There are many things you can do to prepare for life as an expat before your plane departs your homeland and you land on foreign soil. I have done it a few times and some of the things I recommend include researching mobile phone plans, establishing which apps you will use to communicate with friends and family, researching your new climate so you only ship appropriate clothing, and reading up on currents and voltage to figure out which electrical things you should leave behind. (Trust me, leave the vacuum cleaner behind.)
Other practical tips involve the specific location of your new home. Moving from the US to Europe, for instance, it is helpful to understand European sizing of clothes and shoes for you and your family. If you are a casual baker you really want to get used to using a scale; recipes in Europe nearly always use weight as opposed to volume measurement (you’ll not only get used to this but I promise you will prefer it at some point). And if you are moving to England one thing that you could do that would be super, super helpful to your expat self is to understand how to order food online using weight and volume measurements.
England, London specifically, has the best grocery delivery services on the planet. Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s,Waitrose and Ocado (which is essentially the same as Waitrose and I don’t really understand the difference) all market to and serve a slightly different population. From cheap and cheerful Asda (Walmart) to slightly more high-end Ocado (Fresh Direct) milk, bread, eggs, flowers and wine can all just show up at your door at a pre-arranged time.
But it isn’t guaranteed smooth sailing. The problem with online grocery shopping is that you are on the other end of it. All of those perfect pictures of your favorite produce, milk, bottled water and wine ….well they all look the same size as one another on the screen despite enormous variations. Last week I ordered a gallon of olive oil when I intended to order a small bottle and our cellar is stacked with 2 litre bottles of Evian from multiple attempts to order individual bottles for the kids to take to camp (save your preaching, I’ve since switched to BPA-free refillable water bottles). Also going from piece to weight can make you crazy. Do you want 250 grams of eggplant for dinner? WHAT? Who in the hell knows? How about milk? Do you want 4 pints, 1 litre or 1.14 litres? Fish? How many grams? A kilo of steaks?
I may regret sharing this with you, because this may be crystal clear to you, but let me share what happened last week when I logged on to order zucchini. First up, this is what popped up:
Naturally I read this as Courgettes,Waitrose, [some incomprehensible weight], “BUY ANY 2 for £3” and I thought, well, I’d quite like to make a few things so I’ll take 8. But I’m really clever so I’ll only add  portions (because it says Buy any 2 for £3). Except, guess what? I ended up with 19 of them. NINETEEN of them. I ended up with 2000 grams of courgettes. There is nothing you can do with 2000 grams of courgettes. Believe me, I’m trying.
So far I have made zucchini bread. Zucchini muffin tops. Zucchini lemon waffles. Zucchini Quinoa salad. Zucchini ribbons with garlic and corn and, naturally, zucchini soup. Tonight? Zucchini risotto and, I kid you not, I will still have 4 leftover.
On a positive note, after years of delay, I have finally taught myself to make zucchini bread and I am overjoyed at the results. The recipe below makes a simple quick bread that is light and airy but somehow just slightly dense and sweet enough for either an afternoon tea (something I am studying at length) or even dessert.
There is no secret here. The recipe is quick and extremely easy. Mix the wet. Mix the dry. Add the dry to the wet. I don’t know why you have to do that but people say it matters and I believe them. Bake. Don’t skimp on the orange zest – it balances the meaty flavour of the zucchini.
Me? I’m going to go take a zucchini bubble bath and give myself a zucchini facial.
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups caster (white) sugar
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- Zest of one large orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1teaspoon of salt
- Preheat your oven to 175C / 350F and grease the insides of two loaf pans.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, yogurt, oil and sugar and mix well. Add the shredded zucchini, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture stirring until well combined but not overbeating.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans.
- Bake the loaves for 50 minutes or until a tester in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool for until the loaf pans are no longer too hot to touch (10 mins or so) remove them from the loaf pans and serve.