Books, Culture, Film, Gaming, TV & Radio

The Geeky Chef on fictional foods, cookbooks and the Portal cake

Geeky Chef Cookbook - Geeky Chef portrait, by Denis Caron (750x422)Cassandra Reeder is a chef with a very special repertoire. She makes fictional foods real.

From pumpkin pasties and Elven Lembas bread, to hot spiced wine and elixir soup, she has formulated some 80 recipes from beloved books, films, TV shows and video games on her blog, The Geeky Chef. Her home for succulent-sounding delicacies from the likes of Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda, Game of Thrones, Fallout 3, Portal and more, offers step-by-step instructions, themed photography and brief backgrounders on the origin of these recipes. And it’s become something of a web sensation.

Culture, Media

Discovery Zone: Astronomy forever

Stories about new stuff, old stuff, lost stuff and found stuff…

Astronomy Now and forever
I’ve mentioned on occasion that becoming an astronaut and going into space were some of my childhood dreams, dreams that now seem destine to remain pure fantasy. But even if I never get the opportunity to venture into the heavens beyond Earth’s atmosphere, I gained an interest in astronomy that I’m still fond of to this day. My father has been getting Astronomy Now for as long as I can remember, and the magazine still contains descriptive articles and illuminating photography and diagrams for space enthusiasts. Long may its exploration of the heavens continue.


Sushi and the British Museum

Last week I visited the British Museum for the first time in five years or more. Seeing the great triangular pediment, its cravings of academics and artisans, held aloft by the 14 metre tall ionic columns was not the only thing I hadn’t seen in a while that day. My old friend, Katie Howey, had invited me along for a day trip to Central London.

We spent a good few hours exploring each of the galleries, observing the many antiquities, artefacts and relics that made up the museum’s grand collection. The images here are just a few I took in the Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome and European galleries. Our two other companions were less absorbed than Katie, who’s a keen photographer, and I, and that meant any such leisurely appreciation of the galleries was dulled by their incessant haste to whizz round. For all their haste, a quote I saw printed overhead in one of the galleries said out loud the thought of savouring my summer holidays: “Follow your heart while you’re alive. Put perfume on your head, Clothe yourself in fine linen… Make holiday and don’t tire of it!” (Harpist’s song, about 1400 BC)

Heightened by the very fact that admittance to the museum was free and photography is allowed in more or less every gallery, this was a very economical trip and it reminded me of just what I’ve been missing. I’ve not been to the Science or Natural History Museums in years, so next time perhaps I’ll skip the cinema and go there with some friends instead.

Ancient objects weren’t the only stop on my short London tour that day. Camden Town – an old haunt for my then group of friends – was to be our first port of call. With its knock-off goods, dodgy market sellers and drug-smoking denizens, Camden has developed a reputation for being on the wrong side of the tracks, and liking it. But it’s also a hub for live entertainment, a magnet for some of London’s quirkiest characters and a haven for vinyl lovers like me to make rare finds. Camden is also one of the most multi-cultural parts of London, and delis touting Chinese, Indian, Japanese food and more can be found.

It was in Camden Stable Market, now an open-air marketplace of emporiums and eateries of every description, that we had lunch. Well, I say ‘we’, but actually I mean Katie and I watched the other two consume one of the most revolting takeaways I’ve seen in recent memory. With penguins cooing and pecking all around, Katie and I sat down at one of the many discoloured wooden tables and waited for the others to return with their ‘meals’. When they arrived, I couldn’t quite believe what they’d paid for or that they were seriously going to eat it. Each polystyrene plate was stacked tall with overly salted nachos that looked as dry as the faded wood they were now resting on. Coating most of the nachos in what looked like lumpy yellow and green paste was cheese and guacamole. Forget the warm, stringy texture of melted cheese on toast, this was more like runny custard, and the guacamole wasn’t much better. They didn’t finish their plates, but to my amazement both of them managed to scoop enough of the nachos and hybrid slime to satisfy their appetites.

After our visit to the museum, Katie, who also has a deep love for Japanese culture, suggested we get a bite to eat. This time I joined in and tried a mini sushi box from her choice of sushi and bento restaurant, Wasabi. This wasn’t the first time I’d tried sushi, but, as well as the smoked salmon delicately wrapped in seaweed, there were also large beans and wraps containing rice, celery and other ingredients. It was a tad strong for my liking as I doused a bit too much soy sauce on the food. What did make my eyes light up and fill my passageways with a strong aromatic taste was the fresh ginger. I’ve had ginger beer but never had I tasted the raw spice itself. If I was able, I think I’d substitute my usual packet of breath mints for a cylinder of freshly cut slivers of ginger. Yum. Food was a constant theme today with the ornaments and pots from across the ages in the British Museum and my experiences of delicacies from the capital.


Cadbury cave-in to Kraft

Today was a sad day for UK business as 186-year-old chocolate maker, Cadbury, agreed to a £12bn takeover by US food giant, Kraft.

Cadbury was one of the few independent chocolate makers left in Britain, and I’ve enjoyed their foil wrapped snacks since I was young. In 1993, Kraft bought the York-based confectionary maker, Terry’s, and have slowly tightened their grip on the UK food business.

As a lover of UK chocolate, I just prey they don’t mess with Cadbury’s receipts.