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Merry's Mulled Cider and Chai Spiced Tea

Merry’s Mulled Cider and Chai Spiced Tea

“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.


A sweet morsel for the Ranger's rucksackGondorian Griddle Cookies

These sweet biscuits might have been a staple of the Gondorian Ranger, as they are similar to Elven Lembas Bread in function.   Cooked on a griddle, these “cookies” are really little pancakes with a touch of sweetness to them.  They are “pocket-sized” and can be carried by workers in the field or troops on the march.  

Let us think back for a moment to the early days of the Age of Men, and check in with our friends in Gondor:

So many dreamy Gondorian Rangers, so little time!  But our slayer of the Witch King and Princess of Rohan, Eowyn, has taken one of the best of the lot off the market — Faramir.   Faramir may have been able to resist the powers of The One Ring, but his love for The White Lady smote him, leaving him powerless to resist her.  

Renowned for her valor as well as her beauty, she could now settle in to a traditional life as wife and mother. albeit a royal one.  But alas, fair Eowyn was no domestic goddess and there were no more wars to fight.    Skilled with a blade and the art of war, yet she was unschooled in the simple tools and traditions of the culinary arts.  Even this simple staple of the Ranger’s rucksack was a challenge for her to master.  

But master it she would!  She could have left the cooking to the servants, but this is not her style.  With their help, she learned the domestic arts and became a fully rounded woman, which gave her great pleasure although Faramir could not have loved her the more.   She delighted to host their dear Hobbit friends when they came for long visits.  And yet she rode out with the company when The King sent Faramir off on a diplomatic mission.  It is quite possible that she perfected the Gondorian Griddle Cookie while on one of these journeys under Faramir’s patient tutelage.

Now back to the recipe!  

The dough is not runny like pancake batter yet it is softer than a typical cookie dough and firm enough to roll out and cut into shapes.   When camping or on a long journey, wrap them in Mallorn leaves to keep them fresher.  Today you will have to rely upon a specialty store to procure your Mallorn leaves, which come in the form of parchment paper cutouts.  Here are some ideas for dressing up your Gondorian Griddle Cookies:
 
  • Dip them in melted butter mixed with honey or brown sugar.
  • Make Gondorian S’Mores by putting a bit of chocolate on top when you turn it over, then have your toasted marshmallow at the ready.  Or use Nutella instead of the chocolate candy.
  • Mix crushed nuts or fruit into the batter before cooking.
  • Make a mini Trifle: Place one cookie in a glass bowl, pour a splash of rum (or other liquor) over it –  not TOO much (about half a tablespoon) or it will disintegrate –  then spoon on vanilla pudding, add sliced bananas (or other fruit), now add a gooey topping like hot fudge, place another cookie on top, another splash of rum, some more pudding, and top with whipped cream and a cherry! 
  • Bananas Gondor anyone?  Brown sugar and butter and rum simmered together and drizzled on top!  Yum! Don’t forget the whipped cream!
– Submitted with appreciation to Primula for her background details on the family history of this recipe!
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