Cookiesaurus Zacharius

Cookiesaurus Zacharius“This year I’ll make dinosaur cookies,” I thought.

“It’s a great idea, because I work in a museum of dinosaurology and stuff,” I thought.

“They’ll be totally easy to make and look super-duper awesome,” I thought.

Sometimes, as it turns out, my brain doesn’t work so good.

Anyway, can’t help but think that even ugly dinosaur cookies are kind of cool. And here’s a little something that I found on the internet that might go well with dinosaur cookies. Have you ever wondered which dinosaur would be the best to eat?

I Can Haz News

Much is new in House Kyratzes and it’s all terribly exciting.

The best news is that a few days ago I officially started work on the graphics for the new Lands of Dream game. This one is going to be close in size to Desert Bridge and will have oodles of locations and gadgets. While doing the children’s book and the Oneiropolis Compendium I’ve improved my technique used for the Lands of Dream images dramatically, which makes me all the more excited about this project. We’re aiming to release the game in March, so you won’t have to wait too long.

I’ve also finished the last images for the Oneiropolis Compendium. This project has been a lot of fun, with silly pop culture references and deeply serious philosophical questions – often in the same entry. And it’s not over yet. The Compendium really saved us when things got tight financially in November and December, and while we needed the money, I was also genuinely pleased to draw these pictures. So if you still feel like donating to get an original, framed Lands of Dream image, please feel free to do so.

If you read Jonas’s blog or come to my page every now and then, then I’m sure you’ve heard of our IndieGoGo campaign to finance a webpage for our cooking show. It’s another project that I’m very happy about, since I love cooking and cookbook recipes can sometimes drive one barmy. Instructions like “add italian spices” or “use a lug of olive oil” just make me want to tear the cookbook into tiny little pieces of confetti and set fire to them. The other day I had a recipe that told me to prepare an ingredient ten minutes before the  sauce was done, without ever mentioning how long the bloody sauce was supposed to cook in total (and it’s confetti time!). So yes, the Starving Artists Kitchen Show is something I’m happy about and that should help lower my blood pressure. And you can help. Our IndieGoGo campaign still hasn’t reached its goal. Also you can expect a new episode and the website to be up soon. We’re just experiencing some minor difficulty connected to dark German winters and our kitchen light being broken.

That’s it on the creative front, I think. There’s more to tell, as always, but that will have to wait until later. Expect a post on The Who’s Tommy and creative responsibility in the next 24 hours and something about bad postmodern writing by the end of the week. Now to draw a room with crazy wallpaper.

IndieGoGo: The Starving Artists Kitchen Show

Our cooking show now has an IndieGoGo campaign. We’d be very grateful if you could spread the word, or even contribute. The first episode we produced went over really well, but we need a tiny bit of funding to be able to afford a website and repair some things in our kitchen; if that works out, you can look forward to regular episodes of the Starving Artists Kitchen Show. Yes indeed! So let the world know about this campaign.

Starving Artists Update

The response to The Starving Artists Kitchen Show has been great so far. We’ve even had some feedback from people who have tried the recipe, which is just too awesome to put into words. The next instalment will likely have to be wait until we’re back from Greece, as we didn’t take the camera, but we both can’t wait to get started.

If anyone has any ideas or requests for future instalments I’d be happy to oblige them (if they make sense). I’m already looking into recipes for gluten-free bread, which I’ve never tried making before. The concept of making bread with egg is certainly… interesting. So if there’s something you’ve always wanted to make, but didn’t know how to do or something you’ve tried but that always ended in disaster, let me know. And then you can see how it ends in disaster for me too.

The Starving Artists Kitchen Show

I’m very proud to present the very first episode of The Starving Artists Kitchen Show. You can find it on Youtube, Facebook and for your convenience there’s also a page on this blog that’s dedicated to it.

Jonas and I have been thinking of doing a cooking show for a while now. I really love cooking and this show will focus both on countering a lot of the myths about what’s impossible to do or hard to get right, and on low-budget cooking. Because good food doesn’t need to be very expensive and you’ll be surprised what you can do with a sharp knife, a cutting board and a medium-sized saucepan.

The first episode is about making white bread, something that has become ridiculously expensive to buy in a supermarket (let alone a proper bakery) and that is actually very easy to make and shockingly cheap.

I hope you’ll enjoy the first episode. If you do, please spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+. And let me know how your own bread turns out.

P.S. A few people have asked how much the ingredients used in the recipe cost. In the next episode we’ll remember to put that information in the actual video. As for the bread: assuming that you have some olive oil at home and that you can scavenge some sort of filling from the fridge or decide to go without that, the yeast is about 15 cents and one kilo of flour comes to about 25 cents (in European cents).

Food and Things

I’ve once again not been doing as much blogging as I’d like to, but people constantly come here and demand our attention. Friends, such a pesky lot. Oh, yes, and when I’m not cooking amazing three-course meals for the hordes of locusts people that keep showing up, I’m making graphics for Jonas’s next game. I’m really excited about this project.

Until I find the time to do some real blogging you could, for example, have a look at this review of the Book of Living Magic, which the incredibly nice Gregory Weir has written.

Or you could try your hands at making Meatballs and Pasta as detailed in this recipe by Jamie Oliver. Yes, he’s not kidding about how much rosemary you’re supposed to use. And it does taste awesome.

And if you’d rather read something more narrative, maybe some sci-fi, you could always buy Life Support.

Chili Con Carne

So… post about cooking, attempt the second. I’ll try to make this a regular feature on this blog now. Keep your fingers crossed.

Today: Chili Con Carne. I got this thing about making stuff entirely myself, no spice mixtures, no supermarket bread… I do allow soup cubes and canned broth, though. You can buy some rather decent spice mixtures for chili here in Germany, but I feel bad about using those, even though they don’t contain anything chemically offensive, like artificial colouring or flavour enhancers. It’s a Verena thing. So I’ve been on the hunt for an edible chili recipe for ages. And there’s a lot of them out there, let me tell you. Chili with beef or lamb or pork. Chili with cumin or thyme or basil. With beer or broth or red wine. With cayenne pepper or tabasco or fresh chilies. With vinegar or Worcestershire sauce. I could continue for quite a while, but I trust you get my drift.

In general I find that recipes that use wine as a base tend to taste too much like Bolognese sauce and those that use a lot of exotic spices such as cumin, coriander and curcuma tend to taste too much like curry. So, after searching for more than a year and trying a good dozen recipes in the process, I settled for using a mixture of all the recipes that worked best so far, and the result was surprisingly pleasant. (I also used way too much cayenne pepper the first time around and almost killed all our guests… trial and error, my dears, trial and error.) I serve my chili with sour cream to take off some of the hotness, so give that a try too, if you like.

Shopping List for 4:

2 small onions, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
500 g/17 oz of ground meat (pork/beef mix is best, but feel free to go wherever your dietary restrictions take you)
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 can skinned tomatoes in juice
1/2 leek, chopped
300 ml chicken broth
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp ground rosemary
1/2 tsp sage
1 laurel leaf
as much cayenne pepper as you dare (I use 2-3 tbsp and it’s plenty hot)
salt & pepper
(optional: freshly chopped coriander leaves)

For the sour cream:

1 carton/200 ml sour cream
juice of 1/2 lime
3-4 spring onions, chopped
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Fry for maybe three minutes until the onion is very slightly browned, then add the garlic. Fry for another minute. Add the meat and fry until well-browned and crumbly.

Add the kidney beans and the tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil, then add the leek.

Add the broth and bring to a boil again, then add all the spices except the coriander. Cover the pot and let it simmer for at least forty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now is a good time to prepare the sour cream. Stir the sour cream until it is smooth and season with salt and pepper, then add the juice of half a lime and three or four finely chopped spring onions. Cool until serving.

Once the chili has reached a nice, thick consistency, add the freshly chopped coriander (if using) and pepper and salt to taste. You can also add more cayenne pepper now if it isn’t hot enough.

Serve with the sour cream mixture and bread. And beer. And tortilla chips. And… ah, never mind.

Bacon Muffins and note on cooking

I am not a housewife.

Let’s get this out there as quickly as possible. (Hi mom, hope you’re not too shocked by this stunning revelation.)

I don’t dust the shelves. I only clean the floor when it’s absolutely necessary (a good indicator is when the cat starts sticking to the floorboards). Recently I cleaned the windows for the first time since moving into this flat. I never iron my clothes, except in emergencies, and I only wash when the laundry-mountain threatens to spawn an avalanche. In short: I am not a housewife.

But I do quite like to cook. I love new recipes and I love modifying stuff that I find in cookbooks. After all there is no such thing as too much thyme. Having a husband who likes to eat helps too.  I do not like cleaning up the kitchen, favouring more of a Jackson Pollock approach to cooking. As a result of which, same-said room often looks like a post-nuclear farmer’s market once I’m done with it. The husband helps there, too.

I’m just saying this to avoid confusion. How do I make a perfect Wiener Schnitzel? Good question to ask me, even though the name does sound lewd in English. How do I get dirt stains out of a white blouse? Very bad question, although you are welcome to let me know, I’ve been trying to do so for quite some time.

Anyway. That having been said I now proudly present you with

The ultimate Bacon Muffin Recipe

developed, bake-tested and refined by Verena Kyratzes

(who does not actually think that she is the first person on this planet to have come up with the idea).

Shopping list (makes 12 muffins):BaconMuffins

250 g all-purpose flour
150 g butter or margarine
200 g crème fraiche or smetana (which I am beginning to suspect to be rare outside of Germany)
125 g lean bacon, finely diced
15 – 20 green olives, pitted + 12 olives to garnish
2 eggs, medium
1 – 1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
12 strips of bacon

Preheat the oven to 160° C. You may butter the muffin-tray, but I would not bother, since these muffins come with their own lubrication by nature. Place the strips of bacon in the muffin moulds. One strip per mould. I usually begin by placing the thin end of the strip on the bottom and then spiralling up to line the rim. It may take some practice.

Chop the olives into thin rings.

Melt the butter or margarine and set aside to cool a little. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a large mixing bowl. Be careful with the baking powder since in these muffins that thing with the squeaky teeth happens very quickly. You know what I mean…

Add the crème fraiche and eggs to the cooled butter and mix well. Then add the mixture to the flour. Mix for about sixty seconds with a hand mixer on the highest setting. Add the bacon cubes and olives and carefully stir them into the dough.

Now for the messy part. Very, very carefully put one or two heaped tbsp of dough mixture into the bacon-lined moulds. Be careful not to make the bacon fold in on itself, if necessary pull it back into its original position with your fingers. Put one intact olive on top of the dough, pressing it in slightly.

Put in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy.

developed, bake-tested and refined by Verena Kyratzes
(who does not actually think that she is the first person on this planet to have come up with the idea)