a fond farewell to downton abbey

“All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite.” ~ Violet

The soufflés are sinking, the puddings are pouting, the meringues have taken to incessant weeping.

I fear much of our “unbridled joy” is rapidly dissipating — Downton Abbey is ending its 6-year run on PBS with the series finale on March 6!

Only one more episode to go. No! 😦 😦 😦

Treated myself to a Crawley family Spode Stafford White cup and saucer just to drown my sorrows.

I’ve been hooked since Season One, Episode 1, only too willing to spend my Sunday evenings with the entire Crawley family at their opulent digs in Yorkshire. Not since the original “Upstairs, Downstairs” (1971-1975) have I been so emotionally invested in the lives of an aristocratic British family and their servants. I find the entire class system fascinating, rooting for those who would dare defy the established social order, sympathetic to characters grappling with changes beyond their control.

Today serving Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea: “This decadent dessert tea has the homemade flavors of vanilla cake drizzled with rich caramel sauce.” Good afternoon tea, a perfect pairing with puddings, scones, and shortbread.

Indeed, when I first started watching Downton, I was instantly reminded of “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The time periods somewhat overlapped, with UD beginning about a decade before the sinking of the Titanic and ending in 1930. Both series revealed interesting aspects of post-Edwardian social life set against significant historical events. Instead of Mrs Patmore there was Mrs Bridges, instead of Daisy, there was kitchen maid Ruby. Bellamy son James marries his secretary Hazel as Crawley daughter Sybil marries chauffeur Tom Branson — both compelling, frowned-upon liaisons championing the triumph of true love over all impediments.

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friday feast: fly soup and apple brownies

Please help yourself to a cup of tea and an apple brownie (spiders and centipedes optional).

On this crisp and clear Halloween Eve, we’re serving up a tasty poem by London-based author Elli Woollard.

I love noshing at her wonderful blog, Taking Words for a Stroll, which is a gold mine of fun, whimsical, silly and nonsensical rhymes, sure to put a smile on your face and make you want to indulge in some wordplay of your own.

One never knows just what Elli will write about next — ducks? vikings? cats? farting mermaids? I admit I was first drawn to her foodie poems. Who could resist such titles as “Kitchen Bullies,” “Feeling Like Cake,” “Best Biscuit Race”, “The Joys of Toast”? Here’s a poet who’ll riff on cheese even though she doesn’t personally care for it. Oh, and did you know there’s a “Shortage of L’s”? Nasty business, that. I don’t ike it one bit. 🙂

When I saw “There’s a Fly in My Soup,” I knew I just had to share it here. Soup — my middle name! And since it’s almost Halloween and all, it’s a good time to swallow a few flies, spiders and other creatures with rascally relish. Bugs, birds and goats never tasted so good.

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for colin firth’s birthday: what turns him on?

“I like you very much . . . just as you are.” (Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’s Diary)

AMUSE-BOUCHE

Colin: Is it true about Poldark?

Me: Whaaa?

Colin: Has he replaced me in your affections?

Me: Never.

Colin: Haven’t I told you (endlessly) how ardently I admire and love you?

Me: Yes.

Colin: Didn’t I plunge into a mucky lake on your behalf?

Me: Uh-huh.

Colin: And say I like you “just the way you are” despite your blue soup?!

Me: Yes, yes.

Colin: Of all your Eye Candies, don’t I still TAKE THE CAKE??!!

Me: Of course!

Colin: Well then, what’s all this talk of Cornwall this and Aidan Turner that, topless scything, and windswept hair?

Me:

Colin: I thought so. You’ve gone all Irish on me, haven’t you? To think that an inadequately bathed whippersnapper on horseback could have stolen your heart! What is the world coming to?!

Me: But Colin, I made crème brûlée.

Colin: Oh well in that case 🙂 . . .

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Poetry Friday Roundup is here!

Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

Please help yourself to a mug of coffee, tea or milk and a blueberry crumb bar — just the thing for hopping from blog to blog and reading some good poems. 🙂

To set you on your way, thought I’d share a poem from Mary Szybist’s Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013), which won the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. I like the intersection between the temporal and the spiritual, the dissolution of will and ego while singing praise for the divine glory of the world. And, too, in this day and age of blatant self aggrandizement, it is humbling to contemplate Mother Nature’s largesse as well as her indifference to our inconsequential and fleeting existences, our infinitesimal obsessions.

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“Blueberries’ Great Escape” via Dogwood Studio Alaska

 

HERE, THERE ARE BLUEBERRIES
by Mary Szybist

When I see the bright clouds, a sky empty of moon and stars,
I wonder what I am, that anyone should note me.

Here there are blueberries, what should I fear?
Here there is bread in thick slices, of whom should I be afraid?

Under the swelling clouds, we spread our blankets.
Here in this meadow, we open our baskets

to unpack blueberries, whole bowls of them,
berries not by the work of our hands, berries not by the work of our fingers.

what taste the bright world has, whole fields
without wires, the blackened moss, the clouds

swelling at the edges of the meadow. And for this,
I did nothing, not even wonder.

You must live for something, they say.
People don’t live just to keep on living.

But here is the quince tree, a sky bright and empty.
Here there are blueberries, there is no need to note me.

~ from Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013).

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This poem appears near the end of the book, a sort of benediction. The entire collection is luminous and deeply thought provoking, with inventive explorations of the divine in everyday life. The National Book Award judges citation reads in part: “This is a religious book for nonbelievers, or a book of necessary doubts for the faithful.” Definitely worth a look — Szybist is a poet’s poet.

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Speaking of which, Heartfelt Congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera, our new U.S. Poet Laureate, and Jacqueline Woodson, our new Young People’s Poet Laureate! Way cool! 🙂

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Now, please leave your links with Mr. Linky below. Don’t forget to include the title of the poem you’re sharing or book you’re reviewing in parentheses after your name. The links page will stay up indefinitely and can be accessed at any time for your reading convenience.

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Thanks for joining us today. If you’d like the Blueberry Crumb Bars recipe, click over to Smitten Kitchen. Cool thoroughly before slicing and enjoy with a side of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 🙂

 

Have a wonderful weekend!
(Here there are blueberries, here there are poems.)

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[book review + recipe + giveaway] Lidia’s Egg-Citing Farm Adventure by Lidia Bastianich and Renée Graef

Do you know Lidia like I know Lidia?

photo by Diana DeLucia

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed tuning in to her various PBS cooking shows and browsing through her numerous cookbooks. Besides being a celebrity chef and bestselling author, Lidia Bastianich is a successful restaurateur (4 eateries in NYC, one in Pittsburgh, one in Kansas City), and part of the team who opened Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine market/mall in NYC. She has an exclusive line of high-end cookware and serveware (Lidia’s Kitchen) for QVC. With her daughter Tanya, she launched Nonna Foods, a platform for distributing LIDIA’S pastas and sauces, and with her son Joseph, she produces fine wines at two vineyards in Italy. In short, this woman has a LOT on her plate!

But who knew she also wrote children’s books? I only recently discovered her delightful Nonna Tell Me a Story series, a delightful blend of semi-autobiographical stories and kid-friendly family recipes.

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