The Lord of the Rings features pretty large at our house. We have watched the movies countless times, and have just finished reading the graphic novel version of The Hobbit again. My eldest boy draws lots of Orthanc like towers with Gandalf and Sauraman running around them.
I was at work for the day and my wife was looking after the boys. The day was going alright, but it was starting to fall apart a bit. She really needed an activity to get them involved and focused. I do not quite know the chain of events which led to to the idea, but somehow, they decided they all needed to make elvish lembas bread. I just thought it was a brilliant idea. So did the boys.
I have never really considered Tolkien inspired cooking much before. A long time ago in the army reserve, I used to imagine that the ration pack biscuits we ate was cram, but that is about as far as I ever took the idea. Still, it seems reasonable to discover that some people have devoted an awful lot of energy to this sort of thing. There is quite a collection of lembas recipes floating around on the net. They generally seem to be some kind of variation on shortbread, but I think my wife picked a real winner with this one.
Cooking is a great activity for the boys. First of all, it is a basic life skill which everyone should possess. Outside of that though, it is filled with measurements and weights. On a different level, there is also learning how different tastes and textures go together, and how each ingredient and step affects the final outcome. It is also a logical place to discuss nutrition, although admittedly, when we are cooking cakes and biscuits we tend to gloss over that bit. Of course, cooking also comes with the added benefit of a prize at the end when you get to eat it.
The biscuits were cut into squares and had crosses pressed into them. This apparently helps them keep their shape when they are baking. It also makes them easy to break into quarters. Anyone who knows about lembas, knows that it comes wrapped in mallorn leaves. Mallorn trees being in short supply around these parts, they picked tamarillo leaves from the garden, and used them instead. The packages were finished off by being tied together with jute twine.
It was a raging success from start to finish. The boys were in a state of high excitement when I arrived home, keen to show me their lembas and feed me some of it. As my wife pointed out, both the recipe and Legolas promise that a single bite will fill a mans stomach for a day. Based on that, the boys should be able to march for the next three months without eating.