Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Whimsical Idea

I had a whimsical idea, which is precisely why I like it. It's a purely for fun idea. It lets me play in my kitchen. And I can't think of anything I'd like to do more. It's not serious, like my special project. And I can do it without a lot of planning or designing and creating a web site. So, I'm going to change the look of this blog to a more whimsical one, just so it fits a bit better. Besides, all that green is hard on my eyes.

I'm a big fan of social network games. I don't care whether you like or don't like Farmville and its cohorts. I think there's room in the world for people who like to play and room for those who don't. When Facebook added the ability to hide apps without hiding everything my friends post, that solved the "you're game is spamming my page" problem. If you don't like to play, hide the app and don't whine about me and my friends enjoyment. I'm sure you do things for fun that don't interest me and that's fine.

I'm currently playing Cafe World, with a small group of people who play occasionally. A lot of people I know play Farmville. And some have discovered Frontierville. A lot play other games, but I haven't explored many others because I don't have time. While playing, I get some time to think while I wait for the game to finish various things or load pages, and so on. I was playing Cafe World when I started wondering what the food you make for the cafe would be like in real life.

I thought, "Why don't you try making it?" I couldn't think of a reason not to, so I'm going to slowly cook my way through the cookbooks and recipes in the games I play. And using the food you grow in Farmville or grow/collect in Frontierville. Some things are purely imaginary, so I'll have to come up with an "Earth equivalent". I doubt I can summon Mystic Pizza or bring Sirius Sorbet down from outer space. I also doubt my ability to find bear meat and some of the other things used on the frontier in this game that imagines a more palatable frontier than it was really like.

My schedule doesn't have time available to do something as ambitious as cook one recipe every day. Many of the dishes will have to be created by me. Others will have to be researched because I have no idea how to cook them, or even if they're real dishes. Some, like the baked goods in my Farmville Bakery, have weird combinations of ingredients and it will be a challenge to figure out how to use them in a way that creates a dish worth eating.

I decided that Saturday night will be Game World Dinner Night. I'll cook one dish from one of the games I'm playing. To help keep track of them, I'm going to create a schedule that rotates through the games, cooking or baking the dishes used in each game. Farmville and Frontierville have the added interest of growing crops and fruit trees. I want to use those fruits, grains, vegetables, herbs and spices in my finished dishes. I hope to use as many as I can, skipping only those that are not easily available.

The other criteria is that I don't want to just cook the standard "fast food" type dish that is often what appears to be the basis of the images they use. The hash browns in Frontierville look like a breakfast hash brown patty from Mickey D's. And the macaroni and cheese is the orange stuff from a box we all grew up with. I don't cook that way and I don't eat that way. So the challenge is to make the food the way I'd make and serve it if I were running a real restaurant, farm, or feeding my family on the frontier.

The first recipe you get in Cafe World and the first one in their cookbook is a simple bacon cheeseburger. It's on a plain bun with a slice of orange cheese, lettuce, and tomato. It's amusing that the cover of Bon Appetit this month has a hamburger that looks like the one in the Cafe World cookbook. But it's probably nothing like the hamburger the Cafe World designers were thinking about when they created their graphic. Bon Appetit's hamburger has three different cuts of beef, beef suet, and bone marrow in it. Plus red miso. Cheddar cheese. Tomato. Red onion. Watercress instead of lettuce. And a recipe for Red Vinegar pickles and spiced ketchup to go with it. But, interestingly, the buns are not made from scratch.

I cook somewhere in between those two extremes. I'm obviously not a person who doesn't care about the quality of her food, happily scarfing down the latest offering from the local fast-food joint. Nor am I a pro chef looking for the ultimate, perfect burger. I'm somewhere in the middle, a foodie home cook who wants to make food that's made from fresh ingredients, that can be made by a home cook without equipment you can only get at restaurant supply stores, and that tastes as good as I can make it.

Looking at the calendar, my first Game World Dinner Night will be Saturday, September 4. The menu will be Bacon Cheeseburger with appropriate accompaniments. I will post my recipes as I develop them. And my son lent me his old camera, so I can post pictures. YAY!!