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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 Salad

2 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.

Doc's Carrot Cake

It is hard to imagine a carrot cake more delicious than this one!  Very moist — probably owing to the pudding mix in the recipe.  If I were on the catering staff in Minas Tirith I would have baked this for the wedding of King Elessar and Lady Arwen.   Or perhaps it was made in honor of Galadriel‘s birthday in Lothlorien because its color reminds one of her golden hair, so lovely that Gimli could think of nothing more to ask from her than a lock to keep as she sent each member of the Fellowship off with a blessing.

The only thing I added was the decoration — a “carrot” made from an orange gum drop and a sprig of parsley.   I used walnuts instead of pecans as that’s what I had on hand.  You will want the cake “quite cool” before you frost it, and pay attention to how much confectioners sugar you put in the frosting so it firms up well.  Still, I recommend you put the frosted cake in the fridge, especially on a warm day.

You must make all haste to summon the bakery staff to get this delicacy on your family table tonight!  Or at least on Super Bowl Sunday!


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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