January 14, 2013

Bubbling and Loud Hissing Urn
by William Cowper (1731-1800) 

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
    Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
    Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate wait on each,
    So let us welcome peaceful evening in.

I promise--I really do.  I am not going to inflict you with my obsession about Downton Abbey for the next several weeks.  It's just that last night was such delicious fun--Dame Maggie Smith won 'Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television' at the Golden Globes last night on one channel, and on another channel she was justifying her award with yet another stellar performance as the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Lady Violet, in the second episode of Downton Abbey.  
I blame my mother for this obsession with all things English.  Her fascination and interest in English history and literature rubbed off so early in life that I distinctly remember creating paper dolls about the royal family when I was just seven!  
My imagination roamed the streets of London with A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and later, with the swashbuckling adventures of The Prisoner of Zenda and The Scarlet PimpernelOnce I was old enough to discover romance, the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen made sure my heart remains firmly in England. 
So I never stood a chance with Downton Abbey; it has reeled me in hook, line and sinker!  The castle, the drama, the love stories, and above all, the beautiful dresses they wear while sipping tea....what's not to love?!  I must confess that during last night's viewing I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt rather than an evening gown, and it wasn't quite as elegant in my family room, but I did set a lovely small table with my pink rose studded teapot and favorite antique china, while serving a delicious pot of Lady Jane Grey tea (which I strong recommend if you haven't tried it yet!) and homemade shortbread cookies, dipped in chocolate.
And now for the fun part--a friend of mine sent me a link to tea-bag shaped cookies on Saturday and I thought it would be quite fun to re-create them for my DA night.  I haven't had much luck with shortbread before, it usually seems too dry and crumbly, but this time I used Ina Garten's recipe and it turned out great.  And ta-da, here is the final result--tea bag cookies, complete with my own handmade tags!  Hmm....now what do I fix for next week's episode?
Tea bag cookies and heart-shaped cookies.  The heart cookie was in honor of Lady Edith's upcoming nuptials, but I guess I should have broken it in half!