’re sealed. The residual heat from the vinegar may soften the onions a bit, but not so much that they lose their crunch.
Don’t quite know what I’ll be making tomorrow, but you’ll find out soon enough!