An Unexpected Cookbook

Aside from gaming, running, and reading, another hobby I enjoy is cooking. I’m not talking about when I’m pretending to cook dragons either. I seriously like to cook. When a friend bought An Unexpected Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland for me I could hardly wait for it to arrive so I could jump right in and start making elevenses, luncheon, and afternoon tea.

An Unexpected Cookbook
An Unexpected Cookbook is available on Amazon.com. You have to make the honey cakes yourself though.

An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery

Creator: Chris-Rachael Oseland
Publisher: Kitchen Overlord
Cost: $29.99 for paperback like mine ($5.99 for Kindle)
Product Length: 131 pages

I have seen and used many a thematic cookbook but this is the first time I’ve ever thought to write a review for one. I know that one could make the case that it somehow fits with this site’s content given the heavy focus on Dungeons & Dragons and that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books being inspirational to the former’s creation despite Gary Gygax’s supposed less than enthusiastic endorsement towards the books. But the reason I felt compelled to write about it here is that the same friend who bought this for me says a guy in his D&D group brings treats from the book that he makes to their game sessions. Honey cakes. Plum heavies. Hand pies. Doesn’t matter. He just seems to choose what strikes his fancy at the time and I believe you, or someone in your game group, could do the same.

I have made several items from this cookbook already and everything has turned out mostly well. The items range from incredibly simple as with morning oat porridge for breakfast to more complex items like roast rack of lamb for supper or wine braised oxtails for dinner. And, yes, the author remembers all the hobbit meals!

An Unexpected Cookbook's Mushroom Soup
An Unexpected Cookbook’s Mushroom Soup

Aside from being faithful to hobbit tradition, the author was careful to consider a recipe for inclusion only if it made use of Old World ingredients as Tolkien had included in his works. Somewhat to my chagrin (but true to theme), you won’t find any tomatoes or chiles in these recipes. In fact, the only member of the nightshade family you will find is the humble potato. This is a New World crop but the author allows it because Tolkien did too.

po-tay-toes
po-tay-toes

This is clearly a work of passion for Chris-Rachael Oseland (aka “Kitchen Overlord”). I know I will reference this book for years to come whether I’m making nerdy treats for game night or laboring for hours in the kitchen for Sunday dinner. My complaint with this cookbook is that it is sometimes challenging to follow a recipe. I recently made the Steak and Ale Pie and that recipe’s ingredient list calls for mushrooms and bay leaves. But as you follow the recipe, it does not tell you when to add these items. A somewhat experienced cook can deduce the ideal time to include each (and know to remove the bay leaves). But the beginner probably wouldn’t.

Furthermore, that recipe tells you to prepare a casserole dish but it doesn’t tell you a suggested size. Admittedly, I’m not great at making my own pie crust. But I had to pivot to a much smaller dish because I didn’t have enough dough for the 13 x 9 dish I’d prepped. Not every recipe is missing such details but it is an issue that is in enough of them to mention it. While perhaps not for the absolute beginner, this cookbook is fun for nerdy cooks of varying levels of competence. There are also options for those following a vegan diet. Which seems odd to me since I doubt there were vegans in The Shire. But who am I to judge?

Pros

  • organized by each and every hobbit meal of the day
  • quality photos included for most recipes
  • vegan options

Cons

  • some recipes omit when to use certain ingredients and the reader has draw upon experience
  • vegan options
An Unexpected Cookbook
An Unexpected Cookbook in hardcover is available on Amazon for $49.95.

Author: Patrick

Board gamer, role-player, father, blogger.

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