Welcome! :-) Whatever brought you here today wasn't an accident, and I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm always glad to have folks drop in my kitchen for a visit and hope you'll feel right at home. We always have an ample supply of fresh lemonade, sweet tea, and a pot of coffee brewing along with a sideboard full of baked treats for you to enJOY while you're here. Relax and take your time as we visit and catch up on the latest news. Don't forget to email and let me know what's going on in your world, as well. And, come back soon!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Pinch of Love, A Smidgen of Joy - An English Tea

Downton Abbey

One of my absolute favorite television shows is Downton Abbey. The British drama, set in early 1900s England, is currently in its fifth season and airs on PBS at 9 p.m. Sundays. Months before my Mom passed, when the show was in its third season, she and I would watch from our different locations of the country, gushing about the show after each week's airing. We'd drink tea, eat desserts, chat about which upstairs and downstairs characters we liked best, and enjoy together the exciting drama that is Downton Abbey.

With Downton Abbey now in its fifth season, so much has happened with the storyline of the show, as well as in my life. I like to imagine Momma still watching Downton in Heaven while drinking tea, eating desserts, and having a laugh at the prim-and-proper yet witty Dowager Countess or "Granny" as she's known by the family.

I adore a cup of hot tea alongside something sweet like a scone with clotted cream and jam or a shortbread cookie. The Republic of Tea actually has its own line of Downton Abbey teas that are lovely to drink while watching the show.
Although I enjoy a good Republic of Tea variety on occasion, I adore the British brand Taylors of Harrogate, located in Yorkshire, Northern England. Their tea is OUTSTANDING on its own or with a bit of honey or Stevia.

The tea also goes quite nicely alongside a buttery, sugar-dusted piece of homemade shortbread. I have never been to England, but with a few of Taylors of Harrogate teas and some genuine shortbread, I feel as though I can taste the deliciousness of the UK in my home in Maine.

The shortbread recipe I used is adapted from one I discovered at food.com. The recipe makes quite a lot of shortbread, but I found that if you cut them in bars and freeze them in freezer bags, you can defrost them individually in the microwave for one minute and serve alongside freshly-steeped hot tea.

English Shortbread


2 1/2 sticks butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar (for sprinkling)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish with nonstick spray. In a stand-mixer, mix the butter at a medium-high speed until blended. Add the sugar while the mixer is running on medium-high, and continue to mix until well-blended and creamy. Add the flour gradually while the mixer is running on low, until flour is incorporated. Press the mixture into the dish. Prick a fork into the shortbread before baking. Sprinkle sugar on top of the entire shortbread. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and cut into bars. Freeze leftovers in freezer bags for up to a month. Serve with hot tea, and enJOY watching Downton Abbey!