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Back in the finer days, before orcs and cave trolls ravaged the great city of Dwarrowdelf, Balin’s kin would gather for his legendary feasts, which always included his famous Spiced Beef. Now the dwarven people, as we well know, are a rather proud folk; prone to boasting and very fond of contests to demonstrate their prowess. Games of one-ups-man-ship between best mates were a daily occurrence.
And so, on the mornings before Balin’s gatherings, it was customary for the elder dwarf to summon a few of the younger dwarves and challenge them with the question, “which of you lads has the sharpest axe, the best aim, and the strongest arm?”
As each one roared, “I DO!,” they snapped to attention, fixing their eyes on Balin’s eyes, planting feet firmly in the soil and crossing their arms over puffed-out chests. “Well, then,” Balin continued, “it seems as though we have a stalemate – each of you believes he is the best, but only one can be the champion. We will have a contest. I plan a feast for tomorrow, and we are short on game. Go out to the hunt, and bring us back a prize. The first one to return before nightfall with the largest kill shall be the champion.”
As the young dwarves ran to gather their weapons, Balin would turn to his best huntsmen and, with a wink and a nod from him, the men set about the task of butchering the game they had caught before that morning’s sunrise. Even if the lads managed to bring back a fox or a few rabbits, let alone a buck, it wouldn’t be enough to fill this hearty and hungry lot. And it would take hours for the meat to slowly roast until it fell cleanly off the bone. They would have the day to get at least the first course ready to eat.
The young champion had the honor of being seated next to Balin at the feast, his contribution to the meal now roasted to perfection. The first bite was Balin’s, who would proclaim that it was the most delicious of all the choices laid out before them. The cousins and brothers, mothers and sisters, grandmothers and other elders of the company would then cheer the young hunter and dig into the feast. Strong drink flowed and merry songs of conquests were sung with great gusto.
Torches were lit from the fire and families slowly went off to sleep, filled not just with food, but the hospitality of their friend and elder, Balin, who was greatly esteemed by all who knew him.
This is a very delicious recipe that works well in a crock pot but for authenticity why not try a cast iron dutch oven if you can find one. Add vegetables to make it a stew if you like, and soak up the juices with a crusty garlic bread! We also suggest shredding the cooked beef for sandwiches to stave off your hunger while you watch the Oscars to see how The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was honored.
Have you wrung all the fun you can out of your marathon viewings of Lord of the Rings Trilogy? The Middle-earth Foodie is here to tell you that you have definitely NOT – not yet! So prepare your guest list and fire up the stove for a “Gorge of the Rings” party — a marathon viewing in which you immerse yourself in the story by EATING ALONG with the movie!
We have been given an unexpected gift: A list of the foods shown in the movies and the timing of their arrival on the DVDs.
This list was submitted to The Middle-earth Foodie (to keep it safe, but not secret!) by Linda Holman of San Francisco. Linda created a buffet of foods shown in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, for a fellowship of twelve at a private home theater viewing. After searching the interwebs in vain for a list, she watched the entire Trilogy – extended editions - and recorded the foods depicted and the timing of their arrival in the films!
Her friends were so impressed that they encouraged Linda to post the list somewhere on the w-w-w. Which is how she found this blog. Linda concedes she may have missed something, and that she left out some things on purpose — like the raw fish that Gollum eats in Two Towers (so juicy SWEET!) or the earthworm from the opening minutes of Return of the King. She found them just “too yucky.” May I suggest we substitute Sushi and gummy worms? While Sushi is raw it is not wiggling — which is a GOOD thing, in my estimation. I have added a few links to Middle-earth Recipes that are not necessarily posted yet on Middle-earth Foodie. There are many fine possibilities there.
I recommend you add a SLEEP ALONG, and then an EPIC RUN ALONG to your Trilogy party. You must not be caught off guard by the cunning White Wizard or a band of Warg-riding Orcs because you are sleep deprived or too full to move!
All of you purists and nit-pickers are welcome to watch the movies again to find more examples to add to this list. Please do post them if you find them! Linda looked all over the Googlesphere and could not find exactly what she had in mind, so if you DO find a published list, please send us the links.
Who is up for creating the grocery list when “An Unexpected Journey” comes out on DVD?
This list is not perfect, I’ve almost certainly missed some things.
I only mention lembas the first time, although they eat it many times.
I also skipped Gollum eating raw fish of times. Yuk.Here is Linda’s easy Buffet menu, with timing: I’m not a great cook (at least I’m sort of lazy), and I also wanted to watch a good amount of the movies, so here’s what I served: I prepped a lot in advance or bought pre-made items from the store when possible. We tried to stick to this viewing schedule, with moderate success. Fellowship started promptly at 10 am, Two Towers at 2 pm, Return of the King at 6 pm. 9:30 Breakfast: Tea, rustic breads, muffins, jams, butter, bacon, various cheeses, fig & nut preserves 10:37 2nd Breakfast: Apples (passed around in theater room as Strider tosses them to the Hobbits) 1:00 Lembas: Shortbread cookies (passed around in theater when lembas is introduced) 1:30 Lunch: Beer, root beer, bratwurst & bockwurst sausages, mustard, mashed potatoes, broiled tomatoes, carrots, pickles, barley vegetable soup 5:30 Dinner: Beer, wine, ham, chicken drumsticks (smoked turkey legs would also be great), roasted squash & cauliflower, wedge salad w/ apples & bleu cheese, date nut log, bread/rolls, cheeses 6:10 Drinking: Beer and more beer (passed around in theater) 9:35 Dessert: Pumpkin pie with whipped cream (passed around in theater while endings go on and on)
“And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).” — The Lord of the Rings, Prologue.
It’s the season for invitations to holiday parties, most of which you cannot decline lest you find yourself alone at home next year. Some Hobbits enjoy staying at home with a pipe and a pint; but they would not wish to be rude. Miss Dora Baggins’ Book of Manners was the definitive work on Hobbit meals and etiquette. It was followed exactly by all good Hobbit wives and husbands. So off they would go, from party to party to party, eating their way across the Shire from breakfast to second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.
You wouldn’t hear the words “No, thanks, I’m dieting,” at one of these parties! There would be huge glazed hams, sweet baby carrots, buttery potatoes, fried mushrooms, and mouth-watering breads. For dessert there would be scones, cakes and tarts. As for beverages, Hobbits are fond of good wine and ale, but they also enjoy a nice cup of tea or a mulled apple cider.
Estella and Merry Brandybuck usually had tea with Pippin and Diamond Took and their son Faramir. Often they would invite Samwise and Rosie but only when school was in session. Oh, they loved all 13 of the Gamgee children, but having so many little Hobbits around at tea time made the whole affair pointless. There was simply too much noise and activity to relax and talk with old friends.
After Frodo left the Shire for the Gray Havens, the three didn’t speak as much about their journey when they were together. But now and then, at tea time, the room would grow still, and everyone would lift their cups in silence to the memory of Frodo. How thankful they were for their friendship, and the good things of the Shire — like a pint of mulled cider or a cup of spiced tea. It was good to be home, feeling safe again, since King Aragorn re-gained the throne of Gondor and brought peace to all the residents of Middle-earth.
3 News NZ online has a link to The Middle-earth Foodie in a story dated December 16, 2012, about a new book being written on food inspired by Tolkien’s works.
I’ve added the new page ”Hobbit Movie Review” in case anyone needs one more place to comment about it! I’ll keep posting a little every day or so as I sift the movie’s images through my head and let the soundtrack take me there and back again. “Far over the misty mountains cold…..” Can’t shake that song!
The women of Lake-town who survived the wrath of the dragon Smaug and saw his defeat at the hand of Bard the Bowman, set about making their new city a place to rival any other settlement of men in Middle-earth. While the men were focused on construction, the women made sure they were well-fed. Re-building an entire town would not be easy nor swift, but the NEW Lake-town, or Esgaroth, as it would be named, would be far less flamable! This feature was perhaps a bit late in coming, since there was no more threat of immolation from gold-hoarding dragons.
Nonetheless, the residents wanted to attract new businesses, and, of course, tourism was bound to pick up once the bones of Smaug were recovered from the bottom of the lake and re-assembled for viewing. A museum celebrating the heroism of Bard the Bowman would be built and the dragon’s bones placed on exhibit. One could envision future festivals celebrating the great victory over Smaug with dragon kite flying contests, dragon boat rides, and flaming sword-swallowers on parade down the main street. Perhaps the wizard Mithrandir would join them and offer up some of his famous fireworks!
Once the city was in good enough shape to promote itself as a destination — “Visit Esgaroth! We’re no longer flammable!” — would be the focus for the marketing campaign — a farmers’ and artists’ market was established on the lake shore. Many vendors offered dragon-themed wares, such as replicas of the arrow that slew Smaug, wall hangings featuring the dragon breathing fire over the city, and deep-fried “dragon on a stick.”
These novelties were a necessary part of the tourism industry, but they were not the reason for the market’s eventual fame. The Esgaroth Public Market became known throughout the realms of Middle-earth for its regional cuisine! The women had preserved some of the former town’s heritage by serving traditional foods that were handed down to them over generations of mothers of Lake-town. Many recipes included varieties of fresh fish from the lake. And in summer, the bounty of the gardens came to the Market in dishes featuring fresh tomatoes, peppers, spinach, onions, carrots, spices and herbs.
While recipes of this era have not survived, one can imagine such a dish as we will call Lake-town Market Salad. Since it would have been poor stewardship to waste any of the harvest, one way to use up the odds and ends was to combine them with grains or noodles to create a one-dish meal. Lake-town Market Salad was not as famous as other, more sophisticated, dishes, but it has a regional flare that reminds one of the rustic way of life back in the third age of men.
Lake-town Market Salad2 cups cooked risotto 1 each small Yellow, Orange and Red Bell Peppers 2 Green Tomatoes 2 Ripe Tomatoes 1 small Shallot or Onion Black olives (or green if you prefer) 1 can of black beans (or other variety or combination of beans) Fresh basil, oregano, and parsley to taste 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar 1 Tbl Olive Oil Salt, Pepper to taste Cook risotto according to package directions, drain, and set aside to cool. Dice the vegetables and add to the risotto with the herbs and spices. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Stir. Place in refrigerator to cool one hour before serving. A dollop of sour cream or ricotta cheese on top is a nice addition, or add cubed ham and shredded cheese for a anti-pasto. This “salad” is also good served hot – after mixing (omit the olive oil and vinegar), heat it on the stove top or put it into the oven. Grate cheese over it to get nice and melty. You could also put this mixture into a nice broth — either chicken or beef — and make a soup or stew! Add tobasco or red pepper flakes for those who like it with some kick! *Disclaimer — this recipe is not on the Middle-earth Recipes site. It is my own creation, in honor of Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo’s birthdays today, September 22, 2012.
What Sam wouldn’t have given for a bag of fresh-dug taters to put in his rabbit stew! The brief but welcome stop on the journey to Mordor found him inspired to cook sumthin’ tastey and the “brace of coneys” that Gollum proudly presented to him conjured up thoughts of home. What a feast he could have made of it from his massive garden of vegetables back in the Shire. The scrawny rabbits promised to be tough and would need a good boiling to soften up. Good thing he still had some spices in his bag! He couldn’t imaging much worse than unseasoned rabbit for supper! Or maybe he could — another month of nothing but Lembas! That would just about do him in, he reckoned.
With the meat on the boil over the open fire, Sam noticed he was suddenly alone. He looked around and saw Gollum crawling off into the scrub and Mr. Frodo nowhere to be found. Sam bolted up to follow Gollum and suddenly came upon Frodo, who was lying on his belly and looking intently off into the distance. Oliphants! What a sight! Sam was thrilled to get a look at these massive creatures and hoped to live to tell about it some day after they returned from the journey.
No sooner had their delight turned to dismay as arrows began to fly from somewhere near them. Before they could escape, they found themselves in the company of Rangers from Gondor. The Rangers didn’t trust Sam and Frodo but they were hungry from their travels and smelled the boiling coneys on the fire. Their captain, Faramir, agreed to take up the matter of what to do with the two halflings after supper, which Sam had graciously invited them to share. Sam figured the best way to defeat an enemy was by kindness, and besides, he desperately did not want to walk away from the first decent meal he would have in weeks!
This recipe, as depicted, is a combination of two potato recipes — Potatoes Boulangere and Roasted Potatoes with Onions. I had picked up some multi-colored small potatoes at Trader Joe’s with this dish in mind. I added leeks, which are not called for in either recipe, but which I had on hand. You can put nearly any mix of spices you like in these dishes. Mine was done in a pressure cooker with chicken. So on the plate you see the potatoes, a bit of roasted chicken breast, and a dollop of champagne and shallot butter (store-bought). They were very tasty, but I know I’d prefer them browned in a pan or on the grill. Either way, they make a nice side dish to any meat or a yummy addition to a vegetarian stew, if that’s what you like! In case you’re looking for the Boulangere dish, I found the link to be broken on the Middle-earth Recipe site. But if you find the Roasted Potatoes and Onions dish, scroll around and you’ll also find Potatoes Boulangere!
Please enjoy the Middle-earth-inspired graphic designs I’ve added to this blog by clicking on the new page!
Here is what I’m working on and perhaps if I promise it to you I will make it happen!
Hall of Fire Christmas Bread (or New Years Bread or Easter Bread — just celebrate something!) I’ve been trying to get around to this recipe for more than a year!
Roasted Potatoes and Onions, Potatoes Boulangere — a little of this and that from each recipe using what was on hand. I tried it in a pressure cooker with breast of coney. Very yummy.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Promises, promises? Maybe one more day? I’ve been laid up with a bad back several days, looking at the new food processor and wishing I could use it. Check back Monday!
This post is in appreciation of a new The Middle-earth Foodie’s subscriber (are there others?) who served up a warm helping of praise with the lament that there was not more. I hinted that a motivator might be more subscribers. So I submit this entry, simple as it may be, to say thanks!
Summer is waning and the new school year is upon the children of Hobbiton. After a hearty breakfast of porridge, the round doors open and the paths fill with little Proudfoots, Brandybucks, Tooks, and Gamgees tramping off to be greeted by Mayor Sam.
Each year since the Scouring of the Shire, Sam has made the same speech to the returning students. He would not let the memory of Mr. Frodo and Mr. Bilbo fade into the distance, like the Elven ship carrying them off to the Gray Havens. He, Merry and Pippin would make sure that the lessons of The Fellowship would be remembered for all generations of Hobbits to come. Never again would the Shire folk stand by while their land, homes, and peaceful way of life was destroyed by evil outsiders.
And so, each year, Mayor Sam calls the little ones to gather around him under the Party Tree. The parents and elders quiet the excited group and everyone settles in to hear the story of the journey to Mordor and back again.
Sam’s storytelling now rivals that of Old Mr. Bilbo, and the children listen, riveted, as he draws out the sword Sting and holds up the Mithril vest worn by Frodo. They shiver at the descriptions of Wraiths, Orcs, Wargs and of the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog. They fall silent in wonder at the gift-giving in Lothlorien. Their mouths gape open at the final battle between Frodo and Gollum.
And with the Mayor’s admonitions to honor the memory of Frodo and Bilbo by respecting the land, keeping loyal to family and friends, and living a peaceful life with all residents of Middle-earth stirring their hearts, a chorus begins to rise from their midst:Tho men may call us little, and hold that we are weak, yet we are friends of kings and queens, there’ll be no more defeat! The road may lead t’ward dangers, yet we shall not lose heart. Evil wizards, wraiths and dragons cannot pull the Shire apart. Together we shall thwart them, never yielding to the threat; for we are made of stronger stuff than they have seen as yet!