Bilbo Baggins isn’t really a hero. He’s short, a complete homebody, and is afraid to leave his house with a pocket handkerchief. He doesn’t have any unique set of skills, except for perhaps blowing smoke rings and walking very quietly.
I think that is why I like him so much.
He’s nobody really special, but he makes up his mind to be a good burglar, to help his friends find what they seek, and to remain loyal no matter what. So that is exactly what he does. Sure, he has a powerful ring, a shirt of mail made from mithril, and a special sword that glows blue when orcs are near. But Bilbo always give me the feeling that, even without any of this, he would have still remained loyal, would have still found a way to save his friends, would have still fought for what is right.
Those are the kind of characters that I like to read about. They inspire me to move forward, to persevere. Sam Gamgee said it best:
“The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on…”
You see, Bilbo did not have to go on an adventure…at first he didn’t even want to. He could have turned back at any time. But he didn’t. And that is what makes him worth reading about. Because bad things happened to him, because many of his friends died, because he, short, frightened, and a long way from home, chose to keep going when it would have been easier to turn back.
Of course Bilbo didn’t know about any of this when he first started out. In the beginning of the story, the main thing he has to worry about is running out of food when 12 dwarves show up at his hobbit hole. He doesn’t really know where they have come from, when they will be leaving, and, most importantly, whether their main goal is to eat him out of hobbit hole and home and chip all of his glasses and crack all of his plates.
Fortunately, when my friends came over for a Hobbiton Brunch in honor of The Battle of the Five Armies movie I did not have to worry about any of this. And I definitely had more than enough food. After all, I chose The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien as December’s “Book of the Month,” so I was much more prepared than Bilbo.
I wanted to make a dish inspired from my favorite scenes in the book. I was able to squeeze in almost all, save one. That would be the troll scene, partly because neither me nor my friends eat mutton because we are vegetarian. But mostly because it isn’t exactly legal - or nice - to try to eat dwarves.
Anyway, here are the recipes for my homemade hobbitish foods:
From chapter 1, An Unexpected Party:
“A little beer would suit me, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with a white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake – seed-cake, if you have any.”
“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling off… to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after supper morsel.
Bilbo, scampering back and forth, confused and trying to provide for the needs of his unwelcome guests, makes perhaps the funniest scene in the entire book. Of course I had to make some food inspired by it:
- 1/3 cup of avocado
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- 1/3 cup of coconut sugar (any kind will do, but coconut is best for Lymies because it has a lower GI)
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup of milk (I used rice, but any kind will work)
- ½ cup of oat flour (you can just blend oats up in a Vitamix to make your own)
- ¼ cup of almond meal (again, just blend whole almonds in a Vitamix if you don’t have any ready-made)
- ½ po-tay-toe starch (just throw some potatoes into a Vitamix and…okay, maybe not)
- 1 tsp of xantham gum
- 2 tsp of cinnamon
- ½ tsp of nutmeg
- 1 and ½ tsp of caraway seeds
- Blend the avocado, vanilla, and sugar together, kind of like creaming butter. I know that seems really wrong, but I swear you can’t taste the avocado once it’s cooked. Add the 2 eggs and the milk, then blend well.
- Mix (or sift, which gives the bread a lighter texture, but takes more time. Of course I didn’t sift because I’m lazy) together all remaining ingredients, except the caraway seeds. Also, when you mix in the potato starch, you have to say “PO-TAY-TOE” like Samwise Gamgee otherwise it won’t taste good.
- Add dry mixture to the wet, then mix.
- Now fold in the caraway seeds.
- Pour batter into greased pan (I greased mine with olive oil).
- Bake in 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Now, my oven is really old, doesn’t bake evenly, and cooks 50 degrees too high (I set my oven at 275), so keep an eye on your bread…or two, as often as you can spare them. It might take them much longer or much shorter to finish. You’ll know it’s done when it’s golden brown and a knife inserted into center comes out clean
From chapter 1, and An Unexpected Party, where all of the dwarves are ordering their food: “And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
- Gluten-free pie crust (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- ¼ cup of coconut sugar
- ¼ cup of walnut oil
- 4 apples (I used 2 granny smith and 2 fuji, but if you have another preference, go with it)
- 2 tsp of lemon juice
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1 tsp of vanilla
- ¼ tsp of nutmeg
- 1 tsp of ice water
- 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon of apricot preserve (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of water
- Follow your instructions for the gluten-free pie crust. I used Bob’s Red Mill pie crust mix and instead of cutting in butter, I cut in solid coconut oil. It tasted great, was super flakey, and didn’t taste at all like coconut, so I recommend that you do the same (especially if you are dairy free).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel the apples, but don’t worry if you don’t get all the peel off. Cut into thin slices, but try not to cut so thin that they are transparent.
- In a pan large enough to hold all of the apple slices, combine walnut oil and the ¼ cup of coconut sugar. You can use butter in place of walnut oil, but it pretty much tastes just the same, the walnut oil giving it a nuttier flavor that I actually prefer to butter. Cook on low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- The apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Cook on low heat until the apples are cooked through (you can tell they’re cooked through if the apples are soft and kind of floppy, but not mushy). This takes about 15 minutes.
- Now roll out your piecrust. Try to get yours in to a circular shape, but mine ended up shaped like Africa, which worked just as well. Shoot for ½ inch thickness and about 12 inches in diameter. Once you’ve done this, lay out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Now lay your apples down, starting in the middle and working out to the edges. You can be super weird about this, they made apples all facing the same direction like I did, or you can just throw them wherever you want to. It will taste just as good no matter what you decide to do. I ended up with about a quarter cup extra apple slices, but that’s okay. They taste good just by themselves. They taste even better for second breakfast the next day.
- Folded edges over the apples. The crust, being gluten free, will probably crack because that’s what gluten free crusts do, but don’t worry about it.
- Brush crust with ice water and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of coconut sugar.
- Slide in oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on the bottom.
- This part is optional. It still tastes good without the sauce: About 5 minutes before you take the tart out, heat the tablespoon of apricot preserves with the tablespoon of water until bubbly.
- Brush this mixture over the crust and apples as soon as the tart is out of the oven.
- This makes eight slices. My friends and I ate ours warm, but my dad ate his cold for breakfast, so it doesn’t really matter when you serve it. We voted this the best dish of the meal and I ended up making another one for Christmas Eve. Yum!
Beorn’s Nut Rounds
From chapter 7, Queer Lodgings, where Beorn is sending them off with supplies: He [Beorn] would lade them with food to last them for weeks with care, and packed so as to be as easy as possible to carry – nuts, flour, sealed jars of dried fruit…
I can’t honestly claim this as my own recipe. I led a nutrition class last year and this recipe is from the book I used: Nutrition 101: Choose life! I modified it very slightly. In case you’re wondering, this snack is full of calcium (from the nuts and seeds), which makes it great for your skeletal system. Anyway, here’s the recipe:
- ½ cups of sesame seeds
- 1 cup of chopped almonds
- ½ cup of chopped pecans or walnuts (both are great…you can even mix them if you want)
- 1 and ½ cups of pitted dates
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- Dash of salt
- Shredded coconut/coconut flakes
- Cocoa or Carob powder (I prefer carob because it’s better for you )
- Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until blended. It should pull together slightly, but still have whole nuts in it. It might form a paste, which still tastes good, but the texture isn’t as great in my opinion, so try not to pulse too much.
- Press the mixture into bite-size balls and roll into coconut or carob.
And that’s that. I think this is very similar to the food Bilbo would have eaten….That is, the food he would have eaten had he been meat free, dairy free, gluten free, and refined sugar free. However, having grown up reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, I’m pretty sure that no respectable hobbit would be caught sticking to such a diet.
But I’m sure Bilbo wouldn’t begrudge us our fun. What do you think? If you have any additional recipes to add, comment below. If not, still comment below. I love hearing from fellow nerds/cooks/bloggers.
Thank you for reading and, as Bilbo would have said, “May the hair on your toes never fall out!”