Saturday, April 22, 2006

In the kitchen

It's been a kitchen kind of day today.

Every month or so, Biggie and I go to the Queen Victoria Market on a Saturday morning and buy a ridiculous amount of meat, fruit and veggies. Then Fraser takes the girls out in the afternoon while I chop, marinade and otherwise prepare all the food and load it into the freezer. Fresh food is nicer, true, but this way there's always something good to eat at home, however tired we feel.

Today was that day - I think I have 20 family meals plus assorted in the freezer now.

You'd think I would have given up on cooking for the day (I did make Fraser cook dinner tonight), but I still had a way to go.

You see, on Tuesday we're going to our game pimp's house to celebrate (somewhat belatedly) her birthday. And what do you get the gamer who has everything (and then some)? *Stefanie, if you are reading this, stop now. Or at least soon.*

Last year, inspiration struck. Biggie and I sat down and made a batch of gaming-inspired cupcakes. They were a big hit, and mostly recognisable. I think this one was probably my favourite:

This year, we're trying something more comprehensive. A friend taught me to play Tikal recently (thanks Jon), so it's on my radar. And on Monday, I found a hexagonal cookie cutter. The final factor was the Tikal tile breakdown that someone uploaded to the Geek ... you can see where this is heading, can't you.

My goal for the evening has been to create a full, playable copy of Tikal - in gingerbread.

My mum has probably the yummiest recipe ever for gingerbread in the world. It's a soft, honey gingerbread that is great for kids (especially if you ice/frost it) - but adults love it too. The mother of one of Biggie's friends confessed recently that she looks forward to the Bigster's birthday parties because of Nanna's gingerbread.

Because I'm writing this while I wait for the gingerbread to cool enough to add some decorations, I'll fill this in by giving you the recipe - still in Imperial measures, it's so old.


Judy's Gingerbread

12oz plain flour
Pinch salt
Level tblspn ground ginger
4 oz butter
6 oz soft brown sugar
4-5 tablespoons honey

Sift flour, salt and ginger into a bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips (I cheat and do this bit in the food processor), mix in brown sugar.

Bind together with honey and knead on a floured benchtop until smooth.

Rollout onto a floured surface and cut into shapes.

Bake @ 400F, 2nd shelf down, for 5-10 minutes.

(I bake them for 5-6 minutes @ 180 in my metric oven)

Makes lots.


It didn't take long to make a batch of gingerbread - although longer than it need have, since Otto decided to help too. The hex cutter is a great size, too.

The goal of exact playability was lost when I thought about the need to cut ten different sizes of square gingerbreads, each slightly smaller than the last. We'll find a work-around -- and it will probably involve SMARTIES.

Of course, there had to be a Meeple (isn't there one in every game box, whether it belongs there or not)

Volcanoes ready to ice:

Mixing the orange icing was another game tie-in -- Fraser and I have been playing a lot of Colour Clowns with Otto, who is just learning how to mix colours to make orange, green and purple. She remembered enough to tell me to make the orange icing by mixing yellow and red, so clearly although it's a very ordinary game, it has some educational merit.

That's what I'm using for Treasures, and I think there will be jelly babies for the playing pieces. (Intriguingly, in the FOUR BOXES of smarties I bought, there were exactly 21 yellow pieces ... and a Tikal set has 22 treasures. Cutting smarties in half is hard work!

And here's what they look like with Treasure:

Iced and ready to decorate (check out the Volcanoes):

Otto had to make her own shapes too. Now you you or me, this shape is a sideways pig - but to Otto, it is Jack-Jack from The Incredibles.

That's as far as I have got. I have four colours of smarties for playing pieces, and plan to buy some giant smarties to be the Leaders. I still need to find tents for base camps (maybe mini toblerone pieces?) and draw the stepping stones and pyramid bases.

I have no idea how to do the pyramids, though. I think perhaps I will just pile on brown smarties.


Coldfoot said...

My hat's off to you, Melissa, and Otto, too. This is an amazing amount of work. Are you sure you're not Martha Stewart hiding out "down under"? :)

Gerald McD said...

What a fantastic idea, and what a lot of work! Whew! I remember that you made the meeple cookie cutter yourself. Very creative.

I'm detecting a commonality among (at least female) gamers -- creativity and artistic ability. You and Mary clearly demonstrate outstanding abilities in these areas, and I believe I recall noticing that about Susan R. We certainly have many examples of excellent writers and photographers. There MUST be a connection between those factors and avid gamers. If it applies to both female and male gamers, then I'm the exception that proves the rule.

Fraser said...

Gerald said If it applies to both female and male gamers, then I'm the exception that proves the rule.Count me in too, I'm right there with you on that Gerald!

GROGnads said...

W@W! That truly IS the "old skool" manner, what with the 'sifting' portion of the "recipe"! I'm very familiar with THAT 'procedure' all too well, since I used to make "cakes" and other such "desserts" from 'scratch' myself, over 30 years ago. I even recall when they introduced "pre-sifted" bags of 'flour' and then "cake mixes" where you just added water, eggs, maybe 'cooking oil' for some, and then "mixed" those most of the times by HAND with around 300 or more "beats" for this all. I'm a "breads" MAN baby! although I also like the 'flaky crusts' of pies, turnovers, etc. while I can make a "mean pot pie"~and have~with the likes of 'smoked salmon', 'crab meat', and the like, along with "casseroles" too. Yeah, yeah, I KNOW that I should have BEEN a "chef", according to everyone who's had the 'pleasure' of partaking OF my "concoctions" over the years. While I just don't CARE to 'do' such as a "service", while I prefer MORE to just 'do' this ALL as a "benefit" FOR my 'peeps' instead. Oh yeah, I've even had some "Kangaroo Tail Soup" before, and it was an 'imported' item when I had gotten that, while this was back in the mid-1970s so I don't know what the "deal" is about this today. Now, I wonder IF something akin to a "Turducken" could be 'made' into "Wallmanianroo"?

Anonymous said...

helenoftroy said...

I remember the meeple cookie cutter from Christmas. I love how Biggie helps out. You've done amazing work and shown great creativity. Thanks for sharing with us.

Also, my mom started freezing each week's meals so she can spend more time with the family. Very clever idea!

jwandke said...

Oh my God, this is GREAT.
I hope you will post more pictures as you get them.

volcano = red coloring + baking soda + vinegar. the kids will love it.

diakonos said...

la verdad que muy buena grasias

High Power Rocketry said...

That looks very fun :)

San Francisco Photos said...

Those cookies look YUMMY!!

Truthweaver said...

nice blog. I'm interested inboard games - not so much the kitchen bit. Beautiful insight into your life though. Just finished a sad 2 years in mine. Check out my BLOG - Tribunals & Tribulations - The Truthweaver

BionicBuddha said...

A lot of hard work...thanks for sharing. the pictures are awesome.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to sound like an idiot, but that cupcake is of Black & White, right?

Melissa said...

LOL! The cupcake is Carcassonne - at least, it's meant to be :)

Thankyou all for your kind comments. I will update with the completed game when it is finished (hopefully in the next hour ... the party is in 2 ...) - I'm pretty pleased with how it's working out

Groggy ... pre-sifted flour? I've never seen it here! Wouldn't it just all clump back up again?

Jon ... we've done those volcanoes too. Great fun!