Web Crush Wednesdays: Binging With Babish

Through whatever machinations of fate and luck, sometimes I manage to hop onto a big thing before it becomes big. While sometimes that thing is a little more niche (like a mysterious little dating sim for mobile devices), making it that much more surprising when it does become huge, this time it felt inevitable that this YouTube channel would rise up in the ratings and take the internet cooking world by storm. If you’ve checked out the front page of YouTube at any point in the last year and glanced at the trending videos, then I’m sure you’ve seen a link to the show Binging With Babish. If you’ve avoided them because trending videos are typically trash and not indicative of what’s actually good on YouTube, then I’m here to tell you that you need to watch at least one episode immediately. I’ll even let you pick.

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Magical Mondays: Food as Comfort and Craft

Pictured: most likely me when someone tries to explain this. via PopKey

Pictured: most likely me when someone tries to explain this. (via PopKey)

One of the biggest mysteries of this season in my eyes is “how in the world have the Harry Potter films become a Christmas/holiday tradition?” Sorcerer’s Stone came out in November back in 2001, but the timeframe doesn’t instantly make a film a Christmas classic. Sure enough, though, every December I can turn the channel to ABC Family (or whatever it’s called now) and find each and every Harry Potter film nestled snugly in between other classics such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. While this mystery may never be solved in my eyes, it got me thinking about a certain facet of the Harry Potter series that, in all its exploration of magic, seems to be woefully underutilized—a fellow holiday tradition, food.

Fans of course remember the grand banquets during the sorting ceremonies and have fond memories of the pumpkin pasties and the chocolate frogs available on the Hogwarts Express, but all things considered, wizard food remains strangely mundane compared to Muggle food. Stranger still is how it seems that, in general, the more realistic the story, the more magical its food seems to be. Yet in a way this makes sense; these seemingly at odds representations of the magic of food serve to reinforce what the characters are looking for in their respective stories.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Low Spoons Food

web crush wednesdaysI actually do like cooking a lot, but I don’t have the energy to do it often, so I’m always looking for shortcuts or strategies to make cooking easier on myself. Recently, one of my friends has been struggling with clinical depression, and so we’ve started exchanging strategies for making food, which led me to scouring the internet for other creative cooking ideas. I was surprised—and gratified—to find many of our same strategies already outlined on today’s web crush, Low Spoons Food.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Nerdy Nummies

I watch a lot of people on YouTube. Really, in this day and age I think I would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t occasionally lose themselves to the black hole of a video site. However, while I was watching one of the talk shows I enjoy (which may be a WCW for another day) I was introduced to another geeky baking aficionado. And, well, long-time readers know I have a weakness for gaming eats and treats. So today I bring to you, readers, Rosanna Pansino and her Nerdy Nummies show.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Eat, Game, Live

Thanksgiving just happened; I shouldn’t even be thinking about food outside of items I should donate to the food bank. But despite stuffing myself like the very turkey that used to exist outside of the spirit realm, I find I’m not dissuaded in any manner by looking up foodstuffs on the internet. Ignoring my slew of cooking/cake blogs I’m following on Tumblr, I’ve been led to another site which, once more, combines food with my favorite hobby, gaming. I’ve already covered a couple of these types of sites before, and I’m sure this won’t be the last one either, so if this kind of thing strikes your fancy, be sure to check those out too. But today we look at the journey of one gamer, kierpanda, as she learns her way around the kitchen in addition to kicking some patoot in games.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Tales of Cooking

There’s nothing I love more than seeing how people interact with their canon of choice. Art, writing, cosplay: every piece of output from fandom I find incredible as well as inspiring—if anyone is touched by something so much that it drives them to create, well, there’s something beautiful about that. And while I have an appreciation for most of these things, I will admit that I have my biases. By some stroke of luck, I managed to find my main bias combined with one of my fandoms in this week’s web crush.

webcrush picAs evident by my post from a couple weeks ago and (less evidently) by the fact my brother and I have been marathoning the re-release of Tales of Symphonia, the Tales games and fandom are both things that I hold close to my heart. Beyond the excruciating satisfaction of one hundred percenting the games, one of my favorite aspects of these games is the cooking system. I got cheated out of it in Tales of Xillia—buying pre-made foods isn’t as fun no matter what bonuses you give them!—but there’s something really fun in the simplicity of buying ingredients and watching your party members get better at cooking as you go through the game.

Even finding recipes in their hidden locations scattered across the game’s world can be a journey in and of itself, adding more to an already expansive universe. Given such a mechanic, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to document their attempts at making these recipes in real life. I’ve already featured one site like this, but given my return to the fandom, I found it only appropriate to feature Tales of Cooking. Continue reading

Web Crush Wednesdays: Gourmet Gaming

In the past several years it’s become more than apparent that gaming has much to offer the world at large. Such as an almost immediate testing group for a budding (with the influx of popular indie games recently, we may have reached the “blooming” stage) community of developers. A drive to keep expanding the limits of graphics and hardware capabilities. Not to mention enlightening discussions on not only the themes and morals of the game itself, but how these games make an impact on the sociology of our non-digital community. And delicious recipes. …Yeah, it doesn’t really seem like that one belongs, does it? Yet, if this week’s web crush has anything to say about it, cooking and gaming will have a much more symbiotic relationship than just deciding what flavor of ramen to eat when hunkering down for a twelve hour gaming marathon. Today, we look at Gourmet Gaming.

webcrush picThe concept behind Gourmet Gaming is simple: pick a food item from any game imaginable and try to recreate it in real life, along with your recipe. In fact, this premise is so simple that I’m surprised that no one else has done it, or at least has done it well enough to get the following this site has gotten. This may just be my designer sense tingling, but I think one of the reasons why this site has done so well is because of how neatly everything is laid out.

Each recipe (placed behind a polite ‘read more’) is usually accompanied by an image of the finished product, and if not, it is accompanied instead by the picture of the item in game.

More importantly, however, is that each recipe is given a ‘difficulty’ rating. So as much as I may want to make something called a ‘Moogle Pie’, the three and a half star rating tells me that I might want to clear a little time from my day before I attempt it.

Although the author seems like an extremely lovely person, one of the most heartening things behind this entire website is that they state outright in their FAQ that they don’t come from a culinary background:

I have no training and I work from my very tiny kitchen in a very tiny flat with little to no supplies! I’ve only been able to cook for a few years, so if I can do it you can too!

I don’t know about you guys, but I find a lot of hope in that. If they can make something amazing, than someone like me—with roughly the same amount of experience—can also make something that looks that good.

Whereas this site hasn’t gone so far as to inspire me to scour through my own games to pick out pixelated foodstuffs to recreate in my own kitchen, it has inspired me to actually try cooking rather than settling for boxed dinners and other such things. In fact, tonight may be the perfect night to try out one of these recipes I’ve had my eye on for a while: Persona 4’s ‘Aiya Rainy Day Special Mega Beef Bowl’. Wish me luck!