It’s that time of year when we all see red: Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year formally set aside to celebrate love. I am finally one of the lucky ones, living with Lord D, my loving and devoted husband. Not to take our love for granted, we strive to make every day Valentine’s Day with kind, sweet guestures…often involving food!
It is no wonder that we are both drawn to the love stories in Downton Abbey. At Downton you will find all variations: love is lost, found, taken for granted, and unrequited. It is innocent, calculated, pre-destined, mislaid, loyal, unrepentant. You get your money’s worth on this show!
As a foodie, my thoughts are never far from food, particularly with Valentine’s Day less than a week away. As an amateur chocolatier, ’tis the season to explore all things chocolate. So it is no surprise that I have been thinking about period appropriate sweets which might best reflect our favorite Downton Abbey couples.
The Simple Sweet Innocence of Daisy and William
Finding a way to store milk for long periods without refrigeration was the need which condensed milk resolved. Initially produced in France in the 1820s, American Gail Borden more famously took up the challenge in the 1850s. After witnessing several childhood deaths due to improper milk storage on a voyage back from England, he persevered over a number of years to produce a usable milk derivative that was long-lasting and needed no refrigeration. Because of its long shelf life it was highly valued in times of war. WWI housewives were encouraged to buy and send cans of condensed milk to the soldiers at the front.
History of Peanut Butter
We have had peanut paste for centuries, and it was initially brought to market as a nut butter, a health food for the upper classes, with recipes tea sandwiches made with nut butter. Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson obtained a patent for the modern method of processing peanut butter in 1884. In 1895 Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (the creator of Kellogg’s cereal) patented a process for creating peanut butter from raw peanuts. By the end of WWI, the production of peanut butter was in high gear in the US, so it is possible that Mrs. Patmore might have had access to a jar or two. Again, this was a product which had a long shelf life, which did make its way into military ration packs in WWII.