the geek life

Return of the King: I got my Middle Earth Groove Back

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about how I’d started re-reading Lord of the Rings for the first time in close to a decade. I’d gotten burned out on them, and the ubiquitous nature of things related to the movies (which, to be clear, I love dearly, but maintain they are their own entities, though that’s probably another post for another day).

At any rate, because life is busy and because it’s been nicer outside, it took me two months to read through the whole trilogy. I’m not sorry about that, either. It gave me the time to rediscover things about the story, things I’d forgotten or maybe never noticed in the first place (hey, those are some dense books and the more you learn about Middle Earth lore, the more you find in the novels). And the best part of the whole trilogy? Return of the King.

Why? Because I had forgotten nearly all of it. Oh, I definitely remember what happens in the book, and I remember certain aspects distinctly, but the details (and entire interactions with characters) and humor (yes! there is humor!) and the beautiful way Tolkien switches from the colloquial conversations and observations of the hobbits to the epic style (and I use “epic” in the literary sense here) is just wonderful.

I know it’s old and I know some people think it’s boring, but I really love these stories. They are classics for a reason. And I’m glad I was able to finally finish them (again) and make them fresh in my mind in a way they haven’t been in years.

Thanks, Professor.

End note: In the spirit of this, and after how much I enjoyed these books, I’m going to give Harry Potter a go to see if I can get a fresh reading on it. I’ve read it much more recently, but it’s also been shifted in my mind to be mostly movie imagery, so I’m hoping I can go back and recapture my own imagination’s version of Harry and Ron and Hermione and the rest. I’ll let you know how it goes.

joanna irl, the geek life

Butterbeer at Home

Hogsmeade, Butterbeer mirror

Recently J and I discovered something kind of amazing, and I wanted to share it with you, gentle reader.

Hogwarts Hogsmeade Harry Potter

A few years ago, Hogsmeade opened for touring to the Muggle population, in an outreach effort and demonstration of goodwill to the non-magical community. Until recent times, the only place a wizard (or visiting Muggle) could purchase butterbeer was in Hogsmeade, which, as I’m sure you know, (after all, you’re reading this) is the only all-magical village in Britain.

Hogsmeade, butterbeer at Three Broomsticks

The ever-popular butterbeer drink has always been a favorite at the Three Broomsticks pub, and can also be found at the Hog’s Head nearby. Muggles seem to like it both chilled (as a soda) and frozen, and the fluffy, magical topping is delightful. The only problem is that the drink is so very good and yet not available anywhere else, that after a visit one might have a sense of sadness that it might be years before the next pint, or that sharing with a friend might be impossible.

Butterbeer, freshly poured

Until now.

While visiting a local soda shop that specializes in root beers, J and I stumbled upon this: Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. Wizards and Muggles rejoice! The only thing missing was the marshmallow topping.

Being resourceful, I pulled the jar of Fluff I keep in the pantry (you never know, right?), and made my own!

Joanna’s Butterbeer topping recipe:

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
  • 3 T heavy cream (half and half will work, too– just something thicker than regular milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Mixing bowl and whisk (though an electric mixer would probably do very well, I do all of my mixing by hand)

Put your Fluff into a mixing bowl and whisk it until it is smooth. Add the cream and keep mixing until they are combined. Finally fold the vanilla into your mixture. You should have a smooth, creamy bowl of goodness. Spoon 2 T of the mixture onto your drink and enjoy!

Voilà! The real stuff, here at home.

Butterbeer foam

Important notes for first-time-drinkers:

  • A little goes a long way with the topping. Too much and you’ll get overflow, as you can see from the above photo. It looks great in the pictures, but it makes the stuff REALLY hard to drink (I chugged quite a bit before it leveled out again). Two tablespoons per mug would give you about the same ratio as at the Three Broomsticks.
  • Stirring in the cream only makes your soda concoction expand at exponential speed. Be patient and drink the butterbeer through the marshmallow topping. Straws also cause the rapid-expansion.
  • This drink is very, very filling. I couldn’t finish mine. I’d recommend it being a dessert and not before a meal. Of course, this is just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
  • I found some recipes online that call for adding butter or rum extract to the topping, but having had the stuff at the Three Broomsticks, I’m not sure any of it is necessary. It might cut the sweetness, though, if you’re looking for not-so-sugary taste.

Butterbeer, after

the geek life

Harry Potter Movie Commentary: Deathly Hallows pt 2

Last night I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2, and I think it’s been long enough for me to have processed a few things. My observations are below the “more” cut to contain the spoilers.