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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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