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PBS fans are midway through Season 2 of Downton Abbey. UK viewers/DVD collectors who have seen all episodes could be feeling smug in their knowledge–me included–but the series is so rich that I have no problem watching the older episodes a few more times. Besides, September is a long time to wait for Season 3 and life in the roaring 20s (oops, was I suppose to share that?)

Anna takes the pretty red bus to confront Bates

The Bates Saga of Episode 3,4

In the past couple of episodes, we have learned that Mr. Bates, played by Brendan Coyle (he tweets @brendancoyle99), is back on the scene. In Episode 3, Mary tells Anna that it was Mr. Bates she saw in the village in Episode 2. Sir Carlisle was more than happy to track him down, likely in hopes that Mary might be more agreeable to his marriage proposal. Anna’s true love is working at the Red Lion (an inn/pub) in a nearby village. Anna promptly (or as quickly as public transporation of that era will take you) shows up at the Red Lion to confront him. Loving conversation ensues.

In Episode 4, Daisy overhears Thomas tell O’Brien that Mr. Bates was spotted working at the Red Lion; she blabs the news which spreads like wildfire to Lord Grantham. He then takes it upon himself to break the news to Anna who already knew (way to steal his thunder); she explains that Bates can’t come back to Downtown since he left on bad terms.

Lord Brantham and Bates chat in the charming Red Lion

This prompts Lord Grantham to take a trip to the Red Lion himself–likely in a timelier fashion than Anna–to mend fences and bring him home. All this foils Moseley’s grand plans to become valet to Lord Grantham. (My money is on him going “postal” in Season 3).

I was surprised that Bates didn’t get fired with all the personal visitors he had, plus refusing to serve Thomas’ friend. Still, from the interior shots, it looked like a charming little establishment. With all that traveling, I am sure Anna and Lord Grantham might have taken a glance at the menu. Whatever might they have been served?

the only stuffed sheep at this event

I am so glad you are curious. I just made a pub dish for a Robbie Burns styled Supper last night (potluck-how Scottish is that) and wasn’t sure how to include the recipe into a post on Episode 4.

You will find this dish in pubs around the world, but could have also been served downstairs in the servant’s dining hall. I dare say that the Crawleys would not eat meals made of cabbage.

The wee sweet Scottish hostess for last night’s event asked us to bring a main course dish, but did not specify a preference. I was not going to show up with a shepherd’s pie (there ended up being 2), but thought about some sort of stew. A greater power had stepped in and helped me narrow the choice.

Be careful what you ask me for

My husband mentioned that he would love some coleslaw, a dish he enjoyed the many years he was a vegetarian. I love to please My Lord and bought a small cabbage to make some slaw. When I cook (my husband is making a lovely pork roast tonight) I am both Daisy and Mrs. Patmore so employ whatever tool works best. In this case my food processor made handy work of shredding cabbage and carrots. I ended up with an enormous bowl of slaw. I had the foresight not to make dressing for the lot. After 3 days of raw cabbage with every meal, Lord D (my husband) cried uncle, leaving me searching for another way to use up the shredded slaw. And then it hit us: colcannon. A traditional one pot dish, it is found all across the UK, known by a variety of names (colcannon, bubble and squeak, rumbledethumps, kailkenny). Essentially it is a mixture of potatoes…and cabbage! Since I was asked to bring a main dish meal I added sauages to the mix.

Main Dish Colcannon

Many recipes will make quick work of leftovers, mixing left over mashed potatoes together with boiled cabbage. I like the idea of steaming the raw vegetables in one pot so that is the method I used. It travelled well, did not have to be served piping hot, and was well received at the event, particularly the Scottish hostess, which honored me.

Colcannon: a hearty dish fit to feed a crowd of hungry Scots.


  • 6 sausages (whatever you have on hand) but purists would use irish banger sausages
  • 4-6 yukon gold potatoes, cubed*
  • 1 large onion, chopped*
  • 1 whole cabbage, shredded*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream if you are a sadist OR use lighter dairy products (light sour cream, yoghurt) to keep it healthy.
  • salt and pepper to taste


*”Daisy, chop all the vegetables”. “Yes, Mrs. Patmore”


  1. Brown the sausages in a large dutch oven.
  2. Remove sausages.
  3. Add potatoes and onions to drippings in pan and stir to coat.
  4. Add cabbage and parsley and mix well.
  5. Place sausages on top of mixture.
  6. Cover with tight fitting lid and simmer, stirring occasionally until potatoes and cabbage are soft. 45 minutes is about right.
  7. Add as much ale as needed to keep colcannon moist.
  8. As soon as the potatoes and cabbage are soft, remove the sausages
  9. Add the dairy product of your choice cthe Heavy Cream to the mixture until it resembles mashed potatoes.
  10. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
  11. Chop up the sausages and add to the mix.