Countdown to Downton: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

We here at Pink Champagne & Pearls are big fans of Downton Abbey and are eagerly anticipating season three.  In honor of that we will present our “Countdown to Downton” series in the weeks leading up to the January 6th premier. 

 

38 days until the premier!

Mrs. Patmore, in the kitchen, with the knife

I’ve been pining away these past months, suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawals. Imagine my joy then to receive my Downton Abbey inspired cookbook and pretend I was living the life of a Crawley sister, complete with my own Carson and a full retinue of servants catering to all my needs.  Well, okay, the cookbook didn’t come with all that.  A girl can dream though.

The book is cleverly divided into two sections, the first part being “Dining with the Crawleys” and the second being “Sustenance for the staff”.  For the wealthy class at this time meals were an important part of their society and daily rituals.  Meals were a work of art steeped in tradition.  As you would imagine the recipes featured in the upstairs portion are decadent and fancy, the type of meals you would expect to be served by liveried servants with white gloves.  The downstairs section by contrast is full of hearty and traditional English dishes.  Meals that would give you energy for a full day of honest work. 

In either case the food is delicious and it’s entertaining to try out some new dishes, many of which are not the normal fare for the average American.  Below is a sample of the recipes you’ll find within this cookbook. 

Upstairs Recipes:
~ Potatoes with Caviar and Creme Fraiche
~ Crab Canapes
~ Seafood Crepes
~ Leg of Lamb
~ Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce
Downstairs Recipes:
~ Guinness Corned Beef
~ Bangers and Mash
~ Mutton Stew
~ Treacle Tart
 
My experiences with the recipes thus far has been very positive.  I made “Mr. Bate’s Chicken and Mushroom Pie” (a creamy gravy with chicken, mushrooms and peas under a flaky, buttery crust) and “Mixed Berry Scones” (super moist, fluffy scones bursting with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries).  I took the scones to work and they were a big hit with my coworkers.  Due to the moisture in the berries the scones come out with more of a muffin consistency than the common dense consistency of the scones most of us are used to. 
My main complaint with this book though would be the absence of pictures.  It’s a small thing but I do so love to look at those perfectly styled treats found in most cookbooks.  All in all though I would definitely recommend to all fans of Downton Abbey whether they be pros or novices in the kitchen. 
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Vintage Style: 1930s Party Outfit

Welcome to the second installment in our vintage inspired party looks seriesToday we look at the 1930s.

The 1930s were an interesting decade.  Despite the dire financial situation of the time there was a return to ladylike style and glamour in the evening wear of this decade.  Hemlines came down from the flapper style seen in the 20s.  Metallic fabrics and bead work were the rage.  The art deco trend started in the decade prior remains a key design inspiration for jewelry, clothing, art and home decor.

One inspiration for the party looks below came from George Cukor’s The Women (1939).  This film provides such an interesting look into women’s role in society and their relationships with each other during that time.  The fashions alone make it worth a watch.  Look at the range of fabulous styles in these publicity shots.

 
Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell
Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell in The Women 

Cast of The Women on set, 1939

Elegant 1930’s inspired party outfit

1930s party outfit

Vintage Style: 1920s Party Outfit

As we near then end of November and prepare to enter the final month of 2012 we all have one thing on our minds…parties!

1920s party outfitWell that may not be entirely true but it does seem to be the season for soirees and what better excuse do you need to show off your vintage inspired outfits than a party.  Let’s kick things off with the Roaring Twenties.  Flappers were the original party girls and they’ve left us with an abundance of fashion inspiration. 

This is just one outfit inspired by the 1920s.  Depending on how retro you want to go you can add or take away elements.  Accessories are the easiest way to add some vintage flair to a modern outfit.  Think t-strap or ankle strap pumps, art deco inspired jewelry, strings of pearls and feathered or jeweled headpieces. 

Next up the 1930s!

Vintage Inspired Home Decor: What a glorious feelin’

I’m happy again… Just singin’, Singin’ in the rain

The other night I was surfing through Pinterest and came across this fun and whimsical picture of suspended umbrellas turned into lights.  It sparked my imagination and inspired me to come up with idea boards for Singin’ in the Rain themed living rooms.

The first thing that came to mind was mono-chromatic wide stripes in shades of grey for the walls.  I’m actually thinking a metallic or high-gloss for the lighter grey would really give a cool, water/rain illusion.  Then I had so many ideas rattling around in my brain that I ended up doing two concepts. 

First up I thought tying in the classic bright rain coat yellow would be a cool and slightly contemporary spin on the color palette for this room.  I also enjoy the idea of taking traditional style furniture pieces, such as the tufted couch below, and pairing them with a bright and non-standard color.  Other fun elements include rain boots as flower vases and a film reel side table.

Second I went with what I consider a more traditional, old Hollywood style, color palette of grey, black, and white with pops of red.  Another thing I really like about this is the mixing of textures from the plush sofa, to the industrial metal floor lamp to the classic wood bookcase.  Those are the types of pieces I feel give a room character and prevent it from looking too staged.

Would you try a movie themed room in your house?  Any decor inspirations or ideas strike you recently?  We’d love to hear what’s on your mind.