I received an amazing care package in the mail this week. Inside were English chocolates (my favourite milk chocolates), a hot pink apron with “Keep Calm and Bake Cake” printed across the front, British-themed cupcake wraps with little Union Jack toppers, and a card from my old friend Lara explaining that someone needs to put all of this cheesy merchandise to good use as the streets of London become flooded by it. Oh yes, London, England is hosting the Summer Olympics 2012 and the world is about to experience a British invasion because of it. Well, Lara, old friend, I accept your challenge with great gratitude. 🙂
I haven’t had a chance to prepare any cake or cupcakes with my new swag but I did make some Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, as a small token of my appreciation for the great parcel.
Lara and I were classmates in film school. Yes, a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, I was going to be a big-shot movie director. I was going to live in my big mansion, overlooking the Hollywood sign; work with the industry’s best to make Oscar-worthy films, always with a lead character facing his or her challenges with tenacity and raw-emotion. Good would triumph over evil in a blaze of CGI glory. I was to be rich and famous, and the first step to conquering my dreams was to enroll in film school.
For a year Lara and I, along with about 15 other film-obsessed nerds, played make-believe with the equipment at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Together we created short films, music videos and “artistic montages”. She and I were the only English-fluent females in the class, and naturally became the nurturing facilitators for the group. We acted as “Producers”, helping the others secure permits, manage budgets, put out casting calls and make their “artistic visions” happen. Once we graduated everyone made a mad dash for the first opportunity to earn a dollar, and we all naturally drifted apart. The dream was over, and the realities had sneaked in.
About 10 years later, some of us are still working in the film industry, mainly those more technical (the grips and camera ops of the group). Most (myself included) are still clinging to the dream by writing TV pitches and screenplays in our free time. Lara and I continue to run things, now with the powerful title of “Mom”. She is in the U.K. with her handsome husband and beautiful baby boy, and I have my gang in Canada. One day we should consider a film school reunion. Perhaps a travel show, bridging the culture gaps “across the pond”. For now though, we put ourselves on hold and focus on raising the next generation of big dreamers. 😉
All of this reminiscing has made me thirsty. Lara, put on the kettle, would you?
It’s time to bake.
Brit-Inspired Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
Original recipe by Claire Robinson
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves (6 tea bags)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour, tea, and salt, until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. You may need to stir along the sides once. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and butter. Pulse together just until a dough is formed. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Note: dough will keep once wrapped in plastic in the fridge for 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (2 probably needed depending on size of sheets). Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool to room temperature.
- Put on the kettle. Stare at the garden, place pinky up, sip, nibble, and enjoy!
In honour of our cinematic background, I thought I’d put together my top 5 British films to practice our accents and slang to, as the London Summer Olympics 2012 gear up for this July. Lara, do you agree with my picks? Brit flicks always were your area of expertise.
Top 5 British Films to Practice Your British Slang with:
5. A Hard Day’s Night. Sorry, but I can’t talk about anything British without including my beloved Beatles. That’s just the way it is. This film follows the fab four during the height of “Beatlemania“. Shenanigans – start to finish. Adorable, musical shenanigans.
4. Withnail and I. A film not for all but respectably a cult classic. Two unemployed actors of London in 1969, take a holiday in the country. The holiday is less ‘recuperative’ than they expected. During my film school days, this was one of our favourite drinking games. Keeping up, drink for drink, with each alcoholic substance consumed by Withnail over the course of the film. I’ve since learned, that successfully doing so would be fatal.
3. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Before Madonna sucked the soul out of Guy Richie, he made killer films. A classic heist film involving a cocky lead character who loses £500,000 to a powerful crime lord in a rigged game. In order to pay off his debts, he and his friends decide to rob a small-time gang who happen to be operating out of the flat next door. P.S. Amazing soundtrack.
2. Shallow Grave. In my opinion, one of the greatest films of all time. It’s dark, it’s freaky, it’s not recommended for everyone but those who cringe at the idea of a ‘bone saw’ can focus on the charms of a young Ewan McGregor. This is Danny Boyle’s (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire) directorial debut. The story is about three friends who share a flat in Edinburgh. They bring on a new flatmate,the mysterious Hugo, who suddenly dies of a drug overdose. The 3 friends discover a very large amount of cash in Hugo’s suitcase, and a plot of greed and betrayal begins to unfold.
1. Trainspotting. Do I really need to talk about why I chose Trainspotting for the #1 spot in a list of great films to practice your British slang to? One word – Spud. Phenomenal film, only elevated but it’s brilliant soundtrack.
How’s that tea coming along, dear?
Let’s get into these cookies! xo