What I Read This Weekend . . .
Margaret Powell's Cookery Book : 500 Upstairs Recipes from Everyone's Favorite Downstairs Kitchen Maid and Cook by Margaret Powell -- Cookbook
This book is part memoir and part cookbook. Margaret Powell, early Twentieth Century kitchen maid turned cook gives advice on shopping, choosing and preparing foods and creating meals. Her advice is from a different time when the world moved a bit more slowly and superstores hadn't replaced mom and pop shops. Her recipes are also from a different time and place when meals were a statement and people didn't worry about calories and fat content. (Margaret advocates using cream in your recipes). Most of the recipes are too unusual or labor intensive for today's cooks but some of the desserts look do-able and edible. The book includes the recipe for Apple Charlotte that Downton Abbey fans may remember from Season 1. This book is useful in understanding the way of life of the very wealthy one hundred years ago. It provides a good background to the popular shows Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. It really helped me understand the cooks on the shows and their way of thinking and what the upstairs family is eating in any given episode. Fans of period shows and movies should take a look.
The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellows and Matthew Sturgis
This book provides background information on the characters appearing in Season 3 of Downton Abbey. There are minor spoilers but no major ones. I wish there had been spoilers because I would have liked more information on something big that happened to the family. It does provide insight into character motivation and historical background. For me, the best part of the book is the full color pages of everyday items from the period that each character would own. It is amazing to see them up close. I only wish I could see everything and examine it in real life. I also really liked how they explained the historical background behind some of the things that happened in the show. Things that seem improbable are actually based on true events! The hardcover book has amazing full color photos on every other page.