Friday, October 5, 2012

Grapenuts: Lembas and Manna

First a disclaimer. It may not shine through in every post, but we are no mere farmers. At Several Gardens Farm, we are low level geeks and scholars as well. We love us some Tolkien, and we love reading or retelling some of the more family appropriate portions of Scripture.

Any time this can be accomplished using home made breakfast cereals, I see it as a bonus.

Last night, I made a batch of grape nuts.

First, I baked a wholemeal "cake", then crumbled it and roasted the crumbs until  golden, perfectly dry, and faintly caramelized.

I couldn't resist serving part of the cake, uncrumbled, for dessert.

An austere dessert it was - lightly sweet, faintly flavored of honey, with a firm, nourishing texture.

However you dress it up, it's never going to be poundcake.

Nasty Elvish food! It burns us. 

David commented that it reminded him of Lembas, the Elvish way bread from Lord of the Rings. Coincidentally, I had been thinking the same thing.

Lembas was described as unexpectedly good but not awesome tasting, supremely nourishing, and easy to preserve.

The elves made if for long journeys, wrapped it in leaves from the Mallorn tree (I had to look that up), and gave it to valiant hobbits.

The longer you have nothing else to eat, the better Lembas becomes at keeping you alive - and the more you like it, although eventually the hobbits started to miss home cooking.

I experimented with wrapping our version in leaves and stuffing it in a backpack. If one took this recipe when one simply walked into Mordor, one's Lembas would crumble.

And speaking of crumble...

Grapenuts. Sort of reminds me of the surface of Mars
The majority of the lembas did not get eaten, but was pulsed to crumbles and toasted into grapenuts.

When I served them the next day at breakfast, Noah said this was how he had imagined the Manna given to the Israelites. I had been thinking that, too!

Manna is portrayed as a sustaining, palatable, nice, but not exciting food. Manna is small and white, looks "like coriander seeds", and tastes like cakes made with honey and oil. Manna, with a weekly bonus of quails, kept the twelve tribes alive for forty years as they became ready to be a free and autonomous people. By the end of their time in the dessert, they were thoroughly bored with the food.

We started a lively discussion about why, with all the foods in the universe, it was necessary to subsist on one substance for so long. We had some great ideas, and I'd love to hear yours.

And now, the recipes:

Lembas (AKA healthy cake)

Lacking a Mallorn tree, I used sunflower leaves

6 Cups whole grain flour (we used spelt)
3 Cups buttermilk
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup honey, molasses or maple syrup
1 TBSP baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
Optional: Vanilla , Pumpkin pie spices, Gingerbread spices or other flavorings to taste

Preheat oven to 325

Line 2 cookie sheets with waxed paper

Mix dry ingredients till thoroughly combined. Mix together honey and buttermilk, and stir in to dry ingredients. Mix until well blended and no lumps remain.

Pour out the batter onto the sheets and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until the center springs up when touched.

Cool, and remove waxed paper.  Process into grapenuts or serve with whipped cream, fruit, frosting, toasted with butter, or dipped in milk or tea. Wrap in unsprayed, non-toxic leaves for travel purposes:)

 Manna (AKA Grape nuts)

Epic with milk and honey
1 Recipe Lembas

Preheat oven to 200

Break the Lembas into chunks about 2" square. Drop them by batches into a food processor and pulse several times to process into uniform crumbs.

Turn the crumbs out onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 2 hours or until completely dry but not burnt.

Cool completely and double check that it is completely dry. Damp grapenuts are a disaster. Store in an airtight container.

Serve as a breakfast cereal.

As stated, we are not high level geeks, and I am aware of at least some innacuracies in this story. Lembas and manna are both light colored; ours, using whole grains and honey, turned out more golden/tan. Lembas is purpose made for long treks, and appears to keep indefinitely.  Manna goes bad rapidly if you horde it - the Israelites were being taught to trust in their Provider. Our cake and grapenuts are reversed in their keeping ability. Oh well.

Also, David says the epic "walk into Mordor" quote is not even in the book!

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