Dame Maggie Smith as Violet, dowager countess of Grantham
Well, those blamed caucuses and that parade of gibbering GOP babboons will clear out of Iowa after tonight and we can get on to more important things --- like the second season premier of Downton Abbey Sunday on PBS.
Premiere in the U.S., I guess, since the newest series already has been broadcast in the U.K. and plans have been anounced for a third during 2012.
Although it's a little bland, Downton has proved in the U.K. at least to be the most popular British costume drama since 1981's "Brideshead Revisitied." Which reminds me that I've got Brideshead on DVD and should watch it again.
Personally, Dame Maggie Smith's antics as Violet, dowager countess of Grantham, are what make the whole thing worth the price of admission. I've been watching Dame Maggie since 1969's "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." Few chew up and spit out scenery to better effect.
Siobhan Finneran and Rob James-Collier
Worth watching, too, are Siobhan Finneran as the villainous Sarah O'Brien, lady's maid to Cora, the incumbent countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern); and Rob James-Collier as the decorative but dastardly footman Thomas Barrow.
Sarah, you may remember, ended the initial series somewhat remorseful after strategically arranging a bar of soap that caused the incumbent countess to fall while emerging from the bath, resulting in miscarriage of the hoped for male Grantham heir and thereby allowing the series to roll onward into World War I.
Christmastide continues apace, heading for the Epiphany on Friday --- but everyone else in my neighborhood has given up. All the bright lights have been removed or turned off --- it's kind of gloomy out there.
I keep lighting the candles in the lanterns out front, however, although high winds Sunday started blowing the lanterns around so I moved them to securer spots and took a night off. After Friday night, the lanterns will come inside for a good cleaning, then move to their perch in the garage until I come up with an excuse to use them again. Then I'll start packing away the decorations inside.
I suppose I'd be tired of Christmas, too, if I'd started on Thanksgiving. But since I didn't, there seems to be no hurry to pack it away.
And I made cranberry sauce yesterday after a couple of forlorn-looking packages of berries still in the produce department called out to me as I passed.
Ocean Spray whole-berry sauce in a can suits me just fine, much of the time, but I like something a little more adventuresome occasionally, too.
For this, I start with three-quarters of a cup of water, three-quarters of a cup of sugar and a 12-ounce package of berries, washed and picked over to remove the spoiled ones. Cook that combination for five minutes or so, until the berries start to pop, then throw in a cup of orange juice, the grated zest of an orange, a teaspoon of cinnamon and mid-sized cans (drained) of crushed pineapple and mandarin orange slices. Finally, add a small Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped (this supposedly provides pectin needed to make the sauce thicken). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the apple vanishes. Cool and eat.
Two cautions --- you need to watch this carefully, or it will boil over and make an awful mess; and this will be tart. I like it that way. If you don't, add more sugar.