24 February 2008

Eccles Cakes

After hearing about them for years, Mrs. Meadows and I finally found a local shop that sells Eccles Cakes! (This may be laughable for our friends across the water, but in our little nook of the woods, it's a rare treat.) We bought a packet yesterday afternoon on our way to a public garden.

Eccles cakes are small, rather like flaky buttermilk biscuits in appearance (though flatter), and filled with currants. I enjoyed one this morning slightly warmed, and with saskatoon jelly on the side. Utter bliss. I know for sure that Bilbo kept a secret stash in his larder.

The cakes are named after the village of Eccles, in Salford. Here is a nice, informative link, courtesy of Salford (and with a recipe, too - I think I have my plans for next Sunday afternoon).

Or you can purchase real Lancashire Eccles cakes online. (This company has the lowest shipping costs I've seen, so far.)


10 February 2008

Oatmeal with Strawberries

I'm normally an oatmeal-with-honey-and-raisins sort of person; Mrs. Meadows and I found this recipe a few years back, and I have to admit that it became an instant favorite. (We've adapted it for our own tastes.)

For the oatmeal:
2 cups whole or steel-cut oatmeal
1/4 tsp. salt
sour cream (to top)

For the strawberries:
1 pint strawberries
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (or more to taste)

Rinse and hull the strawberries, then cut - we like to slice and chop coarsely (for the variety of textures). Place in a small bowl with brown sugar and vanilla extract; stir and let macerate.

Cook the oatmeal according to directions on package, but add salt and substitute milk for half of the water recommended for cooking (i.e., if it calls for 2 cups of water, use 1 cup of water and 1 cup of milk).

When oatmeal is cooked, ladle into bowls. Top with sour cream and strawberries.

09 February 2008

The Harps of Lorien

(c) John Howe
"Now for some music!" said Thorin. "Bring out the instruments!"

It's quite possible that my life-long fascination and love for harps and other stringed instruments has its root in Chapter one, "An Unexpected Party." Thank goodness I'm not the only person to relate a love of harps with a love of Middle Earth.

Harps of Lorien is "a co-operative business with a mission to provide quality hand-crafted instruments for healing. These instruments are blessed and prayed over in the making, sanding, and finishing. It is in this phase that the beauty and grain of the wood comes alive and finds its voice; and are inscribed with mantras and prayers for peace."


My favorites are the pentatonic children's harps. They even have a kit for you to build your own "kinder lyre"... hmmm... build your own lyre... why does that sound so familiar...?

Related posts
Dwarven Music

06 February 2008

Complete Beatrix Potter Collection

Elf spring is just a few days away, and the birds and flowers know it.

I heard the first birdsong of the year just two mornings ago; it was wonderful! It's funny how you forget such a simple pleasure during the long, grim winter... And there are flowers starting to peep up here and there, and the grass is becoming more vibrant and shaggy - despite almost two weeks of solid snow and ice.

One of my favorite elf-spring weekend treats is watching an episode or two from the Complete Beatrix Potter Collection 2pk. I think Bilbo would approve - the tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny has a definite Shire flavour, perfectly appropriate for little hobbits of any age.

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail,
who were good little bunnies,
went down the lane to gather blackberries:

But Peter, who was very naughty,
ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden,
and squeezed under the gate!

The animation is perfect - it looks like Ms. Potter's drawings come to life. A marvelous spring treat!

02 February 2008

In A Hole In The Ground There Lived...

...a groundhog.

Who predicted six more weeks of winter.

(Of course, we know that the last day of winter is 9 February, but what do you want from a groundhog?)

Rune Generator

Glamdring in Feanorian Elvish

The Rune Generator is an online tool that translates text into Hobbit Runes (the Old English runes found on Thorin's map, for example); Moria Dwarf Runes (such as the kind found on Balin's tomb); and Feanorian Elvish (above, below).

Glamdring and Orcrist are the swords that Gandalf and Thorin (respectively) claim for their own after the incident with the trolls.

"These look like good blades," said the wizard, half drawing them and looking at them curiously. "They were not made by any troll, nor by any smith among men in these parts and days; but when we can read the runes on them, we shall know more about them." (Chapter two, "Roast Mutton")

I've always wondered about that, since Gandalf later demonstrated that he could read Feanorian and Moria Dwarf runes as easily as anything else. We have to wait until the troop is in in Rivendell, when Elrond reads the sword-runes with ease:

Elrond knew all about runes of every kind. That day he looked at the swords they had brought from the trolls' lair and he said: "These are not troll-make. They are old swords, very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon's hoard or goblin plunder , for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade. This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore." (Chapter three, "A Short Rest")

Did Gondolin have a secret alphabet that, except for Elrond, was forgotten and lost when the city fell? Or - and I like this theory much better - is Gandalf just being coy with Bilbo and the dwarves and even Elrond? It would fit with Gandalf's history of withholding information and playing games to further his own ends. Because even the goblins apparently know the true nature of the swords, which they call Beater and Biter.

Orcrist in Feanorian Elvish