Downton S6E8: Downton Abbey Has Gone Completely Bananas

Bananas was a great word to describe this episode: that Spratt!

Wow, there was quite a bit of drama to absorb this week on Downton; I am sorry to have to spoil the fun, but there is only one episode left of Downton Abbey. It is the traditional extended Christmas Special that we have come to love over the years, but this one will be bittersweet. Mark your calendars (or keep tabs on the countdown clock at right) and bring out the good silverware, the finale is March 6, 2016. It also happens to be a couple days after my birthday, so thanks PBS for making my year. Be sure use my handy index to help plan your own fabulous finale party.

In keeping with tradition, I will continue to share one recipe from each episode as my love letter to the Downton kitchen staff and to those fans who love the food on the show. This week’s recipe is a mashup of two story lines. The Crawleys saved Mrs. Patmore’s Bed & Breakfast with Afternoon tea, so I knew we would be baking something for tea.  We already have a delicious scone recipe, so I thought traditional Cornish Banana Cake would be appropriate, considering “banana” was used as a code word at the magazine. If you are looking for a more health conscious banana recipe, there is always my fabulous banana breads.

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Tea Tuesday: Traditional Courting Cake

Its time for Wimbleton and themed teas
Its time for Wimbleton and themed afternoon tennis teas

I have been waiting for summer to arrive since last fall, and finally it is here.  This week I will be leaving for our annual family fishing trip to the West Coast which I have written about more than once.  I will be offline for a week or two. Sadly our travel plans through the Rockies might be changed with the flood damage to the Calgary area.  Equally disappointing will be  a smaller version of the world famous Calgary Stampede as flood waters have completed covered the grounds.  My mom thoroughly enjoys putting her horse on display in the horse barns every year.  Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose homes have been ravaged by nature.

As you may know, Tea Tuesday is a weekly tradition I started, dishing about Downton Abbey, featuring a new “Downton” era recipe. Refer to my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea, helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to help you host your own tea party with family and friends.

This week’s treat, Courting Cake, is inspired by our son Master Stephen and his girlfriend Lady Emma, who stopped by this weekend on their way to spend a year in Australia together.

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The Downton Year Ends with Hogmanay

Count down to Hogmanay

While Christmas in North America is a month long buildup of festivities, reflecting a melting pot of religious, cultural and secular traditions, New Years is more of an after thought, one last party before getting back to business. In Scotland however, Christmas is a low key celebration with a build up to New Years, called Hogmanay, the biggest party of the year. Since the Crawleys visit their scottish relatives in the S3 Christmas episode I though it fitting to pay tribute to the great feast.

In the late 1500s, the Scottish Reformation abolished Christmas, which lasted for 400 hundred years. Most Scots had to work on Christmas Day until the 1960s. In the early 1600s, they changed the date of New Year’s from March 25 to January 1, and began celebrating Hogmanay. Christmas is still celebrated with family as a low key affair, but then the Scots pull out all the stops for a two day holiday.

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Happy Valentine’s Day featuring Mary, Matthew & a sparkly salted caramel truffle

The delicate dance between Mary and Matthew (ITV)

Happy Valentine’s Day whereever you live in the world, and belated greetings for those down-under who have already celebrated the day.  My Tuesday posts are typically dedicated to Afternoon Tea, but consider adding this recipe as a sweet treat to your tea tray.  I do offer a new recipe each week, so check out and bookmark Online Guide to Afternoon Tea to keep up to date.

While Valentine’s Day is celebrated in different ways around the world, most do involve a show of hearts, flowers and chocolate! My husband and I treat everyday as if it is Valentine’s Day so today is just another day in paradise.  Since I often treat my husband with mostly healthy treats (as he does for me), it has been fun preparing food pairings for our favorite Downton Abbey couples: lovely chocolate sweets to share with loved ones.  Continue reading Happy Valentine’s Day featuring Mary, Matthew & a sparkly salted caramel truffle