What’s the best way to honor two beloved British icons with 90th birthdays this year?
Feature them both in a beary good story, of course. 🙂
Mr Cornelius is convinced 2016 is extra special and that 90 is a magic number. On January 13, much to the delight of the 50-something resident Paddingtons, Michael Bond turned 90. On April 21, HRH Queen Elizabeth turned 90 (with her official birthday celebration taking place just over a week ago), and this coming October marks the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh’s first book.
Goodness. This is like a golden trifecta for us anglophiles who are mad for Brits, books and bears! Just so happens that Her Majesty loved the Pooh books when she was little, and the year she was born, Mr. Milne dedicated his Teddy Bear and Other Songs (1926) to her.
Earlier this year, Mr Bond was asked to write an address for the National Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. His “Reflection on the Passing of Years” was read aloud at the service by Sir David Attenborough (and yes, he turned 90, too, on May 8). This piece, a special gift for the Queen, described the experience of life for those born in 1926. Is there any better gift than the gift of words?
So we could say that in effect Paddington has “met” the Queen, but until this new story Pooh had not.
In Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday (Egmont, 2016) by Jane Riordan and Mark Burgess, the bear of very little brain and his friends Christopher Robin, Eeyore, and Piglet journey to London to present the Queen with a special 90th birthday gift.
This delightful story, which emulates the literary and artistic styles of A. A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, was just released at the end of May as a free downloadable illustrated e-book and audio adventure narrated by Academy Award winning actor Jim Broadbent.
I don’t want to give away too much by telling you what the birthday present is, but suffice to say I loved how Pooh and friends took a train from the Hundred Acre Wood to London, where they boarded a double decker bus for a mini tour of famous landmarks (Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Harrods) before arriving at the Buckingham Palace grounds, where they did indeed meet the sovereign:
She was just as Queenly and smiley and wonderful as they had expected her to be.
I enjoyed the “typically British” feel of the quaint, gentle narrative with its charming moments (honey sandwiches, the forest of legs at Victoria Station, Pooh’s suggestion that the Palace Guards stored “something to nibble on” under their tall furry hats). Best of all was the appearance of a ‘certain bouncy little boy’ running behind the Queen who “patted Piglet fondly and tickled Winnie-the-Pooh’s ears.”
Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday has been enthusiastically embraced by Pooh fans, anglophiles, and royal watchers. The publisher hasn’t decided yet, but perhaps a print version of the story will also be available in the near future.
Just in case you haven’t heard the story, here’s the audio version. Nice to know that Jim Broadbent named his childhood teddy bear “Pooh”:
And a little Behind-the-Scenes video:
🇬🇧 A LITTLE SMACKEREL OF SOMETHING 🇬🇧
. . . his nose told him it was indeed honey, and his tongue came out and began to polish up his mouth, ready for it. ~ Winnie-the-Pooh
One can certainly work up a good appetite listening to stories and traveling to London.
To celebrate the Queen’s and Pooh’s 90th’s, the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers decided to make the Honey Chocolate Pie recipe from Virginia H. Ellison’s Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook (Dutton, 2010). This made perfect sense since “hunny” is Pooh’s favorite and the Queen loves chocolate. 🙂 You may remember we made her favorite Chocolate Biscuit Cake when she stopped by to meet Mr Cornelius two years ago.
Royal Chef Darren McGrady has mentioned that the Queen also likes Chocolate Perfection Pie and that a Chocolate Birthday Cake (a family favorite dating back to Queen Victoria) is always on the afternoon tea menu to help her celebrate. We do love a Queen who likes horses, corgis, Pooh, Paddington and chocolate! She’s a Downton Abbey fan, too (she just made Penelope Wilton a “Dame”!).
The recipe note mentions that this pie is “very rich and sweet,” and advises making it when there are lots of friends around to help you eat it. The filling calls for a can of evaporated milk, semisweet chocolate, eggs, and both honey and sugar. I decided to cut the refined sugar to just 1/2 cup instead of a full cup and I was glad I did. Pooh was happy to sacrifice 1/2 cup of hunny from his personal stash for the Queen and Mr Cornelius always gets ecstatic whenever whipped cream is part of the plan.
With the honey chocolate pie we’re serving the Queen’s 90th Birthday Tea by Twinings (her brand of choice). This special commemorative blend uses the finest quality black teas from three Commonwealth countries: full-bodied tea from Assam, India; refreshing Kenyan tea and a rich, smooth Sri Lankan variety. Very nice, indeed!
Now, raise a celebratory cup and enjoy a slice of pie in honor of Her Majesty and Pooh (why not 90 sips of tea and 90 slices of pie?). 🙂
🐝 HONEY CHOCOLATE PIE 🐝
- 1- 9-inch deep-dish pie shell, unbaked
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup butter (2 ounces)
- 1-12-oz can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup whipping cream or canned whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Buy a ready-made pie shell or make your own from any standard recipe or any of the piecrust mixes. Prepare your piecrust before starting the honey-chocolate mixture.
- Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler.
- When melted, remove mixture from the heat and blend in the evaporated milk, stirring all the time.
- In a separate mixing bowl, blend together the honey, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
- Beat in the eggs.
- Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture slowly, beating all the time.
- Pour this filling into the waiting pie shell.
- Bake the pie uncovered for 40 minutes.
- Then cover it lightly with aluminum foil and bake it 20 minutes more until the top is puffed. Cracks sometimes show in the center.
- Cool for an hour and then refrigerate.
- Serve cold with whipped cream piled on it.
- Dribble a thick trickle of honey beads over the whipped cream.
~ Adapted from The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook by Virginia H. Ellison with illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard (Dutton, 2010).
📗 SOMETHING ELSE TO LOOK FORWARD TO 📙
Just in time for Pooh’s 90th birthday, look for this new quartet of stories written in the style of A. A. Milne by Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders, Brian Sibley, and Paul Bright with illustrations after the style of E.H. Shepard by Mark Burgess. The Best Bear in All the World (Dutton BYR) will be released on October 25, 2016 and features new adventures for Pooh, Christopher Robin and all their friends in the Hundred Acre Wood — one story for each season. 🙂
HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY LILIBET AND POOH!
Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.