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4LN Book Review: J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Beren and Lúthien”

Beren and Lúthien has been on a 100-year journey from conception to publication.  Like previous posthumous works of Tolkien, such as Children of Hurin, and The Silmarillion, Beren and Lúthien is edited by J. R. R. Tolkien’s son Christopher Tolkien from old notes and manuscripts that belonged to his father.  This book has been on my radar for a long, long time, and I am happy that it is now available.

Summary from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

‘The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year.

‘Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.

In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

Published on the tenth anniversary of the last Middle-earth book, the New York Times bestseller The Children of Húrin, this new volume will similarly include drawings and color plates by Alan Lee, who also illustrated The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and went on to win Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Like Túrin Turambar – the tragic hero of The Children of Húrin – before them, a version of Beren and Lúthien’s story appears in the first section of The Silmarillion.  What sets this book apart from other posthumous works edited by Christopher Tolkien, is that this book contains multiple tellings of the same story that offers a rare look inside the evolution of one of Tolkien’s first stories in his legendarium.  As noted in the summary above, Beren and Lúthien was conceived in 1917 shortly after Tolkien returned from WWI, and the central love story was so important to him that he had Lúthien inscribed on his beloved wife’s tombstone, and Beren inscribed on his own.

Beren and Lúthien opens with a truly fascinating preface from Christopher Tolkien in which he goes in-depth into the origins of the story, the evolution of the story, and why, at the ripe age of 93, he chose this to be his final work.  From here, Christopher provides some notes on the Elder Days, which is useful as a refresher for readers of The Silmarillion, and new readers alike.  I found these introductory pages captivating.  It’s not often you get such a comprehensive look into the mind of an author from someone who knew them as well as their own son.

The first chapter tells the first narrative version of the story which is called “The Tale of Tinúviel.”  In this early version Beren – who would eventually be re-imagined as human – is a Gnome, but not in the sense that gnomes are thought of now.  Tolkien’s use of the term “gnome” actually stems from the Greek and means “thought intelligence,” and is a race of Elves in this story.  In later versions he abandons this word as it was too misleading.

Next, each version of the story is given alongside an essay from Christopher Tolkien documenting the changes from one to the next.  The reader is also treated to the multitude of writing styles of J. R. R. Tolkien.  While the first version is told more-or-less as a narrative tale, later versions are in a complex poem-like prose that uses purposefully arcane language.

Ultimately, Beren and Lúthien is perfect for fans of J. R. R. Tolkien.  The book provides an interesting look into one of his most beloved creations, and the backstory provided by Christopher Tolkien is truly captivating. Fair warning, if you are a casual fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s, or have mainly stayed within the bounds of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, this book might be a bit on the dense side. Conversely, for those of us who’ve dug deep in the Tolkien mythos it’s a much easier read than The Silmarillion.  All-in-all, I found Beren and Lúthien to be the perfect farewell tome by Christopher Tolkien, who has provided Tolkien fans with myriads of unfinished stories about Middle-earth.

More Like This:

Wisdom from Tolkien’s Middle-earth

A Brief History of the First Age of Middle-Earth as Found in the Silmarillion and Other Writings

The Hobbit Life: How The Lord of the Rings Helped Me Become a Better Person

Fantasy Books to Read While Waiting for Game of Thrones Next Summer

The sad news, though it’s been expected for awhile now, is official: Game of Thrones will only run seven episodes next season. And thanks to the appearance of winter (finally!!) in the story line, producers will start shooting later than usual. That means our usual April start date for a new season is getting pushed back to sometime next summer.

So what do you do this extended offseason while waiting for Game of Thrones’ delayed return? How about sinking your teeth into a solidly written fantasy book series.

Here’s a couple of exceptional works to check out while enduring the long wait for Season Seven:

1. The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

Kingkiller Chronicles

Patrick Rothfuss, a modern day fantasy writer whose received much acclaim from George R.R. Martin himself, wrote the first “Kingkiller Chronicle” book, “The Name of the Wind” in 2007. The story follows a great adventurer named Kvothe as he recalls the story of his life over the course of three days (each book representing a different day).

Much like Tolkien, Rothfuss really focuses on detail, emphasizing the mundane parts of Kvothe’s journey as well as the landmark events. And though the world in “Kingkiller” has political complications similar to Westeros, Rothfuss exposes the reader to situations through the eyes of someone of “low birth” as oppossed to the members of noble families Martin uses to tell his story.

Now much like Martin, Rothfuss has been slow to get his third book finished (A Wise Man’s Fear was released in 2011). But at least “The Kingkiller Chronicle” is likely to be finished before Lionsgate makes a film/tv version of the series.

2. The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archives

“The Stormlight Archive” follows the Martin style of alternating third person perspectives as Brandon Sanderson presents a world coming to grips with both a looming threat and the reemergence of mystical powers lost thousands of years before.

But while Sanderson’s world has as similar scope to Martin’s, he centralizes it on a hand full of characters in one central location instead of bouncing around all over the map. This makes his story easy to follow, but (at least at this point) lack some of the “punch in the gut”moments that make Martin’s work so special. He also does a nice job anchoring his story with a flashback arc for one major character that provides insight into why they think and act as they do in the present.

Sanderson has currently released two of his books: “The Way of Kings” and “Words of Radiance.” The third book of five (with a possible ten if a second set of five books goes on as planned), “Oathbringer,” has a tentative release set for sometime next year.

3. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

558623 c.tiff

Yes, the artwork on the covers of these books is really cheesy. But the story absolutely is not. It also takes two books for the story to really establish itself. But once it does, “The Wheel of Time” is very hard to put down.

Robert Jordan focuses mostly on a group of central characters who begin the story together (much like Tolkien’s “Fellowship of the Ring”) only to take distinct paths as the story progresses. And like Martin, Jordan’s world is full of distinct political alliances and situations. But while Martin bounces back and forth between all these different areas, Jordan mostly uses the central characters to introduce and update us on the conditions of these diverse locations.

The downside to Jordan’s books is they are a long haul. The series is comprised of 14 books and 1 prequel book. In fact, Jordan died before the series was completed. So Brandon Sanderson (the author of the previously mentioned “Stormlight Archive”) stepped in to finish it.

But if 14 books is not too large a commitment for you, I strongly recommend Jordan/Sanderson’s masterpiece.

4. Read the Classics

Martin vs. Tolkien

Or you could just stick with GoT’s source material. If you haven’t read “A Song of Ice and Fire,” jump on Martin’s series first. Though Martin’s books can be just as long as the previously mentioned authors, they read much quicker. And the experience is a distinctly different one than the TV series, so don’t let the spoilers you already know from the show discourage you from reading the books.

The same goes for J.R.R. Tolkien, the father of modern fantasy. Yes, it is a chore to get through the first half of the first “Lord of the Rings” book, “Fellowship of the Ring.” But if you’re willing to see it through, Tolkien rewards you with, arguably, the best work of fantasy fiction of all time. And much like Martin’s work, the books are a much different experience than the movies.

And if you’ve been through all of Tolkien’s works (including “The Hobbit”), check out “The Silmarillion,” the Middle Earth origin story that is much darker than Tolkien’s previous works. 4LN’s Cam Clark wrote this piece about the Silmarillion. He also recently did a brief history of Middle Earth using “The Silmarillion” and other works by Tolkien.

I’m currently working my way through the Wheel of Time series. And I’m also hopeful “The Winds of Winter” will be available before Season Seven starts (though I’m not holding my breath on this). What are some other works you’ve been reading or plan to read while we wait on the next season of Game of Thrones?

The Hobbit Life: How The Lord of the Rings Helped Me Become a Better Person

It’s the New Year, and that means everyone is either psyching themselves up to try to make themselves better people, or busy telling everyone they can find that New Year’s Resolutions are pointless.  Sure there is some middle-ground in there somewhere, but it’s pretty slim.  For me, my hope is to become more content with where I am in life, and quit looking to the next step.

One thing that is becoming more and more common in our society is something called “status anxiety.”  Status anxiety is fear of being less-than because others around you have more.  I definitely see this trait in myself, and I am working hard to fix it.  After reading a few books on the subject, I became bored with the droll, nonfiction accounts of status anxiety and began my semiannual reading of The Lord of the Rings.  It’s funny how different mindsets play in to one’s interpretation of what they are reading.  While reading the introduction there exists an almost total antithesis of status anxiety in the story’s lore.  Sometimes the best advice we can find is that found in the stories we love.  I find that pop culture, in general, allows us to explore different ideals with more clarity than most give it credit.

Now, obviously there is a strong sense of epic mythological adventure in The Lord of the Rings – there is a reason that it is one of the most popular fantasy series out there – but I want to look at something a little smaller in scope — both literally and metaphorically.  For today’s article I’d like to look at how the simplistic lifestyle of the Hobbits might help inform us on how better to live our lives, especially in the always-connected, hectic lifestyle in which most of us find ourselves.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” ~ The Hobbit

latest-1

Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings center on the adventures of Bilbo and his nephew Frodo, and through these books we can get several glimpses of Hobbit culture.  Outside of a few notable outliers, two of which were just mentioned, the Shire-folk tend to value the simple things — good stories, good food, and good friends top the list — while more adventurous endeavors and loud behavior are generally frowned upon.  Really, besides the Sacksville-Bagginses, we see very little covetous behavior in Hobbit culture.  In fact, it appears that their lack of status anxiety is the key reason Frodo was so resilient to the pull of the One Ring.  Sméagol immediately covets the Ring, going so far as to kill his good friend to obtain it, and then spend the entire story trying to rebooting his precious, where Frodo’s immediate reaction is to reject the Ring and give it to Gandalf.  “The excesses of Hobbits,” David Day notes in Tolkien: a Dictionary, “were limited to dressing in bright colours and consuming six substantial meals a day.”  In fact, it appears that Hobbits that preferred to wealth above all us are generally considered assholes — looking at you, Sacksville-Bagginses.

gollum

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ The Hobbit

There also exists in Tolkien’s tales a sense of technophobia, meaning that the heroes often work in concert with nature, while the villains use more advanced technology to destroy nature and to create twisted versions of natural things; Orcs, for example, are thought to have once been Elves that were twisted into unnatural, evil creatures by Melkor, the villain of The Silmarillion and Sauron’s master.  We see a stark difference between the lively Shire with the fire and destruction of Mordor and Isengard.

Full disclosure, it would be hypocritical of me to say that I am a technophobe – after all, I am writing this on a laptop listening to Pandora on an Xbox One – but in a culture in which we can be continually connected to everything everywhere, maybe we could use a chance to unplug occasionally.  The Hobbits frequently go on long walks, enjoy good books, and like few things more than a good meal, a good beer, and a table of friends.  It’s a running, albeit irritating and ironic, trend on social media to portray society (especially millennials) as completely absorbed in our devices.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say completely absorbed, but I know that I am guilty of checking my News Feed or reading articles when I could be enjoying the company I find myself with.

One of the most pervasive examples of Hobbit culture throughout The Lord of the Rings is that of Mr. Samwise Gamgee (who we’ve already argued is the true hero of The Lord of the Rings).  His loyalty to his friends is the only reason he leaves the Shire, and the whole time he’s gone he looks forward to being home.  Even after seeing the splendor of Rivendell and Lothlórien, Sam dreams of a simple life in the Shire.  This shows that one can appreciate the courage and goodness found in epic stories, even to the point where it stymies one’s own courage to face unexpected fears (like Shelob, spider-child of Ungoliant), but still find the joy in time spent with good food, beer, and friends.

Alexandra & Sean Astin and Sarah & Maisy McLeod as Elanor, Sam, Rosie, & 'Baby Gamgee', Final scene, ROTK. (Sam and Rosie's second child was a male named Frodo)

Alexandra & Sean Astin and Sarah & Maisy McLeod as Elanor, Sam, Rosie, & ‘Baby Gamgee’, Final scene, ROTK. (Sam and Rosie’s second child was a male named Frodo)

The Silmarillion and the Creation of Middle-Earth

A few months ago I wrote about J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earthian tragedy, The Children of HúrinInitially, after I finished the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, I wanted to read the Silmarillion, BUT I couldn’t find it at my local used bookstore.  Instead I read, the soul-ripping tale of Túrin and his tragic exploits mentioned above.  Having emotionally recovered from that depressing tome by reading lots and lots of comics , I was ready to begin yet another adventure into Tolkien’s universe (side note: Jason Aaron’s Men of Wrath is NOT a viable palate cleanser).  As luck would have it, I found a cheap copy of the Silmarillion and spent the next couple of weeks learning more than anyone really needs to know about the mythology within the Lord of the Rings (and I loved it).

Before we get started, let me get something out of the way.  The language found in Tolkien’s work can be dense.  He was a philologist, meaning that he was a HUGE fan of languages and the written word.  That coupled with the fact that Tolkien started this book in 1914 and worked on it until his death (it was completed by his son, Christopher Tolkien), means this tome can be a bit overwhelming for someone that has mostly stuck to novels written, you know, in the last two or three decades.  I had been reading several of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short-stories prior to working my way through Lord of the Rings, the Children of Húrin, and the Silmarillion, which made the transition a bit smoother than my earlier attempts at Tolkiening.

Originally, I was going to give you a brief synopsis on the five parts that make up the Silmarillion.  The problem is this book comprises a vast swath of time, and each part is almost a microcosm for a specific area of the mythos/lore found throughout the books and films.  The third part, which we will get into below, contains a series of stories that are sometimes interconnected, and sometimes not.  Trust me when I say it’s really difficult to provide a synopsis, let alone a “brief” one (I just deleted several paragraphs that solely pertained to the first part).  You see, the Silmarillion isn’t necessarily a prequel to Lord of the Rings, although it does take place before that story.

Confused?

Let me attempt to explain that oxymoron of a sentence over the next paragraph or four.  The Silmarillion is comprised of five parts, all of which were translations of Elven histories written by none other than Bilbo Baggins in his book, Translations from the Elvish.  Bilbo had a lot of time on his hands after handling the One Ring for so many years, so he decided to spend it writing dense histories.

The Ainulindalë, the first section basically serves as the Genesis of Tolkien’s universe.  This chapter and the next, the Valaquenta, are full of myth and lore, like how the sun and moon were created, destroyed, and created again; where the stars came from; detailed descriptions of fourteen Valar and some of the Maiar (all of whom were created by Eru (aka Illúvatar, aka God), and how much of a jerk Melkor is.  Some of the Maiar that were seduced to the Dark Side by Melkor became Balrogs, we see one of these in The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf (also a Maiar) tells one exactly where he will not be passing.  Another Maiar of note: Sauron.  That’s right, the big baddie from Lord of the Rings is one of Melkor’s lackeys.

melkor

Melkor (also known as Morgoth) Elf for scale

The Quenta Silmarillion, which makes up a majority of the book, is a series of interconnected stories that make up the history of the Elves.  These tales are full of valor, treachery, blood oaths, magical jewels made from the light of the Two Trees destroyed by Melkor and Ungoliant the enormous spider, you know, the usual stuff.  The tales range from beautiful, to dark, to rather bland, but I enjoyed learning the history of the Elves.  Also, Sauron’s physical form gets mauled by a giant war hound.

The last two parts are titled the Akallabêth and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.  While the Quenta Silmarillion mostly focuses on the Elves, the Akallabêth centers on the rise and fall of the kingdom of Númenor.  The men of Númenor started off strong.  The men lived long, fruitful lives and the kings of Númenor were friends of the Elves and Valar.  However, the line of kings eventually turned their backs on the Elves, moved against Sauron (who in turn befriended but ultimately betrayed them), and eventually fell (somewhat literally).  Some of the Númenoreans stayed true to the Valar and left Númenor settling on Middle-Earth.  One of these Elf-friends, was a man named Isildur.  You might remember him as the man who cut the One Ring off Sauron with the broken sword called Narsil, reforged as Andúril, the Flame of the West, which was presented to Aragorn, Isildur’s heir and true king of Gondor.

Ulmo, the Lord of the Waters

Ulmo, the Lord of the Waters

The final chapter, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is probably the most relevant chapter if you are reading this purely to have a deeper understanding of the Lord of the Rings.  This chapter details Sauron’s rise to prominence, the establishing of the White Council (headed by Sarumon), the forging of the Rings of Power by Celebrimbor (featured prominently in the video game Shadows of Mordor), and the forging of the One Ring to rule them all by Sauron.

Ultimately, this book was a lot of fun.  Sure, parts of it were dry (looking at you “Of Beleriand and it’s Realms,” the chapter that literally is only about the land of Beleriand and it’s realms…), but there were just so many good stories in this book that it definitely tipped the scales to the positive.  I will say that this book is definitely not for everyone.  Just the sheer number of names per person makes it hard to keep everything straight (seriously, everybody has like five interchangeable names).  I would definitely recommend reading the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings prior to reading this book, despite the Silmarillion taking place prior to the events in those books.  The reason I say that is because this book can be a little drab at times, but it’s real appeal lies in just how much context this book provides for the rest of Tolkien’s world.

If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings, or Tolkien’s other works, and wish to know more about that world, this is the book for you.  Otherwise, I would stick to the more well-known Tolken books.

 

Nerdy-licious Dishes! Thanksgiving Edition

(Editor’s note: This article was written by Shandi; personal chef to one big nerd, and three little nerdlings.)

 

With Thanksgiving right around the corner here are some last minute recipe ideas to satisfy your hunger and your inner nerd.

 

Appetizer

Crab Stuffed Baked Cyclon Raiders (Battlestar Galactica)

Ingredients:

1 large green onion, white and green part minced and chopped

2 tablespoons roasted red peppers  (or jarred minced pimentos)

1/2 lb crabmeat (Fresh or vacuum packed packaged and press it dry through a mesh strainer)

2/3 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1/3 cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons fresh parsley (minced very finely)

paprika, for lightly sprinkling

Crescent Rolls

 Directions:

Mix ingredients and roll into crescent rolls. Use a tiny red pepper for the eye of the Cyclon Raider. Bake according to crescent roll packaging.

 source: http://www.ghoulfriday.com/excuse_me_while_i_geek_out_battlestar_galactica

 

Drink – Alcoholic

Captain Jack Harness Emergency Protocol 417 (Doctor Who)

Ingredients:

2 parts Gin

2 parts Vodka

1/2 part Dry vermouth

1 Lemon twist

 Directions:

Stir gin to chill and strain into a martini glass. With fresh ice, shake vodka and vermouth vigorously. Strain into same glass as gin. Take a lemon twist, rim the glass, and garnish. Sip and muse on the impossible.

 source: http://www.thedrunkenmoogle.com/tagged/CLICK+FOR+MORE+DRINKS

 

Drink – Non-Alcoholic

Butterbeer (Harry Potter)

Ingredients:

1 cup (8 oz) club soda or cream soda

1/2 cup (4 oz) butterscotch syrup (ice cream topping)

1/2 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Measure butterscotch and butter into a 2 cup (16 oz) glass. Microwave on high for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, or until syrup is bubbly and butter is completely incorporated.

 Stir and cool for 30 seconds, then slowly mix in club soda. Mixture will fizz quite a bit.

Serve in two coffee mugs or small glasses; a perfectly warm Hogwarts treat for two!

source: http://www.mugglenet.com/misc/rosmertas/butterbeer.shtml

 

Salad

Jar Jar Salad (Star Wars)

(You now have the chance to destroy Jar Jar Binks, you’re welcome.)

Ingredients:

1 large jicama. Though you might want to get an extra as a backup!

2 large carrots

1 cup red onion

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

1 large tomato

2 ripe limes

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch of ground cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons cilantro

 Directions:

Create Jar Jar by following the instructions on the link below.

 Julien the remaining vegetables. For the dressing: Squeeze the limes into a separate, small bowl and whisk in the vinegar, honey, olive oil and cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the lime mixture over the chopped veggies, add the chopped cilantro and toss. Carefully place Jar Jar in the middle, then let sit for 30 minutes.

 source: http://www.onlyknives.com/jar-jar-binks-salad-a-food-carving-how-to-guide/

Or if you’re really ambitious, try to recreate this Alien Salad: http://www.framebox.de/creations/3d/salad/index.htm

 

Main Course

Baked York Ham (The Chronicles of Narnia)

 Ingredients

1 12-14 lb York Ham (substitute for country ham such as Smithfield if necessary)

1.5 cups of ale

1 Tablespoon Whole Cloves

2 Tablespoons English Mustard

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

2 Tablespoons Honey

 Directions:

Place the ham in a large pot and cover completely with cool water. Drain and refill every 8 hours for 48 hours

 Preheat the oven to 425. Line a large roasting pan with foil extending 12 inches over each side. Remove the ham from the water and put in the middle of the pan.  Cover the ham with ale. Then completely cover with foil, creating a tent. The foil should be tightly sealed with room for air to circulate. Bake for 3.5-4 hours.

30 min before end of cooking time, remove from the oven.  Uncover the ham and remove the skin leaving behind as much fat as  you can. Score the fat in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife. Stud the center of each diamond with a clove.

Combine English Mustard, brown sugar and honey in a bowl to make a glaze. Brush the glaze over the ham. Return to oven, reduce heat to 350 and cook for 30 min.

When the ham is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 min. Slice and serve.

source: The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook

 

Side Dish

Lembas Bread (Hobbit / Lord of the Rings)

 Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup honey (preferably orange)

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 teaspoons orange flower water (optional)

3 ounces blanched almonds

1/4 cup melted butter

2 1/4 cups semolina flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

 Directions:

Mix eggs, honey, orange peel, orange flower water, and almonds in blender on high for 3 minutes.

 Add 1 cup flour; blend for one minute.

Scrape in bowl and add remaining flour and salt.

Whisk until well blended.

Drop spoonfuls on hot pizzelle or krumkake iron and bake for 15 seconds or until lightly browned.

source: http://www.food.com/recipe/lembas-81995

 

Vegetable

Spiced Squash (Game of Thrones)

Ingredients:

1 large acorn squash

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

 In a small saucepan, heat the maple syrup over medium heat, stirring in the spices. Stir constantly over heat for 3 minutes, do not boil. Remove syrup from heat. Cut the acorn squash into slices about 1 inch thick, removing the seeds. Arrange in one layer in a baking dish. Spoon the syrup mixture over the squash, and cook in a 375 F oven till tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle more heated syrup over the top, and serve.

source: http://www.innatthecrossroads.com/2011/11/21/spiced-squash/

 

Dessert

Pumpkin Pi (Mathematics)

 

Ingredients:

2 pie crusts

  • 2 cups cooked, canned, or mashed pumpkin

  • 2 slightly beaten eggs

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

  • 1 pint of melted vanilla ice cream (optional)

Recipe

Line a pie pan with pie dough. Bake at 425ºF, until lightly brown (also known as “blind baking”). Be sure to prick some holes in the base to allow steam to escape.

At this point, set aside a little of the pie dough to cut and shape the Pi symbol. Place it in the oven to bake as well. Follow the image for your template, or even cut a template out using light cardboard.

 Combine and mix the pumpkin with the eggs. Mix both ingredients well.

Add the brown sugar in and mix again so that the brown sugar is well folded into the mixture.

Combine the spices to the pint of melted ice cream.

Pour the ice cream mixture into the pumpkin mix. Mix until well blended so that the white streaks from the ice cream disappear. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350ºF/180ºC and bake about 45 minutes longer or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly. Add the Pi symbol.

Serve with whipped cream.

source: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi-Day-Pie

And just in time for Christmas, here are some great gift ideas for the Nerd Chef in your life…

 Nerd Cookbooks:

The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook

Cooking for Geeks

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook