Converting the Americans

Converting them to what – or from what? You may well ask!

One of the things that the internet has brought us, is recipes from round the world.  Recipes from far flung countries with different climates and different languages do not seem to be a problem – usually someone, somewhere, has taken the trouble to convert the recipe from whatever units it is usually made in – into (nowadays) grams and millilitres. Apart from American recipes!

If you are ‘of a certain age’ you are probably still thinking in ounces and pints for cooking. In fact there are a few recipes I really do not think I could work in metric, so long ago were they learnt that I make them on automatic pilot and in imperial. They are, at least, proper measurements.

DSCF5371I have been looking for a particular type of biscuit to set as a competition for our WIs next group meeting. Now, for the uninitiated, a group meeting is where a designated group of WIs in an area get together for a cut-throat friendly set of competitions and a talk – frequently one that would be beyond the reach (financially) of one WI on its own, though not always.

DSCF5377At these events the friendly competition is usually set to reflect the theme of the talk. Hence – the last one we set up was a talk from a man who had owned a Zoo … the competitions were: Floral – a flower arrangement to represent a wild animal, Craft – a decorative border for the poem Tyger Tyger, by Blake and, Cookery – a Zebra Cake!
Just a few of the entries shown Right>

DSCF5369Now the only available versions of this zebra cake were in American Cups – and using a tin size that is just not commonly in the British cupboard. So a lot of conversion and changing of quantities took place until the recipe worked in metric … and then it had to be converted to imperial and checked again, as some ladies of a ‘very certain age’ only measure and cook in imperial.
Zebra Cake!  my metric / imperial recipe here

I struggle to understand why the Americans use their form of measurements in their cooking. I have heard that it was from when they had nothing to weigh with, that recipes using ‘cups’ were simple enough that any vessel could be the ‘cup’ and as long as the proportions (the cup) used was the same the recipe would then work. Understandable then, if true, but when we live in an age when even ‘sophisticated’ scales, that swap between imperial and metric, are available for small amounts of money – why use a method so random?

Just try getting a ‘cup’ of butter  to be right – or using a different type of sugar to the one specified when you run out of one but have the other in the cupboard (granulated, demerara and caster all give different cup measurements) – or even flour – which has to be ‘fluffed-up’ before making up the cups ‘best spooned into the cup and then levelled off!’ What?!

Looking it up I see that many American Chefs and Cookery writers are trying to convert the Americans to use scales and recipes that are more accurate – but there is a huge resistance – ‘Cups’ ‘Spoons’ and ‘Sticks’ are almost seen as patriotic! (by the way – ‘spoons’ as in ‘a spoon of butter’ – not just spoons of fluid ingredients)

At our next group meeting in May 2016 we have the lovely Anthea Lay who was a competitor on The Big Painting Challenge on the BBC, bringing us an interactive Big Painting Challenge Experience to our WI Group meeting – I’m looking forward to it … but before that I have to work out the cookery competition to fit the theme, and soon – so we can notify the other WIs.

I am after a particular type of biscuit that I saw on the internet, one that can be made to look like an artist’s palette. Can I find it in metric or imperial? Can I coco!

So once more I shall set about converting the American measures into Metric and Imperial. It does mean that I’ll have another recipe to add here eventually – which can’t be a bad thing.

Have you ever tried an American ‘cups’ type recipe without converting it?  How did it go?

Do you *sigh* when you find a really nice looking recipe and see it is all in ‘cups’ ‘spoons’ and ‘sticks’?

Do share your thoughts – and any good recipes too, you know I love to hear from you.


How to train your pack-human (Tea)

bonny 6 soul
Practising my soulful look

Ann’s Blog  How to train your pack-human (Tea) by Bonny Dog

My pack-lady’s been off at the Looe Literary Festival this past weekend, something to do with her book ‘Some Kind of Synchrony’ – but it gave me ‘paws’ for thought – after all my training, was I going to have to start again with another one of the human pack I’m in? It also gave me a chance to take over this blog again! Been years since the last time I got on here -click here if you missed my video!

I always fancied ‘a cup of tea’. They say it to all the humans that arrive (smelling delightfully of other places and other dogs) so I figured it must be something good. After all, a lot of them said ‘yes’ and sat down to drink this interestingly scented beverage.

So about a year ago I began the training; this is how it went.

They eat their breakfast and then give me mine – fine – I know where I am in the pack … but then she goes and pours cups of this ‘tea’ for everyone.  So this time I stare at the back of her head as she pours – sending those thought-waves that signal ‘someone is staring at you’.  She turns, ‘What?’ she says, ‘You’ve had your breakfast.’ True, and I have had to use this method occasionally when she’s poured their tea before giving me my breakfast – she is always contrite and apologises for forgetting.

This time I keep staring even as she turns back to pouring someone else’s cup. She glances round at me, then picks up the cups and takes them through to the dining room. I follow and sit so that I can get my head on her lap. I get a fuss – nice enough – but I want some tea… so I slip away – go and look in my bowl then stare at the teapot. Glance round to see if she’s looking. No! She’s got a book in her hand! Damn. I go and try to dislodge it, nose under elbow and a quick flick… usually works. She turns round so her elbows are on the table! Manners! But her elbow comes off the table when she picks up her cup of tea – I try again, almost spilling it. Maybe not my best move as she is now a little annoyed.

She always has a second cup of tea, so when she goes to pour it I follow. The milk goes in, and then she picks up the teapot. The thought waves I’m sending are really strong, pot in hand she glances round. ‘What?’ she says.

I open my eyes wide staring at the pot. She doesn’t understand so, as she tries to pour, I nudge her rear with my nose. She stops, turns, ‘What? You want a cup of tea?’

At Last! The message has got through!  I lick my lips. She smiles, says again ‘You want a cup of tea?’ I lick my lips and glance towards my bowl. bonny 2

She pours milk and tea into one of the emptied cups, then picks up her cup and starts back towards the dining room. ‘Whoa! Wait – Where’s my tea?’ I dance out in-front of her.

‘Out of the way,’ she says – I know those words – but when she sits down I put my head back on her lap and press down – give her the soulful look.  ‘It’s got to cool’ she says.

No – I’m not sure what that means? But I decide against the elbow tipping as that was not good idea last time but I go back to the kitchen and try the staring at the bowl, staring at ‘my’ cup of tea routine again, adding a very tiny whine. She sees me and laughs.
bonny 8 cropYou know it’s great when my pack-lady laughs – good pheromones come wafting around – sometimes she’ll even roll around on the floor and play with me, like her pups do when they are at home.

‘You have to wait for it to cool’ she says again, but this time I think it will be okay – whatever it means.

bonny 3 crop
Lovely cuppa!

She finishes her cup of tea, picks up plates, butter, marmalade and her cup from the table and heads into the kitchen.
I’m dancing around, can’t wait to have a ‘cup of tea’. She laughs again, sticks a finger in the cup says ‘Okay, cool enough’ and pours it into my bowl.
I go forward and taste.

Yes! I like tea! I soon lap it all up while she watches.

It takes less than a week from there to – a stare (she’s really good at picking up that vibe) then a gentle nose-nudge as she’s pouring their first cups of tea and she’ll ask ‘Want a cup of tea?’ I lick my lips and she pours some into a small plastic bowl to cool. I get my tea when she pours her second – works like a dream!

Within a month she’s pouring my tea everyday, without any reminders – and apologising if she forgets. Which is what she did when she was busy fussing round and going off to the Literary Festival early; forgot – and it was no use trying to get through to the pack-men around here – they just don’t pick up on the signals as well!

Anyway – the Lit Fest is all done with and life is back on an even keel again – breakfast followed by my tea.

I hope that this will help any other canines out there who need to train their human.

Choosing the receptive one is key, then perseverance and love.

Do let me know what you think (humans too – I love to hear both sides of the story)

Bonny Dog


Craft Fairs & Literary Festivals

It is THAT time of year – when people are thinking about  *whisper* Christmas shopping …  WP_20151105_15_26_11_Pro

… and my favourite place to shop is a proper local craft fair – where the goods are made in the area by the hugely talented lot of crafters we have in South East Cornwall (and around) There are two I always go to – and attend with my own books too – one is in my local church, which happened this weekend, the other is at the Parish Hall (for Linkinhorne) at Upton Cross which is also a treasure house of art as well as crafts … and happens on the first weekend of December – truly into the Christmas season!

Art and Craft … and books? It may seem strange to have books along at such events, but they fit in very well – what an art and what a craft, it is to create the worlds, characters, plots and lives held within the pages of a novel!  And they are local – in that the authors are local and are often present to sign or dedicate the books (though not ‘sitting behind the stall’ in either of these style of craft fair they can be found at certain times stewarding).

WP_20151107_11_12_51_ProToday, if you do not count on-line book sales, there are as many books sold through non-bookshop outlets as there are though bookshops. Every supermarket has books for sale, usually the most popular, the newest and the heavily discounted – but books that catch the casual shoppers eye – and get bought. To  have books at a craft fair therefore is no different in retailing terms – and a signed (and dedicated) novel can make a very special present.

However, it is the Literary Festival that holds up the book in the spotlight. Here the readers go to hear the stories behind the stories. How the authors come up with their plots. Where do they get inspiration from to create the characters? What are the trials and tribulations … and the highlights and triumphs. What was the hardest part to write, indeed, how do they write – most authors have their own way of working – finding out can be fun.

So it is with great pleasure that I can tell you, if you didn’t know, that I am invited along again to the Looe Literary Festival starting on the 12 of November – 15th.


If you go to their website you can find the schedule – I am talking about Some Kind of Synchrony at 2.45 on Saturday 14th and would love to see you along there – and it is totally FREE. The venue is Upstairs @ Mama J’s  – which is down towards the sea in East Looe.  Scroll down the Full Schedule page to see a map.


Before me, at 1.30pm,  you will have the chance to hear my fellow Pendown Publishing author Sally Newton talk about what she learnt when researching her novel, the first of a trilogy, ‘Caradoc – The Defiant Prince’ set in iron-age Britain in AD25.Book launch poster y1

Not only that but, on Sunday at 11.30, you can catch me again with the rest of The Liskeard Poets with our set called ‘Festival’ – also at Mama J’s and also for free!

In fact this festival is so great because they have ensured that there is always something to be seen and heard, regardless of how deep your pockets are, and it is one of the most relaxed and inclusive literary festivals out there – turning the bucket-and-spade town into something completely different – a place where people wander from talk to talk with books tucked under their arms, eat and drink in the pubs, restaurants and cafes and enjoy the peace of being by a Cornish river and close to the sea, with authors, books and talks all around the town.

So – I hope to see some of you along at the weekend – if you read this blog do let me know when we meet!

Do you frequent Literary Festivals?

What do you like about them?

If not – here’s your chance! A laid-back friendly festival to try.


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