Writing Finding Myself in Britain held many surprises for me. That may sound odd, for you may think, you’re the writer! But that’s the joy of the creative process – things bubble up out of seemingly nowhere, and those helping to birth the book-baby can see hidden things that should be brought into the open. Such as lovely Michele Guinness.
I wept when I first read her foreword to the book; it felt like Christmas and my birthday all wrapped into one as her words washed over me and touched me deep within. In the email she wrote when she sent me the foreword, she included one little line that I could have skimmed over:
Really wanted you to put all your recipes at the end!
Yes, I thought, what a good idea. And so began what turned out to be hours of assembling the family recipes for the various feasts and festivals, along with many phone calls to my mom to make sure I had the instructions down clearly. My editor Jennie Pollock was a Briton who had lived in America, so she was helpful in clarifying things further, as was a friend who was becoming a chef, who helped me realize even more Americanisms that I needed to clarify. And then Becky Fawcett, who did the final copyedit/proofread, went the extra mile and tested out many of the recipes and brought my sometimes erratic measuring system into line. I’m so grateful.
Here’s what you can look forward to with the recipes in Finding Myself in Britain:
- Thanksgiving Feast
- A VW (vicar’s wife) After-Church Buffet
- Christmas Eve Feast (with Christmas cookies)
- A Festive Easter Brunch
- A Fourth of July (or Father’s Day) Barbecue
- An Extra Helping (bonus recipes)
To whet your appetite, below is a recipe excerpted from Finding Myself in Britain for next month’s American Thanksgiving feast, which yes, I will certainly be making.
Minnesota Wild Rice
To me, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Minnesota wild rice. It’s not actually a rice, but a cereal grain that grows in the many fresh, cool lakes in northern Minnesota. For centuries, the native peoples in Minnesota have harvested this grain by hand, travelling throughout the lakes by canoe. Look for it in large supermarkets in the UK, but for this recipe avoid buying the packets combined with white rice.
- 2 1/2 cups (450 g) wild rice
- 4 cups (1 litre) stock, either beef, poultry, or vegetarian stock
- 3 sticks celery, sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cups (225 g) chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
- Olive oil
Soak the rice for an hour in cold water, then rinse and drain. Sauté the celery and onion in a large pan with the olive oil until soft, then add the rice and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the mushrooms and cook at a higher heat for the last 5 minutes, until all of the liquid has evaporated.