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Where I geek my way into a fun weekend.

by John on April 7th, 2014

It started with an NPR story. I was on my way to work & they talked about a day-long party where all of the Lord of The Rings movies would be played where everybody would eat like Hobbits. Seriously, it seemed right up my alley.

I filed the story in my memory banks, thought about how much fun it would be, and then . . . sat.

But time passed, and passed, and passed, and passed . . . and I still thought about how much fun it would be.

So I looked at the calendar, found a weekend where I was not booked (this proved to be among the hardest parts of the entire exercise) and said “that’s it, this is when we’re doing it.” Evites went out — and, it’s only then that things become official.

I fretted about the menu for some time — foods inspired by the books . . . for a yet-to-be-determined number of people. My own issues with food (trying to “eat clean” and “be healthy” and ensure that “every calorie counts) aside, I knew it would be an undertaking. And I knew my approach to my diet would just be thrown out the window, for the weekend — and I was, somehow, ok with that.

The Menu & Timeline

  • 8am: coffee & tea
  • 9am: Breakfast (and start the movies). Frodo’s Scones & Gimli’s seedcake
  • 10am: Second Breakfast. Scotch Eggs Strider, Rosie’s Bread.
  • 11am: Elevensies. Lembas Bread
  • 1pm: Lunch. Po-Tay-Toe Soup, Cheddar Soup
  • 3pm: Tea. Bilbo’s Tea Cake, Mulled Cider
  • 5pm: Dinner. Rosie’s Shire Pie.
  • 6pm: Supper. Balin’s Spiced Beef.
  • Dessert (whenever/however): Blueberry Tarts, Smaug’s Gems.

Out-of-town guests started arriving Friday night — fortunately, we did most of the cleaning before anyone was over — but, my guests had to deal with me cooking and baking and prepping into the night. I hardboiled eggs, I marinated meat, I prepared the shire pie. I made enough scones, and seed cake, and tea cake, and tarts, and cookies to feed a crowd (note: I needed more of all of these). But, I was in my element.

I ended up drinking wine and playing piano with the out-of-town guests until 3 in the morning . . . well, I thought it was just past midnight, but you know what they say about time flying when you’re having fun. When I realized it was 3am . . . well, I knew I was in trouble. See, I wanted to run (did you see the menu?!) before showering before people arrived.

I woke at 6:30 and managed a quick two miles.

And then the day started.

Guests started arriving quickly. I’m afraid that most of the first few hours, I wasn’t the most social of hosts, as I was busy preparing/cooking the Scotch eggs, and then the soups. But I had a houseful of happy people. Kids were playing video games in the basement, or were watching Disney movies in the toy room. At one time, a parade of girls marched through, all of them dressed up like princesses and wearing fairy wings.

There was lots of laughter.

And, once I was able to serve the soups, things went onto auto-pilot for me, and I actually got to hang out with my guests and watch the movies! As to be expected, large gatherings started to happen outside of the movie-room, as that was the best place to sit down & chat, allowing those who wanted to watch the movies, well, to watch the movies (surprisingly, it was the older kids who were most steadfast in their desire to keep up with the goings-on of Frodo & the Fellowship).

I have friends who have gotten very, very good at home brewing, and there was tipple enough for all . . . and then some. Seriously yummy beer. Which lead to a seriously tipsy John by the end of the night.

People came & went as a full day on a random Saturday isn’t always, you know, available for a family. But people had a good time. And when the movies were ending, most everyone in the house stopped in to watch The Ring’s destruction and the return to the Shire.

Then we played Cards Against Humanity. And drank Angry Balls (cider & fireball whiskey). I was wearing my kilt. Somehow, I made it to the morning in one piece.

And then, since most of the crowd that spent the night ran, we ran.

Looking back, there is little that I would have done differently. Despite cooking and cooking and then more cooking, I didn’t have enough food for the crowd — we ended up ordering pizzas after serving the spiced beef. The shire pie & tea cake1, especially, I should have doubled…or tripled the recipes. And short work was made of the chocolate chip scones. Finding the right “doneness” of the Scotch eggs proved to be difficult — slicing them open when I was done, and then, sometimes, throwing the half-eggs back into the fryer proved to be necessary.

When I’m cooking a lot of food, much of it for the first time, I’m always prepared for something to flop (I’m especially reminded of a Weight-Watchers-friendly Chinese food feast that I attempted years ago, and throwing a bit of a tantrum over a “healthy” General Tso’s chicken that just wasn’t edible), but there wasn’t anything that I think didn’t pass muster here. I wasn’t a huge fan of the seed cake, but others seemed to like it. I don’t like chocolate, so the chocolate chip scones, well, I didn’t even approach them – but, as I said, short work was made of them. Smaug’s Gems (again, chocolate, so I didn’t do anything with them) appeared to be an acquired taste — not overly sweet, and with a whole lot of whiskey to them, but for those who liked them, they really liked them. As I started baking, I realized that I completely neglected to buy lavender — so the lavender muffins never materialized . . . but I’m someone who always tries to find the things that could have been better . . . and, well, I think everything went quite well. Heck, I’m pretty sure I’m going to start adding Scotch eggs to my breakfast routine, especially on days that I lift or run early, and the shire pie may become the new casserole of choice (replacing the chicken tortilla casserole that we make when we know we’ll need meals for a few days but not necessarily want to cook meals for a few days).

A dishwasher that won’t drain water had us constantly doing dishes . . . but that’s a mere minor inconvenience.

All in all, a good time was had. Duffy and I used to throw full-weekend parties, often . . . and then kids came. I think we both had no small amount of trepidation when it came to this weekend . . . but it worked well. We had activity enough for kids of all ages. And, you know, when you’re rocking out with your geek out, let that geek flag fly.

Now, though, I need a nap. And to head back to “clean eating,” at least until my marathon this Saturday.

1 The tea cake was the one thing that I knew would turn out, as I took the recipe and made cookies from it over Christmas . . . though, to be fair, I tried to make it, as a cake, about two months ago and it just completely flopped — this weekend, it was delectable.
  1. Laura permalink

    That sounds like so much fun!!! I think I would have made more stuff ahead of time and frozen it, but it sound like it was too impromptu for that. Wish I could have been there!

    • You know, the guest list was a living beast . . . making stuff ahead of time & freezing it was in the back of my head, but, until guests started arriving, I wasn’t really sure anyone would actually come to this. And then the guests came & *pow* all the food was gone.

      That said, I was so nervous about things “flopping” that I don’t know if I’d have made much ahead of time, if only for the fear that something would have gotten mushy or icky in the freezer.

      But, you’re right – it really was a lot of fun — you’d have had a blast if you were closer & could have made it.

  2. I have never seen a single one of the Lord of the Rings movies.
    Not because I’m opposed to them – we just don’t go to the theater EVER and this wasn’t a series my husband or kids were interested in renting.

    But I would have watched every one of them if I’d had your menu and that company.

    Sounds like a blast.

    Good luck with your marathon.
    We’ll be in DC all next week so I won’t be checking in on Facebook much.

    So consider this my constant cheer for you.
    Go, John, go!

    • Wait, you’ll be in DC? That’s, like 2 hours from me . . . I could pack up the kids & storm you guys for a meal, if you’re free one night.

      It really was a blast — and while I’m not surprised that you haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings movies, I would be surprised if you hadn’t read them.

      The next marathon party may be a Harry Potter marathon . . . though figuring out how to make spotted dick is beyond me, because I crack up at the thought: “let’s see, we’ll have 40 people, so we need a big dick . . . how do we go about slaying a troll with a STD?”

  3. Tracey permalink

    John, ALL the food was delicious! The weekend was a complete success as far as I’m concerned. Thank you so much for everything!

    • It was sooooo good seeing you. Thanks for driving all the way out.

      *squishy hugs*

  4. This sounds wonderful (and delicious). I saw tweets about it and wondered what was up–I’m glad to have gotten a recap!

    Some day I’d love to do something like this, although clearly it’s important to pick your trilogy/series carefully.

    • Yeah — this was easy because I, basically, had the NPR series to serve as a template . . . I changed the menu from the story-writer’s menu, slightly, but that was it.

      As I was telling Julie, if I did it again, I think I might try something similar with the Harry Potter movies.

  5. Kim & Ian permalink

    From the Canadians, all I can say is wow! The food and atmosphere and movies and guest list and friendship and fun were perfect. Your home was welcoming and there are no adjectives that can properly describe your family. Thank you seems horribly inadequate but truly, thank you.

    • It was truly wonderful to finally “meet” you two (feels weird, as I’ve “known” you for years). Thanks for making the trek – it really was a blast.

  6. Nikki Benner permalink

    The Benners had such a great time!!! Count us in for a Harry Potter weekend, most definitely. Spotted dick… heh. 🙂

    • Considering the ages of the kids, and my son’s attention span, I actually think Harry Potter will work better (though, the other day, when I explained that it was my turn to pick a movie, he tried to talk me into picking Lord of the Rings, though we watched Indiana Jones). Plus, English breakfasts are super tasty. As does treacle tart. And spotted dick will always make me giggle.

  7. That sounds like fun! And like a lot of work. I don’t know if I could have done all that cooking and baking. Good job!

    • It was certainly well-worth the effort . . . even if, um, my diet may have suffered for it 🙂

  8. Um, that party sounds like the bestest of times. I have friends who do a yearly Shat-Attack where for 24 hours they show only Shatner movies/tv shows and the like and cook food and people cycle through. And another friend who does the same with Charlton Heston (HestFest). And it’s always a lot of fun. But the LOTR is such a great reason to have the get-together! Basically, I’m super envious.

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