Hunger Games? More Like Full-of-Brownie Games

Fine, I’ll admit it. I totally got into the Hunger Games. In a big way. I figured it was just another trendy teen book so I resisted it forever. I ended up taking it as a plane book, forgot to read it on said plane, got bored a couple weeks ago and decided to skim through the first chapter and see what all the fuss was about… fast-forward to 2am , and I was desperately devouring the last few pages! I just had to know what happened to Katniss and Peeta. Whatever, at least I’m not into Twilight, right?

So when the Hunger Games-themed cookbook came out, I jumped. My two passions in life — food and Hunger Games — together?! Done. (Fine, HG isn’t my passion, but it sure felt like it during that three-hour period when I read it cover-to-cover. KATNISS!) Ahem. Anyway, here we have it, The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines. I think it’s pretty funny how much they’re required to emphasize the “unofficial” aspect.

Alright, so, real talk: this cookbook is really contrived. I will concede that I am a bit older and more experienced in the culinary realm than its target demographic, but some of these recipes are straight-up ridic. We’re talking “Hazelle’s Beaver Stew with Rosemary Potatoes” and “Banquet-Baked Mountain Goat with Artichokes, Tomatoes, and Fresh Herbs” (ingredients: “2 pounds wild goat tenderloin or round steak,” yeah, probably the round steak, I haven’t seen any mountain goat at my farmer’s market lately). Oh, and even “Grilled Tree Rat with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce.” Seeing as how most of these recipes are pretty simple and made for young cooks to try out, I don’t think suggesting TREE RAT is really the most realistic path to take, Emily Ansara Baines.

Also of note are the cooking suggestions included with each recipe, hilariously entitled “Tips from Your Sponsor.” And, perhaps the best part, a little description under the title of each dish explaining how any recipe, even something as simple as cookies, ties in with Hunger Games. My favorite example:

“A twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie, this cookie is similar to Katniss’s spirit — mostly dark, with patches of light throughout.”

Hahaha, WHAAAAAT. Stop. Just stop. I mean, I know it’s probably hard to fill an entire cookbook, but come on. Anyway, who am I to judge until I’ve at least tested some of these recipes for myself, right? My initial impulse was to make Katniss’ favorite lamb stew (an obvious yet necessary choice) but I didn’t have enough time and wanted to make something before the movie premiere today. I decided on brownies:

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Food Fantasy: A Hollywood Kitchen Makeover

The Father of the Bride.

This casting call notice for a kitchen makeover show got my heart racing:

Do you have a friend or loved one who has a real passion for cooking but is trapped in an outdated, nonfunctional or just plain ugly kitchen? Now’s your chance to nominate him/her to receive a kitchen worthy of a gourmet chef for free! We are currently casting dynamic homeowners who love to cook but are in desperate need of a completely new kitchen.

Um, hi. Too bad I’m a renter  — but it set me thinking about my ultimate dream kitchen. This probably says something about how much time I spend with Netflix, but my kitchen daydreams are pretty squarely centered on deciding which TV/movie kitchen (equipment aside) I’d most want to live with.  If, you know, I was directing a crew to recreate it in my Capitol Hill rowhouse.  Am I the only one who watches every blockbuster movie and thinks — damn! I want that kitchen!? If so, indulge me while I take a look back at my ultimate dream Hollywood kitchens:

Father of the Bride

The first one that comes to mind, of course, is George and Nina Banks’ kitchen from Father of the Bride. This is basically the fallback fantasy house for an entire generation of movie watchers, right? The New York Times even mentioned the “bourgeois splendor of the Banks house” in its movie review. But the kitchen looks so cozy and usable, which you rarely find in houses put together by a set designer. It’s like the platinum version of the kitchen you grew up with…copper pots hanging over the butcher block island, floral curtains, fruit baskets filled oh-so-properly, KitchenAid mixer (swoon!) in the background.

Something’s Gotta Give

Slightly less cozy but still inviting is the airy Hamptons kitchen from Somethings Got to Give (like Father of the Bride, a Nancy Meyers-helmed project). It’s clean and classic, with a splash of color from the potted plant and warm touches like the wooden bowls. On the down side, it seems like plenty of folks are already co-opting that one. If I’m going to copy a kitchen, I certainly don’t want to be copying the same one as everyone else.

Something's Got to Give

Something's Gotta Give

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Oscar Party Menu: 10 Recipes for 10 Movies


The countdown is on. Less than one week until Hollywood’s glitzy night of self-indulgence and debauchery. Don’t judge, we’re all a little conceited, right? I know my cooking is better than yours so where’s my trophy? Of course, as much as we love movies, we’re mostly in it for the food. Let’s take a closer look at what the 10 best picture nominees have taught us (dinner-wise) over the past year.



The Na’Vi don’t really eat much in Avatar but that doesn’t stop people from speculating and theorizing for themselves, going so far as to say that Na’Vi wouldn’t have the enzymes to digest earth food, and earth meat would be poisonous. Putting that aside, if I were a Na’Vi I’d be hungry for a big piece of meat like these Hoison Sauce BBQ Ribs.

The Blind Side


While the world waits for Sandra Bullock to receive her first, and c’mon, only Oscar we can only imagine how many natty lights and burgers were consumed while filming on location at a football field. Celebrate the Blind Side with your tailgating food of choice—may we suggest beer brats.

District 9


Two words for ya: cat food—the only “food” item worth talking about to come out of this movie. ES in no way recommends eating cat food, but you can always go with a kitty litter cake. The next best thing is SPAM—it comes in a can, it looks like crap and smells awful. And if the Prawns ever do come to earth then ES has this handy guide for you.

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Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: Welcome to the Rock


Let me start off by making something perfectly clear:  I don’t give a rat’s ass who wins on any reality competition show.  For the most part, I think the contestants on these shows are the equivalent of tissues — made to be used and discarded as quickly as possible.  I don’t find these people in the least bit interesting and if your most impressive “skill” is your ability to get chosen to appear on American Idol, or that sewing show that used to be on Bravo, I have no interest in following your exploits after the season is over, even if you are the big winner.

And although I pretty much feel this way about Top Chef Masters, I’d say I only have about 99% apathy.  Why?  Because I totally want Hubert Keller to win this thing.

Two reasons:

  1. He’s a PBS show host and I always like seeing those guys get props.
  2. He looks exactly like Sean Connery at about the 14 minute mark in The Rock.  After he washes off the prison grime but before getting the full make-over by the barber.

I figure this as good an excuse as any to root for him.  Oh…brainstorm!  We need a Michael Bay-directed food movie.  Given his love of fire and slow-motion, that is going to be one AWESOME crème brûlée scene.

Enough silliness…on to the smörg.

– I pray to you, oh Flying Spaghetti Monster, let there be a reality show involved:  Human Train Wrecks Rocco DiSpirito and Jeffrey Chodorow could hook up again?

– How can you tell that a controversial issue is reaching the mainstream?  Shaq tweets about it.  Er, I mean:  When the folks in the industry embrace it.  Chipotle will be screening Food, Inc. at locations around the country.

After the jump…the vocal stylings of Mr. Mario Batali, a link to a story that includes the words “Giada” and “testicles,” and confirmation that Food Network and a former Olympian are completely in on the joke.

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