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No family is what is seems from the outside.

No family is what it seems from the outside.

America is settling in nicely to Season 3 of Downton Abbey. I freely admit that I am an avid Downton fan, and even during the frantic stress of finishing my cookbook, the opening theme for the show never, ever ceases to give me peace and calm. Thank you John Lunn for your brilliant contribution to TV soundtracks. I could actually manage to play “Damaged”, but generally love listening to the music. I am not sure I can get used to the theme song with lyrics, but buy it and judge for yourself. I haven’t gone so far as to download the Downton Abbey ring tone- I am afraid I would jump for a TV remote and not my cell phone.

A Little Burnt around the edges

While Mary and Matthew have been successfully been married off in E1, the mood has dampened a bit as Edith was left at the altar at E3, and there appears to be a “fire” theme this week (S3E4 if you are an ITV purist, or E3 by PBS calculation) as many of the characters in this episode have been “burned”:

  • Branson gets himself into trouble through affiliation with Irish radicals who set fire to the home of “friends” of the Crawleys, and is now banned from Irish soil.
  • Mrs. Hughes ruffles Carson’s feathers as she brings a new fangled electric toaster to Downton, particularly when she starts experimenting with it and sends smoke down the servants corridor.
  • As Edith struggles to find a new life for herself, her Granny tells her to find something to do; when she tries her hand at writing, her family is less than supportive.
  • Edith also has to contend with having to dress for breakfast as only married women were allowed the privilege of breakfast in bed.
  • Ethel makes the painful decision to give up her beloved little son Charlie.
  • Now that Matthew has saved the Estate, he discovers that the affairs are not being properly managed and his Father-in-Law is reluctant to discuss changes.
  • Anna and Bates are temporarily denied contact from one another due to the scheming of a fellow prison mate and a guard on the take.
  • Just as Daisy finally gets the blessing from her Father-in-Law, and the courage to tell Alfred she cares for him, she is interrupted by Mrs. Patmore who introduces her to Ivy, the new kitchen maid. Of course, Alfred fancies Ivy. Scorch!
  • Handsome new footman Jimmy brightens the maids’ day but seems to have set up a power struggle between Team O’Brien and Team Jimmy, led by Thomas.
spoon quiz.  Boullion

Do you know your spoons? (ITV)

  • Alfred almost nails his “spoons” quiz: The correct answers were tea spoon, egg spoon, melon spoon, grapefruit spoon, jam spoon….and boullion spoon. Boullion is a light soup which is typically reserved for luncheon since it is too light for a dinner, particularly when it is a heavy meal and much wine is served.
  • Finally, let’s not forget The Dowager having to part with a whole Guinea for a bottle of perfume. “Did he have a mask and a gun?”

A Brief History of the Electric Toaster

Mrs. Hughes gets a toaster

Mrs. Hughes gets a toaster (ITV)

A British company, Crompton & Company invented the electric toaster, named the Eclipse, in 1893. It had some design flaws as it only toasted bread on one side so you had to manually flip the bread. Electricity was not widely distributed in those days and those homes that did have it only used it at night for lighting. So I imagine the toaster would have been great for late owls or early risers. Did I mentioned it was prone to cause fires? It was an American working for General Electric, who patented what is considered the first successful electric toaster in 1909.

World War I played a part in the next advance in toaster technology. Tired of burnt toast in the cafeteria at the plant where he worked in Stiillwater,Minnosota, Charles Strite invented the first pop-up toaster in 1919 with a timer so bread did not need to be supervised while browning. I am still waiting for the next great toaster invention: toast which will pop up while being watched.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloins

Easy yet elegant dish great for weekday meals

Easy yet elegant dish great for weekday meals

With all the commotion there was not much time to show the food this episode, but we do know that Alfred made a fuss about Jimmy carrying the pork upstairs, so pork it is today. Pork tenderloin is a great lean meat which is quick to cook. Lord D and I often have it as a mid week dinner. This dish is one of our favorite ways to have pork.


  • 2 pork tenderloins
  • 1 cup chopped prunes and dried apricots
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • cinnamon, pinch
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1 small onion
  • sugar, pinch
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • ½ cup chicken stock


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Put chopped fruit in a small pot, add the orange juice and cook until the mixture is soft, but not sloppy. Allow to cool.
  3. Remove the silver from the tenderloins and butterfly*, so you have a large rectangle to fill.
  4. Spread the fruit mixture on the tenderloins, roll and secure with kitchen twine.
  5. Heat oil in an oven proof skillet and brown the tenderloins on all sides.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20–30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F.
  7. Remove the meat from the pan, cover with tinfoil and let rest.
  8. Add a little oil to the pan and sauté the onions until translucent on medium heat.
  9. Add the sherry, sugar and stock and season to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  10. Remove the kitchen twine and cut the tenderloin into 1–2 inch slices and serve with the sauce.

*How to butterfly a pork tenderloin

  1. Hold a sharp chef’s knife blade flat, so that it’s parallel to your cutting board, and make a lengthwise cut into the center of the tenderloin, stopping short of the opposite edge so that the flaps remain attached.
  2. Open the tenderloin like a book.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap. Pound the meat with a mallet, with a bottom of a pan to your desired thickness.

The Downton Abbey Soundtrack

You don’t have to wait for the next episode of Downton Abbey to enjoy the music. I often listen to the Downton Abbey soundtrack on the commuter train, imagining I am taking the train into London or out to Downton.