Moving to another country has its ups and downs. There are things that if they happened at home would be small victories or minor setbacks, but because we’re in a new place everything seems amplified. Let me tell you about some of it.
On Tuesday, Ryan and I had an appointment to set up a bank account. We arrive at the bank and the person we were supposed to meet was out sick. Also, part of the ceiling had collapsed so things were a mess. We had to reschedule. Sigh.
I then had an appointment to see an apartment. The place was very close to the tube station and in a cute development, but in a very residential place, and we wanted something a little more urban. I get to the place and the owner shows me around. Some parts were really nice, and some parts were not. There was black gunk on the bathroom floors! It must have shown in my face because the owner asked me twice why I didn’t like it. Awkward.
Next, I went to a department store to buy some underwear. (Sorry for the intimate detail) The sizing is all different and I’m holding things up and Googling size conversions to see what might work.
Finally, I went to a coffee shop. I had a huge pile of coins in my purse and I was trying to figure out if I had enough to pay (because I don’t know the coins by heart yet) and then I spilled everything all over the floor. So embarrassing! Ryan and I had just read an article that said only Americans help other people in distress. And maybe that’s true, because no one offered to help me clean up my scattered coins. I took my coffee and pastry and slunk to a hidden seat in the back of the cafe.
But, the day turned around and Ryan and I explored a new neighborhood and had a great dinner at a small Turkish restaurant.
Since then, I’ve had some really great wins too. I went to the Globe Theatre! I love Shakespeare. Ten years ago, I visited London and didn’t see the Globe and I’ve regretted it ever since. I decided to walk there and I’m so glad I did! It was sunny, I walked along the Thames and took pictures of the skyline. The theatre itself was pretty impressive and I loved learning the history. I loved picturing what it would have been like in Shakespeare’s day, and I hope I can convince someone to see a show with me there.
I then got lunch and ate outside along the Thames. Only a few weeks ago I was in DC surrounded by snow, and here I am now eating lunch outside.
Ryan and I also have successfully set up a bank account, done some laundry, and gone to the grocery store.
In general I love going to the grocery store, and it has been especially fun seeing the new and different things here in London. Grocery shopping and cooking has really helped this place feel like home. There’s so much here I don’t know how to do, but shopping and cooking feels like an adventure I do know about, and is something I can do well.
They have all kinds of cool stuff in the grocery store. Their cheese section is huge! Seriously, there are about 4 different sections for cheese. There’s also a huge section for beans. The portion sizes are way smaller than we’re used to. The family sized juice is about the size of regular juice. The eggs aren’t refrigerated. But what I really thought was cool was that the cartons tell you the breed of chicken. I also saw quail and duck eggs, which I’ve never seen before. I will definitely need to figure out how to use those. There’s also beet juice! I need to try that, although I’m a bit afraid. Also, I saw brown sugar, which is totally normal. But, it was advertised as “treacly.” I didn’t know what that meant, so I had to look it up. Finally the milk jugs look different and so do Starbucks to-go drinks.
Also, next time I go to the store I’m going to do a “myth busters” edition, where I’ll hunt down all the things people said we couldn’t find here in London. Stay tuned!
Anyway, I didn’t go crazy shopping in the store. Ryan and I are in temporary housing so I don’t want to make things that need a lot of ingredients. I need recipes that are low maintenance, can be made exclusively on the stove, and fairly healthy. A stir fry seemed perfect.
This is really an improv dish, so use the vegetables you like and trust your instincts. Use more veggies if you like. Cook until it looks good to you. Do what feels right. This is a super easy dish, quick, and great for people not wanting to do a ton of work.
1 cup uncooked rice
1 large carrot
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
½ cup peas
4 (or more) white mushrooms
1 pound chicken breast, cut into chunks
About 2 tbsp of concentrated chicken stock (you could also use regular chicken stock, I just bought the small concentrated packets from the store)
salt & pepper, to taste
1. Put 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water in a medium sauce pan. Heat on high until the water comes to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
2. On medium high, heat a little oil in a sauce pan. Add the carrots and broccoli. Season with salt and pepper if you like. Add 1/2 the chicken stock concentrate. Also add about 1 tbsp of water to help make the stock saucy. Cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally but not constantly. It might take longer than 10 minutes, but you want the vegetables to be easily chewable with a little bit of crunch.
3. Remove from pan, add a splash of olive oil, then add the mushrooms and peas. You’re doing this in steps so everything can cook evenly and the vegetables that need longer get longer. Cook for about 5+ minutes. You want the peas to be soft and mushrooms to be soft and a bit smaller and wilted.
4. Remove mushrooms and peas from pan. Add a flick of olive oil and add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is all the way cooked through. This could take as little as 5 minutes, but close to 10 minutes depending on thickness of the meat.
5. When the chicken is all the way cooked through, add all the vegetables back in. Add the rest of the chicken stock and another tablespoon of water. Stir to get everything coated. Taste it and adjust seasonings as necessary.
6. Serve the stir fry on top of the rice. Eat and enjoy!
Messy level: 2 spoons. The messiest part is just switching out everything between the pans. You could do everything in multiple pans if you wanted, but I only have 2 burners, and that would be super messy. Mostly, this is a super clean dish.