Written for Back to Middle Earth Month 2014, my prompt was The turning of the year brings feasts and holidays. It's time to enjoy the bounty that was saved for the winter. Create a story or a work of art featuring a Winter seasonal food. Bonus for including a recipe.
But I was further prmpted by Elliska wanting to know more about the young elf in Recipes for Reminiscence .
The title comes from the song of that name in the musical 'Oliver'.
In a corner of a cabin, on a great grey ship that sailed on the Sundering Sea, sat an elfling. In one hand he clutched a soft woollen blanket, in the other a small carved wooden horse. ...... We are fortunate that our sugar comes ready granulated – I think it likely that elves and hobbits got it as a cone and had to use sugar nips and then break it into the right consistency.
The elleth, who had cared for him on the journey, came into the cabin and held out her hand in invitation.
“Pendithen,” she said, “come with me to the bow of the ship, for we can see land! We will soon be there.”
“No,” said the elfling.
He curled further back onto the bunk, drew his knees up, and brought the corner of the blanket up to his mouth.
The elleth came and sat beside him, putting an arm around his shoulders. He began to move into the proffered embrace, then thought better of it and stiffened again; but he could not quite bring himself to pull away from her.
“Your Nana and Ada will probably be there at the quayside,” she said. “The sailors say people seem to know when someone from their family is arriving on a ship. And then you will have a family and find out your proper name.”
“No,” said the elfling.
After a pause of at least a minute he said, “I am Tharhîwon.”
The elleth smiled, a slightly sad smile, but the elfling took little notice and looked away, concentrating on the softness of his blanket and the harder texture of the small carved horse.
He was aware of the elleth as she sat with him a little longer, but he continued to ignore her, even though she was kind and had looked after him well ever since they left East Lórien. Eventually she dropped a kiss on the top of his head and got up.
“If you want to see the land coming closer and closer, come up on deck when you are ready,” she said, before leaving the cabin, “and do not worry, pendithen, I am sure it will all be well.”
Tharhîwon wasn’t at all sure that it would all be well.
How would he know his Nana and Ada if they were standing on the quay? He had no recollection of what they looked like. How would they recognise him? He was sure he was older than when they had left him, and he had new clothes.
If they called to him how would he know? He didn’t know what they thought his name was. He was not sure he wanted their name for him. Haldirin’s Nana and Ada had given him his name and he liked it. He was Tharhîwon.
If someone came and said she was his Nana how could he be sure she was right? If she was his Nana would she be nice, and cuddle him like Haldirin’s Nana had?
What if no-one came and said she was his Nana?
Haldirin’s Nana and Lord Celeborn had both told him that Lord Celeborn’s wife would be there and she would look after him if there was no-one waiting for him. He knew what she looked like because Haldirin’s Ada had drawn a picture of her. But what if she wasn’t waiting, either?
He had been frightened of the ship when he first saw it, but now he did not want to leave it. Perhaps, if he did not go to look, the land wouldn’t really be there. Perhaps, if he stayed quietly in his bunk, no-one would notice and make him get off if the land was there.
Tharhîwon didn’t think it was going to all be well, at all, if someone found him and made him get off the ship.
(Pendithen; Little One)
Galadriel had known that Celeborn was not on the ship that was now clearly visible as it approached the harbour. But she had come to meet it anyway; for each ship that brought Galadhrim brought a letter, or a token, and gave her hope, even if only briefly, that he would eventually come because he still loved her.
Beside her stood both her daughter and her daughter’s husband. They, too, had come down to the quayside for each ship that had arrived since the one carrying Elrond, Galadriel, and the others. They would have known if their sons were on board, and knew that their daughter would not be, but they, too, expected letters and, usually, pictures, too, of the family they would never know. Tokens that were bitter-sweet, but always welcome.
To Galadriel’s surprise, however, beside Elrond and Celebrían stood Frodo Baggins.
Galadriel, herself, felt that she was still healing from the toll on her fëa exacted by Nenya. Elrond, also, was far from fully recovered from his years as a ring-bearer, despite being reunited with his wife. But Frodo had seemed to recover more quickly than they had. The resilience of hobbits, Mithrandir had said.
Since the death of Bilbo, though, Frodo had looked weary and sad; Galadriel had worried about his well-being as, she knew, had others.
Whilst it was good to see him venture out of his own home, in the grounds of that of Elrond and Celebrían, she could not help but wonder what had brought him to the quayside.
As sailors on board the ship threw ropes to the elves at the dockside Galadriel engaged Frodo in conversation.
Everyone was being very kind to him, he said. His smial was rather lonely without Bilbo, but he was very welcome at Master Elrond’s table, and one or two elves had taken to spending time with him as he slept so that he did not wake up in the night alone.
Despite this, he looked as if he had lost weight and there were new threads of grey in his dark curls.
She asked what had brought him to the quayside today.
“Rather ask ‘who’,” he said. “Gandalf sent me a message, asking me to meet him here. But I don’t see him.”
He smiled, rather wryly, then added, “not that it’s the first time he has arranged to meet me somewhere and then been delayed.”
Someone else came to speak to the hobbit, and Galadriel’s attention was drawn, again, to the ship which was now tied up and with a gangway in place to enable the passengers to disembark.
In very little time it seemed as if almost everyone had come ashore and met up with friends or relatives. Then Galadriel spotted an elleth still on board who she recognised. What surprise her, though, was that the elleth carried an elfling. He looked only a little bigger than a toddler, and not only were elflings almost unheard of amongst the Galadhrim for many years, but Galadriel recognised the elleth as one whose own sons had been grown for many yéni.
The elleth was scanning the crowds as if looking for someone, but the elfling kept his face turned away from the shore altogether. Whoever the elleth was looking for it seemed likely that they were not here, Galadriel thought, as she acknowledged greetings from many of those who were now moving inland in the company of those they had not seen for many years.
And then the elleth in question was standing in front of her, the elfling now on his own two feet, but hiding behind his companion’s dress.
“Your Ladyship, it is good to see you again. I have a letter for you from my Lord Celeborn.” She held it out and, as Galadriel took it, said “It concerns this little one.”
“Perhaps we should move away from the edge of the dock,” Galadriel said and began to move.
The elfling shuffled his feet, but did not object as the two ellyth turned, and then his expression suddenly changed from blank and uninterested to one of recognition. Galadriel assumed he must have seen someone he knew, until he spoke.
“Frodo!” the elfling said, “It is Frodo!”
Once upon a time, long ago even as the elves count time, in the place that would be known as Ithilien in future Ages of Middle Earth, an elfling was told by his Nana and Ada to wait for them and not stray until they came back. A good elfling, he did as he was told; but days passed and they did not return.
More time passed and he remained alone. He ate the food his Nana and Ada had left him, then he ate any berries he could find and a few nuts, and he stayed where he was and waited. The weather became colder and soon there was nothing to eat. He tried to keep warm by burrowing under the fallen leaves.
One night he curled up under the now damp leaves, his tummy hurting because it was so very empty, but finally he slept. And, as he slept, the snow came and covered the elfling completely.
Sometime, not long after, he thought he heard a voice calling his name. An ellon’s voice, but it wasn’t his Ada, and so he hid. The ellon called and asked the elfling to come to him, to come where it was warm and light, but the elfling remembered what his Nana and Ada had said and stayed as still as he could.
He wondered, when it was daybreak, what was under the small heap covered in snow. He was happy that his tummy didn’t hurt any more. The ellon came back a couple of times, and called him, but he always hid and wouldn’t go. Then the ellon didn’t come any more.
Time passed. The elfling had no idea how much time. He knew he must have slept a lot, because he remembered sometimes waking up, but, if he thought of it at all, he thought it could not be that long because it was still winter.
In the early years of the Fourth Age an elfling from the elven colony in Ithilien discovered a new playmate. Another little ellon like himself. It was the middle of summer but, whenever this new friend appeared, he brought the winter with him. Haldirin, for that was the Fourth Age elfling’s name, liked playing with his new friend in his Winter Garden and told his own Nana and Ada about him.
Haldirin’s Nana and Ada realised that this must be a houseless elfling but felt he posed no threat. Instead they wondered how he could be rescued from his eternal winter. Eventually the answer came to Haldirin, in a dream, although it took his Nana and Ada to work out what it meant. And finally, one warm starlit night, the elfling had walked out of winter into summer and became, again, a warm, breathing, little person.
It seemed as if the only chance he had of being reunited with his parents was to sail West; where they must, surely, have been reborn. Haldirin had seen his elfling friend boarding a ship in his dreams and so Lord Celeborn arranged for him to travel with others who were taking ship.
The Winter Elfling could not remember what his name was; it was so long since anyone had called him by it. And so Haldirin’s Ada had given him a name until he should find out his original one. Tharhîwon. A new name that meant he was now beyond winter.
It took a little while to sort out the situation. It seemed as if the easiest thing was for the elfling, his elleth escort, Galadriel, Frodo, and Elrond and Celebrían to return to the home Celebrían had readied for her husband, within easy reach of the harbour, many years before.
Galadriel sat and read the letter the elleth had brought from Celeborn. There were other, more private, letters in a package brought by someone else which could be savoured later; but the mystery of the elfling needed to be unravelled first.
He seemed to have attached himself to Frodo, because, he said, he had pictures and letters to give to the hobbit. Tharhîwon, for such was his name, had met Sam, Merry, and Pippin in Ithilien and it seemed as if the hobbits had realised that this youngling might need his own purpose, on the long journey, for they had entrusted their packages to him rather than to one of the adults.
Celeborn wrote that the elfling had been counted amongst the Houseless for unknown yéni, and described how he had come to be whole again (a tale too long for telling here – but it is written elsewhere*). It had been a reasonable supposition that he would find his re-embodied parents here in Valinor.
Especially as Tindómë and Rumil’s small son, whose dream had shown them how to help the elfling escape his state between life and death, had also dreamt that Tharhîwon should sail. But it was clear that no-one had felt the inner call to meet this ship to be reunited with him.
Celebrían said straight away that, whilst word was sent out to towns and villages that this small elfling awaited his family, he was very welcome to stay with her and Elrond.
Galadriel thought, personally, that this might be very good for her daughter; this little one might make up, a little, for those grandchildren she would never meet. A bed was made up for him and he was reassured that, whilst he waited, he was very welcome; and he might keep the name Rumil had given him. He would continue to be Tharhîwon.
*In The Winter Garden - posted at Faerie and in my Live Journal.
Lady Celebrían and her husband had a very, very, big house. It was made of stone. Tharhîwon was unsure about stone houses. The only homes he could remember had been made of wood and built amongst trees; Haldirin’s Nana and Ada lived in one, as did their friends, and when Lord Celeborn had taken him to East Lórien the elves there lived amongst trees too.
The only stone house Haldirin had spent time in belonged to the human lady who was a friend of Haldirin’s Nana. Big stone houses did not seem right for a small wood elf; he was afraid he might get lost in the corridors full of doors and no-one would ever find him.
Lady Celebrían was very nice, but neither she nor Master Elrond seemed very happy. Haldirin’s Ada had painted some pictures especially for them, and Lord Celeborn had sent them on the ship that Tharhîwon had sailed on. But Lady Celebrían had cried when she saw them. Tharhîwon wondered why; he had seen them before they were packed and he thought they were very good. Especially as everyone in them was smiling.
No, Tharhîwon was not sure that this was the right place for a small wood elfling.
The elfling did not seem happy. He was very quiet, hardly spoke, and hardly left the room where he slept, unless someone took him by the hand. He took the small wooden horse everywhere with him, and had refused to let go of the blanket he had brought with him, even for it to be washed. When he came to the dining room he ate hardly anything. Celebrían worried that he was fading right in front of her.
There was no news, either, that his parents had been found.
The only time he seemed to have any interest in life at all was the day Frodo came and asked if he might speak to Tharhîwon.
Neither Celebrían nor Elrond was sure that the mourning hobbit was the best company for a rather withdrawn elfling; especially if all Frodo wanted was news of his own friends who the elfling had met, briefly, before sailing. But neither of them felt they could deny Frodo anything that would give him heartsease and so, with some misgivings, Celebrían left the two together.
Much to her amazement they arrived for their lunch together, without anyone needing to go and persuade the elfling to leave his bedroom, and both ate heartily; unusual for the hobbit, too, since the death of his uncle.
But once Frodo left, to return to his own home in the grounds of the house, Tharhîwon returned to being monosyllabic and hardly touching his food.
Then, a few days later, the elfling disappeared.
Celebrían and Elrond led the search themselves. It really was not, Celebrían thought, a very elfling-friendly house. She realised also that, had it been one of her own children who had gone missing, she would have looked inside herself and known if they were hurt or upset; how difficult it was to care for an elfling without that link!
It was Erestor who pointed out that they were probably looking in the wrong place. Tharhîwon had shown little interest in the gardens but, knowing his history, the formal walled gardens near the house may have unsettled him; today, however, a breeze blew through the branches of the trees and he was a wood elfling…
As the searchers spread out through the grounds it was Erestor, too, who was given the answer to the mystery as he met Frodo and Tharhîwon walking towards the house. The elfling was talking to the hobbit, his voice animated and a smile on his face, but when he noticed Erestor he became quiet immediately.
Erestor explained that the household were almost all out looking for Tharhîwon and Frodo seemed quite embarrassed.
“It didn’t occur to me that no-one knew where he was,” the hobbit said. “We have been sitting outside my home listening to the trees. Off you go with Erestor, Tharhîwon, and next time you wish to visit let someone know!”
The next day it rained. Tharhîwon asked if he could go to visit Frodo but was told to wait until the weather improved. When a watery sun shone into the east-facing windows next morning, and the elfling again was missing, it occurred to Celebrían that she should have been more specific and told him to ask again when the weather improved, not just that he could, then, go.
Sure enough Tharhîwon was breakfasting in the Hobbit Hole with Frodo.
Elrond worried, when the elfling asked again the next day whether he could go to visit his friend, that it would be too much for Frodo. So, instead, he made time to personally take the elfling for a walk, down into Alqualondë, and then to search the beach for shells. Elrond had to admit that he had enjoyed the day himself but, remembering his own sons, he thought Tharhîwon unnaturally well-behaved and quiet.
This time it was dark when the elfling slipped out of the house. The elleth who was to take him to bed had thought him to be sitting quietly, listening to the songs in the new Hall of Fire, and had been somewhat distracted by an ellon who had arrived on the same ship as Tharhîwon and wished to become reacquainted. It was probably an hour or more after his bedtime when she realised Tharhîwon was not in the Hall, nor had he gone back to his room by himself.
As Elrond, who had taken the task of elfling retrieval upon himself this time, approached the Hobbit Hole he was surprised to hear Frodo singing. When he knocked gently at the door, then entered, he realised the voice came from a room beyond. Following the sound he found Frodo in Bilbo’s bedroom, the elfling tucked up in Bilbo’s bed.
Elrond was ready to be angry – how dare the elfling intrude on Frodo in such a way – when Frodo looked up and smiled.
“He came to tell me of your walk on the sand, and bring me some shells,” Frodo said. “But he was so clearly tired it seemed easier to put him to bed than to walk back with him.”
“I will take him,” Elrond said, stooping towards the bed, then realised how Frodo’s face fell, even as he stood aside. “Unless,” Elrond added hastily, “you do not mind him staying until the morning?”
Frodo smiled. He looked, Elrond thought, happier than he had since the beginning of Bilbo’s last illness.
“Oh, no,” he said. “It is a pleasure to have him here. He reminds me of Pippin when he was a faunt. As long as you trust me to care for him…”
And so, as the days shortened and mid-winter drew closer, Tharhîwon began to spend almost as much time in Frodo’s smial as he did in the tall, elegant, rooms of the New Homely House. For a small elfling, it seemed, the Hobbit Hole was even more homely.
It was almost mid-winter when Mithrandir arrived and was shown into Celebrían’s sitting room.
“I called, first, at Frodo’s home,” he said after the initial greetings, “but he was not there. I had thought to find him here.”
When told that Frodo had gone to walk on the beach, with Elrond and the elfling, Mithrandir smiled. Although there had been no sign of him since the summer he clearly knew of Tharhîwon’s existence, as he seemed unsurprised, but he asked Celebrían to tell him more about how ‘the winter elfling’ was settling in.
When told how quiet and withdrawn the elfling had been when he arrived, the Maia nodded solemnly and then asked whether things had improved. Yes, and no, Celebrían answered. Within the house he remained quiet, and still tended to walk like a small shadow that clung to the walls, but he enjoyed going out for walks with Elrond and seemed most comfortable when in Frodo’s company.
Mithrandir smiled at the mention of the elfling walking with Elrond. He clearly thought, like Celebrían, that this would also be good for Elrond. The mention of the relationship between the elfling and the hobbit was greeted simply with a distinctly satisfied nod.
“And how is Frodo?” he enquired.
“Better than Elrond expected,” Celebrían answered. “He thought that Frodo might decline, and sink into the hobbit equivalent of fading, at the loss of Bilbo. But he has been happier, and has been eating better, since Tharhîwon brought him the letters and pictures from his family.”
“Or since Tharhîwon began to spend time with him?” asked Mithrandir, and Celebrían agreed that this might well have also helped.
Elrond and his two smaller companions returned as it became dusk. The elfling nodded solemnly when introduced to Mithrandir.
“Haldirin’s Ada drew me a picture so I would know you. But Haldirin’s Nana, and Sam, said you were called Gandalf,” he said.
“Young man,” the Maia answered, “you may call me whatever you wish.”
The elfling considered for a moment or two.
“I will call you Gandalf,” he said, “because Frodo calls you Gandalf.”
Later that evening, once Tharhîwon was tucked up in bed with his blanket and his toy horse, Mithrandir said he wanted to discuss the elfling with Elrond, Celebrían, and Frodo.
“There is no sign of his parents,” he said. “It is difficult to be absolutely sure, as he remembers nothing about them, nor even his own name. But Lord Námo and his Maiar have searched their memories, and their records, and not only are there no elves who could be his parents in the Halls of Waiting, but they can see no sign that there ever were.”
He stopped, and puffed on his pipe. Celebrían really wished he would give the habit up, and perhaps he had when he was not in Frodo’s company, but she really would have to air the room well tomorrow, she thought, somewhat inconsequentially.
“His Lordship cannot even be sure when they died, or when the elfling died. Over the years there have been too many such elflings who, having been told to remain hidden, have ignored His Lordship’s calls much to his sorrow.”
“What could have happened to Tharhîwon’s parents?” Frodo asked.
“They may have ignored the call themselves, and remained Houseless, but unable to return to the place where their elfling was,” Mithrandir answered.
“It is to be hoped that was the case,” Elrond said. “The alternatives do not bear thinking about.”
“Well,” Mithrandir continued, “no need to dwell on that now. The fact is that this youngling has resumed life, without passing through the Halls of Waiting, and we need to consider his future, as it will be, for there is no chance of reunion with his parents.”
“Poor Tharhîwon,” Celebrían said. “It must be as if part of him is missing, to have no bond with his parents.”
“He cannot really remember one,” Mithrandir answered, almost brusquely.
“It is… strange, to me,” Celebrían continued, “to have him in my care, and not know if he is sad, or frightened.”
“I fear it cannot be helped,” Mithrandir said. “And despite the lack of his parents, or rather because of it, we need to make some long term plans for his care…”
“I will care for him.”
Frodo spoke before anyone else opened their mouths, and then looked from Elrond to Celebrían and to Mithrandir before adding “as long as it is deemed suitable.”
Before any of the three answered he continued, rather firmly, “After all, hobbits have never had the mental bond that elves have with their children, and so its absence would not be difficult for me. And that connection will be missing for him no matter who cares for him; so better someone who is used to being without it.”
Which was quite true.
Celebrían found herself wondering how they coped. Would Arwen have had to cope without such intimate knowledge of her children, as they were born mortal? Going back to the case at hand, tales Bilbo had told of Frodo’s youth, and that of his young cousins, made hobbit children sound every bit as mischievous and energetic as Elladan and Elrohir had been, how very difficult to know when they might be in need.
Odd, too, that she had not thought, before now, of those who had cared for the orphaned Frodo after the death of his parents. Oh my! If anyone could empathise with the elfling for being without his parents it was surely Frodo!
Well, and Elrond, even if his parents had not been dead; he had had his twin, though... She hoped the presence of this small, orphaned, elfling did not bring back dark thoughts to her husband, still recovering from the burdens laid on him over all his years in Middle Earth.
She looked over at him. He looked very serious; whereas Mithrandir’s eyes were positively sparkling although he said nothing.
“Are you sure that you are up to this task?” Elrond asked. “I do not want you to feel compelled to do it, and so wear yourself out.”
“You are most kind,” Frodo replied, “but I think I am tougher than you credit. I am not that different in age to Bilbo when he began to care for me. Granted I was a little older, and would reach adulthood sooner. But the air in Valinor certainly suited Bilbo, as he was positively rejuvenated by being here, and so I expect to live long enough to see Tharhîwon to his majority.”
He paused for a few seconds and then asked, “As my healer, do you think I am right? Or do you have serious doubts about my health?”
As she knew that Elrond had been all too worried that Frodo might lose heart, and fade, Celebrían awaited her husband’s reply with interest.
“My dear Master Baggins; I should have known to never underestimate the resilience of hobbits! My considered opinion is that if you feel able to undertake this task, then you are likely to live long enough to see it through.”
“Well then!” Mithrandir exclaimed, “That is settled. Tharhîwon can move into Frodo’s smial; structural changes may be required, over time, but I’m sure you will all cope. The elfling will need lessons when he gets a little older and can have most of them from elves. Erestor perhaps? He will not be short of elven influence I’m sure. And…”
“Wait!” said Frodo. “I was sent off to live in Brandy Hall without any thought given to whether I might want that. Tharhîwon should be given the option.”
“Yes, yes, quite,” Mithrandir agreed. But Celebrían thought that he probably considered the outcome a foregone conclusion; and, to be honest, she agreed.
It was very clear the next day, when the elfling was told that his parents could not be found, and asked if he would like to live with Frodo, that he was not upset at the first, and positively thrilled at the second.
“Really? I can really come and live with you? And you can be my Ada?” He flung himself at Frodo with more animation than he had exhibited since leaving the ship.
“I will go and get my bag…” Then, half way to the door, he stopped and turned.
“But I would like to come and visit you often…” he smiled at Celebrían, “and we can still go for walks…” this to Elrond. Then he looked towards Frodo as if for permission, before dashing from the room.
“Well that went very well,” said Mithrandir. “I’m sure the details will all work themselves out later.”
Only a couple of days into ‘later’ Mithrandir, or on this occasion Gandalf, was walking up the path of the Hobbit Hole when he stopped to listen to the voice that drifted out through the slightly open window.
“… almost Yule. We hobbits celebrate Yule more than do Master Elrond’s household, although they do have a feast and they always go out at dusk on Midwinter Eve to look for the first star, for the stars are important to elves. But I think that we will celebrate like hobbits, Tharhîwon.
“We can invite Master Elrond, Lady Celebrían, and dear Gandalf, to eat with us. And the kind elleth who looked after you on the ship.
“Not to an evening feast; the big kitchen is much more suitable for sides of venison and whatnot than ours is. We will eat that with everyone in the dining hall. But we shall invite them for tea. A proper high tea.
“We must start to plan the food – it is only a week away. What a shame that I had not the heart to properly fill the larder this autumn. But I am sure we will find enough.”
Gandalf stood outside the curtained window a little longer as the, rather one-sided, conversation continued. It was such a pleasure to hear the hobbit sound so enthusiastic.
“A raised pork pie; that would be the very thing. And pickles. Oh, I do wish I had brought my mother’s recipe book with me when I left The Shire, but it didn’t occur to me… and I wish I had Sam’s mother’s recipe for pickled pears…”
Gandalf found himself feeling hungry.
“Cheese. There is an elleth who sells a cheese that is very like a well-matured Bywater at the market in Alqualondë. I wonder if there are any pickled onions left in the larder?
“It is too close to the day for us to make a really good fruit cake, but we can have a sambocade. I am sure there is a bottle of elderflower cordial in the larder that I made last summer and the chefs at Master Elrond’s always make rosewater. You can help me roll the pastry. Would you like that?”
“I don’t know, Ada,” said a little voice, “I have never done that…”
Gandalf was pleased to hear that the elfling did not sound in the least worried about the task he was being offered.
“Oh Tharhîwon, it will be such fun, you will enjoy helping – I always did when I was a faunt – that is like being an elfling.”
A pause. Then Frodo continued, “There are jars of plums in the larder which will go well with it… and blackberry jam. You can make jam tarts if we are making pastry…”
Gandalf smiled; he remembered being offered jam tarts made by an enthusiastic young hobbit many years before.
“Gifts!” Frodo seemed to have changed the subject.
“We always make gifts to give to our family and friends at Yule. I know the very thing that you can make for our guests, and anyone else you would like to gift. We will start tomorrow. I will teach you how to make the very first thing I was taught to bake. Cinnamon biscuits!”
Gandalf decided not to interrupt. It was very clear that the two of them were content together. He would just await his invitation.
“And I made these almost all by myself,” said Tharhîwon, passing each of the Yule guests a dozen fragrant biscuits that had been wrapped in a circle of pretty fabric tied up with a ribbon. “I chipped the sugar off the cone, and hit it to make the crystals the right size. And I stirred the butter and sugar up, and the flour, and ground up the cinna… cinna… cinnamon in a… thing!”
“Mortar,” said Frodo.
“And then I rolled it all up and we put it in the back larder on the marble slab because it is very cold there. And I cut it up and let the pieces go flop into more sugar!”
“They smell wonderful, Tharhîwon,” said Celebrían. “You must teach me how to make them.”
“And now,” Elrond smiled, “we have gifts for you…”
It was late in the evening when the guests left the Hobbit Hole. The elfling was already in his nightshirt and clutching his blanket which, Gandalf noted, he had allowed to be washed.
“It is lovely to see them both so happy,” Celebrían commented.
Gandalf simply nodded. As Lady Nienna had said to him, before he made this visit to his old friends, both elflings and hobbits thrive only if they have a family. And a most unusual elfling, and a most unusual hobbit, were a perfect pairing.
Recipe for Sambocade
This is a medieval Elderflower Cheesecake. The original recipe comes from a cookbook written for the household of Richard 2nd in 1390.
2tsp caster sugar
100g butter (chilled)
1 medium egg, beaten
2.25 litres milk
Juice of1 large lemon
100g caster sugar
40ml elderflower cordial
Whites of 4 medium eggs
4 tsp rosewater (optional)
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease a deep 25cm pie dish.
2. To make the pastry, sieve the flour into the bowl, add the sugar, and rub in the butter until the mix has the texture of fine breadcrumbs Add the egg a little at a time until the dough forms a ball. (add a little water if required) Wrap and leave in the fridge for an hour.
3. Roll out pastry and use to line the pie dish. Bake blind for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile make the filling. Warm the milk to the point of simmering, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir twice and leave for an hour to settle.
5. After an hour, pour of the whey and strain the curds though a muslin (or cheesecloth) bag, or cloth lined sieve. Gently squeeze off excess whey.
6. Pre-heat oven again, temperature as in 1.
7. Break up the curds into a bowl. Add the caster sugar and cream this with the curds, add the elderflower cordial and rosewater, if using, mix.
8. Beat the egg whites till stiff. Fold into mixture carefully.
9. Fill pie shell with the mixture, place in pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes or so.
Recipe for Cinnamon Biscuits
2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar
6 oz (3/4 cup) butter
8 oz (2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
Cream butter and sugar, add flour and cinnamon. Form the dough into a 'sausage' and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour.
Pour extra sugar onto a piece of paper, and cut the sausage into slices (about 0.75cm thick) so that each slice falls into the sugar. Place on a baking tray, sugar side up, bake at 200C (400F) for about 10 minutes.
(You can use granulated, caster or golden granulated sugar, or even demerara for the topping.)
In a corner of a cabin, on a great grey ship that sailed on the Sundering Sea, sat an elfling. In one hand he clutched a soft woollen blanket, in the other a small carved wooden horse.
We are fortunate that our sugar comes ready granulated – I think it likely that elves and hobbits got it as a cone and had to use sugar nips and then break it into the right consistency.