Salt-Grilled Meat, Fried Wild Greens, Baked Apple

I wondered how long I could get away with "hiatus until mid-January," given that, in my defense, I never specified January of what year. As is turns out, the only two people on earth who actually care about this content both ran out of patience in the past week, so I guess the answer is...this long.

Here's what happened: one of my children received Breath of the Wild for Christmas. Did you know that Breath of the Wild is a very good and fun game to play? And that it has the power to distract from, say, other games? That you were basing cooking projects on? And that you will probably get back to, probably?

Anyway, here is some Breath of the Wild food:

Salt-grilled meat, fried wild greens, baked apple

No danger of me embarking on a "cook all the Zelda food" challenge, given that 95% of my in-game diet is mushroom skewers and I prefer to keep my real-life mushroom consumption percentage closer to 0.0095%. But we did enjoy this.

Bonus reaction shot, by request, to better show off her newly pierced ears

ASSESSMENT: I hummed Link's little cooking song to myself while I made dinner and I really believe that enhanced the flavors. Dun! Dun! Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuunnnnnn!



Cranberry Candy

For Christmas I made myself a batch of the most confusingly named Stardew recipe: Cranberry Candy. Why is it candy when the picture is clearly a beverage, with a straw? I believe this joins the ranks of unanswerable Stardew Valley mysteries, such as: Why does it seem like Abigail likes to eat rocks? Who hid those weird secret statues? Why am I not allowed to date Krobus? What is Mayor Lewis'...deal?

Anyway, given the choice between candy and drink, and the ingredients cranberries, apple, and sugar, I went with a very festive Cranberry Shrub.

"Sweet enough to mask the bitter fruit" you say, hmm, interesting tip

I thought it was delicious. The girls were...surprised by the vinegar.

ASSESSMENT: I mean, nothing like candy, frankly.

PROJECT STATUS: ON HIATUS until mid-January at which point perhaps I will tackle the Christmas Plum Pudding that got away from me this week. Drab Winter Plum Pudding is JUST AS VALID.


Fried Mushrooms, Artichoke Dip, Pepper Poppers

I had a social event! So I made some social event recipes! Honestly, what is the point of being in a book club if not to foist the fried mushrooms that you don't want to eat but are making anyway for a meaningless blog project upon them? 

Mmmm, crispy pointlessness

Was it wise to bring a dish that increases Attack by +2 to a book discussion? DEBATE ME, YOU COWARDS

My testers were surprised to find that they liked fried mushrooms. I was surprised to find that I also did not hate them. The key, I believe, is to accidentally buy the garlic-flavored panko at the grocery store, thereby making everything crispy and garlicky.

The miracle of serendipitous garlic

Did I need to make more than one appetizer for book club? No. Am I at the stage of busy right now wherein I get stuck on turbo mode and only know how to function by working as quickly as possible every second I am awake? Let's just see what this artichoke dip has to say about that:

The artichoke dip says "trying to out-productive your anxiety isn't a sustainable solution" wait, what? Must have added too much mayonnaise

I guess that honestly was pretty refreshing?

I also remembered that I had made pepper poppers for a book club that ended up getting rescheduled back in...uh, May. But I made the dish. And it counts.

Sadly, both the recipe I used and the reactions to it have been lost to time

ASSESSMENT: I love appetizers and I am very tired

PROJECT STATUS: Fine, it's fine


Lobster Bisque

If you have been here for a while you may know that this is a deeply lobster-wary space. As I have already slain crustaceans for your enjoyment once, I decided to take the shortcut of buying lobster tails at the grocery store this time around, although as it turns out that is also pretty gross? And I still had to look up how to get the meat out? And I feel like the legs moved while I was messing with it and I had to drop it on the counter and back up against the wall for a few seconds?

Anyway, I muddled through and made a bisque.

Ivy, who watched the process from start to finish and was also very concerned about the legs and the moving and the alien nature etc. was pleased with the result.

Here is Anna's take, before and after I described it as "hot fish ice cream."

ASSESSMENT: I wasn't saying that hot fish ice cream was a bad thing. It's funny that in-game this increases your available energy because all it did was make me sleepy. Like some thick warm maritime milk okay I'm done.

PROJECT STATUS: Realizing that anything in the "holiday treat" category needs to happen uhhhhhhhhhhhh very soon. Hmm.


Cranberry Sauce, Mental Adjustments

After my last cranberry experience I figured it was best to go with the simplest, most sugar-including recipe for cranberry sauce rather than take any chances.

Note that Gus's recipe does specifically include sugar, an instruction I apparently require, thank you Gus

I believe this was the correct move.

ASSESMENT: Cranberries do in fact become "A festive treat" if you cook them with sugar for 20 minutes, although now I am wondering if unsweetened cranberries are the kind of thing I could develop a taste for, like black coffee. Just walk around popping raw cranberries in my mouth like some weird nutritional power move? 2020 is full of exciting possibilities.

PROJECT STATUS: IN SLIGHT UPHEAVAL! When I went to grab the screenshot of the Cranberry Sauce entry, I was GOBSMACKED to find BRAND NEW RECIPES in the Stardew wiki. UPDATES! HAVE ARRIVED! 

They bring with them some good news for me:

And some slightly terrifying news:

So now I'm just trying to incorporate this exciting new world into my plans. My later plans. Much later. Later enough to be thwarted by climate apocalypse, maybe? Maybe! *nervously nibbles on a raw cranberry*


Super Meal, Pumpkin Pie

I knew I needed to make Super Meal soon, before cranberries disappeared for the year, but I couldn't figure out a way to make the combination of bok choy, artichokes, and cranberries palatable. Instead, I did the next-best thing, which was to make a fairly unpalatable meal while the rest of my family was away for the day, so that I would only have a disappointing lunch, not a disappointing lunch PLUS other people whining at me about it.

Ta da! I put them on rice.

I guess the Speed buff makes sense, as I did eat it as quickly as possible

Don't know how much cooking you've done with cranberries, but as it turns out you really do need to add sugar to them! Just have to do it. Really making a strong mental note for next time.

For my family, I made pumpkin pie. With sugar. Because I love them. I liked the recipe I picked because it emphasized that it has "extra spices" which means I only had to double, and not quadruple, the amount of spices it called for.


For saving them from Super Meal and instead offering up a lustily-spiced, butter-filled-homemade-crusted pie, I receiving a glowing "It's pretty good...for a pumpkin pie."

Which is how I learned that Anna does not like pumpkin pie

ASSESSMENT: Mostly I feel good that I am knocking out the Thanksgiving-themed recipes in time, and not trying to foist pumpkin and cranberry things on everybody for St. Patrick's Day or whatever. 

PROJECT STATUS: Probably going to add 1/4 cup of sugar to every recipe going forward just in case.


Roasted Hazelnuts, Stuffing

'Tis the season for Roasted Hazelnuts, and I can't imagine any Stardew Recipe is going to come close to this one on the ease of preparation scale--even fried egg has a higher degree of difficulty than putting nuts in an oven for 15 minutes.

I also think this is the closest I have or will come to matching the game version image of the dish?

As for "a rich forest flavor," I'm not sure what I was expecting...pine? Lichen? Chipmunk? But these just tasted like nuts. (Not a complaint.)

Stuffing, on the other hand, is a deceptively complicated dish! I can't believe people make this as a side to have with other things, it took about five times as long to prepare as my average weeknight dinner, and far too many dishes/pots/pans/cutting boards (i.e., more than one). HOWEVER. The version I made, which incorporated the required hazelnuts and cranberries, is extremely delicious.

Looks like dog food, tastes like heaven

Like, I ate breakfast about 45 minutes ago and I could genuinely go for another bowl of stuffing right now. 

+2 defense against ever wanting to eat anything else

As for the girls, they came very close to unintentionally acting out this Drake meme regarding the two entries.

ASSESSMENT: The stuffing took forever to make and the girls were watching Up while I was working on it, so having to stop and cry a little bit every once in a while may have slowed me down, but it made the house smell very good and warm and bread-for-dinner-y.

PROJECT STATUS: Just cozy as hell, honestly.


Maki Roll, Sashimi

Ivy requested sushi for her birthday dinner this week and we didn't have time to go to the restaurant she likes that night and hey look at that sushi is on the Stardew list. Did I supplement this meal with useless but adorable trinkets that I bought at the Japanese bookstore because the real reason she likes revolving sushi is the fact that you get prizes after a certain number of plates eaten? Yes I did. It was her birthday. I am here to create magical childhoods with extreme inconsistency and a low hit rate on high-pressure occasions such as Christmas.

Sushi birthday dinner, though. Check.

My children love inexpertly cut raw fish and sticky rice, what can I tell you.

ASSESSMENT: I am bad at rolling...rolls. But I do feel like I have a good handle on sushi rice now and the enthusiasm with which this was greeted makes me want to give it another go. No boosts with these dishes in-game, but I would say the accomplishment of feeding raw protein to my family without poisoning any of them gave me a pleasant Feeling of Invincibility buff for a couple hours.

PROJECT STATUS: It went back to being too warm outside this week! But maybe cooling off again now! It's almost time to make all the Thanksgiving-y stuff!


Autumn's Bounty

After last week I realized that I needed to cram the rest of Pumpkin Season in pretty quick before the pile of little pumpkins at my grocery store disappeared, and thus: Autumn's Bounty. No recipe for this one, as the only canonical ingredients are "pumpkin" and "yam" and then a picture that definitely includes red and green things that are neither pumpkin nor yam, so I just roasted some tomatoes and Brussels sprouts and orange starches and that was that.

Bountiful enough for ya?

This was another triumph of the Stardew Valley...anti-curse? Blessing? Both of the children ate a dinner consisting solely of four roasted vegetables and did not complain about it. Ivy doesn't like tomatoes, but she liked this tomato. It's almost unnerving.

Ultimately, whomst among us can resist the overwhelming bounty of autumn?

I do not know what this verdict means. She struggled with the idea of averaging out her feelings about each individual vegetable and came up with...this.

Anyway, some of us are extremely delighted that "autumn" has finally gotten to the part where it isn't just "still summer" and some of us have become a sentient pile of layers on the ground at the bus stop.

ASSESSMENT: This is the most uh...overpromising of dish names, for what turns out to be pumpkin and yam. But video game theming did once again brainwash my children into some actual nutrition, so I can't complain.

PROJECT STATUS: IT'S SO COLD OUTSIDE!!! I feel alive. Here come all the coziest recipes.