January 21, 2013
This week, we had our first Shadowrun game. For the non-RPG crowd, it’s a tabletop game where you play characters in the late 21st century at a time when magic has returned to the world and exists alongside security robots, elves, dragons, and trolls. Needless to say, it was a blast. In more ways than one.
Mary and I, as I’ve said before, like to cook and make food for our guests. Mary is quite keen on having food appropriate to the game we’re playing, so when we had an entire marathon session in Baba Yaga’s hut, for example, she made Russian and East European fare. When we played an apocalypse game, she made bread and made it look like it was made with blue-green algae.
Ah, the magic of a drop of food coloring and sculpting.
For Shadowrun, however, we had a bit of a dilemma. The 4th edition sourcebook says that most food is soy, krill, and processed. Soy in this world can be made into almost anything and tastes pretty much like the real thing… So the food we served should look and taste like real food.
In other words, we would serve real food and just say it’s fake.
This would not work. Going off of the cyberpunk feel that Shadowrun tries to emulate, I looked at my notes for the post-apocalyptic game we ran last year. In the end, I decided to tweak the food to make it look slightly alien, but still tasty. After all, a block of tofu with salt might be accurate, but it’s not going to have the players coming back for more.
We needed a main dish, and I wasn’t about to actually buy tofu patties. Mary and I opted for something that looked weird, but had a bit of an Asian flair in keeping with the cultural osmosis going on in such a connected world.
- 8 hot dog weenies
- Burger buns
- 2 cans of black beans
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Mince the garlic cloves and place them in a small pot with the olive oil. Fry the garlic until it starts to brown but not burn. Add the wine and soy sauce and place the pot on low heat for one to two hours until the sauce reduces to about half its volume. Keep stirring occasionally and make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. It should be slightly less thick than honey, more like a syrup.
While this is going on, take your hot dog weenies and slice them lengthwise into eight thin strips. You can either boil them or fry them depending on your taste. However, if you do boil them, make sure you leave enough room in the pot for the weenies to curl and move around. Either way, you should end up with curly pieces of meat.
Take your black beans and drain them. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a generous pinch of cumin. Cook the beans so they get soft and you can better mash them. Cook them on low until they turn into a paste. You can leave little chunks for texture, too.
Finally, take your buns (toasted of course) and add a layer of beans to both pieces of break. Add your weenie curls, sauce to taste, and close the burger.
Congrats! You now have a burger with familiar flavors that looks like it’s made with weird “meat” product but is good, hearty, and has a slightly Asian flavor.
This one got some WEIRD looks, but as soon as our players tasted it, they couldn’t get enough. For a more mainstream dish, leave out the food coloring.
- 1 block of cream cheese
- 1 naval orange
- 1/4 cup hopped walnuts
- Orange juice
- Yellow, green, and blue food coloring
Leave the cream cheese out so it reaches room temperature and gets soft.
Peel the orange and remove the pith and seeds. Cut the remaining wedges and place them in a bowl with the soft cream cheese. Mash them together and add a quarter cup of chopped walnuts. Add orange juice to taste.
Finally, add 3 drops of yellow food coloring, 1 drop of green food coloring, and 1 drop of blue food coloring. Mix well and you should end up with a slightly gray paste filled with chunks of… something. Serve with chips and refrigerate if you won’t eat it right away.
These little cubes would actually be pretty good for breakfast any time. They flew off the plate when we served them this weekend.
- 2 blocks hard tofu
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of flour
- Canola or vegetable oil
- Lemon pepper
- Green food coloring
Drain your tofu blocks and wrap them in paper towels to dry them. This should take half an hour or until the tofu has the consistency of a dish sponge.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a generous pinch of lemon pepper. Add one or two drops of green food coloring until you get the color you desire. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and the lemon pepper to taste.
Once the tofu is dry, cut it into small cubes roughly an inch on each side. If this is too unwieldy for you to move around with tongs (as we found out), cut the tofu into strips instead.
Place enough oil in a skillet so the tofu, whatever its shape, will be mostly covered, and place on medium high heat.
Place three or four tofu pieces in the flour until covered, then dip them in the egg wash before placing them in the hot oil. They should cook fairly quickly, but if you leave in too long, the green food coloring will turn brown. Each piece should cook in a few seconds. Place them on a plate covered with a towel to drain the excess oil.
For an added touch, once you have finished your tofu, pour any remaining egg wash into the hot oil. It will cook almost instantly into a spongy, thin membrane. Remove from the oil and place over your tofu treats for extra texture and gross-out appeal.
Of course, you can always forgo the green food coloring and make these puppies for any breakfast.
This one takes a while to make, but the result is not only delicious, but another possible breakfast treat.
- 1 cup grits
- 2 cups water
Cook the grits and water in a pot until you get a thick paste. You may need to add more water if the solution is too thick. Add parmesan and butter to taste. The final consistency should be thick enough to shape into little balls that won’t fall apart.
Place the whole thing on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil to cool for a few minutes. When the mass reaches room temperature, wash your hands thoroughly and start shaping little “maggots” about one or two inches long. Place them in a bowl for later use.
The funny thing is that this really does look like some processed mass of… something. The cheese flavor, though, makes it incredible. It’s good cold. If you heat it up, the grits will fall apart.
Yes, I know Slurm is from Futurama, but I found a recipe here on how to make a slightly viscous drink that looks like the bastard child of Mountain Dew and hate. I modified it slightly for my purposes.
- 3 liters of pineapple soda
- 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- Green food coloring
- Vodka (optional)
Heat 1 cup of the soda in a skillet until it boils. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin until it’s dissolved. Add one cup of cold soda to the mixture, combine thoroughly, and let sit for ten minutes. Return this mix to the bottle with the rest of the soda. Do this in the sink since there may be some foaming.
Add three drops of food coloring and vodka at your discretion to the bottle and GENTLY turn the bottle over to combine.
Place the in the fridge for a few hours and the final product will be slightly sweet, carbonated, and have a not-unpleasant mellowness. It should also have a slightly odd texture, a bit slimy, but not off-putting.
A word of warning, though. If you spill this, it will dry and become quite sticky.
I jacked this one from the Star Trek Cookbook. It’s quick, simple, and actually tastes pretty good.
- Club soda
For the Gatorade, I went with any of the blue flavors since they’re a color you’ll never find in a natural food. It looks nice and processed.
Combine equal parts sports drink and club soda. Mix gently to keep carbonation. Bottle and put in the fridge for later or drink right away. The final drink is cool and very refreshing.
As you can probably tell, this takes a bit of time. We also supplemented the game with bowls of chips and other snacks, of course, but we made sure to buy from the international and Asian food section. We found things like snow pea chips, lentil chips, and other oddities. Among them, we found a few bags of dried dulse.
There you go. I hope you enjoy making a few of these dishes and let me know how they turn out. I’ll be posting an article on music an atmosphere later. Until them, enjoy this little ditty I used in the game, as well as pics of the final products. I think it helped set the mood. Please share and I’ll see you later!