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† (Written for the September 2013 LOTR GFIC Recipe!Fic Challenge)
Title: The Tart Taste of Summer
Theme: Special Celebrations (recipe!fic)
Elements: My prompt was a tart; for this story I decided to use the other adjectival meaning of "tart".
Author's Notes: I decided to make this a five-drabble set. It takes place during the months just before and just after the events of "An Unexpected Party".
Summary: When Bilbo passes through Rivendell after leaving the Shire for the last time, he brings Elrond an unusual gift.
Word Count: 500 (a five drabble set)
29 Afterlithe, S.R. 1401
Sam set the basket down on the kitchen table. "Mr. Bilbo, we've got a mort of them little tomatoes this year! They're too small to put up; it'd be more work than it was worth to skin 'em."
Bilbo looked at the basket. For days they'd been treated to the sweet little tomatoes which yielded better this year than the larger ones. But the season was nearly ended and still so many of them...
Suddenly, he grinned. He took down the box of family receipts and thumbed through them. "Aha! Frodo, fetch up my mother's canning crocks from the cellar!"
Bilbo sat in the kitchen, ticking off the last few tasks on his list. Add his brushes to his pack; gather paperwork for Frodo; finish that last letter; check tags on the gifts to be left in the entry hall; make sure the Dwarves picked up all his boxes; a last word with Frodo in the morning; gift for Master Elrond...what could he give him? It had to be something different, something hobbity.
As he ran through the possibilities, his eye lit on the dish in front of him, and he popped a morsel into his mouth. Of course!
"We will be pleased to store your things until your journey to Erebor is complete," said Master Elrond. "The trip is perilous, and you would not wish to risk losing something important." He gestured to the Elves behind them carrying crates and bundles. Then he flung open the door to an empty storeroom. "We shall just put them in here, shall we?"
"Oh! Just a moment!" said Bilbo. He grabbed a smaller crate. "This is for you! A gift for your hospitality! It needs to go into the kitchen, into a cold cellar."
Master Elrond took it. "Thank you, Bilbo!"
The cook opened the crate; nestled in a bed of straw were four canning crocks, sealed tight with a bale of wire. He had been directed to put them into the cold cellar, but he was not about to do so unless he knew what had been brought into his kitchen. He lifted the wire hook that would release the pressure on the lid, and then lifted it. The smell was strong but not unpleasant, the colour was vibrant. He took a small spoon and lifted one out and inspected it more closely. Ah, these would be a treat indeed!
Bilbo and the Dwarves were to leave the next day, to depart for the Lonely Mountain, the occasion marked by a feast of farewell.
The hobbit sat at Elrond's right side, his face a study in delight as he beheld the bowls and platters set before them; venison and pheasant were on the table; there were breads and cheeses; roasted root vegetables. But there in a crystal bowl was a mound of tiny bright red fruits--miniature tomatoes!
"Ah! Master Elrond, they have served my gift! Do try some!"
Elrond took one and bit into the tart taste of summer. Amazing!
About 4 to 5 cups of fresh cherry tomatoes
Wash tomatoes and remove the stems.
Poke 2-3 holes through tomatoes with a skewer. This allows the brine to seep in. Place the tomatoes in a sterilized jar (simply boil the jar or run through the dishasher with no soap).
Pour the brine into your jars over the tomatoes. Itís enough for about maybe 4 pints depending on how much evaporated and how many tomatoes are stuffed into your jar.
Cover the jar with a sterilized lid and screw your ring on. Put them in the refrigerator and let them sit for at least 24 hours to soak up the goodness. They will last a long time refrigerated, a few months.
(Author's Notes on the recipe: This is not an original recipe. I found it Here on the web, and changed the formatting a little to suit myself. These are astounding, if you like sour!
Of course hobbits would not have modern canning jars with disposable lids and bands; they would have used ceramic or glass crocks for preserving and pickling, the kind which had the lids held in place by a wire bale that latched the lid firmly to the jar. And there were no refrigerators, but I am assuming that both Bag End and Rivendell would have had a cold cellar--not quite as cold as a modern fridge, but plenty cold enough to keep something pickled fresh for a long time.)
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