Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Season's Greeting from The Bee's Knees

Donna & Lucinda

Well, I think we can say that the holiday season is here! It has been a busy year getting The Bee’s Knees off the ground, and we have been having so much fun in the process. We also couldn’t have done it without the amazing support of so many people. Huge thanks to Mark, my husband. Donna and I like to call him “The Big Boss.” To our good friend, Todd, for helping create our cool name. Thanks to my niece, Kate, for our fabulous logo. We love our Bee. And to our friends and family around the country for supporting our new venture. We are also grateful to our new customers for choosing to shop with The Bee’s Knees. We hope you will visit again for all your gift giving needs and homewares in 2012. We welcome your feedback on our website and your shopping experience. We would also like to mention,, The English Pork Pie Company and the The Brits in America Network for kindly helping us promote our business. We truly appreciate your support. 
During the Christmas weekend, we will spend time with friends and celebrate with traditions old and new. I have my crackers (purchased at a local MA gift store), mince pies and sausage rolls and the Christmas pud ready to go.
When my daughter (born in American) was in fourth grade last year, they were given a project on their heritage and the different traditions they celebrate. With many kids in her class with interesting heritages and cultures she was quite put out that she is “all English!” “Nothing else?” she asked. “I think it’s quite cool to be all English,” I told her. She wasn’t convinced. “So what different traditions do we have then,” she continued. I racked my brain – Christmas, Easter . . . Then it came to me “We have Boxing Day!” She was thrilled that we have something special. For years we have celebrated with a group of friends, eating leftovers, and relaxing. Over the years we have looked up the exact meaning of Boxing Day and there is no concrete origin. I did discover that the tradition dates back a long time and was a day for tradesmen to collect “Christmas Boxes” of money or presents for good service through the year. Others believe that Boxing Day was a day off for servants when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. We don’t have any servants but we’ll still be celebrating on Boxing Day! 

However you celebrate this holiday season, best wishes and a happy New Year from The Bee’s Knees British Imports.

Lucinda & Donna

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's That Mince Pie Time of Year!

I have lived out of England for over 20 years but without fail I still bake batches of mince pies every Christmas. To me they are just one of the most typically English ingredients that make a great Christmas. And biting into that delicious, sweet, juicy mincemeat and flaky pastry can transport me back to my childhood in Cheshire in an instant.

Mince Pies have been part of English Christmas tradition for centuries. As far back as the 11th century mincemeat was developed as a way of preserving meat without salting or smoking. The pie is a remnant of a medieval tradition of spiced meat dishes, usually minced mutton, and the spices, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg brought back from the Holy Land by the Crusaders. Over the years the meat content has been reduced to just suet with spices, fruit and brandy making up the modern day mincemeat.
I have converted many American friends to mince pies, who, at first, hesitantly try one to be polite, I’m sure. Maybe they are put off by the name! Most end up loving them though. My American born son loves them too and begs me to make them at other times of the year, but I still save this treat for December. This way the small round pies with the pastry lids maintain their special place in the Christmas celebrations.

I make my own shortcrust pastry as taught by my mum and grandmother, but must admit that I don’t make my own mincemeat. Robertson’s fabulous mincemeat makes perfect pies and is becoming more available in the US now too. Donna picked up 3 big jars for me at the local supermarket  - I think she sees a mince pie and a cup of tea in her future!

My mum and grandmother seemed to have a never-ending supply of mince pies to offer during the Christmas period. Anyone stopping by would be offered a nice warm mince pie, dusted with icing (confectioner’s) sugar. They go perfectly with a cup of tea or even a glass of sherry! Some people are even known to pour double (heavy) cream over them. My grandmother was insistent though that you should never cut a mince pie. As they are nice and small you just pick it up and take a bite. She was superstitious like that.

We hope you are able to spread the joy this Christmas with whatever your favorite holiday time treat is. 

Happy December,