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Canada celebrates Victoria Day this weekend

Tomorrow is Food Revolution Day around the world, so support real food and go cook something.  Here in Canada, while we are normally a very conscientious lot,  I am not sure how much work is actually being done in the workplace today, so apologies in advance for today’s post if my mind wanders a bit more than usual.  We annually celebrate the birth of Queen Victoria with a long weekend at this time of year.  Victoria Day, as I described it on Tea Tuesday, also marks the beginning of the summer season when we can plant our gardens, open up our cottages, shed our winter clothes and look forward to summer vacations just over the horizon.My annual summer pilgrimage is to Western Canada to visit with my family.  I spend a week with my Dad and brothers driving to the West Coast, passing through beautiful Banff and Jasper Park to fish for salmon and halibut off Dundas Island just south of the Alaskan Border.  When we return, its time for the Calgary Stampede.  My mom loves bringing her Paint Horse to display in the agricultural area.  This year marks its 100th Anniversary so it should be special one.  

Many of you will traveling to the UK this summer to partake in the Summer Olympics, Queen’s Jubilee, or to visit your own relatives there.  After a kind invitation by my childhood galpal  to stay with her family in London, Lord D and I did attempt to get tickets when they first came up, but the official ticket agent for Canada wasn’t able to secure an allotment for those earlier rounds, and so we passed on paying higher prices.  Although somewhat disappointed, Prince Charles and Camilla are coming for a visit this weekend, so we will get our share of Britannia to hold us until next year when we are planning a visit for Lord D’s family reunion.

Beyond Downton Abbey:  A review

Great English Houses

If you are planning an extended visit and are looking for other activities to escape the crowds in London, you might be interested in this great new book Beyond Downton Abbey, featuring 25 great Manor houses.  Even if you aren’t planning a trip, this is a great book to add to your Downton Abbey collection.

Authors Deb Hosey and her husband David Stuart White have the same amount of respect for the grand English Manor houses that you find in Jessica Fellowes book The World of Downton Abbey which I reviewed last Friday.  As the title of the book would suggest, the first house featured is Highclere Castle where Downton Abbeyis filmed. But where Jessica’s book stops, Deb and David move forward to introduce us to other grand houses, which are just as worthy of our attention.

But this isn’t another stuffy tour book; the homes featured are noteworthy in the ways that us fickle Downton fans demand.  We are reminded that we have seen many of these houses on film before (revenue which  helps pay for their upkeep); film credits are listed for each house.  The houses chosen for us are noteworthy in the ways that interest us, for example;

This is a great book to take with you on your travels, and particularly if you own a Kindle.  I have just acquired my own and have this book downloaded on it.  Ebooks are cheaper than print and you can enjoy the hyperlinks to websites through the wifi connections.  I enjoy how light and compact it is, and imagine that parents who have surrendered their iPad to their children or spouse on the road will be more likely to maintain control of their own Kindle.

What to Do with Strawberries when in Season

what to do with a huge bowl of strawberries

I was faced with a Downton Daisy dilemma yesterday.  Lord D has been taking advantage of the sales on strawberries and we have been well stocked with pints of berries for a number of weeks now.  Strawberries are low in fat and high in nutritional value, but it is a lot to consume.  It brings back memories of all the cucumber sandwiches, creamed peas on toast, and corn on the cob meals we ate from our family garden.

A favorite fruit of the Edwardians, I have been able to make a few period recipes with strawberries this month: low fat Trifle, Eton Mess and Victoria Sponge  I was all set to make strawberry rhubarb crumble, but the Lord of our Manor did not wish to partake in another dessert, low fat or not.

I reached out to my Facebook followers for ideas and they came up with some great suggestions: strawberry preserves, spinach salad, balsamic reduction,  strawberry soup, and even a healthy strawberry smoothie, from fellow “hungry girl”  fan, Vickie who blogs at Watching What I eat.

Since I found myself in the backyard moving a rock pile to break ground for a little garden, I ran out of time and energy so we ended up with a nice spinach salad and for dessert served sliced strawberries with greek yoghurt and honey.  I may still end up making a crumble over the weekend if we can’t eat the fresh berries fast enough, and I will want to put up some preserves while the berries are in season.  It was what Mrs. Patmore would instruct Daisy to do. Waste not want not, and save for a rainy day.

Strawberries with Madeira

strawberries, marinated in Madeira

Since we reviewed his book today, I thought I would also use David’s recipe idea.  He had suggested an easy summer dish, simply marinating strawberries in alcohol and sugar.  Edwardians were passionate about Madeira, and drank it whenever they had the chance. They even named a cake to eat it with, although it doesn’t have any madeira in it.  I think I will make Madeira cake for this week’s Tea Tuesday.

In any event, Madeira wine is similar to sherry, but you can use any red or white wine, port or even rum or vodka.
makes 4 servings
  • 500 g/ 1 lb strawberries
  • about 6-8 tbsp sugar, honey or sugar substitute
  • 5-6 tbsp Madeira wine
  1. Toss together strawberries, sugar, and Mardeira until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Let marinate at room temperature, tossing occasionally, 30 minutes before serving.
  3. For low fat dessert, serve over vanilla yoghurt, or consider toasted angel food cake or Victoria Sponge.

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