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The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to "Groosling" - More than 150 Recipes Inspired by The Hunger Games Trilogy (Unofficial Cookbook) Hardcover – December 1, 2011
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Featured Recipe: Katniss's Favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums
"Katniss's favorite food from the Capitol is the delicious lamb stew with dried plums. It's no coincidence that this is her favorite dish. Soups and stews are common foods in the Seam, and this healthy and filling dish likely reminded her of the home and family she desperately missed." (The Hunger Games, Chapter 9)
Yield 8-10 servings
- 5 pounds lamb fillet, shoulder or leg, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ½ cup water
- 4 cups beef stock
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 3 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3 cups diced carrots
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1½ cups diced celery
- 2 large onions, diced
- 3 potatoes, cubed
- 5 cups dried plums
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup ginger ale
- Place lamb, salt, pepper, and flour in a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat meat evenly.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan and brown the meat, working in batches if you have to.
- Remove lamb to a side plate. Pour off fat, leaving ¼ cup in the pan. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion becomes golden. Deglaze frying pan with the ½ cup water, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan to stir up all of the tasty bits of meat and onion. Cook to reduce liquid slightly, then remove from heat.
- Place the lamb and garlic-onion mixture in a large stockpot. Add beef stock and sugar, stirring until sugars are dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours.
- Add the vegetables, dried plums, herbs, and ginger ale to the pot. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until meat and vegetables pierce easily with a fork.
"Hungry for the dishes served up in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy? The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to "Groosling" -- More Than 150 Recipes Inspired by The Hunger Games Trilogy is ready to rock fans' kitchens." --USA Today
"The Hunger Games movie is just a few months away, and really, who isn't secretly super-excited for the teen post-apocalyptic book trilogy to make it to the big screen? Watching the trailer on repeat is pretty fun. . . but now comes an even better way to sate your appetite--literally--until the film comes out. The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook!" --Village Voice
"In the postapocalyptic fantasy series The Hunger Games, starving characters eat whatever they can kill or forage: wild dog, horse, tree bark, mouse meat....fans have become obsessed with the food in the books, trying home preparation of dishes such as fire-roasted rabbit and seaweed bread. This month, The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook was published, with 150 recipes for rustic, gamy fare including fried squirrel and raccoon in bacon drippings, though none for dog. Food, and the lack of it, is a recurring theme in the dystopian trilogy." --The Wall Street Journal
"Most of the recipes are definitely ones that my whole family will enjoy and the kids will love knowing about the connection to The Hunger Games. If you or your children are fans of The Hunger Games, you definitely need to pick up a copy of The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook." --Confessions of an Overworked Mom Blog
"I give it a 'buy.' If you are into cooking game, and like a diverse cookbook that allowed you to easily substitute ingredients, then this is for you." --Bossy Italian Wife Blog
"Forget Katniss' hunting bow--you won't go hungry like the folks at District 12 if you've got this cookbook handy! Consider it a gastronomic tour of the futuristic dystopian saga, taking you from the humble tables of Katniss' forlorn home district to the lavish banquets of the Capitol." - E! Online
Top Customer Reviews
At first glance, The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook seems like a brilliant and fairly well executed idea, though I must admit that I had questions about the use of the Hunger Games name, surely by now trademarked. In spots, the recipes are marvelous. In others, not so much. And while I certainly understand the idea behind including things like mountain goat and yucca, foraging for food is something that takes knowledge. Many - probably most - of the recipes that use foraged plant roots I would not use, even though I've been "picking wild" for more than a half a century.
As I started taking a closer look at some of the recipes I started to notice some odd things. The recipe for Finnick And Annie's Wedding: White Wedding Cake, though it is a wedding cake indeed, is not a white wedding cake. White cakes do not contain any egg yolks, as those color the cake a golden color. This recipe contains 7 of them. I found the nearly identical recipe on a wedding site.
More than a few of the cookie recipes have very small yields for the large amount of dough the recipes produce. Tigri's Fig Cookies are what are more usually called Italian Cuccidati, a Sicilian fig cookie commonly served at Christmas and for weddings. The directions that Baines gives are not complete - they fail to specify the size that each of the four portions of dough should be rolled to. The recipe also allows for about 4-5 times the amount of filling that a standard Cuccidati recipe making 3-4 dozen cookies calls for. Somehow, Baines only manages to get 2 dozen cookies.
And then I came to the game recipes, which are quite frankly very problematic. Let me draw your attention to just one of them, though this is not the only problematic game recipe by a very long shot. In particular though, take a peek at the Banquet-Baked Mountain Goat with Artichokes, Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs on page 158. In the "Tips From Your Sponsor" Baines writes:
"Mountain goat is a strong-flavored animal. If too old, its meat will be tough and stringy. Only cook goat when you have access to young meat, or brine the older meat prior to cooking. Either way, a baked stew of sorts is an excellent way to get good results from this goat. Serve with cooked rice."
Now it so happens that over at Netplaces, Karen Eagle, author of The Everything Wild Game Cookbook: From Fowl And Fish to Rabbit And Venison--300 Recipes for Home-cooked Meals (Copyright 2006) has most of her book readily available online. It also so happens that Karen has a recipe titled "Baked Mountain Goat with Tomatoes, Artichokes and Fresh Herbs." And it just so happens that Karen's introduction to that recipe (which is virtually identical to the one in Unofficial Hunger Games) reads, copied and pasted directly from the recipe page at Netplaces:
"Mountain goat is a strong-flavored animal. If too old, it's tough and stringy. So cook goat when you have access to young meat or brine the older meat prior to cooking. However, a baked stew of sorts is an excellent way to get good results from this animal. Serve with cooked rice."
I'm not sure just exactly how Emily Baines managed to slip this past her publisher, but Grandma does not reward plagiarism and copyright violation. The only recommendation Grandma will make is for lessons in the meaning of copyright.
Absolutely NOT Recommended.
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook has 9 chapters and an appendix. The appendix is largely a listing of herbs. There are also acknowledgements and an index and an About the Author section.
The first chapter, Breakfast of Champions, is just what you'd expect it to be. A chapter about breakfast foods. There are such sundries as orange muffins with sweet preserves to a Sumptuous Sausage Sunrise dish. The Fearfully Fried Potatoes (and yes I realize exactly how cheesy the dish names are) were standard fried potatoes. In fact, I was scratching my head a little at why they were included in this cookbook. The Orange Muffins with Sweet Preserves I made as well, and they were very very sweet. The texture was not muffin like though, but more like a very dense cake. The preserves made to go with it filled the equivalent of a regular sized jelly jar, and was way too much to go with the muffins, unless you made ten batches of muffins. The Fruit Frenzy was actually pretty good, but then again it was just a fixture of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and pineapple. Which is very standard. Cheese Souffle for the Spoiled Snackers was a light dish, and it had a decent taste, but wasn't really something that was sought after in my house. I do have to say that the Cheesy Meaty Hash Brown Casserole was very good and very easy to make.
Chapter 2 outlines bread, which in the Hunger Games is kind of important, so it's a large chapter. It even has a recipe for bread involving seaweed. I didn't really try too much from this chapter, I already have favored recipes for some of the breads included in here, and I'm not much of a bread eater. I did try Katniss's Craved Cheese Buns, but found them very sweet for a dish that was incorporating cheese.
Chapter three involved soups, stews and salads. A Wild Dog stew is including in this listing, but let's face it, who is going to actually get a wild dog to make the stew (even if it does say you can substitute beef). I made the Raging Wild Mushroom Ragout, and while it was simple to make it didn't have a lot of flavor. I also had to add some noodles to it, because on it's own, it just wasn't the meal that the author claimed it was. Rue's roasted parsnips were very time consuming and the reward for all that time spent was a very light flavored dish that wasn't worth it.
Chapter Four is entitled Humble Beginnings and is the chapter for small dishes. To me these could be considered sides or appetizers. The Creamy Bashed Potatoes confused me, I couldn't figure out why they were called bashed when all it was was mashed potatoes. The Capitol Creamy Spinach Fettuccine, like most dishes in this book, didn't have a lot of flavor. And The Propos Grilled Cheese Sandwich was a regular grilled cheese, nothing special about it.
Chapter Five was all about seafood. It was probably the shortest chapter and I only tried one dish, the Spicy Seafood Gumbo, which was actually pretty good, but very very spicy and might not be able to be handled by those who don't like their foot that hot.
Chapter 6 was titled Don't Call Me Chicken, Poultry Dishes for the Brave. There were a lot of recipes in this chapter, but surprisingly, most just didn't jump out at me. I made the Monterey Jack Cheese, Bacon, and Green Chili Stuffed Turkey Breasts, and surprise surprise, it was bland. I also noticed that the cooktime was way off for the dish too. I used think pieces and it still took much longer to cook than the recipe said it would.
Chapter 7 covered meat as well, this time in Lamb, Beef and Pork. And for such a large selection of dishes that can be made from these items, this was a shorter chapter as well. I did make the Beef Strips from the Backpack and it wasn't too bad. At the very least, it was easy to make.
Chapter 8 is the controversial one. The Wild Game section. Let's forget for a moment that most people just don't have access to this kind of meat (unless they want to scrape it off of the road), this is a chapter that most people would just avoid out of principle. But I'm up to new things, if I ever find a way to obtain a beaver, or tree rat, or whatever, I might give the recipes in here a try. There are some venison recipes, which is somewhat easier to obtain.
The last chapter is Desserts and this chapter was all over the place. I made the Harvest Heirloom Apple Cake and it didn't use the 6 apples it called for. In fact, had I used them the cake wouldn't have held together. So I used half as much and the cake turned out ok and even rose nicely. The Baker's Secret Banana Bread was a standard recipe, but it tasted good and was also easy to make. I think my favorite recipe out of this book was the Brown Sugar Shortbread, it had a very nice taste. The Sweet Sugar Cookies from a Sweetie made a ton more cookies than the 1 dozen the book said it would (and I make big cookies even) but they tasted ok. The same applied to the Big Softie Ginger Cookies. Then came the Opportunistic Strawberry Bread. It turned out horribly. I could tell going into it that it wasn't going to turn out right, but I persevered thinking the author knew what they were talking about. It was dry and crumbly and not bread like at all. It disintegrated when you went to pick up a piece.
So there were ups and downs through the whole book, and the bottom line is, I couldn't see myself returning to this cookbook very much. Most of the recipes just weren't worth the effort or produced weird results. I don't want to have to 2nd guess a cookbook on ingredients and whether or not the author knows what they are doing. I was also confused about who this cookbook was market towards. Obviously it's for fans of the Hunger Games series, but when you look at the recipes they range from wildly complicated to extremely simple, with no rhyme or reason. And that just didn't work for me. If I'm using a cookbook for a souffle I don't want to turn the next page to see how to make a grilled cheese. I think it would have been better to stick with the simple recipes since this is a cookbook geared towards young adults because of the series. At least then it would know what it was instead of having an identity crisis.
So now I'll weigh in on how the book ties to the series. It's awkward. There are little snippets on every page and the titles of some of the recipes are just so hokey that I have to roll my eyes. It was as if the author tried too hard to make it line up exactly and overdid it. I enjoyed the book series and was kind of excited to see the cookbook, but now after having had it for a few months, I'm a little sorry it's sitting on my shelf. I just think that the book could have been more graceful than it was in relating to the series.
Not something I'll refer to often, that's for sure. There just aren't enough recipes that interest me or that I'm confident will actually turn out ok. There are a few good ones, but not enough to warrant promoting the book.
Review by M. Reynard 2012
This book is a waste of your money.