Bryan Cranston’s Underwear and “Bag-End Biscuits”

After a frenetic binge-watch of Breaking Bad (only my second viewing) and after seeing most of Malcolm in the Middle, I’m convinced that Bryan Cranston is the man I’ve seen most often in his underwear, with the exception of two other men. So—Cranston ranks number three.

Of course, my husband is the number one wearer of underwear in front of me.

Number two was my father. He was of the boxer variety (Bob and Bryan being of the brief variety). My dad would actually step out of the house (or even the occasional motel) to go pick weeds in the front yard. Maybe nobody noticed him sitting cross-legged in the grass in his relatively dingy t-shirt and boxers. On his feet, he would only be wearing socks, never slippers or sandals or shoes. Maybe nobody minded… I’ve assumed that, because the neighbors never called the police to report there was a strange man sitting in front of his house, pulling weeds, in his underwear. Or gosh, officer, there is this strange man walking around the parking lot of the Denver Motel 6, looking at license plates… no, he’s not doing anything weird, he’s just… in his underwear… and some socks…

(He liked to “chase plates.” Mom and dad would drive around, and he would observe license plates. A good day was seeing maybe 25 plates other than New Mexico. Canadian and Mexican plates were a welcome bonus. Hawaii and Alaska always elicited the response, “well, they’re a long way from home.” Dad gave up driving when it became clear he was an exceptionally nervous driver, and better off only being a passenger.)

My sister, mother, and I never really knew why he perpetually went out into his perceived yard (even if that yard was the parking lot of a Motel 6) only in his underwear. He was a peculiar person in many ways, but I’ve assumed since he was brought up in an incredibly repressive household, he figured he could finally be free (at least in this particular way) after he married and moved away from his parents.

Nevertheless, dad was also an intelligent man; he loved sports, yet never played much as an adult. He loved music, yet only played piano briefly as a youngster. He was generous and sensitive. He had a quirky and dry sense of humor. He also believed that if he belonged to a religion, it would be “cookie-ism.” He never let his diabetes get in the way of his sugar worship, however. These cookies would have been right up his alley.

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Did you know that Tolkien fanatics established a special holiday just to read the works of the Professor? The Tolkien Society started this event way back in 2003, and it is held every March 25. It’s a good day to re-read a favorite short story, such as the delightful Leaf by Niggle. Or you could give up binge-watching OITNB and give The Hobbit a quick read.

I know I’m late for it this year, but this little post was something I prepared for the day a couple years ago and it goes along very well with these delicious cookies, which turned up in my original cookbook at just this place in this chapter. You’ll just have to mark your calendars for next year!

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From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

For a typical Tolkien Reading Day, I like to picture one of my favorite hobbits, Mr. Bilbo Baggins, reading his “morning letters.” He’s about to enjoy his day (his less noisy and more green day) when this incredibly annoying wizard intrudes, whose only mission seems to be destroying Bilbo’s cozy, complacent world.

After this encounter, I like to imagine Bilbo escaping into his comfortable and luxurious Bag-End bachelor pad (well, “scuttle” is the word Tolkien uses…); relieved that he can now spend his afternoon reading about Tookish adventures, certainly not participating in any such nonsense.

It’s a good thing he’s already baked some delicious biscuits to nibble on. Little does he know, he better enjoy them now, because those uncivilized and rude dwarves are going to take over his pantries tomorrow…

“Bag-End Biscuits”

bagendbiscuits

  • 3 large oranges
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon soft salted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar

Using a microplaner or fine grater, remove as much of the zest from the oranges as you can. You should have at least 3 tablespoons; set aside. Cut oranges in half and juice them. If necessary, strain the juice; reserve ¼ cup and save the rest in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or grease lightly. In a large bowl, cream the 1 cup butter, sugar, and 2 tablespoons zest. Add the flour and the reserved ¼ cup juice; mix well. On a lightly floured surface, pat and roll out the dough to a 6″ by 12″ rectangle, about ½” thick. Cut into 1″ by 2″ pieces. Carefully place on the baking sheet. Bake 16-20 minutes, until the cookies are just slightly brown on the bottom. Cool on pan for 2 minutes. Carefully place them on a rack and cool 1 hour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, remaining zest, and 2 tablespoons juice. This should have the consistency more of an icing, not a glaze. You might add a smidge more juice if you think it is too thick. With a recessed or bent spatula, spread about a teaspoon of icing on each cookie and leave on rack over the baking sheet for about ½ hour to set. Keep covered at room temperature. Makes 36.

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Out of the Closet and “Over the Hill and Across the Water Salad”

Yes, I came out of my closet and concluded that I hate all of my clothes.

ALL of them, every single item.

Pretty much every item.

Well, I guess I can live with a few pieces…

I suppose this stems from a rather chronic dissatisfaction with my body in general. But perhaps this is how every woman feels? Nora Ephron felt bad about her neck and I can certainly sympathize, especially now that I’m past 50. She also could remember nothing and I’m sympathizing with her here, as well… I’m not sure whether the whole body acceptance movement is working or not. I mostly feel okay with being 30-35 pounds overweight (at the moment… or is it closer to 40? Guess it depends on the weekend binge…), but I wish I could fit my fat hips into a pair of real jeans (not jean-leggings, though I do like those) that fit my skinny legs. I mean, I have the hips of a size 14-16 and the legs of a size 8-10. It’s annoying.

Body acceptance. I could accept my body just the way it is but then my doctor will tell me to lose 50 pounds, because 30 isn’t enough. I could get my neck tightened, get some liposuction, lift my boobs… Or I could ADD 12 years to my age, as Téa Leoni suggested she does on a recent Late Show with Stephen Colbert. People will think I look fantastic!

I know I (most likely) won’t do any of the procedures listed in the previous paragraph. I just wouldn’t want to spend the money on any of it, I’m too lazy, and I really don’t like to volunteer for any sort of surgeries. I’m not sure if I’ll even bother to dye my hair back to brown, when I turn gray—too messy to do yourself; too time-consuming and expensive to bother getting it done. The only thing I’ve added to my mostly non-existent beauty regimen is to paint my nails more often after I noticed my nails getting kind of ridgy-looking. And why do you get ridgy-looking nails? Because you’re getting older. Alas. I also moisturize more than usual, but that’s probably only benefitting the body butter industry, not necessarily my skin.

Well, if that’s all I can manage doing, then maybe I’m more comfortable with my physical appearance than I thought. It’s not like I’m posting selfies on Twitter or anything.

I know Bob will read this and say, “Why don’t you go out and treat yourself to some new clothes?” However, the only thing worse than looking at your tired old clothes is going shopping for new ones.

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From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

As promised, here is a healthy salad for Bombur. A nice short post this time, with relatively few ingredients—perfect for summertime!

I’m imagining that Bilbo’s father liked to dabble in gardening and specialized in salad creations, so I’ve imagined this salad was one of his specialties. Bungo Baggins built Bag-End for his lovely bride Belladonna Took…and very little is otherwise known about him. In Letter 214, Professor Tolkien mentions that Bungo became “‘head’ of the family of ‘Baggins of Hobbiton'” at the ripe age of 70, but he died rather prematurely at age 80 (prematurely for hobbits, that is); his mother Laura Baggins (née Grubb) apparently didn’t want to surrender her position too soon. It’s a little reminiscent of the current situation in England with the queen, perhaps…

Dried cranberries or blueberries will work, too. Make your cheese extra stinky with a Bleu, or make it mellow with some Feta, if desired.

“Over the Hill and Across the Water Salad”

overthehillandacrossthewatersalad

  • 5-6 cups light green lettuce, torn into large pieces (such as Bibb, Boston, Butter, or living lettuce)
  • 2 ounces sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled into small bits
  • 1 cup celery, cut diagonally into ¼” slices
  • ¼ cup almond oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon Savory Seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, almonds, cherries, cheese, and celery. In a shaker jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients and shake well. Adjust seasonings, if desired. Pour over the greens and toss. Serve immediately. You can make the dressing in advance and mix your greens, but don’t toss together until right before serving because these types of lettuce are fragile. Not recommended as leftovers. Serves 4.

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Massacres happen; blog plans change.

Scheduling your blog posts is a smart idea. I only discovered how to use this lovely WordPress feature recently and it has changed my life for the better. However, you might be about to post something that touches on tragic events. This is the first time I’ve encountered this problem.

My next post is cheekily titled “Out of the Closet (blah, blah, blah, a Hobbit recipe)” and was scheduled to post on this week. Then Orlando happened. I figured my closet metaphor, which is actually about my closet, needed to be postponed.

Now, I’m not one to write poetry like the oh-so-talented-and-delightful Lin-Manuel Miranda; I don’t have speechwriters helping me articulate my feelings like President Obama.

These mass shootings have just become so commonplace. I’m UNcomfortably numb about them. Here’s MSNBC with more serious music and graphics. Here’s my fringe-y Facebook friends talking about how guns don’t kill people. Here’s more useless thoughts and prayers. Here’s more anger. Here’s more questioning about whether you are safe anywhere.

Do I think the Second Amendment should be repealed? Even if I did, it will never happen, but it sure could use some severe editing.

Do I think the gunman was perhaps trying to get out of his own closet, but found himself rebuffed at all turns? Well, it doesn’t matter what issues he was facing; any angry American man can externalize his problems easily in this country. And now he can attribute it to ISIS, an organization which is proving to be quite adept at social media marketing.

Perhaps that was a rather sexist comment in the preceding paragraph, but I can’t think of any women at the moment who went on shooting rampages…

And so, we go on. Who will be targeted next week?

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Doomsday Approacheth and “Bombur’s Pork-Pie”

Recently, I had a dream/nightmare wherein our new president was named Donald Trump. For some reason, he was in bed, eating some meat loaf.

Why meat loaf? I think somewhere along the line, I had heard a report that his son-in-law had wondered why his father-in-law would even want to be president because of all the work involved. He pictured dad usually sitting on the couch in the evening, eating something pedestrian like meat loaf. Sort of… low-energy…

Well, who knows how this year will turn out. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it’s difficult, given his mercurial personality.

I woke up severely troubled…

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From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

Poor Bombur. All he gets is abuse for his physical condition. It’s downright tragic that he is a victim of body-shaming.

I suppose I would say he is one of my favorite dwarves merely because of his appetite and his oh-so-apparent love for food and drink. He is described as “immensely fat and heavy” and he suffers throughout the entire story of The Hobbit. In the film versions, he is definitely a portly fellow, but he sure can move. He is sort of reminiscent of Peter Griffin or Homer Simpson, you know, fat but incredibly fit and mostly able to keep up with all the other spryer dwarves. In this YouTube clip, you can see he actually is the fastest runner (and don’t ask me why the folks who posted this went with Chariots of Fire music at the end instead of just keeping the original soundtrack):

I suppose I would also say he is one of my favorites because I can completely relate to his physical issues (which means I’m moderately fat but also relatively fit, though this is limited to regular types of working out—I don’t foresee jumping around barrels and killing orcs in my future…). Yes, he asks for a pork-pie, but he also requests a salad (which will be my next post), so he must be trying to eat relatively well…

“Bombur’s Pork-Pie”

bombursporkpie

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme (or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced)
  • ¼ cup cold salted butter, cut into ¼” bits
  • 3 ounces cold lard, cut into ¼” bits
  • 7-9 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into ½” cubes
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
  • ½ teaspoon Savory Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen corn
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen lima beans (or peas)
  • 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or Wondra
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2¼ cups flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon each of salt and dry (or fresh) thyme. Add the ¼ cup butter and lard and combine. Add ice water by tablespoons and combine well. Divide into a ⅓ and ⅔ portions and flatten into round disks. Put in covered containers or cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, coat a medium deep skillet with cooking spray, then sauté the 1 tablespoon butter, onion, and the pork over medium/high heat just until there is no longer any pink color. Add the wine and cook over high heat until it is almost dry. Add all the remaining ingredients down to the flour or Wondra. Bring to a boil, then cook uncovered over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Let stand; it should still be moist and saucy. Adjust seasonings, if desired.

Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured surface, roll out the large disk to a 13″ circle and place in a 9½” glass pie dish. Pour in the stew. Roll out the smaller disk to about 12″ and place on top. Trim edges, fold over and crimp decoratively, reserving scraps. Cut a small X in the center. With pie crust scraps, cut small decorations. Whisk together the egg and 1 teaspoon water. Brush top of pie with egg wash and apply decorations—egg wash these as well. Bake 30 minutes. Brush top of pie with egg wash and bake another 16-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve hot, warm, or even at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers; reheats well. Serves 6-8.

Vegetarian OptionReplace the lard in the pie crust with vegetable shortening. Keep everything the same, except replace the meat with 3 cups of assorted diced vegetables and add an extra tablespoon of flour to thicken the sauce. Good choices would be summer squashes, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, or just additional onion, corn, lima beans, and/or peas. Green chile? Yes, please!

porkpieslice

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New Emoji and “Bifur’s Raspberry Jam and Apple-Tart”

In general, I 🙂 the new Facebook emoji. 

My newspaper ran this cartoon, however, and I think it really does represent what perhaps many of us would 🙂 to see as emoji:

FBemoji

From the Albuquerque Journal, sometime in March 2016…

For years, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Lately, it’s been mostly frustration. It seems it has become the place where relatively interesting people go to become boring. I have a fairly wide range of friend-types, and each subset represents itself in the most relentlessly repetitive ways possible. Here are a few examples:

I get it; you’re Christian, but you’ve already told me six times today about the glory of Christ.

I get it; you’re Jewish; please tell me more about Israel.

You’re Wiccan; please tell me more about herbal remedies and Gaia.

You’re Conservative—guns, Jeeps, and Ted Cruz are your favorite shares.

You’re feeling the Bern.

You’ve got a terrific recipe to share. Again.

Oh, here’s another photo of alcohol.

Now, I bet if I went to lunch with any of these people, they wouldn’t talk about these particular things. But Facebook seems to compel people to spend about 99% of their social media presence sharing things that other people have memed (yes, I know that’s not a real word, but it should be). Barely 1% is personal. It got to the point where I simply could not handle my timeline.

Don’t misunderstand me—I love the occasional puppy/monkey/Bernie meme. One of my daughters considers Facebook a trashy tabloid. She tries to limit herself to about 30 minutes per day. I can certainly understand looking at it that way. I finally took a radical step and unfollowed every person, every group, and every page. I only follow my kids and my sister and our respective business pages. This means I follow three people (who hardly ever post anything) and three pages, one of which is my own, Astrid Tuttle Winegar (please like and share! Groan…). 

I categorized friends into about 12 specific groups. Now, I have to make an effort to check on friend groups, or group groups, or pages. You might think this would be a pain in the ass, but it has saved me so much time and frustration. I check in on my friend groups occasionally. What I have found is that even though I haven’t heard anything about someone, it doesn’t matter, because when I do check in, inevitably they are posting the same old stuff they’ve been posting on a daily basis. I can always drop in on my pages feed to see what’s up on my favorite TV shows, or whatever else I’m following. Again, however, as with people, most pages are usually filled with the SOSDD. 

The only problem is people who really don’t post anything much at all, but assuming you’ve assigned them to some sort of group, you’ll eventually catch up with their updates. And let’s face it—if somebody is really THAT important to you, aren’t you keeping in touch OUTSIDE of Facebook? I do receive notifications from a few of my group groups mostly, and that’s not a problem. I mean, I’m in those groups for a reason, so I do want to hear what’s going on. I don’t receive notifications from other groups, however. I’m in the memorial group for my high school, but I definitely don’t want notifications from them. Why am I in that group, then…?

See what I mean? Remember a time when Facebook didn’t exist? Weren’t we all somewhat happier in our isolation back then?

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From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

Well, Gandalf finally arrives and calls the dwarf invasion of Bag-End “Quite a merry gathering!” I’m sure the annoyed Bilbo would disagree with Gandalf’s assessment. The serious ordering of foodstuffs and beverages begins. The dwarf Bifur asks for “raspberry jam and apple-tart.” So, does that mean he wants raspberry jam AND a separate apple tart? Or does he want them together? Wouldn’t he have asked for some toast or an English Muffin on which to spread his jam? Or will he merely spread the jam on the tart? Does he just want a spoon with this jar of jam, with a slice of tart on the side as a jam chaser? Tolkien’s language here is severely testing the limits of literary interpretation. I decided just to combine them into one item for simplicity’s sake.

“Bifur’s Raspberry Jam and Apple-Tart”

bifursraspberryjamandappletart

  • 4 ounces walnut halves, lightly toasted and cooled
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup soft salted butter
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, peeled and cored, cut into ¼” slices (any variety)
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large food processor, pulse the walnuts, flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt until the nuts are ground. Add and pulse the butter until thoroughly mixed. Coat a 9½” tart pan (1″ deep) with removable sides with cooking spray or grease well. Scrape nut mixture into pan (don’t bother washing bowl and blade); press evenly up the sides, then press evenly onto the bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes. Put on a rack; maintain oven temperature. Be sure to handle pan on the sides only, so you don’t shift the bottom.

Meanwhile, process the ½ cup sugar, cream cheese, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Spread evenly over shell. Decoratively arrange the apple slices over the egg mixture, but don’t overload. Bake at 350° for 36-40 minutes. While tart is baking, melt jam in a 1-quart saucepan, whisking just until smooth. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered.

When done, carefully place tart on a rack and spread the jam over all, using a spoon or bent spatula. Cool on rack for one hour. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Remove pan sides and place on a serving plate. After cutting, store covered in refrigerator—you can bring it to room temperature before serving again or enjoy cold. Serves 6-8.

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Food Truckapalooza and “Cheddar Sage Scones”

Here’s an Albuquerque event you might be interested in. My son-in-law will have his own food truck here (see the photo below—Fresco New Mexico).

fresconm

Check it out if you’re looking for some new food experiences this weekend! I’ve posted the press release here:

The 2ND ANNUAL GREAT NEW MEXICO FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL

Coming to the Balloon Museum in Albuquerque on Saturday, April 9th

Featuring 25+Food Trucks, 50+Great Regional & National Craft Beers & Live Music

Food Truck Festivals of America is pleased to announce the return of the Great New Mexico Food Truck Festival on Saturday, April 9th from noon- 6:00pm (iHeartMedia VIP Hour from 11am-noon) at The International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque. This year’s festival will be bigger and better with more food trucks and the addition of 50+ craft beers from some of New Mexico’s and the country’s best craft brewers. “Food trucks and craft beer just belong together,” says Anne-Marie Aigner, founder of Food Truck Festivals of America. “Last year was our first food truck festival in Albuquerque and we suffered some growing pains in terms of line management and crowd control.  We have learned our lesson! We are adding more food trucks, more beer stations and more traffic, police and parking options to ensure the best possible customer experience. These are all priorities for our 2016 festival. We want our guests to have a great experience from start to finish.”

The festival will also feature live music, face painters and, of course, some of the best food truck menus in the region as 25+ gourmet food truck chefs serve up a variety of savory and sweet dishes, ranging from fall off the bone BBQ to Southwestern cuisine, gourmet hot dogs to modern Mediterranean, and everything in between. In addition attendees can enjoy a variety of regional and national beers. Among participating breweries are:

  • Santa Fe (NM)
  • Sierra Blanca (NM)
  • Ballast Point (San Diego)
  • Breckenridge (Colorado)
  • Guns and Oil (Texas)
  • And MANY more!

To help ensure a comfortable customer experience (shorter lines), attendees are advised to purchase tickets online at ftfa.eventbrite.com  for one of two options (Beer and food are sold separately):

  • General Admission:  $5 in advance, $10 at the gate
  • iHeartMedia VIP Hour:   $20 in advance, $25 at the gate (unlimited complimentary beverages, a free dessert, and shorter lines. Tickets are very limited.)

Our partners for the Great New Mexico Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival are Admiral Beverage Corporation and iHeartMedia, including radio stations Hot 95.1, 104.1 The Edge, 100.3 The Peak and KZRR 94 Rock.

For media inquiries only or to request visual materials, please call Aigner/Prensky Marketing Group, Inc. at 617-254-9500.

Food Truck Festivals of America was founded in 2012. It has grown to be the largest food truck festival touring company in the U.S. and has produced over 50 festivals to date.  Our goal is not only to introduce communities across the country to the booming phenomena of gourmet food trucks and craft beer, but to support the small business owners who run them. Since we began, we estimate that we have helped to generate revenue for nearly 600 small businesses since most of our participating trucks are start-up businesses. FTFA is producing fifteen festivals in 2016. For the very latest news please follow @FTFofAmerica on twitter and “like” us on facebook.com/FTFNE.

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From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

Some of the dwarves demolish Bilbo’s beautiful round seed-cakes (see my previous post) and are now “starting on a round of buttered scones.” The furious and “altogether bewildered and bewuthered” Bilbo now takes requests from all the dwarves and Gandalf, who, Bilbo suspects, “Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!” Perhaps this is true; the items requested are quite specific, as if Gandalf had issued a menu to the dwarves before they all came to Bag-End. One never really knows what Gandalf has been up to…

If you don’t like sage, feel free to substitute your favorite herb. Dry herbs are fine, though I’m sure Professor Tolkien would prefer that you use fresh. Lovely with soups and stews or a hearty option for your afternoon tea. Does anyone have afternoon tea anymore? Maybe we should make time for that kind of event…

“Cheddar Sage Scones”

cheddarsagescone

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry sage or 2-3 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • ½ cup soft salted butter
  • 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup 1% milk, room temperature
  • 1 extra large egg, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or grease lightly. In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. Add the butter and cheese and combine. In a 1-cup glass measure, whisk together the milk and egg, then add to flour mixture and combine just until incorporated. Turn out onto a floured surface. With floured hands, knead dough a few times, then pat into a 1″ thick circle, about 8″ in diameter. Cut into 8 wedges. Place on prepared sheet 1″ apart. Bake at 400° for 12-16 minutes, until light golden brown on bottom. Let stand 5 minutes on pan. Keep leftovers covered at room temperature. Makes 8.

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Serious Moonlight and “Shire Seasoning”

As usual, I’ve spent way too much time brooding about my blog and not actually writing anything in it. All this brooding led me to return to my roots and my original cookbook, which I still love. I felt I don’t blog enough, I don’t have any sort of regular schedule, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been in a funk since David Bowie died. Now I’m not really one to eulogize anyone, especially celebrities I’ve obviously never met. But I’ve had an incessant soundtrack of Bowie songs rambling in my head since the beginning of January. He was one of my first beloved rock stars and I’ve been a fan for about 42 years. Nothing reminds you of how old you are than saying 42 years! And nothing reminds you as you age, that it’s time to face the strange and make some changes. So, wham, bam, thank you ma’am, here goes.

I plan to spend the first part of my new and improved blog posts on personal matters; whatever I feel like discussing. Then I’ll end with the lovely graphic below to differentiate real life from the fantasy cookbook life. So if you only want to hear what’s going on, just read to the small art. If you want to skip to the recipe and text from my original cookbook, just skip all this italicized text and continue there. Who knows? You might want to look at both. I felt that it was okay for me to embrace all the many facets of my inner life and simply put them out there. I hope this won’t be to frustrating or jarring to anybody, but I’ll compensate you by remaining ad-free, at least for the foreseeable future. I’m sure I’ll find opportunities to rant about social media at other times, but not today.

My new color scheme is (I hope) reflective of my background photograph. I grabbed a beautiful shot of multiple pansies growing happily in my backyard garden area. And now, I’m going to start with the text and recipes from Astrid’s Modern Hobbit Recipes. All artwork has been inverted so it’ll show up better on a white page.  

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From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry

If you’ve never read The Hobbit, you might be wondering, what exactly is a hobbit? J. R. R. Tolkien describes them as small in stature, unmagical, “inclined to be fat in the stomach,” and they “laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it).” Individually, each hobbit character would probably remind you of people you know, including yourself; that’s probably a good reason these invented characters resonate so well with readers. If I started discussing what hobbits represent, this post would turn into a dissertation and I would rather not pursue that pathway. Suffice to say for the purposes of these postings that, in general, hobbits are rather obsessed with eating and drinking.

As a perfect example, take Bilbo Baggins, the hero of The Hobbit. Bilbo leads a quiet, bachelor life in his snug hobbit hole in the Shire. He is not the sort of hobbit to participate in any sort of adventure, believing that adventures are “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” So, Bilbo is enjoying his lovely home with all of its culinary pleasures when he is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the wizard Gandalf, who suggests that Bilbo join him on an “adventure.” After Gandalf leaves, Bilbo is upset, and though he “had only just had breakfast, […] he thought a cake or two and a drink of something would do him good after his fright.” Now if that’s not compulsive eating and drinking (…what? I’m assuming Bilbo drinks milky, sugary tea at this time of day), I don’t know what is. I think many people can relate to Bilbo taking comfort in food.

Thirteen dwarves soon arrive at Bag-End, and later Gandalf. They all proceed to raid Bilbo’s pantries and kitchens (this makes one wonder why a single hobbit needs multiple pantries and kitchens, doesn’t it?). Perhaps this is a good idea; since Bilbo does (uncharacteristically) leave home, he doesn’t have to worry about all of his lovely homemade goodies going to waste. Bilbo is in a tizzy, for not only do these conspiratorial and annoying dwarves feast on all of Bilbo’s tea-type treats, they also request more substantial fare.

Yet, Bilbo indeed runs off with them, constantly bemoaning the fact that he has forgotten his pocket-handkerchief and regretting the lack of frequent meals on the road. They encounter trolls, elves, and goblins. Bilbo meets the wicked Gollum and obtains a magical Ring. They are aided by a shape-shifter named Beorn and afterwards they almost become dinner for dozens of giant spiders. Finally, they reach their ultimate destination and overcome their greatest enemy: the dragon Smaug. Then, of course, there’s a war; The Hobbit is certainly filled with lots of action, to say the least. Bilbo proves his worth to the dwarves, who sometimes doubted his abilities. And along the way, there are constant references to food and drink; what other fictional characters enjoy second breakfasts, elevensies, afternoon tea, and all the basic meals in between? Why can’t we all eat like that, all the time?!

We’ll begin with a pantry essential. Sometimes one needs more complex flavors than just salt and pepper and sometimes one doesn’t have access to different varieties of fresh herbs growing in the garden. Perhaps one of Bilbo’s resourceful ancestors came up with a convenient dry mix to solve this particular problem. This mix is used through the Middle-earth regions where hobbits live.

“Shire Seasoning”

shireseasoning

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns (all black of a mix of colors)
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dry marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon dry sage (not rubbed)
  • ½ teaspoon dry rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed

Combine the salt and peppercorns in a blender or a small food processor.  Pulse until peppercorns are mostly broken; this will take about a minute.  Add the remaining ingredients and pulse another 30 seconds or so.  Keep in a tightly covered container in your pantry.  Shake or stir before using.  Makes about 1/3 cup and retains pungency for about three months.

bilbospantry

BTW—If you’re not interested in making this mix, check out my Etsy shop, Elegant Sufficiencies, where you can order some. I’ll make you a batch: Savory Seasoning in a Jar or (the cheaper version) Savory Seasoning in a Ziploc Bag.