Cooking in the UK

As everyone knows, I absolutely love to cook! Now that we’ve been in our house for 1.5 weeks, I’ve had some time to familiarize myself with our kitchen. In other words, I’ve started learning the difficulties of transitioning from US to UK cooking. Not only are measurements in completely different formats (grams, mLs, or kgs instead of cups or Celsius vs Fahrenheit) but the ingredients aren’t the same either. Plus I came from using a gas stove & range to a flat glass-topped electric stove (aka “hob”) and tiny oven. To make things even more difficult my oven in Texas had digital temperature select to the closest 5 degrees, but the oven here? It has 50, 100, 150, 200 and “max” settings without any markings in between. Oh, and there’s all these choices on the function dial of the oven but instead of words its just symbols which don’t really give a good idea of what each does. I have had to pull out the manual no less than 5 times to figure out what is what. Oi vey!

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Pretty self-explanatory, no?

As I mentioned above, ingredients aren’t named the same or are completely different than in the states.  For example, chocolate chips: We’ve only found them in 100 g packets (in the US a normal bag of Nestle morsels are over 300 g) and they can be a little difficult to find.  Cocoa powder? Look for it in the hot cocoa/coffee/tea aisle, not with the baking items.  Sugar is different too.  Their granulated sugar has much larger granules than the states.  Rather, they bake with caster sugar – a very fine grain (which I actually prefer).  We looked and looked for black beans the other night at our local superstore but with no luck.  We did find them at another grocery – one can for £1.09 (over $1.50)!  Luckily the next aisle over had a large bag of dried beans for slightly less, so we purchased those.  Hey, less sodium that way too, so I suppose its better for us!  I haven’t yet been able to find kosher salt despite looking in 3 different stores.  But on the plus side they have delicious produce (even avocados, pineapples and hot peppers!), crumpets and clotted cream readily available almost everywhere and we found a fantastic farmer’s market last weekend.  And our neighbor across the street sells free range eggs from their chickens for a great price.  Convenient and tasty, and I like the idea that we are helping out a neighbor.

The teeny bag of chocolate chips sold in groceries

The teeny bag of chocolate chips sold in groceries

Farmer's market haul

Farmer’s market haul

Eggs from our neighbor's chickens (laid that morning!)

Eggs from our neighbor’s chickens (laid that morning!)

The brits are on to something with crumpets - you seriously need to try some!

The Brits are on to something with crumpets – you seriously need to try some!

I have had a few cooking flops thanks to the differences, like my chocolate chip cookies that spread way too much thanks to too much butter.  I made an investment in a food scale which I think will help a ton!  I’m slowly adjusting to the differences and hopefully these challenges will make me a better cook moving forward.  I even made some delicious buttermilk biscuits from scratch last night using leftover buttermilk from a chicken recipe plus an entire pan of chewy, rich brownies – bad idea when there’s only two of us at home and I’m not working yet!  Here’s hoping for lots more exploration and success in my kitchen :-)

 Cheers!