…and “Shire Seasoning.”
As usual, I’ve spent way too much time brooding about my blog and not actually writing anything in it. Then I was looking at old blogs, and I figured it was time to do a little purge of old stuff. All this brooding and purging 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.
And now, I’m going to start with the text and recipes from Astrid’s Modern Hobbit Recipes. All artwork (by the talented Geneva Harstine!) has been inverted so it’ll show up better on a white page.
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.
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns (all black or 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.
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.