Posted in Blog Posts, Feed Me, Seymour!, LOTR

Stores Boards

(aka charcuterie boards…or adult lunchables)

All throughout the series there are moments where the characters (be it on film or in the books) are in and out of people’s stores.

For those of you who don’t know what Stores are in a historical context here you go:

Stores are where food and items needed to feed/take care of a family or group for long periods of time are stored, particularly through times or war, drought or even the change in seasons.

Pretty simple. 

Often these are full of vegetables that can be saved for extended periods of time like carrots, potatoes and other roots, apples, cabbages and squashes/gourds.  Canned or jarred goods are also usually present and feature foods that will not keep in their natural state.  This is common for tomatoes, fresh fruits like peaches and berries that go bad quickly, and pickled veggies for long term storage.  Sugar, flours and other ingredient as well as dried, salted, smoked and preserved meats and fish, even cheeses, are also stored.

The variety of stores that are available depend on who is filling the store, the area in which the food is grown, if greenhouses are able to be erected, or even the traditions of the area.

What I love about Stores Boards is they can be eaten in a variety ways.  Here I’m going to build out a full fancy board as well as several variations I eat on a regular basis but I’ve also been known to just grab a few items and toss the into a bag for a hike or even to take to a convention.  You don’t have to be super fancy to enjoy food from your stores…especially if you pair the items with fresh foods made from other stores items like breads or sweets.

Ingredients and How to Make the THING!

  1. Make up your menu… here I’m going to feature a few cheeses (some which do require basic refrigeration and may not have been seen in ancient stores in this small of a quantity… these cheeses usually would be stored and fermented in caves and other cool spots), some preserved meats (again that we as modern humans tend to keep in the fridge though would be stored whole), nuts, root vegetables, pickles and sauteed mushrooms.  I’ll be doing three different boards to feature different items and styles.  But first I’ll make up a menu.
  2. Board 1:
    • This is my pretty typical over the top fancy board I’ll serve at events like Yule or Thanksgiving as a snack board before the meal or for myself to snack on as I prepare the larger meal.  This will feature a lot of different items, some of which are better fresh and others that can be made fresh…
    • Ingredients:
      • A nice triple crème brie
      • An Irish or English Cheddar (I prefer strong, sharp or mature cheddars)
      • A gruyere cheese (or other strong swiss style cheese)
      • An exotic cheese (this will vary on what I find in the store…cheese with truffles or wine, a cheddar with honey and sea salt, or even an goat cheese with cinnamon and cranberries)
      • A goat cheese or other soft and crumbly type of cheese (I choose this flavor based off the other flavors on the board…if I need sweet I’ll do honey, if I need savory I’ll do herb and garlic…)
        1. Preserved meats: pancetta, Prosciutto, speck, salami, peperoni
      • “Fresh” meats: turkey or chicken is really nice
      • Carrots (I like rainbow if I can find them or get them from my garden) or other root vegetables that can be eaten raw like jicama
      • Fresh cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries or other berries, apple slices, grapes, etc.
      • Small dill pickles
      • Honey to drizzle on honey goat cheese…if you don’t have this then you don’t need the honey
      • Jam (raspberry or strawberry)
      • Crackers or mini pitas
      • Mushrooms (sauteed in butter, garlic and onion, or marinated in oil, veggie broth, Worcestershire sauce then sauteed)
      • Guacamole and hummus
    • Additional items needed:
      • A display board of some sort
      • A few small containers for things like the mushrooms and the hummus
      • Small forks, cheese knives and small spoons
      • Small display cards (if you want to label the cheese!)
    • Put the board together!  I like to start with the large cheeses (making sure to cut a slice of the brie out) first and figure out how they should be placed.  Then I deal with the small bowls, then the crackers and veggies and fruits.  Then fill in the gaps with the smaller items… making sure to cut the cheeses into different shapes and leaving some whole so that there is a variety of textures, colors, flavors and other things.  This display takes some times to figure out how to make everything look beautiful
  3. Board 2:
    • This is a smaller board….something that I will make on a weekday just to eat as a lunch or even as “Adult Lunchable” dinner night…. If you can’t tell I love small bites and meals with a variety of textures and flavors
    • Ingredients:
      • 2-3 cheeses in smaller quantities…I like to buy a larger block or piece and then just cut off what I need for the board. Examples of what I use:
        • Cheddar
        • Brie
        • Cheeseballs
        • Goat cheese
        • Exotic or strange cheeses I want to try but am not sure about and can get in smaller quantities
      • 1-2 varieties of some sort of preserved meat that is easy to get ahold of at most grocery stores:
        • Turkey meat cut thick at the deli
        • Prosciutto
        • Salamis
        • Peperoni
      • 2-4 fresh vegetables and fruits
        • Strawberries or other berries
        • Apple or banana slices
        • Carrots
        • Cucumbers
        • Grapes
      • 1-2 preserved vegetables
        • Pickled onions
        • Marinated mushrooms
        • Dill pickles
        • Gherkins
      • 2-3 types of crackers (or just one…whatever you like but I like variety)
      • Some sort of dip:
        • Caramel or cream cheese fruit dip
        • Italian dressing
        • Ranch dip
        • Hummus
    • Additional items needed:
      • A plate or small display board depending on how fancy you are feeling
      • A small fork or spoon and a cheese knife… or whatever you have around for spreading soft cheeses and putting other ingredients on crackers that you don’t want to have on your fingers
      • A small bowl for each dip you choose to use
    • When setting up this board follow the steps of the board above.  This is all about your personal aesthetic…or you can be a heathen (no judgment here because I’ve definitely done this) and just eat everything out of the package
  4. Board 3:
    • This is the board on the go…think similar to the protein boxes you can get in the grocery or at a coffee house like Starbucks.  In my life this is what I toss into an airtight storage container, full fruits and then put in my bag for eating on the go be it hiking or in the car as I run errands or go to an event or convention where I need snacks but don’t want to spend money on mediocre food…or if I’m feeling Hobbitish and need to escape on an adventure
    • Ingredients:
      • If you have a way to keep things cold:
        • Hard boiled eggs
        • Hard or medium hard cheeses like cheddar or swiss
        • Packaged cheeses like small cheddar pieces or string cheese
        • Preserved or deli meats
      • If you can’t keep things cold
        • Shelf stable cheeses or cheese spreads
        • Jerky
      • For everything:
        • Full sized fruits that can end up slightly battered (remember this is getting tossed in a bag)
          • Cuties or other small citrus fruits
          • Apples
          • Bananas
          • Grapes
        • Vegetables that do well whole
          • Baby carrots (I prefer rainbow if possible)
          • Celery
          • Whole mini cucumbers
        • Nuts and other dried items:
          • Raisins
          • Craisins
          • Peanuts, cashews
          • Sunflower seeds
      • Additional items that you need:
        • An airtight container with or without dividers
        • Smaller containers for things like sunflower seeds or nuts if you are adding them in and the main container you are using doesn’t have dividers
        • A ziplock bag to store fruit/veggies if they don’t fit in the container OR to throw away any rinds, fruit skins, shells from nuts or seeds, etc.
      • Put everything together!! Toss in your bag and you’re off on an adventure!!!!
Posted in Blog Posts, LOTR, Read Me

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by JRR Tolkien: a Book Review

Synopsis:

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.”

-lifted from the back cover synopsis

General Information:

-Genre: Epic Fantasy

-Author: JRR Tolkien

-Number of Pages: 423

-Main Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Merry , Pippin Took, Gandalf the Wizard, Strider, Gimli, Legolas, Boromir

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1/RP2: 62/

Review (contains spoilers):

I have a love-hate relationship with this book. Honestly I have a love-hate relationship with a lot of adult epic fantasy books…and classics…and this is both.  Maybe I have too much baggage associated with it to truly enjoy the story anymore, even the older I get.

But that aside this is a solid story.  Essential Tolkien.  Long winded, overly detailed and with quite a bit of superfluous and frankly unnecessary details (why do you need a whole chapter of “begots”…do we really need to know who your great-to-the-millionth grandfather was… I mean unless you’re Aragorn it doesn’t really matter…does it?).

Other than that the character and world building is what so many authors aspire to today.  It has truly transcended the ages. So many new authors I do love were heavily influenced by these books… yet this is one of the few times that I really do think the visuals in the films captured the true essence of the story in a much better way than the actual books did…shoot me if you want.

Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Posted in Blog Posts, Flick Central, LOTR

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, created by Peter Jackson, based on the works of JRR Tolkien: a Film Review

Synopsis:

During the Second Age of Middle-earth Rings of Power were granted to the lords of the Elves, the Dwarfs and Men. Amongst the shadows the Lord Sauron forged a single ring…one meant to bind and rule the rest of the world.  As he wielded his power to rule over all of Middle-earth the armies of Men and Elves rose up to best the being.  As all seemed lost the great Ring was cut from the finger of Sauron, reducing him to dust and spirit as he once was.

But the Ring itself was mischievous…passing from one owner to another until it was lost to the world of legend and myth…lurking in the shadows until which time it finds itself needed once again.

As we enter the Third Age of Middle-earth we pick up on an old companion, our dear Bilbo Baggins on his 111th birthday!  As Bilbo plots his escape from the world of peace and quiet the Shire has to offer, one of his dearest friends, Gandalf the Grey, arrives with a gift of fireworks for the festivities that night.  As the party wears on, Bilbo and his nephew, Frodo, evade relatives and have a generally good time, eventually culminating in a grand speech that is expected of the honoree.  Of course, Bilbo, who has grown weary of life in the Shire…somehow disappears in the middle of the speech…

Gandalf follows the clever Hobbit, demanding the magical ring that Bilbo has had in his possession for many years should be left behind for his own safety…as magic can alter the state of the person it has a hold over…and dark magic even more so.  And so, his beloved ring is passed to Frodo as Bilbo leaves on yet another grand adventure.

Frodo is now tasked with keeping the ring secret and safe…for what, neither he nor the great Gandalf seem to truly know.

As time passes it becomes apparent that this seemingly innocuous ring, one of mere small magics, one that can turn the wearer invisible is far more than what it seems.  A precious Ring.  The Ring.  And it is with this knowledge that Gandalf returns just in the nick of time to prevent both Frodo and the Ring from being returned to its master.

In this moment Frodo is tasked with keeping the Ring safe.  As Gandalf races to gain more answers, dear and sweet Frodo cuts across the world, joined by one of his dearest friends…the incredible Samwise Gamgee.  The pair set off on what may turn out to be the greatest adventure of their lives.

General Information:

-Genre: Epic Fantasy, Action/Adventure

-Creator: Peter Jackson

-Length: 178 minutes (theatrical)/208 minutes (extended)

-Rating: PG-13 (for moderate violence and gore, mild smoking and alcohol use, moderate frightening and intense scenes)

-Where to Watch: Hulu (with subscription), Amazon Prime Video (Buy/Rent), iTunes (Buy/Rent), DVD, Blue-Ray, or look for it at your local library

-Main Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortenson, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davis, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee

-Page of Reference in RP1/RP2: 62/

Review (contains spoilers):

I am going to start this review with something that seems to irritate other geeks…but I honestly never understood the hype of Lord of the Rings.

That being said I can appreciate the films and the books for the works of art that they are.

This film was beautifully composed.  From the stunning sets full of forced perspectives, practical effects and cutting edge computer effects….there is much to appreciate even for those of us who don’t care for the story overall.  The costumes are textured and sumptuous where needed and rustic and homey when not.  This is honestly one of few epic fantasies that truly built a world from start to finish, telling all the little nuances and details of the tale through music, word and visual effects.

The battles are epic, and the story is enhanced, in my opinion, through the visuals of film.

This film was a wonderful start to the series.  Visually compelling and composed of gorgeous details Peter Jackson truly did justice to the world created by JRR Tolkien. 

This film is well thought through using composition and action to drive the story forward.  There isn’t a lot of superfluous explanations (I’m looking at you book *insert eye roll*).  Characters are introduced and their merits and places in the world are explained as needed…or through the action and story development.  We as the audience must trust the people that come into the lives of the Hobbits, the same way they must.  It adds a level of connection to their world and the circumstance that they find themselves in.

For as long as the films are they are a visual treat which does help in watching them.  From what I can remember (as of writing this I haven’t completely reread the novels) they do a good job of following the storyline cutting only what seems to be unimportant to the story line such as Tom Bombadell.  There is little extra in the world that Jackson builds…everything seems to have a place and a standing.

Overall an absolutely beautiful film and a great start to an epic trilogy.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Blog Posts, LOTR, Read Me

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien: a Book Review

Synopsis:

Bilbo Baggins, of the Bag’s End Bagginses, is minding his own business when Gandalf the Grey comes to visit.  As a flustered Bilbo invites Gandalf to tea the plotting wizard marks his door with a symbol: “Burglar wants a good job, plenty of excitement and reasonable reward”.

Soon 13 dwarfs arrive at the house talking of their treasure hunting endeavor and crashing on Bilbo’s obligatory hospitality.  As the night wears on Gandalf pulls out a map and arranges the job on Bilbo’s (fairly) stunned behalf to help break the bad luck of the number 13. 

The goal: find the secret passage to the Lonely Mountian, send their thief in to assess and steal what he can, then go and kill Smaug the Dragon to steal the rest of the riches that he hoards in his lair.

After nearly missing the start of the journey Bilbo is off with the dwarfs on an epic adventure of danger, intrigue, treasure and, most of all, more excitement than any Hobbit could imagine in even their wildest dreams.

General Information:

-Genre: Epic Fantasy

-Author: JRR Tolkien

-Number of Pages: 310

-Main Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Thorin Oakenshield, Gloin, Oin, Ori, Nori, Dori, Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Smaug

-Where to Read: support local booksellers (many can order items that may not be in stock) or look for it at your local library!

-Page of Reference in RP1/RP2: 62/

Review (contains spoilers):

I have such very fond memories of this book, unlike the other books in the Lord of the Rings.  My dad used to read this, chapter by chapter, to my brother and I as a bedtime story.  Re-reading this book was just a delight.

This story was full of action and adventure…not nearly as much description of the world as his other books.  Tolkien was absolutely on his game with this one. 

I think this is a great book to share with your kids.  It has some violence and some slightly scary parts with attacks by orcs and of course the dragon. But overall, it’s a wonderful way to introduce your children into the fantasy genre.  Even though I didn’t go on to enjoy other epic adult fantasy…or the rest of the Lord of the Rings books… it did solidify my love of fantasy as a genre.

Review:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.