Happy New Year! Hope you’re all off to a great start! I started the year by missing two days of work because apparently even if you never had asthma as a child you can get reactive asthma (whatever that is) as an adult and spend days coughing until you’re lightheaded and a little loopy!
But spending four days on my couch gave me time to enjoy seasons one and two of “Downton Abbey” all over again. I even had some bizarre Downton dreams about poor Edith trying to load a dishwasher and getting it all wrong.
So I had to have a Downton party at work to celebrate the new season, but I wasn’t up for spending hours making crumpets and scones from scratch. Maybe I’ll do that for the season finale.
Instead I went with some simple lemon bars and light gingerbread cake, with a lovely bowl of clementines for those co-workers who haven’t yet given up on their New Year’s resolutions. It’s only a week in, after all.
At the last minute I couldn’t resist picking up a box of shortbread cookies in place of the jammy dodgers I’d also like to try making. They’re the CVS brand and people were very happy with them, so maybe this baking thing is overrated.
I had a lovely blue tablecloth at home that picked up the color in my fake fancy thrift store china plates (because I trust my co-workers, but accidents still happen, and I’d rather not have them happen with the good stuff) and that beautiful glass bowl was a $1 garage sale find, although it’s really heavy and nice and they should have charged me more.
A selection of English teas rounded out the table, and once I had it all set up I wished I had brought the vase and fake flowers I’d set out the night before, but decided would be too much to carry. I feel like a mule sometimes with all of the stuff I haul in and out of my office.
But here’s the thing I learned about having a Downton Abbey party. It doesn’t matter what you feed people. It only matters that you have a photo of the Dowager Countess. I swear, I got more comments and compliments and chuckles out of the photo I printed out and stuck in a cheap little frame than I did about any of the food.
So let Dame Maggie rule over your table, and have a few of her zingers ready in case anyone has anything bad to say to you.
I wasn’t super impressed with the new gingerbread recipe I tried, so we’ll skip that, but here’s a nice quick way to make some yummy lemon bars.
Quick Lemon Bars
1 package lemon cake mix
3 large eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream (half a usual sized tub)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix cake mix, 1 egg and oil. Press into bottom of a greased 15×10 pan. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.
Beat cream cheese with mixer until smooth. Add 2 eggs, sour cream, sugar, peel and juice and mix until blended. Pour onto bottom layer once it’s out of the oven and smooth.
Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until filling is just set in center and edges are light brown. Cool and cut. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s terribly middle class,