Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adventures in Book-Related Cooking (aka I Have No Life)

I've been reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  They're super-addictive books.  I can't put them down.  It's been awhile since I've read a series and I forgot how enjoyable it was to follow characters through a couple of books.  I think I'm going to have to re-read Harry Potter next.

For those who don't know, Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future.  What was once North America is now one large nation called Panem, divided into 12 districts and ruled over by a large, dominant city called The Capitol.  The Capitol puts on an annual event called the Hunger Games every year in which two "tributes" from each District, a boy and a girl, are randomly selected to compete to fight to the death.  The Games are televised and the whole country is forced to watch.  They're supposed to be some kind of horrible punishment for all of the Districts rebelling against The Capitol decades ago.  The plot is eerily similar to Battle Royale, but it's still a good read.

ANYHOO, a big point in the books is that The Capitol is wealthy and advanced and its citizens live in luxury, while nearly everyone else is starving.  Which is why I kind of scoffed when I saw a Hunger Games cookbook in the store a few weeks ago.  I thought, "What the hell are they going to have in there?  Tree bark and squirrel and gruel?"  Later, I went on Pinterest to see if there were any good HG-related pins and found some videos on Youtube of people making recipes based on food that's mentioned in the book.  And then I realized that they do talk about food all the time in the series.  So while the cookbook is clearly capitalizing on a trend, the idea isn't THAT far-fetched.  Or maybe I'm just trying to justify my foray into Hunger Games related-cooking.  I dunno.  I thought it would be fun and decided to try some of the recipes I found online.  Here are the results!

All of these are from a Youtube user named "Schemestresses", who did a series called "Hungry For The Hunger Games".  They're all foods that are specific to certain scenes in the book.  Here are the relevant links to the ones I've tried, if you wanna watch.  They might come in handy for your next book club meeting


First off, I tried making "Springtime Soup", which is described in the book as being a clear, green broth that tastes like springtime.

Basically, you need a bunch greens. Watercress, spinach, parsley, green onion, and celery, to be exact.

Also, some vegetable stock.

You cook the celery and green onion on the stove for a few minutes in some oil, then add your greens.  Once those are cooked, you can add your vegetable stock and let simmer for a bit.

Once that's done, blend it all together until it's a super green liquid that resembles something that you feel like you shouldn't be eating.

Add some salt to taste, and you're done!  Huzzah!

Despite the fact that it looks weird, it was quite delicious.  A nice, herb-y soup.  Good for vegetarians.  And perhaps people on a liquid diet.

I also made District 11 bread, which is given as a gift to the novel's protagonist, Katniss, during an important scene. 

I'd never made bread before, so this was a challenge.

Here are all the ingredients.

The most important thing to make bread, apparently, is knowing how to use yeast.  The tiniest mistake with the yeast, and you get crap bread.

You take your yeast.

And mix it with some warm water.  It's very important that the water be just slightly warm.  Not too hot or cold.  Otherwise, CRISIS.

I lucked out on my first try with yeast though.  Here it is all nice and foamy, which means it's activated and ready to go.

You mix the yeast stuff with all your other stuff.  In this case - warm milk, oats, flax seed, poppy seeds, honey, and brown sugar.  Oh yea, and flour.

Once it's all mixed and dandy, sprinkle some flour onto your counter top, take the dough out, and KNEAD KNEAD KNEAD.

Do this for 6-8 minutes.  Or until your wrists and hands wanna die.

Roll the dough into a ball, cover loosely, and put in a warm place.  After a long, long time, the ball of dough will rise and look twice as big.

Shape the dough however you want it to look, then let it sit and rise some more.

Cover in a glaze of egg and seeds. Pop in oven for 25 minutes.  And then you're done.  Voila!  Homemade bread!

This turned out very tasty.  And on my first bread try!  Hopefully one day I'll graduate to French baguettes.

So those were some of experiences in literary-themed cooking.  Any other famous book foods I should try?


Skye said...

Hmmm... even though it doesn't sound great, I trust your taste and am very intrigued. Do you think it would taste good cold?

Freyja said...

I think the soup would taste OK cold, but not as good. Then again, I have an aversion to cold soup.

The Schemestresses recently posted a recipe for a pumpkin soup that sounds pretty tasty...