Monday, 9 September 2019

Dye Seller the Brave


It all started a long time ago in the Shire.
At that time, the King Arvedui of Arthedain called for aid from all good peoples, also from hobbits.
Master Merimas Whitfoot was occupied with arranging his dyes at the market, when the King’s messengers arrived.
”Hear ye hear ye!” they shouted and started to read a message from a very long piece of parchment.
”We, King Arvedui of Arthedain, hereby call all free peoples to defend us in the battle against the evil forces of Angmar.”
They went on for quite some time, but Master Merimas did not listen to the summons.
He had more interest in having his dye phials in a proper order at his booth.
But then, the messengers arrested the dye seller's attention too.
”It will be a great honour to make your own people proud of you – we should all be ready to die for a noble cause!”
”Dye for a noble cause?” Merimas repeated and jumped out from his booth.
”Where can I enlist?” he shouted over the crowd.
Everyone cheered for this brave volunteer, and Merimas felt already proud of himself.

That simple lad never realised what the mission was actually about...
”I bet they have a huge shortage of colour up north!” he pondered.
”I am going to bring my very best dyes along with me!”
Someone also mentioned that the hobbits should bring a bow…
So he selected his most colourful bow tie and put it proudly around his neck.
”I will show them the proper way to dye!” he declared, as the company of hobbits departed from the Shire.
The others gave him an odd look, and no wonder…
Dozens of colourful phials were strapped onto his backpack, all clinging like bells as he went.
But as the oncoming battle was weighing heavily on their minds, no one paid much attention to the dye seller.

As they approached the northern realm, it was already quite beaten up after centuries of war.
The land was bare and and deserted, the buildings were in ruins.
This didn't upset Merimas.
”This land certainly is lacking colour! I will make millions dye sales here!”
Finally, they reached the battle fields and joined the western forces at a campsite near Fornost that was taken by the evil sorcerer.
Merimas immediately started to offer his dyes to the generals, but they didn't seem to have any interest in his high quality products.
Merimas was a bit disappointed, but he didn't despair.
”These fellows already have nicely coloured banners and clothing, so I need to find another customers,” he thought and left the camp.

It was quite dark when he reached another camp, surrounded by dark banners and an awful smell.
The camp was set up outside a great city wall, towering up towards the grey, gloomy skies.
”What a mess this place is,” Merimas sighed. ”It needs decorating!”
So he entered the camp and looked at the place. It looked empty, but there was all kinds of gear around.
”Looks like armour, shields and weapons,” Merimas observed.
”And no colour on them! They will just blend into this dull environment. I cannot allow that!”
”Good thing I brought a lot of yellow dye. That will stand out a mile!”
So, he started to paint all the stuff he found: shields, helmets, spikes and other stuff that lacked colour.

Suddenly, he heard someone approach. It was a big warg, coming right at him!
”What are you doing here, maggot?” the warg snarled.
”Well, I am here to dye!” Merimas replied, not forgetting his mission.
The warg looked a bit surprised; it certainly hadn't expected this kind of courage from a small hobbit!
”What a cheeky little creature you are!” it said. ”You want to try it on with me, silly maggot?”
”If you want to!” Merimas answered and, without further ado, he smacked one yellow dye phial at the warg's face.
The warg didn't look too happy about it, so Merimas decided that it was a good moment to run for his life.

As Merimas darted out from the enemy camp, he was closely followed by a pack of wargs, who had been summoned by their newly-dyed lieutenant.
But Merimas only cared about his dyes:
”I am not yet finished with dying!” he thought. ”I need to accomplish my mission!”
And so he took his backpack and threw it down on the ground as he was running down a steep hill.
All the phials cracked and the dyes spread on the ground.
He continued running, but the wargs slipped on the slimy dyes and rolled down the hill, ending up into a furry pile.
But Merimas just kept running until he was happily back at the western forces' camp.

As the western forces marched into battle the next day, Merimas was gone, probably looking for safer dye markets in other lands.
But his deeds did not go totally wasted.
For when the enemy army approached, it could easily be spotted, brightly coloured as it was.
The hobbit archers that were positioned on a hill could clearly see their targets.
Besides, the rainbow-coloured wargs didn't look that scary to the soldiers on the battlefield.
And as we know, the enemy was forced to retreat on that day.

So, what is the moral of the story? I think that...
Even if you are not brave nor bright, you might still accomplish great deeds that matter.
As an old saying of dye sellers goes:
”All that is gold does not glitter, but that can be solved with dye.”
The End.

The Grumpy Hobbit Goes Yellow


(The grumpy pictured above is not related to this story, despite the many similarities.)

I know a story about Staddle. The hobbits who live here are much like the ones who live in the Shire. There are wild tweens, lazy burrowers and of course, grumpy hobbits. This is a story about a grumpy hobbit who lived here.

There was this grumpy old hobbit lad. You never spotted him in a good mood. He just went around, complaining about everything. He was annoyed by most of the things, especially loud, lively, cheerful things. They gave him a headache. Also things like bright colours annoyed him. That’s why he always dressed up grey.

Needless to say, the fellow was a bit lonely too. It’s hard to get friends if yer grumpy all the time. Whenever he was out, the others tried to avoid him and never talked to him much. It bothered him a bit and just made him even grumpier. But one day, one single mishap changed things for him.

The grumpy hobbit didn’t have a wife to help him with the daily chores at his burrow, but the friendly neighbour helped him with some, like doing the laundry. This lady was very good and diligent with the laundry… except for one time.

This time, when the grumpy hobbit returned to get his washed clothes back, the lady was blushing.
“I am sorry, sir, but I think one of my youngsters had put a pot of honey among yer laundry,” she said.
The grumpy hobbit looked at his clothes, all bright yellow now. “Goodness!” he exclaimed. Them were all his best clothes, all now disgustingly bright yellow.

For the next week or so, the grumpy hobbit just hid inside his burrow, ashamed and angry. Then he run out of food, and was forced to go out to the marketplace. In his bright yellow shirt. He was almost unrecognisable!
“I look like a fool”, he thought. “Everyone will just laugh at me now.”
But they didn’t. To his surprise, everyone was suddenly smiling at him and talking to him merrily.
“What on Middle-earth is going on…” he thought, when a vendor had reverse-haggled the price of the taters she had sold to him.
He never had experienced friendliness like this. “Could it be the yellow colour of my shirt?” he pondered. Maybe wearing a merry colour didn’t hurt after all.
And more was to come. When he was inspecting the cauliflower offerings, a tall lass from Bree-town walked to him. She started a nice conversation with him about the harvest and such. She was a bit tall and even a bit burly, but there was something in her eyes that made the hobbit lad’s heart beat faster. And that dark voice of hers... It was like there was some magic in the air…
When the hobbit returned home, he thought about all what had happened.
“The yellow colour really pays off,” he concluded. “I will wear it next time as well!”
And so he did. Each time afterwards, he received friendly service from the market vendors. And each time, the tall lass was waiting for him with a smile on her face.

Then, one time, things went further… The lass asked if the hobbit would like to join her at a private picnic! The hobbit blushed, but couldn’t say no… It was a new situation for him. Feeling merry, gettin’ some attention from a lass… Anyway, it would just be a harmless picnic. They took some food and drink from the market and headed to a nearby hill, where there was a secret picnic spot. The hobbit enjoyed the food and drink, but the lass just looked at him dreamily. The hobbit started to feel a bit anxious. He didn’t know how to act in these situations… He just knew how to be grumpy, that’s all.

Now, the lass was moving closer and closer to him.
“You know,” she said with her dark voice. “I really do love that shirt of yours, it really suits you.”
The hobbit gulped and looked at the lass. She was drooling.
Suddenly, the hobbit realised that her feet were more hairy than usual. The whole lass was a bit hairy… And she was suddenly growing a lot burlier… Very much like….

A bear! With horror, the hobbit realised that the lass he had met had turned into a huge beast that drooled at him! Only now he realised that this bear-woman had only taken interest at the honey-scented shirt he had on! He didn’t want to know if she was interested in his dear body parts as well... So he jumped up and ran away as hard as he could. He ran down the road and saw a tall tree there, in the middle of the road. He climbed up and sat there… Some say that he threw his shirt to the beast and was left in peace after that. But according to a legend he never got down from the tree…. And now, the tree is always yellow, throughout the year. And for some reason, the tree is often surrounded by bears.

True story, I tell yer.
The end.

Hobbits at Heart



We hobbits love our peaceful lives
Away from folks of other types
Dwarves, elves, and longshanks men
Make us scared like Sandson’s hen
But this thing I’ve known right from the start:
Deep inside, all they’re hobbits at heart.

I saw an elluf near Woodhall
In a glade, hiding from us all
Eyes shone a light old as the sun
Full of memories, times that are gone
Morning come, birds began a song
The elf stood up and hummed along
Paying homage to the early lark
He was a true hobbit at heart.

A ranger sits down with a pint
Stares into it, sucks his pipe
His face is scarred, his eyes so sad
Seen many fates that ended bad
Then a bard strums a merry beat
The ranger smiles, taps his feet
Even the saddest man beneath the stars
Was feeling like a hobbit at heart.

A grumbling dwarf once passed me by
A lass had pulled his beard, who knows why
He claimed to be an important dwarf
Who wouldn’t bear this silly stuff
But as I gave the dwarf a slice of pie
The joy came back into his eyes
And when we munched that tasty tart
I saw he was a hobbit at heart.

We’re all different as day and night
But it is no excuse for a fight
The stranger who might seem quite odd
Might have a heart worth of gold
Don’t judge by looks, and you can come far
For we all are hobbits at heart.

The Biscuit Crumbler


Who rides, so late, through the night?
It is a hobbit, holding tight
A biscuit jar, well in his arm
He holds it safely, he keeps it warm.

“Dear jar, what does make you shiver?”
“Oh, the Biscuit Crumbler’s gettin’ nearer!”

“Don’t yer see it standing in the rain?”
“Dear jar, ‘tis the mist rising over the plain.”

Says the Crumbler: “Oh jar, follow me”
“To the biscuit heaven I bring thee”
“Where days are warm like oven’s heart”
“Oh, come with me, it will be smart.”

Cries the jar: “Master, don’t you hear”
“What the Crumbler whispers in me ear?”
“There’s naught to fear, my biscuit jar”
“The winds just whistle from afar.”

Says the Crumbler: “Heed my call”

“Come, escape your own downfall”
“In my land you’re so secure”
“No hungry hobbits to endure.”

“Dear Master, please, don’t yer see?”
“The Biscuit Crumbler, between the trees?”
“My dear jar, no need to take fright”
“The aged grey willow deceives yer sight.”

“I’ve called thee, praised with odes”
“You're not willing, so I’ll use force.”
“My master, the Crumbler grabs me fast!”
“’Tis my end, he will hurt me at last.”


It horrifies the hobbit; he swiftly rides on,
Holding the jar, ‘til break of the dawn
Reaches his home, pauses on his lawn:

But in his lap, the jar is… gone…

((This is based on an old poem by Goethe, Erlk├Ânig. It is one of my favorite scary poems, so I wanted to make my own adaption of it... Maybe not that elegant, but boy doesn't it make you shiver at the end?))


Pie That Rolled


Once there was a pie
What a pie, oh my!
It was so very grand
It was served under open sky.

But out of nowhere
Lobelia came
She approached the pie
Without any shame.

Everyone was startled
And very much afraid
That Lobelia would eat the pie
So deliciously made.

The folk started their flight
Out of Lobelia's sight
They did not want to get caught
That wouldn't end up right!

But what came of the precious pie?
Oh, it darted towards the sky!
It went rolling down the hill
No one knows, why.

On and on the pie rolled
It didn't stop until
It hit the mighty Party Tree
at foot of the Hill.

And so a tradition was born
To run down that Hill
And not to be seen by Lobelia
That would end up ill!


((I wrote this poem for the Grand Summer Picnic and the related pie rolling race.))

My Dear Companion


In front of me a misty road
Forsaken land and barren wold.
But I won't be afraid, my dear,
For you, my friend, are always near.

Our path is often full of foes
Equipped with clubs, knives and bows.
But you're all the armour I would need
A guardian who'll never yield.

When I get weary, you carry me
Over hills, brooks and fields.
Your strength doesn't seem to cease
It doesn't know no boundaries.

Dark days might steal my appetite,
My spirits sink in the deep of night.
But your song always cheers me up,
It clears my mind of any doubt.

When the destination is reached,
I can put my mind at ease.
For then, at last, I see the truth:
All I was looking for was... you.


((This was one of my first poems for LOTRO, written for the Summer Poetry Competition 2015.))

Yule Travel Destinations

Here is an article by Miss Almi, first published in the Hobbity Yule Calendar 2018. Here, she suggests some alternative Yule travel destinations for hobbits who want to avoid the busy Winterhome.

Yule Travel Destinations


Yule is here, and Frostbluff has opened its gates yet again. The streets swarm with helpers, cleaners, pickpockets and keg smugglers. You get hit by snowballs here and there, get trampled by big folks and their deer mounts, the snowy grims make you snow-blind for minutes, you fail in cheering up snowbeasts, and the Old Bloodtusk play is cancelled YET AGAIN. Starting to feel grumpy, hobbit? That won’t do. I recommend you search for the Spirit of Yule somewhere else in Middle-earth. Here are four travel recommendations for you to get in a real Yule mood. Or not. Well, let’s see what they are.

Thorin’s Hole / Blue Mountains

The area around the Blue Mountains is a good winter destination for hobbits with a low travel budget. A carriage ride from Needlehole doesn’t cost much and doesn’t last too long to Thorin’s Hole. Thorin’s Hole is a grand place for culture geeks: it hosts many popular music festivals and events (Dwarves’ Night Out, Winterfest, Winterstock). There is a decent tavern and a refreshing indoor river to for anyone who still hasn’t had a Yule bath. Oh, and as you can imagine, it is the miners’ favourite Yule destination. Just don’t dig too deep – it might wake up some nasty creatures, like hibernating hedgehogs.

The dance goes ever on and on in Thorin’s Hole

Forochel

If you have more coin and time to spare, you might consider Forochel, a wintery region with beautiful northern lights north of Oatbarton. It is a bit scarier to travel there, so please bring a sturdy rolling pin or frying pan along. It is the number one place to have your Yule bath – you will definitely have that “reborn” feeling after you had dipped yourself into the icy cold lake. Also, it is a grand place to catch a fish, so juicy sweet! If you feel more adventurous, you might want to take a look at the Snowbeasts, “Peikko”, which are abominable to say the least. The Lossoth folks also ride on Mammoths or Norsu. This place is probably not the best spot to look for culture events – most bards play horribly, probably because their fingers are either frozen or inside thick mittens. But yes, fishes and cool baths! Put them on your list. Oh, and you might have a slightly foggy feeling after your Forochel trip – I blame their hard drinks.

The quality of music is influenced by the use of thick gloves

Misty Mountains

If you love blizzards and dangerous activities such as jumping off cliffs, you should travel to the Misty Mountains area. The accommodation options are few, mostly some campsite tents and uncomfortable strongholds where your sleep will be disturbed by loud snoring sounds, probably originating from a dwarf or a dragon. The food is bad, even though the meat is rumoured to be back on the menu in Goblin Town. Not much for culture lovers in this area either. Not much of anything. Well, if you look for a brutal and possibly the most painful death, you have plenty of options here (get killed by giants, snowbeasts, bears with winter-sleeping disorders, wargs, worms, goblins, and numerous other evil creatures one can imagine, plus all those chances of falling off cliffs when you do a Misty Mountain Hop). So, hmmm. Well, let’s look at one more alternative destination, shall we?
Most of your Yule self-portraits will end up like this

Wildermore

Now, we come to our last destination which is my personal favourite: Wildermore! If you have the coin, I strongly recommend that you come here. Taverns, snowmen, beautiful icy crystals here and there, good services all around. Forlaw is a wonderful town with picturesque, rustic cottages that certainly make a hobbit feel like home. The tavern has a heated terrace with live music, and there’s always a pork roasting on the fire. Take a stroll through the town, pop into the shops, and go pat the horses and chucks at the stables. And if you go outside of town, you will discover a hunters’ paradise: elks, bulls, all you need for your pie filling. After all that, you can go and rest in Thrymm Red-beard’s home and let his songbird sing you to sleep. This travel destination leaves no-one cold, despite the outside temperatures: it has the right peaceful feeling one seeks on Yuletide. Bring your friends, and Forlaw covers all the rest.

Pork! Do I need to say more? Wildermore!

A Merry Yule to all of you,
Miss Almi
A nanny, huntress and a Yule bath lover 

Rice Pasties



Rice pasties (also known as Karelian pasties) are a traditional Finnish food. The most common version of this pasty has a rye-wheat crust and a rice porridge filling, but other fillings feature buckwheat, barley and potato. The pasties are rather easy to bake (making the porridge is the hardest and longest part in my opinion). The pasties are not only a Yule dish – we eat them all year through, at feasts, for breakfast, as a snack… But they go down well during Yuletide too.

First, you need some rice porridge. Here is one detailed recipe.

When the rice porridge is ready and has cooled down, you can make the crust. Here are two alternatives: one with rye and wheat, and the other one with buckwheat (if you have the coeliac disease and can’t eat wheat nor rye). Pick either one! I personally like the buckwheat one, it gives the pasty a nice and crispy crust, but not too thick.

1. Preheat the oven to 250 °C.

2. Mix the dough (pick either one of these two alternatives, a or b):

a) For the rye–wheat dough:
2 dl cold water
2 tsp salt
3 dl rye flour
2 dl wheat flour

Mix the salt with the cold water. Little by little, add the rye flour, then the wheat flour and knead into a solid dough.

b) For the buckwheat dough:
2 dl cold water
½ tsp salt
2 tsp psyllium husk
3 dl buckwheat flour

Mix the salt and psyllium husk with the cold water, and let the husk swell in the water for 10 minutes. Little by little, add the buckwheat flour and knead into a solid dough.

3. Add so much flour that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers. Sprinkle some flour (rye/buckwheat) onto the baking board and roll the dough into a bar. Cut the bar into small pieces (~20 pcs.). Roll the pieces into small balls and flatten these so that you get thin (0.5 cm) circle-shaped crusts.

4. Put some rice porridge into the middle of the crust, and leave some free space on the side edges. Do not add too much porridge. Lift the side edges up and push over the filling, then ”pinch” them down firmly. This way, you will get oval-shaped pasties.

         


5. Bake the pasties in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes until they are golden brown.

6. Mix some melted butter with some milk (you can use a 50–50 ratio or melted butter only). When the pasties have been baked, brush the pasties with the butter–milk mix (this will soften the crust).

If there is some extra dough, you can just bake it into small flat breads without filling.

You can eat the pasties as they are, but if you like, you can add butter or egg-butter spread.

A Snowbeast Paper Doll

Here is another Yule-themed paper doll: a pink snowbeast! The snowbeast might look a bit like one of the Order members who often dresses up as a snowbeast on Yule. I also added a Yule dress, for events where this snowbeast must be in disguise. You might still add the horned cap though! And I also made pink bagpipes for the snowbeast, I bet she likes to play those. Below is the link to the printable PDF (or just download this picture here and print it). I recommend you use strong paper or glue some backing paper on the back side of the doll, so that it will last longer. Enlargen the picture and/or adjust color settings if needed.

This snowbeast might also appear in the Yule video miss Lina is currently working on. You can also spot her in the end of this 2016 video here:


 The 2016 Laurelin hobbit yule video

Link for downloading the image as PDF

Shire Quickpost Yule Delivery Game



The Shire Quickpost needs quick hobbits, especially during Yule. Here is a simple board game with a simple objective: try to deliver a Yule gift from the Brandy hall to Michel Delving before the other Quickpost hobbits. Good luck!

To play the game, do the following:

1. Print the attached PDFs (see below) that include the rules and the sheets for the board itself. (I had to make separate files for each, because otherwise the file would have been too large to be uploaded to this forum post.) If the pictures are too dark, adjust the brightness settings of your printer and print them again.
2. The sheets A, B and C are to be set vertically to each other: sheet A is the topmost sheet and C on the bottom. You can cut off the marginals at the connecting edges so that there are no gaps in the Quickpost route. I have added arrows to show to which direction the route should continue.
3. If you wish, you can laminate the sheets to make them more durable and/or attach them together with tape.
4. Get a 6-sided dice and game pieces for all players, and you’re good to go!

Background:

The structure of this boardgame is based on an old, free board game I got from my bank’s kids club ”Leo the Lion Goes on a Summer Picnic”. It was the cruellest game imaginable – just when you thought you were winning, you ended up going back a long way, just because ”you forgot your keys at the beach. Oops!” I replaced the content, but the rules and structure are basically the same as in my old game. The pictures are more or less edited screenshots from LOTRO.

Enjoy! If you spot any essential mistakes in the game, please let me know and I will correct them as soon as I can.

Links for downloading the PDF files:
Quickpost Game Rules
Sheet A
Sheet B
Sheet C

(This game was first published as a part of the Hobbity Yule Calendar 2018.)

Yule Log Cake from Frogmorton



Here is a traditional Yule cake from Frogmorton! I amended it a bit though – no frog legs in this one. Basically, it is just a sweet roll that has been formed in a way that it looks like a log. There are many ways to make this one. I tried this recipe a week ago and it worked – the log was eaten in 24 hours!

I suppose you can use many things here as the filling (your favourite jam, buttercream, whipped cream, chocolate mousse…). In my area, we have flavoured quarks that make the filling a bit lighter than for example the buttercream.

For the dough
4 eggs
1½ dl sugar
¾ dl wheat flour
¾ dl potato starch
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

For the filling
1 dl raspberry jam
2 dl whipping cream
200 g flavoured quark (I used quark flavoured with chocolate & mint)
1 tsp vanilla sugar

For the frosting
100 g dark chocolate
200 g flavoured quark (I used quark flavoured with chocolate & mint)
1 dl whipping cream
cocoa powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 225 °C. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar into a hard, light-coloured foam. Mix the dry ingredients together and add them into the egg–sugar foam carefully.

Pour the dough evenly onto a baking pan covered with baking paper, smoothen it if necessary. Bake the dough in the preheated oven for approx. 7 minutes.

Take another baking paper sheet and sprinkle it with sugar. Place the baked dough on the paper and let it cool down. Spread the raspberry jam on the dough.

For the filling, whip the cream and add the quark and vanilla sugar. Spread the filling on the dough. Leave an area of 5 cm free at the front edge. Roll the dough. Place the roll with the seam side facing down. Cut the both ends “clean”, and then cut a piece off from both ends. Place the long remaining piece onto a serving tray. Form the two cut pieces into “branch stumps” and attach them onto the log or on its sides.

Make the frosting: Melt the chocolate and mix it with the quark. Whip the cream and add it to the chocolate mix. Spread the frosting over the cake. Take a fork and run it down the length of the cake to make the surface look like bark. You can sprinkle some cocoa powder (through a sieve) on the cake to make the surface darker.

Fast Apple Pie


For the crust:
75 g butter
1 dl sugar
1 dl whipped cream
1 egg
2.5 dl wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder

For the filling:
3 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
2 tbsp chopped almonds / pine nuts

For the topping:
1 egg
1 dl cream
0.5 dl sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


For the crust, melt the butter and let it cool down in a bowl. Mix the baking powder into the wheat flour. Mix sugar, cream, egg and the wheat flour with the melted butter. Press into the bottom and edges of a greased pie pan. Place the apple slices on the pie crust and sprinkle the crushed almonds and/or pine nuts on top. Prebake the apple pie in the oven (200 °C) for 15 minutes.

For the topping, mix the egg, cream, sugar, vanilla sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and pour the mix over the prebaked pie. Bake the pie for another 15 minutes or until it is baked properly. Serve the warm pie with vanilla sauce or ice cream.

Your Hobbity Yule Name

Here is a fun post I made for the Hobbity Yule calendar 2018.

~

Today, a new title shall be bestowed upon you: a Silly Hobbity Yule Name! Choose the day and month of your birthday from the picture below and see if the resulting name makes sense! (Click on the picture to make it larger.)

Warm regards,
Lazing Bloodtusk


Sweet Lingonberry Pie


In the northern part of the Shire, lingonberries are quite common at the table. Crushed lingonberries are a grand side dish for venison foods, among others. But we also use them in pies!

Here is one of my favourite sweet pies that is also easy to make. It is my version of the key lime pie: here, the exotic lime has been replaced with Overhill lingonberries. I love how the lingonberries balance the sweetness of the pie here. Only the egg yolks are used in the recipe, so you can fry the egg whites for breakfast or make some sweet meringue from them.

    For the bottom crust:
    200 g biscuits, crushed
    100 g butter, melted
    2 tbsp sugar

    For the filling:
    1 decilitre lingonberries
    6 egg yolks
    400 g sweetened condensed milk
    1 tbsp vanilla sugar

    For the topping:
    1 dl whipped cream
    1 tsp vanilla sugar
    lingonberries


Preheat oven to 150 °C and grease a springform pan. For the bottom crust, mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and the sugar in a bowl. Press it into the bottom and the sides of a 24 cm springform pan. Bake crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. When the crust has been prebaked, take it from the oven and preheat the oven to 175 °C.
 

For the filling, press the juice out from the lingonberries in a cup. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the condensed milk until the mix is light-coloured and foamy. Continue whisking the mix and pour in the crushed lingonberries (along with their juice) and add the vanilla sugar too. Pour the filling over the pie crust evenly. Bake the pie in the oven for 15 minutes until it’s set.
 

When the pie has cooled down properly and you have removed it from the pan, you can top it with whipped cream (sweetened with vanilla sugar) and lingonberries. You can also sprinkle some biscuit crumbs on top – whatever you like!
 

Notes:
You can also use more lingonberries in the filling, if you like. The pie is really sweet, so it’s good to balance the taste with lingonberries. The pie works with 4 egg yolks too, if someone has been visiting your chicken coop and you don’t have enough eggs.

Lazy Yule Apples


Here is a lazy Yule apple recipe that builds on the essential ingredients of any tasty food: sugar, butter and crispiness!

Pycella's Lazy Yule apples

6 - 9 apples
100 g butter
100 g sugar
100 g almond flakes
2 tablespoons wheat flour
2 tablespoons milk
(cinnamon etc.)

Peel the apples (I used a sweet variety), remove the seeds and cut the apples into wedges. Place them into a buttered tray and prebake for 10-15 minutes at 200°C. Combine butter, sugar, almond flakes, flour and milk in a pot and heat it until the butter has melted, mix it well. You can add some Yule seasoning to the mixture (cinnamon should work well). When the apples have been prebaked, spread the mixture over them and bake for another 15 minutes (or until the topping looks nicely brown) at 220°C.

Tip: if you don't have enough almond flakes, like I did, you can use pine nuts too, or something similar.


(This recipe was first published in the Hobbity Yule Calendar 2017.)

Cleaning tips for Yule

Here is an article that was originally published in the Hobbity Yule Calendar 2017.

~

Yule is getting close now, so it's high time you start to clean up your burrow! Here are some tips how to make Yule cleaning easy. They have been gathered from some wise Shire hobbits.


1. Bring the dirty dishes to Winterhome

Are you sick of dishwashing? Then you probably could try out this old tradition that will make your cleaning a lot easier: bring the dirty dishes to Winterhome. At Yuletide, dishwashers from all Middle-earth gather there to clean up the filth and dirty dishes. No one will notice a few more piles of dirty dishes there. Throwing your dishes to the closest pond is not recommended, as this is not good for the environment. Leave the ponds for the weeds and old shoes, please.

2. Put all your extra stuff into one big pile

If you have lots of stuff in your burrow and you want to make the place look neat in a heartbeat, just put everything into one big pile. Feel free to decorate the pile by hanging paintings or curtains on it. This makes cleaning a lot easier and faster, and you won’t tip over anything that has been left on the floor. If someone wonders about the pile, you can tell them that you are hiding their Yule gifts in the pile. No one will suspect anything.

Exemplary cleaning in a Bramblebury home

3. Drive unwanted guests away with crazy decoration

If you are not into cleaning at all but don’t want to let others know that your burrow is a mess, you can always drive others away with crazy yard decoration. The furniture vendors are selling all kinds of weird stuff these days. Put a giant bowling ball in front of the door, or maybe a haunted Yule tree. No one will bother you.

An ominous festive bowling ball

 Scary Yule decoration at a yard

4. Get a pig that will eat the Yule decorations

Do you want to get rid of your Yule decoration easily? Let a pig do it for you! Pigs are omnivores: that’s a fancy word for creatures that can eat virtually anything they think is edible. Be it mistletoe, garlands, or Yule stockings, it’s all just a great feast for the oinkers. If you don’t want to take a pig of your own, there is one at the Songburrow Hall that you could borrow. For as long as you like. Like forever. Please, help us, it is eating our mathoms and Potty’s napping chair!

An oinker drooling at the Yule decoration

5. Skip the whole cleaning and go for a holiday trip instead

If you are not home at Yule, why clean it up? Go to a nice holiday location instead. Winterhome is a beloved attraction during Yuletide, and it has some good accommodation and activities to offer. Snowball fights, snowmen, theatre, eating contests… That place is free of all stress. And when you book a room there, remember to give Lobelia’s details when they ask for the billing address. If they ask who you are, just say that you are Miss/Master Underhill. That's what they all do. 

Green Dragon Drinking Game


Dear inn guests,

To celebrate Yule, I have prepared you a merry drinking game you can try out during your weekly gatherings at the Green Dragon. It is a simple game: just take a gulp of your drink when the following instructions tell you to do so. Should you run out of your beverage, please don’t hesitate to come to the bar and let me fill your pint again, and again, and again, and again.

Yours sincerely,
Barmy Rootknot
Green Dragon innkeeper

The Green Dragon Friday Drinking Game

During GDF, always take a gulp of your drink when…

  •     someone complains about the ale prices at Green Dragon
  •     someone complains about how dirty the old rug is
  •     someone tries to put their drinks on Simbo’s tab
  •     someone drops their mug on the floor
  •     someone drops their instrument while playing
  •     someone falls asleep at the inn and doesn’t respond to others
  •     someone mentions turnips
  •     someone plays the bagpipes
  •     someone plays the Drums® (unauthorized)
  •     someone has played a very quick dancing tune
  •     someone keeps dancing even when there’s no music
  •     someone throws a snowball or a rotten fruit
  •     someone comes in wearing a hat (and without taking it off… manners!)
  •     someone starts to speak something incomprehensible
  •     you hear barking, meowing, peeping, chirping, howling, roaring… noises that shouldn’t be heard inside an inn
  •     someone starts a rumour
  •     someone lights up fireworks INSIDE the Dragon (if this happens, the culprit will have to pay all drinks on behalf of the present inn guests).

PS. Feel free to entertain yourself with this merry drinking game all year round, not only during Yule.

PPS. If you need more challenge, you may add more rules to the present ones. Just don’t lose your coin purse during the game! You can always leave your coins to me (for safekeeping, of course).


(This game was originally posted in the Hobbity Yule Calendar 2017.)


Yule Mead Recipe


Mulled wine is a fine Yule drink for sure, but if you want to try out something else, you could make some Yule mead. In my part of the woods, mead is something we usually drink during the spring, especially to celebrate the May Day. It is fairly easy to make, and usually, the mead has a very low alcohol content, so it is safe for smaller hobbits too. Here is a recipe I found and will try out this Yule. I translated it into English from a Finnish recipe you can find here.

Yule Mead

1 orange
1 lemon
150 g fresh ginger
5 litres water (1.3 gallons)
2 cinnamon sticks
approx. 30 dried cloves
500 g brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh (compressed) yeast
(raisins)

Wash the orange and lemon with water, but leave them unpeeled. Cut them into slices. Cut the unpeeled ginger into thin flakes. Pour the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Once it boils, take the pot from the stove. Add all the ingredients to the water except the yeast. Stir until the sugar has melted. Cover the pot and wait until the water has cooled to lukewarm. Now, it is safe to add the small piece of yeast to the liquid, so do it! Stir.

Cover the pot and let the mead sit in room temperature for about 12 hours. Strain the spices and the fruit from the mead. Pour the mead into bottles and seal them. Optionally, you can put a couple of raisins into the bottles before sealing them. This will make it easier to know when the mead is ready for drinking.

Refrigerate the mead. In three days or so, it should be ready for drinking (if you added raisins, the mead should be ready for drinking when the raisins float at the top of the bottles).


(This recipe was originally posted in the Hobbity Yule Calendar 2017.)

Yule Man Paper Doll


(This post originally appeared in the Hobbity Yule Calendar 2017.)

Here is a Yule Man paper doll!

At first glance, the feller might seem similar to a certain Order member, but that would be totally coincidental. The pointy hat seems to be bound to his head, but you can change his outfit and appearance using the provided options. You might want to add him a merry, red Yule outfit with a beard, or if you prefer dresses, I made one too. Who knows, maybe the Yule man lost a bet and he has to wear dress for that? I also added some useful stuff to the doll: Yule Man’s little helper (a garden dwarf) and a bottle of brandy to make sure the Yule Man can handle the busy Yuletide times without stress. Feel free to use the doll as decoration or give it to small hobbits as a toy.


Here, the Yule Man is standing with his little helper and the brandy bottle. I just wish no one lights that candle…

I attached a printable version of the paper doll here. Happy crafting!

Buckland Pierate Treasure Hunt


On April 28th (2019), we hobbits gathered for a pierate treasure hunt in Buckland. Here is a summary of the hunt.

~

First, we gathered in front of the Brandy Hall. Miss Penny came with Captain Hogwash, a pierate pig. She had had some trouble with her hedgehog pierate crew, and had lost her captain hat due to the pierate crew mutiny, or somet. If the hunt would turn out to be successful, she might get her hat back. The hobbits seemed excited about the mysterious treasure.
 
After all had gathered up, I welcomed everyone and recapped quickly what the hunt was all about: the lost treasure the Buckland pierates had looted from a shipwreck long time ago. They said that the treasure itself was cursed, and that it had even made the ship sink on the Brandywine. The pierates had hidden it after it had caused much trouble in Buckland, and as the time passed, the treasure went forgotten. But according to the tales, the instructions to the treasure’s location were still kept safe in the Brandy hall. So, we decided to go and try to find them first.
 
It was clear that we could not just storm into the hall just like that. Captain Hogwash did look eager to sniff for old parchments, but his intentions were probably more eating-related, so sending him in would not be a good idea. Besides, Master Saradoc Brandybuck was standing by the entrance, looking at us suspiciously. I asked him if we could visit the library very quick, to take a look at an old parchment. Master Saradoc eyed us carefully. Shovels, pickaxes… and an eager oinker. “You don’t look like some scholars… more like treasure hunters! Maybe even pierates!” he snorted. We tried to convince him that this was just the latest scholar fashion, and the pig was just our apprentice and/or lunch. But Master Saradoc was not born yesterday. “You are after the pierate treasure instructions, aren’t you? Ha! We are not giving them away, no. The instructions are staying where they are, in the uppermost chamber of the hall. You won’t get permission to go there. The cursed treasure should remain hidden and lost too, if it even exists. Now off with you!” While Potty went to ask Master Saradoc for some tea and biscuits instead, Miss Lina peered at the uppermost levels of the Brandy Hall. “Master Saradoc’s less forthcoming than I remember. The uppermost chamber, though. Maybe…”
 
Soon, a dozen hobbits were climbing and huffing and puffing their way towards the uppermost chamber of Brandy Hall, a tall tower-like structure at the very top of the hill. No ladders nor dwarven stairs to use, but we could see ladders through one of the lower windows. Now, we could just toss Captain Hogwash inside, or use a burglar… Soon, all eyes were on Master Potty. “I could release Hogwash into the lower halls as a distraction”, Miss Penny suggested. It did sound like a good plan, and the oinker looked eager too. Miss Penny opened the window and let Captain Hogwash in. “Pig deployed!” she shouted, and Master Potty wriggled himself through the window. “He's quite agile when he sets his mind to it”, Miss Lina commented. We could hear sounds of confusion and oinking from the lower levels of Brandy Hall, indicating that Captain Hogwash had succeeded in his mission. We could also hear Potty making some noise inside the room. “YER SEE ANYTHING IN THERE, POTTY?” miss Lina shouted through the window. Master Ragwort was worried that Potty might empty the hall of pork before we could get our share of the loot. Master Potty crawled soon out from the window though. “No need ter shout so loud Miss Lina!” he said, but looked victorious. “I found lots of biscuits! And a piece of paper.” While Miss Lina stepped forward to claim her “two-part booty” of the biscuits (that Potty had actually still left inside the room), I took the paper for closer inspection. At this point though, someone shouted: “Oi, a bounder!” The law had arrived. It was Shirriff Nimelia, along with her auntie Tibba. “I hope there has not been any unlicensed pierate treasure finding?” Miss Nimelia enquired, clutching her pickaxe. “I think this side of the river is outside Bounder jurisdiction”, Miss Penny noted, but Miss Nimelia looked stern. “I will be the judge of that!” she said. But when she heard that no treasures had been dug up yet, plus that no unlicensed drumming had taken place, her face lightened up. “We just looted the instructions to find the treasure!” I said, waving the paper Master Potty had innocently borrowed from Brandy Hall. “Well, I consider myself instructed to find the treasure then!” Miss Nimelia said, and everyone listened carefully as I read the scribbling in the paper:

    If you look for a treasure that is cursed
    Just follow the clues during your search
    Here, you can find the first:
    Three dragons in a row
    In the air they fly and soar

 
Dragons, in Buckland? Miss Nimelia shook her head. “Right. Let it be known that I am already stumped”, she said. Miss Lina fired a dragon fizzer and Miss Tibba suggested that we could go to the Green Dragon and ponder this riddle a bit there, to get inspired. “I didn't know Buckland had a dragon problem?” Miss Lina said and shrugged. Tibba suggested that the “dragons” could be the smoking stacks, and someone wondered if them were kites, or flags. Miss Nimelia wondered if we all had been drinking that crazy brandy again, having these strange illusions of dragons. Potty suggested that maybe it has something to do with the cows on rooftops, as cows might be sort of an elven dragon, or somet. We decided to stroll towards the Buckland gate and see if there was anything in a row and something preferably dragon-like. Cows and chickens were spotted, locals were asked for dragons… No proper clues though. There was a cow on the roof with some hobbits who were desperately trying to figure out a bounder strategy to get rid of the animal. Before we managed to send Miss Nimelia for help, we heard miss Penny shout: “Three dragon vanes!” She pointed at the three farm houses in a row, with a dragon vane on each rooftop. That must be the right place! So we took our pickaxes and shovels and started to dig the ground. Miss Nimelia waved her pickaxe in a professional manner and noted: “Alright, I knew them Bucklanders are strange, but why do they have dragons as weather vanes…” Miss Lina wondered where Captain Hogwash was, as he could help out too. “Captain Hogwash will be Brandybuck sausages by now. A heroic sacrifice!” Miss Penny stated solemnly. “Now that's proper oinker use” Miss Lina commented from inside a flower bush and sneezed loudly. Then, I saw that Miss Nimelia had dug up something. “What’s that you dug up?” I asked, looking at a small jar that peeped up from the dirt. “No ore yet”, Miss Nimelia noted. “Oh, wait, what am I looking for?” I took the jar and opened it. “With ore in it?” Miss Nimelia asked hopefully. There was no ore, nor biscuits, but another old note! I read it for everyone:

    Slower than snails they march
    With a fury in their hearts
    And they won’t stop until
    They reach a cousin on a hill

 
“Bounders?” several hobbits murmured. They were quite slow in their ways. “We tread carefully”, Miss Nimelia explained. “Quick Post?” Master Ragwort wondered. “That’s slower than snails.” Turtles? Dwarves in the morning? What could this be? Miss Lina sighed. “The treasure has cursed the locals with a desire to make rhymes and clues!” Miss Tibba scratched her head. “But a fury in their heart?” Miss Lina shrugged. “Angry turtles? ‘s not ants, is it? Them always look a bit angry”, she nodded. Once again, we peered at the cow on the roof. She was sure slow, and probably angry too, with all them hobbits pestering her. Miss Penny looked at the Old Forest. “The trees get angry I hear”, she said. “Aye.. and they say they can move too”, I added. “Trees move slow”, Master Pontin said. We headed towards the hedge that stood between Buckland and the Old Forest. There, we saw a tree that had grown through the hedge. “Chase it back, Nimelia!” Lina commanded. Miss Nimelia just shrugged. “Well, I missed the course on tree diplomacy”, she noted. However, before the others could make any treeplomacy or tree-ties with the tree, I noted that there was no lonely cousin on a hill nearby, so we should look further for another tree that had gone through the hedge. And we found one, right in Crickhollow. Miss Tibba looked worried: “Er... are we sure we want to get close to that forest?” Miss Lina shrugged. “Well, we got a bounder with us… somewhere behind us…”, but Tibba didn’t look reassured. “I'm afraid she can run pretty fast if she has to”, she noted. Then we saw it… a big hole in the hedge, with huge trees marching in from the Old Forest! And there, close up, was a hill with a tree on it (a much more friendly looking tree than the ones from the forest though). We decided to go to the hill and inspect the grounds there. It was actually a hill with hobbit burrows, so we needed to be careful not to dig too deep. We might have wake up a grumpy hobbit or somet…
 
Soon, Miss Stevvy dug up something: another jar! “Yeppers. Looks kinda old and dirty”, Miss Stevvy inspected and handed the jar over. Miss Tibba wondered if we could dig further and get more jars from a larder. I opened the jar and found another note. I read it for the others:

    Still want to find this cursed old treasure?
    You might consider some other leisure!
    But if you seek the hidden truth,
    Find a flower that bloomed beyond her youth
    She burrows near, and from her you’ll hear
    What happened to your treasure dear.
    If yer don’t know where to look for her
    Just let your belly lead yer

“Simbo should be here”, Miss Stevvy said. “Must be hungry if your belly leads ya”, Pontin noted wisely. “On to the next oven!” Tibba shouted, storming ahead. “Come, belly, lead the way!” Nawagrim declared, rolling downhill. We headed towards the festival tent, looking for an oven. Miss Lina walked straight to the first hobbit lady she saw and asked: “Hullo. Have yer bloomed beyond yer youth?” The lady reddened and steam started to pour from her ears, which sort of made her look like an oven, but we decided it best to retreat fast. Lina dodged the piece of fruit thrown after her, and Nimelia said: “Veggies is not where my belly would have led me.” Finally, we reached the festival tent, but even though there was food, no ovens were in sight. And Lina didn’t want to ask any more lasses if they have bloomed beyond their youth. Miss Stevvy wondered: “Mebbe it's in the craftin' area, by the ovens?” So to the crafting area we went, and there was an oven there. With many hobbits from the Burrows family! There was Rose Burrows, and Peony Burrows. I went to Peony and asked her about the treasure, but she shook her head. “No, I don’t know anything of that. But my mother-in-law might… she is near the kegs.” And there, nearby, stood an old lady by the kegs: Asphodel Burrows! “Don't ask her about her years, Lina!” Nimelia whispered.
 
When the hobbits gathered around Missus Asphodel, she smiled. “You lot look likes pierates, don’t you! Are you looking for a pie, or a treasure?” I smiled back. “Oh, we are looking for both I think! But especially for the pierate treasure that got lost!” Miss Harbella nodded. “A pie is a treasure, briefly”, she said. “Until it gets inta me belly”, Miss Stevvy added. Missus Asphodel laughed. “You have come to the right place then! I was one of them pierates long ago!” Penny scratched her head. “Did hedgehogs steal her pierate hat too?” she wondered.

 Missus Asphodel looked at us and started to tell about her past with a misty look in her eyes. “Me and my husband-to-be, Rufus, we liked to play pierate games when we were young. Quite the rascals we were. I blame me Tookish side for that. We did loot this treasure a long time ago from a shipwreck. We did fish up a bag from the wreck, we thought it was a bag of coins! After a closer inspection we realised it was empty. But the bag turned out to be something far more valuable… can you hobbits guess what this bag actually was?” Potty looked thoughtful. “Oh! A Captain's badge?” Stevvy thought for a moment, and Brambleburr for two. “A bag… gins?” Ruffin asked. “Weed? Pies?” If it wasn’t a bag of coins, could it be a bag of… Miss Lina stepped back. “Oh no no, don't say...” Miss Penny beamed. “Oooo!” Lina shook her head. “No way. Never. Can’t be!” Miss Asphodel grinned. “Yes, it was bagpipes! The cursed bagpipes that lead to the the shipwrecking. They say that the crew of the ship was dancing to the bagpipes while passing Buckland, and as the tune got faster, the ship could not take the dancing anymore, and it cracked. Me and Rufus repaired the pipes though and learnt how to play them. Useless to say, the Bucklanders were not happy about this, so we decided to hide the pipes. Well, we didn’t really hide them that well. We sent them to the Michel Delving Gammer to make more copies of them…”
    “'Copies?” Lina asked with disbelief. Miss Asphodel continued: “We did the instructions just to cover our tracks, so that the rest of the Shire couldn’t blame us for the spreading… curse, yer might say. Miss Penny looked happy. “Miss Asphodel is the cause of all Shire bagpipes!” she said happily. “A proper pierate, that one, Miss Lina said, and added in a lower voice: “And certainly far past the bloom of her youth…”
    “It seems they hid that treasure in plain sight!” Potty noted.
 
“So in a way, we already have looted that treasure”, I concluded. “And that was a grand story to hear. I bet the bagpipes have been cursed quite a few times!”
 
Ragwort raised a finger. “Can someone explain this curse to me…?” In a heartbeat, someone had a bagpipe in their lap and powerful tooting started. A yellow hobbit darted away, shouting something like “agh!”. “This bagpipe is rich of notes!” Ruffin noted, picking his ears. But Miss Penny looked happy. “The treasure can help me with my problem! I'll blast bagpipes at the mutinous piecrew until they surrender my captain’s hat!” “Yer could always make a new one out of yer bagpipes, Penny!” Lina shouted from a safe distance.
 
A moment of bagpipe-free silence for held in the memory of Captain Hogwash, who had been sacrificed to the Brandybucks. Or maybe it was the other way around though… Anyway, our bellies were rumbling, and there was a cooking area nearby. Our loot was waiting to be pierated! We ate happily and had some good chatter. “Good thing we did not depend on my wits for this. We'd be drowning our sorrows about the first unsolved clue in ale about now”, Nimelia said while munching some munchrooms. With full bellies, we started a happy stroll home… with our ears ringing.
~