Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Goodbye Kisses from Rosie

by Mourya, GilArda and the Cave Troll

Menu: Rosie's Big Apple Dumpling Kisses made with Rosie Cotton's Pastry Dough and topped with Spiced Butter Syrup | Sam's Favorite Lip-Licking Ginger Beer

In preparation for leaving, Frodo sold Bag End to the Sackville Bagginses and moved to Buckland, where it would be easier for him to slip out of the Shire unnoticed. It was a big exercise in deliberate deception, and no detail was too small to overlook. Fatty Bolger was supposed to dress in some of Frodo's old clothes and pretend to be Frodo walking around the countryside so no one would know exactly when he'd left. No sooner had such plans been made when things started to happen -- Sam even overheard the Gaffer telling some strange Big Person all muffled in black that Frodo had left earlier in the day, because he thought Frodo really had left earlier.

So as not to be at any specific place at any specific time, Frodo had his friends run errands he normally would have done himself. Sam would take the keys to his father, the Gaffer, to hold for Bag End's new owners. Frodo and Pippin would start for Buckland in the evening, after Merry and Fatty had gone ahead with a cart full of Frodo's things to get the house in Crickhollow ready. Frodo would rendezvous with Sam at the end of the hedgerow on their way.

Sam was there, as planned, but he was behaving a little strangely and wiping his face of some dampness. Frodo assumed that the gardener was saying goodbye to a cask of ale or somesuch. Sam said nothing, which was a bit uncharacteristic of him. Pippin picked on Sam for drinking ginger beer (they could smell it on his breath) and for not saving any for the others. Sam took the ribbing cheerfully -- more so than he normally would have -- and Frodo noticed some crumbs on Sam's sleeve. On closer inspection, Frodo saw they were pastry crumbs ... and only one woman in the Shire could make pastry so flaky -- Rosie Cotton!

Rosie and Sam had been dating for some time, and though he was to slip out of the Shire in secret, Sam felt he had to say SOMETHING to his beloved. He wanted her to know he wasn't abandoning her, but he had to go with Mr. Frodo on a very important mission. He didn't know if he'd live to return home or when ... but he wanted her to know that he cared for her, and that if she chose to see someone else, he'd understand, and not to wait for him ...

Sam had not proposed marriage to Rosie at this point, not wanting to bind her to him when his immediate future was uncertain ... and she didn't feel she had any right to ask him not to go. So Rosie did what a girl could in such a situation -- she baked her famous apple dumplings and brewed Sam's favorite ginger beer, as incentive for him to come home to her. He was touched, and told her the dessert was as sweet as her kisses, and the ginger beer as spicy! He couldn't take the food with him without revealing to the others that he'd breached the security of the mission, but the two lovers could share a quick picnic and a few kisses by the end of the hedgerow ...

Menu: Rosie's Big Apple Dumpling Kisses made with Rosie Cotton's Pastry Dough and topped with Spiced Butter Syrup | Sam's Favorite Lip-Licking Ginger Beer

Rosie's Big Apple Dumpling Kisses
Pastry is something not normally found in rural communities, since the flour used had to be fine and the bread ovens often were temperamental about the controlled temperatures needed for pastry baking. But Rosie Cotton became good at it -- she was in love and wanted Samwise Gamgee to propose, so she practiced till she could produce a light, frangible crust for pies. For evening strolls and suppers, she developed a dumpling recipe that combined baked apples and piecrust. Her motive? It took longer to eat the dumpling with knife and fork than to chew through a flattened piece of pie, and thus she had an excuse to spend longer out with her paramour!
    Spiced Butter Syrup
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or grated
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
  • 8 ounces / 250 g / 2 sticks butter, cut into pieces
In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Heat slowly to boiling and stir till the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and add the butter a few pieces at a time, stirring to melt it into the syrup.

    Rosie Cotton's Pastry Dough
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup butter or vegetable shortening, cold
  • 1 cup milk, cold
In a large bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the cold shortening till the mixture is pebbly looking, then stir in the milk. Mix only till the mess forms a soft, slightly sticky dough. Don't overhandle it or it'll go tough. Cover with plastic wrap and park in the refrigerator at least half an hour.

    Apple Dumplings
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Rosie Cotton's Pastry Dough
  • 12 apples, peeled and cored (not cut up in any way)
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pats
  • Spiced Butter Syrup
  • granulated white or pearl or sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Heat the oven to 375°F / 175°C.

In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Flour the work surface and roll out each piece into a square about 1/8" thick (about 3 mm). (You can rewrap the dough you're not working with and put it back in the refrigerator -- cold dough is easier to work with and is less likely to get tough on baking.) The dough should be big enough to completely envelope the peeled apple. Set the apple in the center of square. Sprinkle the apple with ½ teaspoon of the spice and sugar mixture, and top with a pat of butter. Moisten the edges of the pastry with water and bring them up around the apple. Seal the edges where they meet -- make sure there are no holes. It's okay to leave a prominent seam, but if there is too much leftover pastry, you can trim some of it away -- but not too much! Do this for all the apples, and set the packages in a greased baking dish.

Carefully pour the syrup evenly over the dumplings, and sprinkle over with additional sugar. Bake the dumplings for about 30 minutes -- long enough to cook the apples and brown the pastry, but not so long that the apples collapse. They should hold their shape and be slightly "al dente." When done, you must remove the dumplings immediately to the serving or storage dishes; if you don't, the syrup will cause them to stick to the baking pan and you won't be able to get them off without destroying the pastry.

Makes a dozen.

Back to the Menu: Goodbye Kisses from Rosie

Sam's Favorite Lip-Licking Ginger Beer
This recipe is "quick" by brewing standards -- the fizzy drink is non-alcoholic since it's ready in less than a week. So it's quite nostalgic for Hobbits, since it reminds them of their childhoods, when they'd drink this concoction at parties and celebrations instead of the adult ale. Rosie was not a teetotaler, but she frankly didn't like the effect that ale had on many of the males in the Shire, so would brew this for Sam when he came calling. He not only associated ginger beer with his youth, but also with Rosie's kisses.
    Step 1
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup warm water (no hotter than 120°F / 45°C)
In a small bowl, mix together yeast, sugar and water. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe, until it's soft and foamy looking. (If it doesn't "bloom" you may have dead yeast or your water was too hot. Start over.)

    Step 2 -- you'll need a 2 gallon bucket, thoroughly cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ground ginger OR 2-inch piece of fresh or frozen ginger, skin intact (if using frozen, no need to thaw)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract OR zest of 2 lemons + juice of those lemons
  • 1 teaspoon tartaric acid (cream of tartar) OR ½ teaspoon citric acid
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 quarts / 2 litres hot water
  • 2 quarts / 2 litres cold water
Chop up the ginger and lemon zest very fine. Place the ginger and lemon into a mortar and pestle or food processor with the acid and sugar (or into a bowl if you are using ground ginger and extract) and mix well. Place in a clean bucket. Rinse the bowl with the hot water and put that into the bucket, too. Stir till the sugar is completely dissolved. Then add the cold water to the bucket to cool down the mixture. When the temperature of the water is about human body temperature (i.e. sticking your clean hand in, the water doesn't feel either hot or cold), add the yeast mixture from Step 1, above.

Cover the bucket loosely and leave it to stand in a warm, draft-free place for 24 to 48 hours -- longer if the weather is cold. The beer will bubble in this time and emit a yeasty smell.

    Step 3 -- you'll need 4 x 1¼ quart / 1¼ liter plastic soda bottles (or equivalent volume) with screw lids, cleaned; a funnel; and several thicknesses of cheesecloth
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • extra water, for topping up
Using a clean ladle, strain the ginger beer from the bucket through several layers of cheesecloth nestled in a funnel and set into an old plastic soda bottle. Fill the bottles equally, discarding and replacing the cheesecloth as it gets clogged. Remove the cheesecloth and drop in 1 teaspoon of sugar per quart of liquid into the bottle, then top up with enough cold water to get within about 1½ inch / 2 cm from the top. Screw down the lid tightly and shake to dissolve the sugar.

Leave to stand in a warm place till the bottles feel impossibly rigid when you try to squeeze them. How long this takes depends on the temperature. In the height of summer, this can take one day; in cold weather it can take a week.

When ready to serve, refrigerate the bottles for a couple of hours before opening -- this will reduce the amount of foaming and fizziness when you open the bottle. Do not jostle the bottles too much -- for one, it will cause gas to be generated which will cause the liquid to foam. For another, there will be a layer of fine sediment at the bottom of the bottle -- dead yeast cells, etc. -- that you should try to keep at the bottom of the bottle. Open outside or over a bathtub or easily washable surface slowly -- it might be necessary to retighten the lids for a minute to release the excess gas slowly. It might still foam up! Pour the clear liquid out carefully to leave the sediment in the bottle (this is called decanting -- you will lost a bit of the drinkable liquid when the sediment starts to move toward the neck of the bottle; this is normal). Consume all the ginger beer within a couple of weeks.

Makes about a gallon.

Back to the Menu: Goodbye Kisses from Rosie

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