(Note: I had the honour of being interviewed by InterNations, a website for ex-pats. Please click on coloured- InterNations Also, if a box pops up that says you need to be a member to see it, just click on the 'x' in the upper right corner to close the box and you can read it.)
I am back in the East Coast of the US for three weeks, visiting family. After 3+ years of living overseas and a few trips back, my homeland, the US, seems different. I'm wondering, what's different - me or The US? I still feel very comfortable here but I have observed more this visit. You know you are back in the US when:
Driving - people drive on the right side of the road, the cars are big, there are so many varieties of cars and lots of big cars, parking spaces are much wider, there are no roundabouts, there are no warnings of speed cameras, people honk their horns freely, police cars have brighter lights and more shocking sounds, and people jay walk testing fate as the cars come closer.
Shopping - wow, the shopping is fabulous! Most items are 50%+ off Australian prices and stores are open until 9pm. The customer service is better and the choices are endless - so many stores, so many sales. Step away from the mall! A real bonus too is that I have moved down two sizes as the US and Australia have 2 different sizing systems - bonus!
Coffee - the coffee of choice is drip coffee and the cups are huge. No wonder everyone in NYC is moving in fifth gear - they've just had 5 cups of coffee all in one giant cup! The choices are endless too. After a 13 hour flight from Sydney to San Francisco, I was delirious and asked for a coffee with milk dreaming of a flat white. Instead I had a choice of 20+ different types of coffee with various milk and sugars to chose from. Too many choices for a jetlagged woman; just give me some good strong coffee with a little milk please!
Food - I am amazed the choices and variety of foods and restaurants. I was hoping that by coming to the US and getting a break from my small cupcake business, I'd get a break from eating cupcakes but they are being happily replaced with pizza, frozen ice cream, Cheez-Its, goldfish crackers, See's candy, Godiva chocolate, Smartfood popcorn, soft pretzels, cold ice tea, real lemonade, California Chardonnay wine, chocolate chip cookies, brownie and more Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Accents - everyone is speaking with American accents for a change. I am not fielding the common question that is nice but has become tiring over time, 'Where are you from in the US? Are you enjoying your visit?' I am also able to say things like, 'Que pasa?...Hola!...muy caliente' and other Spanish phrases I know instead of getting a curious look. Unfortunately, my yell outs in the store of 'Wow, that's cheap as chips!' and other Aussie slang falls on deaf ears and garners puzzled expressions. Well I am glad no one knows the meaning of 'wuckers,' the newest addition to my slang vocabulary.
Animals - I am actually missing the squaks and cries of the Australian native birds that are ever present in Sydney, especially at dawn and dusk. It is very quiet here with the cute little chickadees, robins, hummingbirds and doves. I have encountered squirrels, gophers, turkeys, deer and chipmunks all in my parent's yard which my children find fascinating.
Laundry - I forgot how spoiled you can be in the US with large washers and dryers. I also forgot that the dryer is the preferred method to drying clothes as oppossed to drying racks and sunshine. I must admit, I really miss the big washers and dryers of America. I hate laundry with a passion and would love to do my laundry in those big Mommas.
At the end of the day, although many things seem different, the real reason we are back in the US is to see family and friends. They may change just as I have changed but they are still people and they are my people no matter where I choose to live in the world. My tribe is getting older which means I am aging too - stop the clock, please! As I sleep in the bedroom I've had since I was young and stare at the green shag rug, nostalgia and memories of my youth flood back into my mind like an old song on the radio or perfume once worn. I look at my parents who are almost 80 and realise they are no longer 60 like I picture them in my mind as I live on the other side of the world and I am no longer 25 either (damn!). It is not the 'things' part that make living on the other side of the world difficult, it is the 'people' part that pull at your heart strings and often make me feel guilty for living so far away. This will always be a constant struggle as I live overseas.
The getting-too-serious alarm has gone off so time to move on to some cooking although this recipe is not really cooking but it is easy and delicious. Since I have been enjoying the ice cream in the US and it is 84 degrees and humid as I type this, I thought an ice cream pie is a super easy everyday recipe to make. I have not brought my phone (on husband's laptop) with me so I must apologise for not having my usual recipe photos and how-tos. However, I have used some photos from the internet and think this 3 ingredient recipe is easy to follow. The only work here is that it is a bit more time consuming to make as you have to take the pie in and out of the freezer until complete.
My daughters request Ice Cream Pie as their birthday party cake each year and it is devoured by all. This recipe can be customised too as you can use whichever ice cream flavour and decoration you like. I do recommend using Oreo cookies for the crust because unlike cookie crust recipe where you need crushed biscuits, sugar and butter, you only need the Oreo cookies for the crust. The white filling in the middle of the Oreo is creamy enough to bind the cookie crumbs and make a tasty pie crust.
1-2-3 Ice Cream Pie
1 gallon/3.7 liters of Cookies & Cream (or your favourite ice cream)
1 container of chocolate sauce for decorating
1- Place 1.5 sleeves of Oreos in a bowl and begin to crush into fine pieces with your hands. I like to use a soup can/ tin to crush the cookies. You also can put some cookie crumbs aside to sprinkle/decorate the top of pie later on.
2- Take crushed cookies and put into a mound in middle of pie tin/glass pie. Use fingers to press and cover cookie crumbs to cover all inner surfaces to form a pie crust. You can use more or less cookies depending how thick you want your crust.
4 - Meanwhile, take out ice cream and let thaw until mushy and soft
5 - Take pie crust out of freezer and pour ice cream in. Smooth with a spoon or spatula to even the top and sides of pie.
6- Return ice cream pie to flat surface of freezer and freeze for 30 minutes or more.
7 - Decorate - Take pie out of freezer and decorate with chocolate sauce. You can spread a layer across the top or around the pie edge or I like to do several zig zags. For a birthday, I get an edible decorating pen/icing in the baking section of the grocery store and use it to write 'Happy Birthday' on the pie.
8 - Return decorated pie to flat surface of freezer to set.
9- Take pie out of freezer 15 minutes before serving to soften, 20+ mins before serving if it has been frozen overnight. Store leftover pie in freezer, covered with aluminium foil.