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  • Tomorrow marks the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in Tolkien’s tale. More than anything else, hobbits love food. In fact, they plan six meals a day, including breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, dinner, and supper—not to mention afternoon tea. So what better way to celebrate Hobbit Day than to enjoy some Shire food?

    The following Pumpkin Cake recipe might be a family recipe from my non-Shire homestead, but it compliments any hobbit meal and is handy for parties—especially unexpected ones.

  • Butterbeer via Food Through the Pages

    Though the idea of exploring fantasy worlds through their food has been around for decades, sharing recipes taken from the pages of favorite books has become a rising online trend. If you know where to look, you can find instructions for baking lembas bread, groosling stew, or Fruity Oaty Bars.

    Some enterprising chefs and fans of Game of Thrones have even ventured into the world of medieval grilling with wild boar, snake, and birds not commonly found in the refrigerated case at the grocery store.

    Many of the web sites devoted to fictional feasting are still growing, but their collaborative efforts bring cooking, community, and literature together in one place. Check out a few of them with the links below:

    Geeky Chef

    Food Through the Pages

    Fictional Food

    Inn at the Crossroads

    What recipes from your favorite books are you dying to try?

  • The coconut tree is a classy and functional gift from Mother Nature. Its water is refreshing and nutritious, the wood is strong for construction, the veins can also be re-purposed for items such as brooms or toothpicks, the meat of the nut becomes cooking oil and skin lotion, the fresh milk is used in food and drink, and even the smoke from the burning husk can repel mosquitoes.

    But my favorite use of this fine tree, as of late, is the cookie.

    Coconut lovers will go ape for this recipe with its soft center and chewy coconut flakes. Pair with a glass of milk, coconut mojito, or a bottle of coconut rum (and hammock), and enjoy!

  • St. Patrick’s Day and March always brings out the Irish in most of us. While you’re planning to break out the Leprechaun hats, hang the plastic shamrocks, and join the parade, you’re going to have a great time whipping up this marvelous potato soup with slivers of corned beef.

    The beauty of this recipe is in its ease. It’s incredibly quick to prepare and the ingredients are easily accessible. Once you put it all together, this potato soup will fill you up with its rich flavors and hearty texture. Top it off with generous amounts of corned beef and sprinkle some cheese. Stir, slurp and enjoy!

  • Something might be wrong in the baking world today. Bakery shelves are stacked high with the trendiest dessert, filled or flavored or “kissed” with the latest popular ingredient, and hidden under a crazy design. These are delicious and fun to look at, but somewhere along the line, we have to ask ourselves, “Where is the cake?”

    Look friends, birthdays happen and nothing hits the spot like a good old-fashioned sugar-eggs-flour-butter birthday cake. Every decent baker should have a good cake recipe as his or her trump card. If someone tells you they don’t agree, they’ve never had a from scratch birthday cake, and since you are reading this, it is now your responsibility to make them the birthday cake of all birthday cakes—Yellow Cake.

    Yellow cake is a cake Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation would appreciate. It’s no nonsense, has a couple ingredients, and tastes like cake. Let’s remember that on a birthday, it should be ok to indulge. This cake requires a couple more eggs and some more butter than most which gives it a rich taste while keeping the texture airy and moist. Paired with a simple fudgy frosting, which can be whipped together in a food processor, yellow cake is a marriage of kid birthday party nostalgia and adult sophistication. Adding touches like neon dinosaur shaped nonpareils (a friend of mine picked these up for me at Home Goods) or an assortment of colorful jimmies makes the decoration even more fun.

    In my experience, if you show up to a birthday with a messy, handmade cake, you’ll be forgiven of faults and suddenly attract many more friends.

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