Bringing Up BritsWith Anna Grace’s birthday party nearly upon us, I turn to some old and trusted friends to help me produce the perfect birthday meal (birthday ‘tea’) and birthday cake – my recipe books. I have a varied selection of books ranging from American church recipe books such as Faithfully Charleston¬† a southern recipe book with grits and black eyed peas recipes, to classic British staples such as Delia’s How to Cook and Annabel Karmel’s recipe books for family and children’s meal planners. They have all served me and my family well over the years.

I do not mean to suggest I am a good cook or anything, on the contrary, I really struggle to follow in my mother’s footsteps. She was my role model – always baking, always providing nutritious and somewhat exotic meals, introducing us to new foods and tastes and teaching us how to cook and bake. Nine years ago at Christmas, she gave all her grown up children a recipe book full of family favourite meals, cookies and cakes. It is a much loved and well used book in our household and my own half American, British children are growing up with her legacy and my memories of an American childhood.

There are some complications with using cross-cultural recipe books in Britain. Measurements for example are different. Here recipes call for grams insead of cups. Butter, shortening and icing sugar come in different packaging and weight amounts. American ingredients such as molasses, graham crackers and saltines are non-existent here. I have to substitute and make-do and some things I just don’t bother making at all. I would highly recommend buying some kitchen scales – makes cooking and baking from British recipe books much easier! I devoted a whole chapter in Bringing Up Brits to food called ‘Nuturing Tradition: Creating a multicultural family through food and mealtimes’.

My daughter’s birthday cake will come from an American recipe book and her party food will be inspired by Fay Ripley and Annabel Karmel. At least that is my plan…… she is busy writing out her menu which I will endeavour to produce.

So what’s in your kitchen bookshelf? What recipe books do you use and what foods and meals from your home country do you cook here in Britain? Please tell us!

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