Chris Rachael Oseland ’s new cookbook, An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery, is a compilation of delicious, down-to-earth recipes any Hobbit would love.
The book is organized in order of how a typical Hobbit would go through their culinary day. Among many other recipes, Breakfast includes mushroom, and bacon hash and apple and cherry griddle cakes. Second Breakfast includes recipes for pork and apple hand pies for Hobbits on the go. By Elevenses it’s time for honey cakes, seed cakes, and other sweet treats. On to Luncheon with delectable baked scotch eggs, steak and ale pie, and strawberries and cream bread. Of course, no self-respecting Hobbit would miss their scones and country ginger snaps for Afternoon Tea. Supper recipes feature venison cobbler and rosemary skillet peas, and there’s not a Hobbit to be found that wouldn’t be proud to ‘fill up the corners’ with dinner recipes such as savory bread pudding with mushrooms, and boxty on the griddle!
Is your mouth watering yet? Ours certainly were, so we decided to try a few of the recipes in TheOneRing.net’s test kitchen. Greendragon was taken with the baked scotch eggs, rosemary skillet peas and lavender and lemon bread. “I love peas and rosemary – cook with them both a lot – but would never have thought to put them together, nor to cook the peas in a frying pan. (Sam would be proud)!” Kelvahrin and I both tried the steak and ale pie to raves from our respective families. I also made the strawberries and cream bread which was just as tasty and fragrant when we finished the last slice as when we cut the first one.
Chris really did her homework, researching the kinds of foods that would have been available around the late Victorian era when Tolkien was a young man; many of the same ingredients that made their way through his writings to The Shire.
From Chris: “[the research].. was the most fun – falling deep down a research rabbit hole. I have a MA in History, so honestly this was like candy for me. Once I compiled way too many historically suitable recipes I made myself (mostly) stop the research and focus on testing. A lot of people think of Middle Earth as a faux medieval realm, but The Professor was very clear that the Shire was his homage to the disappearing way of life he loved from his late Victorian childhood.”
The result is that the recipes stick to basic ingredients such as butter, fresh fruits and vegetables, and meat. One of the best things about the cookbook, is that most of the recipes that contain butter and meat as ingredients also include clear instructions for how to make them vegetarian, and even some vegan. There are also gluten-free recipes and paleo/primal-friendly recipes. Many of the recipes also include suggestions on using leftovers for later meals, though all of us at TheOneRing.net’s test kitchen can’t imagine leftovers ever being a problem!
Again from Chris: “As for the dietary restrictions – that’s a real passion of mine. Food brings us together. I see it as part of my job to ensure there’s a place for everyone around the nerdy table. The vegetarian recipes were pretty easy. Most baked goods are accidentally vegetarian, and once you have a little practice, it’s not hard to veganize most vegetarian recipes. Getting the gluten free options in there was the most work since these recipes come from an era when bread really was the staple of life, so I bought in some northern English (mostly Scottish influenced) recipes with oats and made sure that there were some roasts as well as the popular hearty meat pies of the era.”
As you can see, Chris has a way with words which also makes the cookbook fun to read. Top it off with fabulous pictures of the food, and metric conversions for all measured ingredients, and Chris’ book offers Tolkien fans everywhere a Middle-earth adventure, right in your own kitchen!
An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery would make a lovely Christmas present, and is available now from Amazon for $24.95. Also look for other books by Chris including Dining with the Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook, Wood for Sheep: The Unauthorized Settler’s Cookbook and Steamdrunks: 101 Steampunk Cocktails and Mixed Drinks.
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