Welcome to Tea Tuesday, my weekly tribute to the art of having tea. As Henry James once said: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
I host Tea Tuesday each week, a virtual tea party which was inspired by Christine, a follower who lives in France, who was curious about English tea traditions after watching a few episodes of Downton Abbey. The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual. Join me every Tuesday as I dish on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe with a history.
My Online Guide to the Tea Ritual
Many of you will be traveling to the UK and will likely have “afternoon tea” on your list. To help avoid disappointment (there is a difference between afternoon and high tea), I have created a handy guide to help you enjoy the experience: Downton Abbey Cooks Online Guide to Afternoon Tea. The guide includes:
- The history of Tea in England
- Tea Lingo
- The difference between Afternoon and High Tea
- Proper tea etiquette
The guide also includes tips and recipes to host your own tea party, perhaps to gather friends to watch your favorite Downton Abbey episode:
- How to make a proper cup of tea
- Sweet and Savoury tea recipes, including a great scone recipe you can adapt many ways.
- How to build a tea service on a budget.
Live Tweet Chat over Tea
If you tweet, you may wish to join me @downtoncooks, and other fans of Downton Abbey and tea from around the world by entering the hashtag #downtontea Tuesdays at 4 pm GMT, 11 am EDT, 9 am PST.
Summer is all about reruns so I have mixed in some old news in with the new since the Olympics seem to have dominated the world’s attention this week and Downton news is quite light. While we are on the subject of London and the Olympics, you might find this account from Diary of a Vintage Girl about the 1908 London Olympics to be great fun. No mention of Lord Grantham, though.
- Downton at the Olympics: Downton Abbey cast members were part of the A list crowd at the opening ceremonies Friday night. Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) and Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) tweeted these pictures of the gang from just outside the Olympic stadium, with Hugh’s tweet proclaiming “Team Downton Abbey invade the Olympic Park.” I am not sure how many events Hugh will be attending, but his tweety play by play commentary (@hughbon) at the gymnastics on Monday was very entertaining.
- Jim Carter (Charlie Carson) teaches circus tricks to the crew on set: A multi-talented performer, Jim Carter has been teaching circus tricks on set.
- Downton producers fear the lure of Hollywood: the bright lights of Hollywood are calling out to talented cast members. Will we be seeing any of them slap on the sun screen and move to L.A.?
- PBS Count Down to Season 3 on January 6th: As described on PBS: “The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate in the thrilling new season of Downton Abbey. Written and created by Julian Fellowes, with its all-star returning cast and Oscar-winning guest star Shirley MacLaine, Downton Abbey, Season 3 premieres January 6, 2013 on Masterpiece classic!” Want to keep track of the time? Link here to the countdown clock and other things Downton.
My Downton Dilemma: while the US has to wait until January, ITV in the UK will begin broadcasting Season 3 next month. Since the majority of you are from the US, and I will continue to cover food from the show, but will be very light on spoilers.
Guilt-free Sea glass Jell-o
The heat outside, combined with Olympic coverage this week, is motivating many of us to lighter meals. We are even less motivated to cook at all, so I thought this might be a great time to think outside the traditional tea menu box a bit and share this recipe which many of you have likely seen. If you can boil water you should be fine, and it is a hand held treat which kids love, and who doesn’t love Jell-o! Food, like clothing does follow fashion trends. Remember your granny’s aspic jellied salads (Julia Child, who would have been 100, had a whole chapter on them)?
Edwardians were bonkers for jiggly gelatin creations, and as you recall from S1 of Downton Abbey, Daisy and Mrs. Patmore prepared a few creations for the memorial service. My lazy summer brain concludes that Lady Sybil would have delighted in seeing this dish at tea time or served as a light dessert. It also reminds me of the sea glass I collected along the English shores when I visited a few years ago. Besides, I had posted a pic on Facebook and Twitter and a few people asked about the recipe.
There are slightly different variations on this dessert in terms of how many colors to incorporate. You can pick from 2 to 6 different colors and create your own color combinations. Less colors will leave you with a larger white border unless you double up on each color. I try to cut down on sugar where I can as the latest research indicates that sugar is now the new enemy. The downside is that I can’t seem to find cool colors like blue in the “no sugar added” versions of Jell-o.
- 4 boxes of no sugar added Jell-O
- 1 can low fat sweetened condensed milk
- 2 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
- For each flavour, dissolve one box of jello in one cup of boiling water. Pour into a flat container (I use my square Ziploc containers) and chill 4 hours until firm or overnight.
- After chilling your colored flavours, run a knife through them and cut them into small blocks.
- Carefully mix the blocks in a 9 x 13 glass pan, or large flat plastic container.
- In another bowl, sprinkle 2 envelopes unflavoured gelatin into 1/2 cup cold water. After the gelatin blooms, add 1 1/2 cup boiling water and dissolve. Add the can of condensed milk. Stir and cool.
- Pour cooled milk mixture over jello and chill overnight
- Slice into blocks and serve.