Thursday, January 02, 2014

Downton Abby Give-away

Like so much of the world, I've fallen head over heels in love with the PBS Masterpiece series Downton Abby.  And like the rest of America, I'm holding my breath for this Sunday night's premiere of Season four.
 I even have a Downton Abby Pinterest board  http://www.pinterest.com/shannonimlay/romancing-downton-abbey/
 Season one of Downton Abby begins in 1912 Edwardian England. If you havn't started watching the series, I highly recommend it, but I also recommend that you watch it from the beginning. Julian Fellowes does a wonderful job of building a story around each person in the series, both upstairs and downstairs.  

When I found out that Larry Edwards, a classically trained chef, had written a cookbook inspired by Downton Abby, I really wanted to get my hands on one. Well not only was Larry gracious enough to send me a signed copy, he also sent one for one of my lucky readers.
This book shows you how to make breads, soups, side dishes, entrees, and desserts found on the"upstairs" tables of Edwardian England. Edwardian Cooking is filled with an array of delicious English fare to dream about and to prepare, from high tea delicacies to elegant dinners. I really enjoyed that each recipe came with a story and history along with some very pretty Edwardian drawings.

I couldn't resist doing a New Years Tea Party, I just wish the bloody servants would have showed up to polish the silver ;)  I started by making a rather large flower arrangement in a gleaming silver bowl (lined with a glass bowl). I even payed homage to the opening credits of Downton Abby by sprinkling some "fallen" rose petals around my arrangement :)
I got out my best china, including my tartan plaid plates as a nod to the episodes in season three spent at a Scottish Hunting Estate. I made Earl Grey tea shown here with lemon.
I made two different Tea Sandwiches from "Edwardian Cooking". Cucumber and Cheddar Tea Sandwiches with Horseradish Cream on page 45, and Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Cream Tea Sandwiches on page 47.  Chef Larry's Tea Sandwiches call for Puff Pastry (yum). I think next time I'll use smaller canape cutters, they would have been the perfect size.  Regardless of the size they turned out quite delicious.  I've also made his Cream Scones on page 16 and they were wonderful. I also found these adorable Scottie dog shaped Scottish shortbread cookies for the top of my three tiered server :)  There is a recipe for Scottish Shortbread in the book and I WILL be trying it.

Click on photo to see the enlarged version

Now for the Give-Away

1). First and foremost, a signed hardback copy of Edwardian Cooking... Thank you Larry Edwards

2). A 2014 Official Downton Abbey Wall Calender filled with beautiful photographs

3). A copy of Victoria Classics Tea Pleasures. This magazine has so many wonderful tips on how to prepare and enjoy tea (including how to use the strainer in this give-away :)

4). A lovely stainless steel tea strainer and bowl

5).  2 Teapot shaped teabag cozies

6). One box of Earl Grey Tea and I will be throwing in a bunch of other teas for you to try
Unmasked at midnight
Now for the rules

1). You MUST leave a comment on this post, tell me why you want to win, ask me about something in my tea-scape, it doesn't matter, let's just connect and chat, isn't that what tea is about ;)

2). For extra entries "Like' The Food of Downton Abby on Facebook 

3). Follow me on Pinterest  http://www.pinterest.com/shannonimlay/

Angelfood Cakes with fresh berries and Devonshire Cream
There is a recipe for Devonshire cream in Tea Pleasures, which is wonderful with scones,  cakes, and berries.
This drawing will be held on January 10th, remember you have 4 chances to enter, good luck and Happy 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

Here I sit on the Eve of a New Year. 2013 Is behind us. It has been a difficult year for many, and truth be told it has been a difficult year for me.
So I sit here on the Eve of 2014...full of hopes and dreams. I have always been an optimist and I see my champagne glass more than half full ;)
My New Years Resolutions
To love more
To kiss more
To Pray more
To prosper
To be kind
To use as many of my talents as humanly possible.
To help those who are in need
So I lift my glass ( I made enough for both of us) and toast for us....
Good Health
A life abundant with Love & Laughter
That we share our love and talents
That our Children are Blessed
That we make God proud to be our Father
That our lives are filled with beauty and delicious bounty
Happy 2014 my friends
The best is yet to come

Shannon Imlay

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Sugar Plum Fairy Party

Just click on any of the photos to see an enlarged version
I must confess that during the holidays my inner child comes out. I LOVE them! You'll never hear me utter words like, "why are the decorations out so soon"? Do they need to start playing Christmas Carols so early? Nope, I'm the one with the twinkle in my eye, a smile on my face, and singing Christmas Carols to my hearts content. So strap on some gossamer wings and join the party.

This year I decided to just give into my inner child and have a Sugar Plum Fairy Party. It's my childhood fantasy, but Moms, Dads, Grandmas, Grandpas, and anyone else who wants to come is invited :) To Start this off in a magical way, I pinned 300 white twinkle (Fairy) lights to the back of my freshly laundered lace curtains. I can tell you that they're much brighter in person than in the photographs, but it really set the mood. Then I attached gossamer wings below an angelic banner (don't worry, we have extras ).
I started off by decorating a small live tree with white cotton candy, didn't you always want to pick cotton candy from a tree? I used battery led lights, because they won't heat up and melt the candy. I covered the soil with plastic wrap, to keep moisture and soil away from everything, then flew in several white doves to finish off the look. They got to take home any leftovers to fluff their nests. The white urn is from World Market.

Each guest gets their own jar of Fairy dust (artificial snow) complete with fairy wand and topped with a Flower from Hallmark. There's a pin attachment on the flowers to affix them to lapels, hats, or mittens. The glitter favor boxes are from Hobby Lobby.
This is Fairy Tea and pillows. You had to know that Fairies would drink hot chocolate for tea and rest their delicate little heads on marshmallows. I also set out white chocolate coconut fairy snowballs in Wilton's mini cupcake liners. The marshmallows are peppermint Peeps.
Willy Wonka has nothing on Sugar Plum Fairies, from left to right, pink gumballs, pastel candy canes filled with green and white gumballs, Green sixlets topped with snowflake lollipops. To dress up the lollipops I set the stick in a pink striped straw, tied it with pink satin ribbon and attached a ribbon flower. As the Dowager Countess Grantham say's, "nothing succeeds like excess". lol

Cupcakes, cookies and milk, oh my! Gingerbread cupcakes frosted with whipped cream frosting then sprinkled with silver edible glitter and topped with fairy wands. I'm not sure if I had more fun making them, looking at them, or eating them. My daughter makes the most heavenly Russian Tea Cookies and they taste even better washed down with Ice Cold Milk. I have straws with flags (to write your name on) so everyone knows which milk bottle is theirs.
I'm a firm believer that no cow should go unemployed during the holidays, so to keep Bessie busy, I offer you Peppermint Frappes, topped with whipped cream and crushed candy canes. I used Bluebell Peppermint Ice Cream, but there are several brands that offer this flavor during the holidays.
Need some fun ideas for your Sugar Plum Fairy party? Well you have to play Candy Land, I don't care how old you are, lol
How about printing Bingo cards from your computer and playing with some of your candy?
Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have in case I left anything out. 
Have a Merry, Magical, and Blessed Holiday Season
Shannon Imlay