(Written in 2005 for the LiveJournal comm shire_kitchen's first annual Recipe!Fic Challenge)

AUTHOR: Dreamflower
RATING: G
CATEGORY: General
SUMMARY: Rosie has a bit of news for Sam…
DISCLAIMER: Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the Tolkien Estate. I own none of them. Some of them, however, seem to own me.

THE TASTE OF STRAWBERRIES

Frodo heard voices in the kitchen: Rose and someone else, not Sam. He entered to find her setting a second breakfast before one of her younger brothers, Nick.

"Good morning, Mr. Frodo," said Rose. "I had wondered were you coming to breakfast at all today."

"Good morning, Rose; hullo, Nick," he answered. "I think just a piece of toast and a cup of tea this morning, thank you."

Rose gave him a disapproving look. "I think not, Mr. Frodo. You should at least have a sausage and one of these soft-boiled eggs."

Frodo sighed. "No sausage, please. But I will take an egg if it will please you."

She dished up a plate to set before him. "There's a good lad," she said, for all the world as though he were a child in need of coaxing. Frodo sighed once more and rolled his eyes. He saw Nick trying to suppress a smirk, and caught his eye.

"Was she this bossy before she wed, Nick?"

He grinned. "A sight worse, I'd say. From sun-up to sun-down she was forever telling us what to do. Lasses come by it natural, I suppose." He ducked as she aimed a swat at the back of his head, but not quite fast enough. "Ow!" He gave it a rub, and winked at Frodo.

"Ah," said Frodo. "I see that not having sisters has left a gap in my education."

Rose giggled. In spite of his poor appetite, it was nice to see Mr. Frodo in good spirits. She pushed forward a basket that stood on the table and lifted the cloth covering it. "Look what my Ma has sent to us, Mr. Frodo!" It was filled to the brim with strawberries.

"Those are lovely, Rose!"

She took out two of the reddest and plumpest and placed them on his plate.

"Where is Sam this morning?" Frodo asked.

"He's out in the tool-shed. His favorite pruning knife come loose at the haft."

"Not the one Merry gave him?"

"Yes, sir, that very one! He was right upset when he saw it was like that, but he's sure he can fix it."

Frodo nodded. He hoped so. Sam and Merry had not even been tweens when Merry gave his friend that knife.

Nick stood up and took his plate to the dishpan. "Well, Rosie, I'm going out to have a chin-wag with Sam before I head to home." He gave his sister a peck on the cheek and went out the kitchen door. "Good-bye, Mr. Frodo."

"Good-bye, Nick." Frodo picked up one of the strawberries, and slowly took a bite. He closed his eyes and ate it almost solemnly. Rose watched fascinated. He opened his eyes and said softly, "Rose, dear, do not ever take for granted the taste of strawberries."

"No, Mr. Frodo, I won't."

"I thought," he said, "that I might take my supper at The Ivy Bush tonight."

Now her eyes widened in surprise. Mr. Frodo had not been to the inns since they re-opened. He noticed her startlement, and smiled slyly. "It seemed to me that you might want to have a private supper with Sam tonight. I think you may have something you want to tell him."

She gasped. "Mr. Frodo! How did you know? I was only sure of it myself yesterday!"

"I think I have been too much among the Elves, Rose. It's the kind of thing they always seem to know, and somehow I seem to have picked up the knack." The truth was, Frodo was not sure where his recent foresight seemed to have come from, but it was always for pleasant things, and so this he did not mind.

"What do you think about it, then?" she asked, a bit apprehensive. After all, it was his smial, really, and he'd not had to share it for so many years, and now he not only had Sam and Rose there, but now-

"I think that it is delightful, Rose, and I could not be more pleased. Would you mind awfully if I were 'Uncle Frodo'?"

"Of course I wouldn't mind!" she stood up and put a little kiss on top of Frodo's head, as if he were one of her brothers. Then she grinned at him. "I will leave a piece of strawberry pie out for you, when you get home tonight!"

"Thank you, Rose. I shall be looking forward to it."

xxxxxxx

Frodo looked at Bag End as he came up the Hill under the balmy summer night. The lantern by the door was lit, but it was clear that Sam and Rose had already retired.

He let himself in, and took the lantern in hand to light his way to the kitchen. There, as promised, in the middle of the table, was a plate with a generous slice of strawberry pie, and a little dish of clotted cream next to it.

He sat down to it with a smile. Today had been a good day, and he would enjoy the taste of strawberries.

xxxxxxx

ROSIE'S STRAWBERRY PIE

Pastry for 2 crust pie
4 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. plain dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine

Line a deep 9" pie plate with one crust. Toss together the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the bottom crust, and then pour the strawberry filling in. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot over the top of the filling. Cover with the top crust, and seal and flute the edge. Cut some vents near the center. Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before cutting. (Longer is better.)

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This may also be made with frozen strawberries if you increase the cornstarch by another tablespoon. This pie is a favorite of my family every year, as soon as strawberries come in season.