How-To: Find the Perfect Brighton Rock

As I walked down the street heading towards the beach, my anticipation built quickly and steadily. The never ending expanse of the ocean, the sweeping winds, the crash of the waves. It was all exciting and entrancing. One thing I do tend to dread about the beach though: sand.

Coarse grains getting…. well – everywhere. Often it even finds it’s way into the crevices of my teeth, leaving me with that awful terrible cringey feeling that my tooth is going to break in half because of one tiny particle. Upon getting to the beach, I looked over the ocean, I breathed in the sea air, I looked down to where I would soon walk… and there was no sand!

Rocks! Big Rocks! Brighton Beach, I now know, is known for this rock. I danced down to the beach to take a closer look. Beautiful rocks! The variety and color and shapes and textures were worth exploring. I quickly decided I must have one for my own. But which one?

How to Pick your Rock

 

Someday you may come across the same conundrum. Picking a Brighton rock out for your very own. Never fear, you won’t have the same challenges that I did because here I am to provide you with a quick, concise, how-to on choosing a Brighton rock.

Let’s start with color: what do you want this rock to embody? There is a ton of research about color psychology, and I will now break it down quickly and simply here for you – rocky colors only:

 

Now onto texture. This category is a little bit trickier, and a lot of it depends on the use. Are you using your rock as a rubbing stone to cope with stress? Pick a smoother texture. Are you fascinated with the nooks and crannies? Rough. Check out the patterning that the textures create. Which one intrigues you?

Size. Pick an appropriately sized rock. Yes, there are some that will barely fit in your hand, but is that practical? Do you want to lug a huge rock around all day? Maybe the answer is yes and you are making a statement about the emotional weight of the objects we choose to keep (that sounds familiar). But more likely, you want something that will fit nicely in your hand. Feel the ergonomics of the shape. Is there an uncomfortable bugle in a particular spot? Find another one. Don’t settle.

Final question: Do you want an edible rock? If you are answering yes to this question, then there is a specific place for you to look. You should leave the beach area, head to the pier, and pick up some Brighton Rock from one of the many (cash-only) candy shops. Heads up: there are many different flavors to choose from, but that is a “How To” for another day.

The quiches of my labor…

Today I’m going to explore a theory that I concocted in my kitchen. Last week I came to the conclusion that any unsettled feeling I had about moving to another country, starting a new job, etc was manifesting itself in my diet.

Read 'The quiches of my labor'

I noticed that what I was eating was low-effort food. I got cereal for breakfast. Pre-baked scones, yogurt and fruit, and peanut butter on celery was my lunch. Dinner I would up just snacking on whatever other ready-made things that I had bought when I went grocery shopping.

In the rest of my life I felt pretty comfortable, but not necessarily motivated. Whenever I got home I immediately felt like crashing in bed and not getting up. I’d work on my computer or watch Netflix. Keep it simple. But at the end of last week, I realized I’m running out of time. This past weekend was one of the last ones I will spend fully in London, so I started thinking about ways to keep exploring the city without the convenience of a weekend. Naturally, going out after work was the answer. But how was I supposed to do that if my body was begging for my bed at 18:00 on the dot?

I came to the food conclusion when I texted my dad about feeling melancholy (read below). There were too many unknowns that made me anxious. If I wanted to cook something, would Tesco have the proper ingredients? Would I have the proper cooking gear to make what I wanted to? Would I be in the way of my roommates? I felt scared of getting halfway through a recipe and realizing I needed something I didn’t have (ingredients, cookware, time, etc).

This weekend, I took some risks. I researched some recipes and I decided to commit myself to them. I was interested in using pastry, so I catered some flexible recipes to that. I decided on quiche and stir-fry that I could turn into little savory pies by filling the pastry with them. I knew I didn’t want to make my own pastry. The thing about moving every 3 months is it becomes really difficult to buy bulk ingredients like flour, sugar, etc because you won’t necessarily be able to move it to your next place. It gets very wasteful very quickly. So I bought pre-made shortcrust pastry that just needs to be baked.

The stir fry turned out to be really easy because Tesco has a lot of pre-cut veggie packs and noodles specifically for it. All I had to do was cook the chicken and stir it all together. I put much more effort into my quiche. I chopped everything myself, I made my own baking tins, I concocted my own recipe, which you can find below.

My final conclusion is that cooking is an extraordinary creative outlet and a fabulous way to familiarize yourself with your space. Cooking a bunch will really truly help you settle into a new life because you get used to your own apartment, the surrounding grocery stores, and your own capabilities. You control what you eat, and you can make sure it’s food that is going to make you feel good (tastebuds and the rest of you, too). I am feeling more confident and energized since this weekend of cooking, and I am looking forward to what I may scrummy up in the future.

The Recipe + Process Pics

*NOTES: 1. apologies for sloppy handwriting, 2. the shortcrust should be BLIND-BAKED before you add the filling, my crust wasn’t quite done when the egg concoction was, 3. TO GET FLAVOR, put your flavor filling in the crust first (to the TOP) and pour egg + cream over top (if you mix it with the egg there won’t be enough to get serious flavor and the egg will overwhelm.. I think. I will test and share updates)

British Snacks

YUMMY

  • Penguins: Chocolate filling in between chocolate cookies dipped in chocolate.
  • Jelly Babies: Like Sour Patch Kids without the sour and much more pleasant to chew, the texture is great.
  • Ribena: Juice box, I sucked back 4 strawberry ones in an hour.
  • Quavers, cheese flavor: puffy, cheesy, satisfying.
  • Walkers Crisps: Prawn and Cocktail flavor was good and then I looked up what a prawn was and I got the worst heebiejeebies. Still tasty crisps (chips) though. All the flavors are pretty good, I’d say less impactful flavor than Lays (Frito-Lay is their parent company also), but the subtlety is nice.
  • BUN RUN: the guys in the office next door come in every once in a while and exclaim, “bun run!” and then take a breakfast order. One of the best British traditions so far.
  • Pub Roast: tried last week, very excellent. A lot of food, and they find it odd when people ask for a box for their leftovers. Really strange. The veggies are so good, the beef was okay, I would’ve preferred pork or chicken but they were all out. Yorkshire Pudding is not a dessert, you’re actually supposed to dip in gravy and eat it before you start on the other stuff. It’s basically bread, and very enjoyable.
  • WELSH CAKES: from heaven no doubt in my mind.
GRODY
  • Hula Hoops: Dog treat texture and shape. Very smooth, like those beige tube treats dogs like.
  • Mr. Porky Crackles: Dog treat smell. They’re like balls of bacon that have been chipified which sounds good, and I was excited. But I opened the bag and had to double check they weren’t for dogs. When I ate the first one, I kind of liked it. Then the texture got really gritty and it was like sand made of bacon. And then I tried to eat a second one and I almost threw up.
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    Weekly update

    The third week was an eventful one.

    My boss was out of the office for a trip to Israel, which is cool.

    I started to learn French with the Coffee Break French podcast so I don’t get bullied by the French in December. Bonjour! Je me pelle Andie! Ce va? (I don’t know how to write French, I’m just listening to how to say things). Often, I find myself instinctually answering in Spanish when they ask me how to say such-and-such. Working on it.

    CIEE hosted an intern mixer, which is where I tried all the wonderful (or not wonderful) snacks listen above. Thanks Sam!

    I went to Oxford on Saturday. It was an awesome trip. Again, thanks Sam! We got a tour and heard some crazy stories, which is always my favorite part. We had a beer at the oldest pub in Oxford and second oldest in the UK (so they say). It’s called the Bear. We went up in the tower of the church and looked over the whole town. Beautiful and cool. We met some guys who were taking a break from the wives and kids for a college friend reunion. They were very friendly and loud, and the pub owner was a bit upset about the ruckus our group was making.. shout out to the Camels (that’s what they call themselves) for being a group of cool dudes, and shoutout to Sam and her husband for making friends with them.

    And finally Cardiff! Wales is cool. Very peaceful compared to London. We took a boat tour and learned a bit about Roald Dahl (who I love). We saw the church where he was baptized, and I thought they had a museum for him, but alas, they do not. The area called “Roald Dahl Plass” is just an area. It doesn’t feature his work, it only features restaurants. Slightly disappointing. But still, really cool area, really nice people, really fresh air.

    Before we left Cardiff, we went to a bar called the Alchemist and it was crazy cool and kinda creepy. I tried Butterbeer, very buttery and carmel-y and very GOLD. There was another drink that changes colors as you poured different stuff in. You get to watch the bartenders make these cool elaborate drinks with cool substances like dry ice. I asked if the guy knew the chemistry behind it all. He did a pretty good job explaining Julia’s drink, “the Bubble Bath.” They pack soy lecithin in the bottom of the glass before pouring the drink. This chemical has parts of it’s molecule that are hydrophobic, and parts that are hydrophilic. When the hydrophobic parts separate and try to escape the beverage, the hydrophilic parts cling to the water surrounding the hydrophobic pockets aannndd –  bubbles!  The drink foams, and the bubbles stay put because of the emulsifying – or stabilizing – qualities in the soy lecithin. Very intriguing.

    See pictures of snacks, Oxford, and Cardiff in my London photo journal.