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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.
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.
The Inn at Bree offered a full array of meats and desserts to satisfy the four hungry young Hobbits, yet Sam reckoned the true test of the establishment’s suitability was the quality of its beer! After some initial research, he determined that the beer and the rest of the menu were on a par with anything he had enjoyed “back ‘ome at the Shire, and that’s sayin’ somethin’!”
In the summers before the forming of The Fellowship, the four often stopped along the banks near the Buckleberry Ferry to glean the last of the sweet plump berries from the prickly vines. They sat on the edge of the ferry and pulled themselves to the middle of the waters to dangle their dusty feet in the deep, tossing the juicy gems into the air and catching them in their mouths, making faces at one another as if there were nothing pressing at all in their lives. No need to hurry. No reason to fear.
Merry and Pippin played their favorite game: arguing over who was taller. Sam would warn the two of them about how Farmer Maggot and his dog would soon track them down and find the basket of pilfered mushrooms and cabbages sitting next to them. His Old Gaffer would hold him responsible of course, he worried out loud.
Frodo told Sam he’d vouch for him if such a need arose. Then he lay back and stared up at the tree tops into the sky and wondered what had become of his old Uncle Bilbo. He missed his stories of adventures with trolls, dragons, dwarves and Elves. He thought that one day he would go on an adventure himself, if the occasion presented itself. Frodo couldn’t imagine what kind of adventure would ever draw him more than a day’s walk from his beloved Shire. Even so, Frodo resolved to bring up the idea with Gandalf, if the old Wizard ever did return to Bag End.
It’s the time of the season for…
We are certain that the hardy Dwarven men finished off one of these delectable mini-bundts in one bite – no forks required!
I tend to think of Dwarven women as clones of “Master Dwarf” Gimli. The Dwarf himself hinted at the similarities! But since we have met no Dwarven women, what can we know about them?
Well, if we consider the Dwarves’ artistry as creators of the ancient city Dwarrowdelf, then it may stand to reason the women were also artisans when it came to cave-keeping. One imagines great feasts would await the workers at the end of a day digging for Mithril. Gimli was expecting to celebrate with his cousin Balin with “red meat off the bone and malt beer!”
Certainly the Dwarven race was used to hearty fare, or how else to maintain those stout physiques? Not that the women were confined to the kitchens of Moria! Many surely took up a chisel and hammer along-side the men!
In honor of the creativity of the Dwarves I used a mini-bundt cake form with the result being a cake with an arch pattern and a hole in the middle for that important cave effect.
I further changed up the recipe by drenching the cakes in a ginger chai pear sauce with a dusting of powdered sugar. This recipe made six mini-bundts and one tort size cake which I topped with sliced fresh pears, then covered in the pear sauce made into a gel to hold it all together. That picture will soon appear on my other blog where you will also find the sauce recipe.
Second Breakfast is served!
Follow the link to the recipe for Breakfast Scones for Mr. Frodo! This recipe lends itself to any number of variations. I used plain greek yogurt instead of strawberry but only had a 6 oz container, so I added home-made ricotta cheese to make up the other 2 ounces. The triangle-shaped version uses dried figs, and the square has only fresh ground cardamom seeds. After feasting on these for a day or so I encountered an orange scone at Panera Bread and decided to do a comparison test. This recipe was equal to the bakery’s in flakiness and flavor! (Note: After trying this recipe several times I have found it to be a bit heavier product than most bakery scones. You might try adding one egg, or switching from yogurt to 3/4 cup of cream to improve the flakiness.)
I presume that either Sam or Rosie prepared these for their dear friend and host Frodo, or perhaps they began to affectionately refer to their son, his namesake, as Mr. Frodo! Either way, the sweet smell of these scones baking would be the best way to call the family to table for first or second breakfast!
This was my first time using cardamom. Wow! SO flavorful. Definitely citrusy. A bit tedious to remove tiny black seeds from the papery pod without leaving “chaff” behind, but the ground variety do not have nearly as much flavor. This spice is expensive but a little goes a long way! My secret? Penn Mac in Pittsburgh’s Strip District has 2 oz samplers for only 99 cents!