Last week we entered the snowy world of Narnia and had a delectable tea with Lucy and Mr. Tumnus in his snug little cave.
Today we join Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy as they cluster around the remains of Mr. Tumnus’ cave, now empty and bearing the marks of violence and kidnapping.
Afraid and unsure of what to do, they are suddenly distracted by the appearance of a talking beaver telling them to hush. Motioning them to follow him, he leads them into a dense little grove of trees where he warns of the White Witch and tells of the powerful Lion, Aslan.
Hearts quickened for reasons they don’t yet understand, they happily follow Mr. Beaver home to his dam, eager for warmth, more stories, and dinner.
I still smile when I think of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. I picture the children inching carefully along the icy pathway while gazing in awe at the “glittering wall of icicles, as if the side of the dam had been covered all over with flowers and wreaths and festoons of the purest sugar.”
How wonderful it would’ve been for them to look up, cold, wet and hungry, and see smoke rising from the hive-like dam giving hope of a hot fire and warm food.
I love the Beaver’s home, a cozy little nook with tidy bunk beds and walls hung with onions and hams and all manner of fishing paraphernalia.
The story continues with Mr. Beaver and the children being greeted warmly by Mrs. Beaver who immediately puts them to work catching fish and boiling potatoes for their supper. And what a meal!! Pulling up three-legged stools, they filled their oven-warmed plates with fresh bread…
…and pan-fried trout. I, alas, do not have a trout-filled stream nearby, so I fudged a bit using flounder instead, and baked it with a scrumptious buttery walnut-lemon crust. Twasn’t exactly by the book, but I didn’t mind a bit.
The fish was accompanied by simple boiled potatoes…
…with a “great big lump of deep yellow butter in the middle of the table from which everyone took as much as he wanted.”
While Mr. Beaver gulped from a huge jug of beer, the children and Mrs. Beaver sipped creamy milk.
Just as they cleaned up the last of the fish, Mrs. Beaver surprised them with a “great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot” followed by cups of tea. I’ve never had a marmalade roll before, but was eager to try it. I looked up several versions, but finally settled on one that reminded me of muffin-sized upside down cakes. I didn’t have quite enough marmalade for the job so I added a smidgen of raspberry jam and it worked beautifully. The cake is nice and moist, even though I used whole grain flour, and so buttery. The marmalade saturates the batter and forms a wonderful caramelized top for each cake. That Mrs. Beaver is one fine cook. 🙂
*all book quotes from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis
Baked Flounder with Lemon Walnut Crust
(Adapted from Nuts)
1/2 cup ground walnuts
Zest and juice of two lemons
3 pounds sole (I used flounder)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Lemon wedges for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
- In a small bowl, mix together walnut meal and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Arrange fish in a single layer in baking dish, skin side down. Drizzle lemon juice over fish, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Spread walnut lemon mixture over top as evenly as possible.
- Scatter butter bits over everything.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until fish is done.
- Garnish with lemon wedges.
Orange Marmalade Raspberry Rolls
1 1/4 c. orange marmalade (I used 1 cup marmalade, 1/4 raspberry jam)
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 pkgs. yeast
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
3 1/4 c. flour (I used organic whole grain pastry flour)
- Combine orange marmalade and 1/2 cup butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Spoon into large ungreased muffin pans.
- Measure warm water into large mixer bowl. Sprinkle or crumble in yeast, stir until dissolved. Add sugar, salt, remaining butter, eggs, orange peel and 2 cups flour. Mix at low speed. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.
- Blend in remaining flour. Beat 1 minute.
- Spoon into muffin cups. Let rise in warm spot, no draft, for 30 minutes.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately. Serves 18.