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frodo says goodbyeAs we approach the end of the Age of Peter Jackson in Middle-earth (for now), we find ourselves a bit like our dear Hobbits watching Frodo and Gandalf sail away to the Gray Havens:  Misty-eyed, a little lost, reluctant to leave the shore until the ship has passed from sight. Parting from our friends with whom we have shared so much is painful, but there is more of our own story yet to write, and we must live it.

But what a wonderful journey it has been.  From the first wide shot of the Shire with its furry-footed Hobbits, we were off on an adventure that would connect us to people across the world who loved Middle-earth too – we went to symphonies together, chatted on websites, attended movie premiers and Oscar parties.  So devoted were we that our fandom spawned a movie – and brought new meaning to the word “Ringers.” Those of us who were not so adventurous or without means to travel were treated to little video moments of fan events and an insane number of production videos to help us feel included in the excitement.  We bought the theatrical VHS version, then the DVD of same.  We traded up to the Extended Edition DVD Sets and downloaded the soundtracks.

When we had memorized all the lines of every character in all the films, we went on to the appendices to learn all about making movies, and the forging of lifelong friendships that happens when you move to Middle-earth to dress up in wigs and pointy ears and amazing costumes, ride beautiful horses and explore breathtaking landscapes while breaking toes, ribs, teeth and suffering allergic reactions to your character’s makeup.  All of that to make a movie – one that most people up until then had thought could not be made.

And then, when we could hardly stand the thought that The Hobbit might never happen, suddenly there were THREE more movies.  We thrilled (and yes, sometimes grumbled at directorial indulgences) as more stories were brought to life on the screen.  We will soon be investing in twentieth anniversary editions of everything the merchandising machine can throw at us to keep our Hobbit habit alive.

From the forging of The Fellowship until our soon-to-be final installment of The Hobbit, we have delighted in each new chapter and given up countless hours of our short lives in four-hour film viewings and then twelve-hour marathons. Soon – for the very dedicated and those for whom time still stands relatively still – there will be the “extended marathons” of six films from the Fellowship through Battle of Five Armies (only backwards – in chronological order).

But there is nothing for it, my dear friends. “It is time,” as Gandlaf said to Frodo, to sail away and be at peace.  It is time to figure out what to do with the rest of the time we have been given.   Our fellowship of fans and bloggers and movie marathons may fade over time, but we will continue to tell the stories to our grandchildren of the time when Middle-earth became a real place – a place you could actually visit and touch and smell and feel yourself a part of.  A place that transports you from the world of literature and your imagination to the magical but real world that is modern Middle-earth.  Who among us does not have NZ on our bucket list because of these films?

Should I never make it to the other side of the world, I will always feel as if I have been there in spirit.

And so now, here at the end of all things, we stand and take stock of how our lives have changed in this time.  Some of us discovered Tolkien for the first time through the movies, and went on to read the books as well.  The movies even brought some families together because of the mathoms and toys we gathered into our homes.

As for this household, we now find ourselves with an abundance of memorabilia and a lifestyle that demands downsizing.  We recently came into the possession of a treasure-trove of collectibles.  Someone abandoned them at a resale store!  So we were compelled to rescue these friends from an uncertain fate.  We have begun to place them on Ebay where we hope they will find a loving home and adoring family to give them the place of honor they deserve. Here is a link to The Google + album depicting the various lots we’ve grouped the items into by scenes in the films.   “We have a CAVE troll” and Arwen at the fords of Bruinen challenging the Black Rider are just a few.   Several are already posted for bidding, more will be posted in the next two weeks.

If you should find yourself in need of gifts for the geeks in your life, now’s the time!  The precious is calling to you, it wants to be found!

Mae govannen!

PS – As of 12/16/14 Most of the action figures are selling or sold, but there are some still up for auction!

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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?

List of which foods appear in the Lord of the Rings extended edition movies, with timing data:
Fellowship of the Ring (disc 1)
time:  scene:  foods:
0:10  Hobbit intro:  yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting
0:15  Gandalf at Bilbo’s:  tea, cold chicken, cheeses, jam, eggs, bread, muffins  Bag End Apple Bread
0:20  Party:   Bilbo’s birthday cake  Doc’s Carrot Cake Recipe or  Dwarven Women’s Pumpkin Cake
0:37  Hiking in the wild: apples
1:11  Weathertop:  tomatoes, sausages, bacon
1:45  (end of disc 1)
Fellowship of the Ring (disc 2)
0:05  Gap of Rohan:  sausages, bread  Rosie’s Bread
1:02  leaving Lothlorien:  lembas bread introduced  Elven Lembas Bread
1:35  (end of movie, credits roll for 10 more minutes)
Two Towers (disc 1)
1:41  in Mordor  rabbits, stew, (also mentioned- potatoes, fish)
1:45  (end of disc 1)
Two Towers (disc 2)
0:01  road to Helms Deep yucky, fatty soup (fish soup)
0:15  in Helms Deep (provisions for later- potatoes, garlic)
1:39  Isengard store room apples, turkeys, smoked meats, ham, carrots, squash, greens, cauliflower, cabbage, many pickled & preserved foods
1:48  (end of movie, credits roll for 10 more minutes)
Return of the King (disc 1)
0:10  Isengard  Store Room: beer, bread, salted pork
0:19  Rohan:  celebration beer drinking contest, cheese, meats, bread  Merry’s Mulled Cider
1:31  Denethor’s Dinner: chicken, tomatoes, bread, wine (don’t eat during this scene unless your heart is made of stone)
2:05  (end of disc 1)
Return of the King (disc 2)
Aragorn’s Athelas Tea (could also be served after Frodo is stabbed at Weathertop)
1:32  (the many endings start here- great time for dessert)
1:41  Back at the Shire:  beer, pumpkin  Stuffed Pumpkin
1:54  (end of movie, credits roll for 10 more minutes)  Into the West Seashell Salad

Linda’s Notes:

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)
 

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.


Blackberry Tarts from Bree

Blackberry Tarts from Bree

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 sweetBlackberry Tart from Bree first bite 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.

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Mushroom Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Does anyone recall seeing Galdalf eat or drink during any of his scenes in LOTR Trilogy? He sat at Bilbo’s table in Fellowship of the Ring, but I believe he was smoking a pipe. At Bilbo’s party, same thing.  Even in Edoras after the triumph at Helm’s Deep, Gandalf is too deep in thought to join the others in hefting a pint.  Being preoccupied with saving Middle-earth in general, one can suppose that he was a distracted cook and one who may have left the skillet on the fire a bit too long.  This dish named for him then rightly instructs us to cook the mushrooms “to death” as if they had been forgotten while engrossed in conversation with Strider and Radagast the Brown over the fate of men. 

I have added a bit of my touch to the recipe, a pinch of dry mustard, balsamic vinegar instead of Worcestershire sauce, and about a quarter cup red wine.   I refrigerated overnight.

Note:  This post is a re-write of an earlier one using the mushrooms over potatoes.  I thought the picture and the dish I created for that post were uninspired.  I am much happier with these and the food passed the house food critic’s test — in fact I was asked to make it every day if I wanted!

Mushroom Soup

1 cup Mushrooms ala Gandalf
1 1/2 pints cream (I used fat free half and half) or substitute whole milk
2 cans cream of po-tay-to soup (do not dilute)
2 Tbl chopped shallots
1 small clove garlic, smashed
1/4 cup white Vermouth cooking wine
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup butter
 
Place mushrooms in sauce pan with garlic, shallots, cayenne, and butter.  Stir over medium high heat until butter is melted, add the wine.  Add three tablespoons of flour and stir until the mixture thickens, keep stirring and turn down heat to medium.  Gradually add about a third cup of cream, then stir until smooth.  Continue adding small amounts of cream until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Now add the potato soup (leave it chunky or puree it before adding).  Stir until thick and bubbly.  Add garnish of herbs if you like!
 

Grilled Cheese with Mushrooms

No brainer here!  Butter and grill some bread, add cheese and mushrooms, broil or simply microwave to melt the cheese!

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