Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Author, Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls
This month’s theme is “Life in the Shire.”
How could we possibly talk about life in the Shire without food? Right. So this month we’re introducing Astrid’s work in earnest. She answered some questions for us AND has three delicious recipes included for this month’s theme.
It’s a joy to introduce you and share your creative work, Astrid. Please share a bit of your own “Tolkien story.” What originally grabbed your imagination about literary studies and specifically Tolkien?
I’ve always been a reader and I’ve always gravitated to vast worlds filled with complex groups of characters and creatures. C. S. Lewis was my elementary school favorite. In mid-school, my best friend recommended The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I originally enjoyed The Hobbit, but found LOTR too heavy until I got to high school. Then I embraced it fully. I was always meant to be an English major; it’s just part of my genes. In college, I integrated Tolkien’s work into my papers whenever I could. My undergraduate and masters’ theses were Tolkien-based, much to the puzzlement of some of my advisors. I wrestled with the theme of cross-dressing with Éowyn, Orientalism in Tolkien’s works, the happy tragedy of Frodo, as well as a fun paper on the way Tolkien dealt with dogs in his works.
What originally sparked your love for cooking/baking and crafting recipes?
It seems like I’ve always been a cook and a baker, but I really started cooking in earnest when I was around 12. Crafting my own recipes began as a way of coping with the myriad recipes already out there that just aren’t that great.
If you could spend a day in the Shire, whom would you want to meet and what would you delight to do?
Gardening is one of my passions (which is sometimes difficult in the arid Southwest), so I could easily spend time with Sam. If it were post-Ring times, I could certainly discuss politics with him in his capacity as mayor, and hang out with Rosie and their brood.
You’ve put together a splendid recipe set for our eucatastrophe fellowship to enjoy this month! What should we anticipate about this line-up? Go ahead, whet our appetites without giving too much away.
Thank you! Well, I’ve got a lovely meal planned. A hearty pork pie was suggested by Bombur, but he also requested a salad. I’ve obliged with a delicious and light recipe. A simple shortbread rounds out the meal. Some foamy beer would be a refreshing accompaniment, or sparkling apple cider; some ice cream or sherbet would complement those cookies.
You have a whole book of recipes inspired by Tolkien, the Shire, and Middle-earth. What’s extra-special about it? How much fun was it to curate and craft?
My first cookbook was truly a labor of love. It began in January of 2009, with a fresh reading of The Hobbit and LOTR from a culinary perspective. Then I conducted research into medieval and British cuisine. Originally the cookbook was an homage to Tolkien, and it was written in a linear fashion, according to plot developments and the introduction of various characters.
After the estate intervened, I rewrote the book to avoid further legal battles. I spent about a year coping with the grief of not being able to use the original text. However, being free of Tolkien’s works led me back to Narnia and my revised cookbook includes Turkish Delight.
Most of the recipes were inspired by Tolkien’s works themselves, then I invented other dishes to bring more balance to the overall structure. All of the recipes were tested and refined dozens of times with my family. Later, a Fellowship of the Recipe Testers became involved. For about two years I worked with a talented artist who was my daughter’s best friend. In some ways, my artist, Geneva Harstine, was a Mother of Dragons.
We ate very well and one of my daughters thought we would all develop hairy feet!
How can eucatastrophe subscribers get a copy?
Both of my cookbooks are available in paperback and ebook formats on all platforms, from booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. From my Etsy shop, Elegant Sufficiencies, you can order both of my books, signed, with free domestic shipping. I run occasional contests on my Facebook page; like it for more details, if you’re feeling lucky!
Astrid's three "Life in the Shire" recipes:
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