Downton Abbey fans are quick to rhyme off quips and put downs made by the Dowager Countess. The You Tube collection, Top 10 Maggie Moments has gone viral and you can now buy your own tastefully embroidered pillows with some of the best known one liners.
The wonderful Maggie Smith has been blessed with wonderful writing, and delivers her lines with razor sharp accuracy. The quick witted martriarch has helped gain a broader audience in the US, as I guess everyone loves a feisty granny. That’s all fine and good, but there are other strong willed women on the show.
Our Compliments to the Cook
Mrs. Patmore, head cook, can also hold her own in the battle of the wits. Not unlike other celebrity chefs known for their temper, she can strip the hide off a scullery maid with the best of them, and without the need to curse. The brilliant writing team has also taken the care to round out her character to reveal a kind hearted soul with a family, who was fiercely protective of William, because of her own loss in the War. She reminds me a great deal of my own grandmother who taught me how to cook. So this is tribute to Mrs. Patmore with some of my favorite quotes.
The General in the Kitchen
My favorite quote is appropriate for new chefs to consider when things don’t go well in the kitchen.
Mrs. P: what the eye doesn’t see the heart won’t grieve over.
My tip: start cooking with a clean floor…and an empty dishwasher.
Best known for her interaction with the long suffering Daisy, here are some of the better lines.
Mrs. P: Listen to me (to Daisy) and take those kidneys up to the servery before I knock you down and serve your brains as fritters.Mrs. P: Daisy, I said you could go for a drink of water, not a trip up the Nile.
Daisy: I was only trying to help.
Mrs. P: Oh!…Judus was only trying to help, I suppose, when he brought the Roman Soldiers to the Garden.
Mrs. P: Did you hear me or have you gone certibly deaf?
Daisy: No, Mrs. Patmore.
Mrs. P: Then might I remind you that we are preparing dinner for your future employer and if it goes wrong, I will be telling them why.
Mrs. P: (discovering Daisy dancing with William): Daisy, stop that silly nonsense before you put your joints out.
Mrs. P: (in response to Daisy’s protest for fair treatment in S3): Oh Dear, Have you Swallowed a Dictionary?
Daisy: The chimney is not drawing properly, the oven is not hot enough.
Mrs. P.: It’s a poor workman who blames his tools.
O’Brien: Can I borrow some baking soda?
Mrs. P.: Borrow? Are you planning to give it back?
A comment on how tight food rationing was after the war
Mrs. P: ugh. Talk about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I wish I had a sow’s ear. It would be better than this brisket.
Mrs. P: He (Thomas) understands. He knows that this is just the sprat to catch the mackarel*.
On supporting Mrs. Bird’s Soup Kitchen
Mrs. P: If we can’t feed a few soldiers from our own village, thems who have taken a bullet or worse for King and country, then I don’t know what.
Mrs. Patmore On Life
Mrs. P: (when hearing about the sinking of the Titanic) Nothing in life is sure.
Mrs. P: (on how people will survive on rationing after the war) The Lord tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.
Mrs. P: (observing Thomas scrambling to find a job at Downton after the war) It is wonderful what fear will do for the human spirit
Daisy: I know its my fault, but wish I didn’t let him (William) think we are like “sweet hearts”. Because we’re not. At least not by my reckoning, anyway.
Mrs. P: It’s too late for second thoughts now, Missy. You don’t have to marry him when it comes to it, but you can’t let him go to war with a broken heart, or he won’t come back.
Adopting New Technology
(the new phone rings) Mrs. P.: It sounds like the cry of the banshee.
Branson: Will you answer it?
Mrs. P: I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.
Stealing a Line from O’Brien
Mrs. P: William’s got more to say than a parliamentary candidate.
What Mrs. Patmore would say to do with all the apples you brought home from the apple orchard, or those bruised apples from the grocer is to make lovely desserts, which can be enjoyed now, and put up applesauce to store for the long winter.
Downton Abbey, like most grand country homes had their own orchards so fruit was plentiful. Apples could be used in the famous apple charlotte, apple crumble, or a lovely apple pie. Try this great recipe for pie pastry which will make multiple pies from all those apples.
Apples will store well in a cool larder (pantry), but cooks in the era would also make applesauce to serve with pork dishes, duck and of course, the Christmas goose. For many generations of cooks, canning was a necessity for preserving food for long term storage. Particularly during and after wartime*, it was necessary to be able to extend the use of your preserves.
Personally, I do a lot of low fat baking, often using applesauce to replace oil in baked goods in many of my tea recipes on this site, so need to keep jars of applesauce on hand. You could buy it in the store, but it is dead simple to make and fills your home with lovely smells as it sits on the stove. If you are a bit of a Daisy when it comes to canning, applesauce freezes really well flat in freezer bags or you can use low profile plastic containers.
- At least 3-4 pounds of apples
- 2 cinnamon sticks (cinnamon with apples wasn’t yet popular with Mrs. P’s crowd, sad really)
- juice of one lemon (optional)
- unsweetened applesauce is great on its own. If you do want a sweetened version, add up to 1/4 cup of sugar or sugar substitute.
- The “Daisy Duty” is to peel, core and chop all the apples.
- Put the apples into a large stock pot or dutch oven.
- Add about a 1/4 cup of water into the pot to prevent burning.
- Add the cinnamon sticks, lemon juice.
- Use low-medium heat on your stove and reduce the apples down to what looks like applesauce. It should take about an hour.
- Mrs. Patmore would have used a potato masher to finish the sauce to break up any large lumps. Today you are permitted to the modern day version called an an immersion blender or to put the sauce through a blender.
*Connection to Captain Crawley: Demand for canned food skyrocketed during World War I, as military commanders sought vast quantities of cheap, high-calorie food to feed their millions of soldiers, which could be transported safely, survive trench conditions, and not spoil in transport.
Tools of the Trade
While cooks in Downton’s era may not have had exactly the same type of kitchen gadgets, Victorian cooks did start the craze for creating a tool for each job in the kitchen, so I blame our ancestors for my obsession with collecting these time savers. You can even order this stuff directly from Amazon so you have more time to watch Downton.
Potato mashers have been with us as long as we have wanted to mash potatoes (they quickly designed an App for that). The design really hasn’t changed much, but I love this version from Good Grips which is really easy on your hands.
Mrs. Patmore would have had a potato masher, a whisk and good knives for chopping. There were manually operated food processors in that era but took up a great deal of space and were hard to clean. I suppose that is why I really enjoy my Cuisinart 3 in 1 tool for home use, with an immersion blender for blending soups right in the pot, a whisk and mini processor for smaller quantities of items like nuts. It is really compact and a real time saver when I don’t feel like a workout for my arms.