Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Farewell to the Shire

by Mourya, GilArda, Gabbydriel

Menu: Oven-Roasted Spareribs with Sam's Smokey Tomatoey Rib Sauce | Baked Beans with Sam's Lip-Smacking Mustardy Bean Sauce | Cheesy Batter Bread Rolls | Buckland to Bag End Baked Apples

Though Frodo had fulfilled his mission by taking the One Ring to Mordor and witnessing its destruction (losing a finger in the process), he never managed to find peace within himself. He and his fellow Hobbits had returned to the Shire, but everything had changed. Merry and Pippin were not just goofballs anymore. They'd helped lead a revolt against Saruman within the Shire, and wore their Rohan garb and Gondorian armor as heroes proudly. Samwise married Rosie Cotton and started a family. And on the anniversaries of the events at Weathertop and Cirith Ungol, the knifewounds and spider sting Frodo had suffered on his adventures hurt him anew. With all these things happening, Frodo knew things could never be the same for him.

Frodo didn't tell Sam that he couldn't stay in the Shire, but Sam somehow knew ... for hadn't Arwen told Frodo he could have her place on the ship at Gray Havens? And then there was that Elven jewel Frodo carried as a talisman till it was time to finally take the ship ... So when Frodo said he would go to Rivendell for Bilbo's birthday, Sam went with him for at least part of the way. Perhaps he sensed this would be the last time he'd see his friend? In any case, he packed a picnic to take with them, hoping that some of Frodo's favorites would keep his spirits up during the journey.

In the woods, they came upon a large party of Elves including Elrond and Galadriel, with Bilbo among them. They walked together to Gray Havens where they met Gandalf, who told Sam he'd brought Merry and Pippin so that Sam's journey home would not be accomplished alone. Saddened, Sam then understood that Frodo would indeed board the ship to go to the Undying Lands with the others, leaving him, Merry and Pippin behind. Seeing that the inevitable was at last coming to pass, Samwise handed the picnic basket -- with its now-precious contents from the Shire -- to his old friend and said goodbye.

Oven-Roasted Spareribs with Sam's Smokey Rib Sauce
With a young baby at home, Rosie -- Sam's wife -- was favoring meals that could be cooked while she was attending to other things. When the brick bread oven was fired up, she'd assemble several dishes and put them in after the bread was cooked, leaving them overnight to cook slowly in the residual heat. Many rib recipes recommended boiling the ribs to tenderize them, but throwing them into the oven during the baby's nap was much simpler for Rosie. These ribs, with the messy finger-licking sauce, are great just out of the oven, or cold the next day -- perfect for a picnic. That's how Rosie and Sam's favorite bachelor in Bag End often had them, when they dropped off a mess of these ribs at Frodo's cottage.
    Sam's Smokey Tomatoey Rib Sauce
  • 1½ quarts / liters / 6 cups ketchup
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
Combine the ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered over low heat for 20 miniutes, stirring from time to time. Heat the oven to 350°F / 165°C. Place the ribs on a rack fitted over a foil-lined baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes. (If you prefer, simmer the ribs in a pot of water for the same amount of time.) Drain the ribs, then dunk into the sauce and place in a foil-lined baking pan. Cover with foil or a lid and return to the oven for 45 minutes till the ribs are tender. Uncover, and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes till the sauce thickens onto the meat. Baste with sauce during the final cooking if desired. Feeds a dozen.

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Baked Beans with Sam's Lip-Smacking Mustardy Sauce
These beans have a sweet, salty, tangy sauce -- the secret? It's all in the simple sauce! The beans could be made any which way -- even using leftovers. Sam would mix up the cooked beans with this quick sauce to pop into the cooling bread oven alongside the smokey-flavored ribs. Though a starchy vegetable, Sam considers them vegetables enough for the purposes of a picnic, eliminating the need for a salad. Though Frodo enjoyed vegetables, he always agreed with Sam that these beans were a more than adequate substitute.
Mix the ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar.

    Baked Beans
  • 1 lb / 450 g dry beans, any kind (white haricots, northern, or navy beans work very nicely)
  • 1 quart / 1 liter water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • another 1 quart / 1 liter water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ lb / 225 g bacon, chopped coarsely
  • Sam's Lip-Smacking Mustardy Bean Sauce
In a large saucepan, boil together the beans and the first batch of water and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, ad let sit for an hour. (Alternatively, soak the beans in the water without boiling, but for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.) Drain the beans and rinse. Add the second batch of water to the soaked beans along with the salt and bring to a simmer. Cook for about an hour or till the beans are tender. Drain, but keep 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and add it to Sam's Lip-Smacking Mustardy Bean Sauce, whisking to combine well.

Heat the oven to 400°F / 190°C. In a baking dish (a lasagne pan or bean pot are good) combine the beans, onions, Sam's Lip-Smacking Mustardy Bean Sauce with cooking liquid and bacon. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or till the sauce is as thick as you like it. Serves a dozen.

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Cheesy Batter Bread Rolls
Sam and Rosie were lucky -- they had an oven close to them to bake their bread and other meals out on Bag End. Usually, the Hobbits of the Shire would have to go to the baker in the center of the village when he fired up his oven to get their week's baking done. The big, crusty loaves would be done first in the intense heat, followed by breads and pastries requiring a cooler oven, then dishes like the ribs and beans that could cook as the oven cooled. This no-knead bread recipe could be mixed up as the big loaves went into the oven, left to rise, and then put in just before the long-cooked dishes. It was the Middle Earth equivalent of a convenient quickbread, and Frodo often made a point of visiting the Gamgees on baking day for a taste.
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ oz / 15 g active dry yeast granules
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1½ cups cheese, grated (cheddar is good)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
Heat the milk, sugar, salt and oil to about 120°F / 45°C (no hotter, or you'll kill the yeast). Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast over the liquid till the yeast dissolves and "blooms" (goes a bit foamy). In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of flour and cheese. Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the yeast mixture, stirring to incorporate the flour as you go. Using an electric mixer or a lot of elbow grease, beat the mixture well for a couple of minutes at high speed, building up the stretchy gluten in the flour. Beat in another cup of flour and egg and beat another couple of minutes. Stir in the rest of the flour to make a stiff batter, but not a smoother/dryer kneadable dough. Cover and rest for 15 minutes. Grease 24 muffin cups and place a blob of dough in each. Cover with a damp teatowel till the dough doubles in bulk -- this can take an hour. Heat the oven to 375°F / 175°C, and place the rolls in the oven for about 25 minutes till they are risen and browned and cooked through. Remove from the muffin cups as soon as they are out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or on a dry teatowel.

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Buckland to Bag End Baked Apples
Knowing about the Entwives, Merry and Pippin would go to Buckland to talk to the trees once in a while. They'd tell them about Treebeard and how sad the Ents were without Entlings. Then they'd pluck apples straight off the trees and run to Sam's! Rosie would scold them for stealing the apples from the hardworking farmers while she baked the booty with raisins and sugar for a delicious dessert. She'd cook the lot all at once, so there were always cold leftovers for the two miscreants to grab whenever they came to visit. Frodo loved that his cousins never outgrew their childishness, despite their adventures and status as heroes, and he loved these apples, either hot or cold!
    For each serving:
  • 1 apple, cored (any kind is good EXCEPT red delicious!), strip of skin removed from the belly of the apple, all the way around (keeps the apples from blowing up messily)
  • dried fruit to fill the apple cavity -- raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc. or apricots, prunes, dates, chopped up. Or a mixture.
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice or cider
Heat the oven to 350°F / 165°C. Prepare the apples and place them in a baking pan so that they fit snugly together. Fill the core cavity of each apple with dried fruit, and top the apple with brown sugar. Pour the juice over the brown sugar. Bake for about an hour, till golden and soft.

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