“Better get outside, there’s only two more days of summer.” That is my mantra every August to help encourage myself and my co-workers to get outside at lunch because soon it will be too cold to sit outside in the sun. Soon the days will get shorter, cooler and all the fresh locally grown produce will gone for the year. Whether you grow your own, visit your local farmers market, or enjoy cheaper prices at your grocery this time of year, do enjoy fresh produce now like the grasshopper. However, be sure to make time to store the excess in your freezer and pantry to store for winter like the clever little ant in the Aesop Fable.
Today we drink! Edwardians love the refreshing tart taste of rhubarb and not only cooked, they incorporated it into cocktails. Yes, you can have alcohol at your afternoon tea, but these drinks are grand at your garden party. We prepare rhubarb syrup to make a couple of Downton drinks, such as pink shocker and rhubarb bellini.
Downton launches Season 4 in mid September in the UK, but sadly in America we have to wait until January for our turn. In the meantime, here are some distractions to keep your Downton cravings at bay. If you haven’t seen all seasons (1-3) beware of spoilers below.
- PBS won’t budge on syncing UK and US broadcasts: Ratings Support the Decision
- PBS’s Rebecca Eaton speaks on S4: more trouble lies ahead for the Crawley family
- Variety talks script writing: it really is harder to write happy story lines.
- Video interview with cast members-Daisy, Edith and Mary: Daisy gets a new electric mixer which Mrs. Patmore does not approve of, and other Downton stuff…
Rhubarb, a Joy to Eat and to Drink
The English love Rhubarb and the Edwardians in particular had a fondness for the tart stalky vegetable. There were even large greenhouses forcing rhubarb to enjoy year round.
Rhubarb is a great plant to try for those of you aren’t great gardeners. This is a perennial, and I recall the plant tucked in our family garden which grew for years even when we forgot about it and was almost lost in the weeds.
The plants I grow today are a remnant from our family cottage. I dug up the plants from our cottage when we sold it and brought them home to my city garden. Just as I remembered, they are happy to grow on their own, and are ready to pick from late Spring until the Fall. As I remembered it was time to get my hair cut this weekend, I thought it was also time to give my plants a trim.
A great ingredient in many breakfast and dessert dishes we have already made here at Downton Abbey Cooks:
- yummy strawberry-rhubarb jam
- strawberry rhubarb muffins
- rhubarb blueberry muffins
- rhubarb puffs
- rhubarb orange betty
- healthy moist rhubarb cake
- strawberry rhubarb pie.
The Edwardians couldn’t get enough of rhubarb. By creating a simple syrup, they could add it to their cocktails. You could also add a splash to punch up any dish. Perfect for serving at a garden party on a hot summer’s day.
Zesty Rhubarb Cocktails
- 2 oz. vodka
- 2 tbsp. Rhubarb Syrup
- 1 tsp. Freshly ground ginger
- Rhubarb Syrup
- Add the vodka, rhubarb syrup and a sprinkle of ground ginger over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake generously and pour into a high ball glass.
- Cut thin strips from a rhubarb stalk to create a garnish.
- Fill a champagne glass half full with rhubarb puree.
- Fill to the top with your bubbly.
- 5 stalks rhubarb chopped into ½ inch pieces
- ½ cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
- 1 cup water
- Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and then crack the lid on the pot to let the steam escape. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain through a fine sieve into a glass container.
- The syrup will keep refrigerated for about a month.
- Use a a base for your favorite drinks.