I realize I’m a bit late to the party on this one, especially since Star Vs the Forces of Evil finished up its third season back in April. But man oh man, what a charming show. My current binge of the show has even inspired me to return to the kitchen to do another “food from fiction” item. This time, however, I’m going to take a bit of a different spin. We’re going to make the item not once, but twice!
We are less than 2 months away from LadiesCon and things are getting crazy. Crazy in the best ways possible, but still quite a lot of twists, turns, and surprises. It’s during these times that we need to make sure we’re taking the opportunity to take a deep breath, brush up on your R’lyehian, and praise the Elder Gods.
If you haven’t read Kristen Gudsnuk’s Henchgirl, you should really do one of the following: a) buy it now so you have a copy for Kristen to sign at LadiesCon or b) buy it at LadiesCon and so you have a copy for Kristen to sign. Ok ok, I know I’m really driving the point a bit hard here, but there’s a reason we reached out to Kristen as a guest.
Without turning this post into a review, I will tell you this much. Henchgirl is such a charming and funny story. It’s filled with such great visual gags and puns that when I found myself faced with these panels…I knew immediately what I had to do.
Yes, I needed my very own Cthulu Burger!
Normally when I do these Food and Fandom posts, I like to post a recipe. I’m not going to do that this time for a few reasons. The main reason is that there are times when (due to the either the complications of your project or the limits of your own culinary skills) you know that you’re going to have to choose between something that tastes great but is visually plain or something that looks amazing but will NEVER WANT TO EAT AGAIN. I chose and well, um…you’ll see.
When making a burger based on Cthulu, octopus was the most obvious choice. I was able to find frozen cleaned octopus in my regular supermarket quite easily, as well as a recipe that would allow me to cook it in my sous vide. I had never cooked octopus before and using such a controlled temperature was a pretty surefire way to ensure that the octopus would be soft and tender rather than horrible and chewy.
So I started with something that looked like this:
Did some stuff to it:
And hours later, I found myself with this:
The recipe also informed me that I should clean, then either grill or fry up the octopus to get the legs and tentacles nice and crispy before serving. So I did that too.
Next, I laid out my ingredients on my sacrificial altar/cutting board and got to work assembling what might very well be my most horrifying creation yet.
BEHOLD AND TREMBLE WITH FEAR YOU FOOLS! *warning: prolonged exposure to this slideshow may result in madness
I’m really proud of how I was able to get his worshipers to bleed from the eyes just right!
I delayed as long as I could taking these pictures. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I would like octopus. I’ve had it before and liked it a lot. It was the idea of eating it with bread and the other burger fixings that made me start to back away towards the door.
I mean, does this cross section look appetizing to you?
Since I wasn’t about to go at this alone, The Boy and I each took a half, bit in, and well…
Do I get points for accuracy if it tastes like it’s been asleep under a lost city in the Pacific ocean for thousands of years?
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad. But dang, it tasted fishy. And the soft octopus with even softer bread was not something I found enjoyable in any way. No, it was not good. Nope. Nope. Nope.
In the case that you’re wondering what went wrong, I chatted with Tiny Doom and she believes it was a problem with the octopus recipe that I used. My recipe said that marinating the octopus before cooking was optional, so I skipped that step to save myself a little time. Tiny Doom has cooked octopus with great success but has always let it braise in red wine first. Perhaps that’s the key to removing the fishy taste? Maybe my frozen octopus wasn’t all that great? I’ll probably give cooking octopus a shot again, but will use a very different recipe.
Still, Lord Cthulu makes quite the dashing figure as a burger.
Did you catch the Ladies’ first panel at Boston ComicCon this year? We had a great time discussing how food is one of the newest way that peopl are expressing their fandom. Judging from the turnout and reaction, convention-goers enjoyed hearing what we had to say too. We’d like to thank everyone who came for all the support and the great questions.
But maybe you didn’t make it to Boston ComicCon. Maybe you were there, but scheduling conflicts kept you from coming to see us. Or maybe you did go and our discussion got you excited about the possibilities of creating food based on your favorite films, TV shows, books, comics, or other fictions. If you were at the panel, you know we promised you a post with some helpful links to get you started on your own food and fandom journey. So here we go! Continue reading
If you’ve enjoyed dining on delicious snacks at our events, thrilled to our tales of the super hero cookbooks of yore, or enjoyed any of our posts on how geekiness makes its way into the kitchen, you’ll want to check out our Food and Fandom panel at Boston ComicCon. Join us tomorrow, August 14 at 1PM as we discuss how we and other fans have brought the fiction we love to the dining table.
So normally this would be Cartoon Sara’s week to lay down some thoughts and musings, but family matters have have made that difficult. So you get me…again. You’re welcome, and/or I’m sorry, choose which ever best suits your needs. As I didn’t really have post planned I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you what’s been going on with us Ladies, and most importantly, what’s coming up in the near future. We would also love to have a chance to hear from you about what you would like to see some us, so please don’t leave without answering the poll questions below.
What’s coming up-
The summer has been super exciting for us. As often happens, a lot of stuff has come up in a short period of time and we are working hard to make things happen!
First off– The Red Menace and I had a chance to interview Caitlin Kittredge about her work on the new Boom! Studios comic Lucas Stand. She’s co-writing it with Kurt Sutter…yeah, that Kurt Sutter, did a little show called Sons of Anarchy. Anyway, I had a chance to read this title before we spoke with Caitlin and if you like anti-heroes, and the possibility of angels and demons duking it out, then this will be right in your wheelhouse.
Next– After we interviewed Caitlin, all of the Ladies were interviewed by WBZ-TV, our local CBS affiliate for a web series called The Secret Worlds of Boston Comic Con. This series will start today on CBSBoston.com and will give a look inside Boston’s thriving geek culture. Rumor has it we will be in the first episode a little, but more so in the second. Watch to see how red my face can get when faced with public speaking, an expensive camera, and a boom mic (fun fact: 3 of us Ladies are introverts, 2 of us secret ones).
Also– You guys….WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A PANEL AT BOSTON COMIC CON!
I know, right? Join us on Sunday, August 14th at 1pm!
Food & Fandom: Celebrating the Delicious Side of Pop Culture: Food and fandom go together like The Hound and all of the chicken – join the Ladies of Comicazi for a discussion of the many ways they intersect!
Last– Here are those polls I mentioned.
Welcome our friend and reader, Carolyn Frantz, making a great case for watching Supergirl. Want more? You can find her on Twitter as @cosmic_carolyn. – Ed.
Since this is my very first guest post with the Ladies of Comicazi blog, I’ll begin with a confession: I’m not a hardcore comic fan, and I’m certainly not a purist when it comes to comic universes. Most of my favorite comic books aren’t published by DC or Marvel, so I’m new to both. But I love a good story and good art, and I have a soft spot for heroines that are intelligent, strong, and independent, like Agatha Heterodyne: Girl Genius.
Even so, I’ve fallen in love with the new CBS show Supergirl, and I’m here to tell you why! A friend of mine, Danielle, wrote a feminist ode to Supergirl recently. She made some great points as to what Supergirl is doing right:
- The two most powerful people in National City are women.
- Women can be villains too!
- Women aren’t helpless victims.
- “Girl” is reclaimed as an empowering term.
- Young girls need a female superhero to look up to.
All of these are excellent reasons to watch Supergirl, and I encourage you to check out her article here. But I have a couple of my own feminist* reasons why Supergirl is not to be missed:
Supergirl’s costume is awesome without being overly revealing or sexual. It may seem superficial and counterproductive to focus on our heroine’s outward appearance. But in Hollywood, there’s just no way to escape the male gaze, and its use in advertising (“sex sells”). As a result, what women are wearing/not wearing in Hollywood will always be important. Supergirl needs a kick-butt costume to go with her butt-kicking moves, so dressing her in a tiny leotard isn’t believable. Even fierce female powerhouses like Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas tug at their leotards, and Gabby isn’t even punching villains. Mad props to Supergirl’s wardrobe department for coming up with a cool-looking costume that actually works for Supergirl’s extra-active lifestyle.
Supergirl goes by her real name. In all the Superman universes, including Smallville, Superman goes by Clark in his regular life. Pretty much no one is allowed to call him Kal-El. And let’s face it, Kal-El doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Kara, on the other hand, is a real name on our planet, so Supergirl goes by her real name, both in regular life and when she’s fighting crime at the DEO. A central tenet of feminism is that the way we use language matters, and there is power in naming important people and experiences. Feminist textual analysis often notices when women are named in texts— and when they’re not. Calling a woman by her name is powerful, and Kara claims her given (Kryptonian) name. Which leads into…
Supergirl struggles with her identity, which is something all real women do. By virtue of her frozen-time backstory, Kara has vivid memories of her family and life on Krypton. She lives into her dual citizenship on Krypton and Earth, which is a cultural balancing act. In our (supposedly alien-free) society, people of color experience something similar every day, having to be proficient in white culture as well as the culture from which they come. Women experience this also, living in a man’s world. We have to work to maintain our feminine identities while operating in work spaces and sometimes religions that are male-dominated, and therefore oriented toward the way “old boys’ clubs” work. Hence the glass ceiling. Fortunately, Kara has a supportive boss, Cat, who broke the glass ceiling herself and is willing to help Kara face the same hurdles. Kara also struggles with being adopted. Adopted children struggle with questions of identity all their lives, as illustrated in this poignant letter to the stars of Supergirl from an adoptive mom. Carrie, the author, explains how the media usually portrays adoptive parents inaccurately. Her story illustrates how powerful it is for her daughters to watch a story focusing on an adoptive family that’s more true to life. Even without the adoption dynamic, Kara’s struggles in her family relationships mirror real life. Unlike many shows, which either gloss over the reality of complex family relationships or parody them in the extreme (I’m looking at you, Modern Family!), Supergirl portrays relationships as they often are: complicated, but full of love. Any woman knows that relationships with sisters and mothers can be tumultuous. Supergirl portrays the tensions in these relationships well, while still showing the intense love and loyalty that family brings, adoptive or not. Finally, last but not least…
“Why does this even matter?” you might inquire. I’m glad you asked! Women in this culture are always being told we should diet. Female bodies that aren’t basically twigs are unacceptable in the media, which is why plus-size models are so extraordinary. Women are more likely than men to develop an eating disorder, and young women are especially vulnerable: 86% of those with eating disorders report they began before age 20, and 41% of all 1st-3rd graders want to be thinner. Controlling what women eat, psychologically or otherwise, is a means of controlling and devaluing women’s bodies.
Many TV shows portray women eating salads, discussing diets, and not-eating at dinner tables. Not Supergirl! Kara usually eats very healthy meals, but she’s also shown feasting on favorites like hamburgers, pizza, ice cream, curry, and donuts. Her chow-and-chat sessions on the couch with Alex at the end of a long day are one of the best parts of the show. They’re a chance for the sisters to process all that’s happened, support one another, and be women actually enjoying food on camera. When you think about it, that’s actually pretty rare. While some comedies make women who love food the butt of the joke, Supergirl seizes the opportunity to break that stigma. Kara needs super fuel, and feeding her super-fast metabolism sends a message to young girls that there’s no guilt or shame in calorically supporting their bodies.
By now, hopefully you’ve been convinced to give Supergirl a try if you haven’t watched it yet. The end of the season is especially exciting, particularly with the Flash crossover. If you already love the show, share it with a young girl— or boy!— in your life and plant seeds of empowerment in their hearts.
*Before any men’s rights activists jump on my use of the term “feminist”, my definition of feminism is “the radical notion that women are people”. Any true feminist, in my opinion, believes in the basic equality of all people regardless of sex, gender, race, creed, orientation, etc.
Howdy True Believers! As you probably know, at the end of the month Boston Comic Con will be in full swing. Once a fairly small showcase of local shops and talent, the Con is now a major event, drawing attendees from around the East Coast and the country with an impressive selection of guests and vendors.
Since so many folks will be visiting our fair city for the first time, Tiny Doom and I thought it would be fun to put together a list of our favorite Boston attractions – restaurants, museums, and of course, comic shops for you to visit. This week we’ll focus on spots you can find both around the Seaport World Trade Center, where the con is held, and in other parts of Boston proper. Next week we’ll post some spots farther afield for those of you who either have a bit more time in our fabulous metropolis – or for you local readers who are looking for something new to visit.
So, the Seaport! This is an up and coming neighborhood – formerly a wasteland of wharves and factories, it’s now one of the hottest properties in the city. That means there’s plenty of options for food and great sites to explore once you’ve had your fill of comics culture. We’ll start off with eats, because no one wants to live on convention hall food – do they?
The first thing you should know about Lucky’s is that it’s basically unmarked (no outside signage), so pay attention to your map or GPS. This is all part of the Rat Pack/speak easy vibe they have going on. Given this, it’s not a bright and airy place. It’s dark, subterranean, and may remind you of your grandparents’ downstairs. None of these are bad things, but if you are hoping for patio dining after being at the Con all day, this isn’t your spot. That said, if you are looking to settle in with pals, drink cocktails, and partake in food that may be a bit splurgy for your diet, this is one of the better spots in the Seaport. When Tiny Doom went on her Mac and Cheese tour of 2014, this spot scored very well. For this area Lucky’s would be considered “moderately priced” and the portions are ample. If you are going on a weekend, make reservations, and be aware that this place gets PACKED.
Superheroes have been featured in and on a lot of products and causes over the years. Some of these make total sense and go naturally with comics, while others – soap, fruit pies, and asthma awareness – are a bit more of a stretch. In this latter category falls a very special book that I am fortunate enough to have in my possession thanks to the generosity of Mr. Menace – The DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook: Good food kids can make themselves.
Granted, it’s not a complete mismatch. If you assume that superheroes are supposed to be role models for kids, someone to look up to and emulate, why not have them promote good nutrition and the joys of home cooking?* It’s a pretty reasonable idea. What makes this book a bit odd is the way the authors have attempted to integrate the heroes and the recipes, as you’ll see.
Whether it’s the directions for cracking an egg or Supergirl cooking chicken parts with her heat vision, the book looks great. However, by modern standards the recipes are a bit bizarre and really show their 1980’s health food roots. There is an outright shocking amount of wheat germ worked into these: coating the aforementioned chicken, stirred into birthday cakes, and perhaps most oddly, rounding out Hawkman’s creepy sculptural scrambled eggs.
This is where the uneasiness of the whole concept is most obvious. Hawkman’s joke is so bad that even Hawkgirl won’t put up with it, and in the quest to have a themed, healthy foodstuff, we’ve stopped right into the mouth of madness, recipe-wise, cooking up vaguely bird-shaped scrambled eggs with wheat germ and raisins in them. Raisins. In scrambled eggs. Okay, I get it, there are only two and it’s just for the look of it, but I’m not sure that this way lies the path to culinary greatness for the tween set.
And what’s up with Green Lantern’s peanut butter obsession? There are three recipes devoted to it, culminating in…whatever this is.
I guess they’re cookies. If cookies were made with bananas and sadness.
Meanwhile, Green Arrow threatens to shoot anyone who’s not interested in nutrition:
…for a few reasons:
1. I had pretty much all of the necessary ingredients to hand, although I did upgrade my whole grain bread. (I’m sorry, I didn’t stock up on wheat germ.)
2. Mr. Menace really likes French toast.
3. That joke where Robin transposes “Batman” and “batter” is inadvertently hilarious and terrible.
The recipe is dead simple – it doesn’t even include any milk. Just egg, banana, and some cinnamon, with whole-grain bread. I made a double batch because I have oodles of brown bananas in my freezer.
Well, it looked good. How did it taste? The banana was obscured by the cinnamon at first, but eventually came through. Was it the best French toast I’d ever had? Not really, but I think that might be due to the bread I chose, which had a slight sourdough tang – it would probably be far more delicious with the usual white bread. That’s the mystery of the Super Healthy Cookbook, ultimately – did it have its intended effect? Did, as the foreword hoped, kids learn that “Healthier food is often tastier than unhealthy food, men too can cook, good nutrition isn’t dull, and – above all, cooking can be a pleasure?” I fear not – I know far too many adults who still need to learn those messages. Then again, perhaps they weren’t exposed to the magic of the Vegetable Robots:
Take us to your eater, indeed.
Did you have this cookbook, or the Marvel one? Tell me all about it in the comments!
* The author of the book’s foreword, Dr. Joan Gussow, was an early proponent of local, “real food” nutrition and an inspiration to folks like Michael Pollan who are writing today. Sadly it seems that Superman didn’t totally change our eating habits.
So. Of the many things fantasy, sci-fi, and comic book related that we ladies like, one of the foremost is George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF), at least for TinyDoom and I. It started with HBO’s amazing adaptation of the series, named Game of Thrones after the first book (just in case you’ve been living under a rock, I wanted to clear that up). Then we each devoured the entire 5 books of the series (and yes, we wish he’d hurry up and write the rest of them, too.) So when season two of the series came out, we were ready to take it to the next level and do some literal devouring. Thankfully, the internet was here to help.
You see, Martin is famous for his depictions of food in his books. I suspect this is due to the influence of Tolkien on his work – Tolkien’s food references are well-documented by better scholars than I. Or maybe Martin just likes to eat. In any case, two young ladies – Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer – had a brilliant idea – to take all of the dishes described in ASOIAF, cook them, eat them, and blog the results. The blog, Inn at the Crossroads, quickly gained a huge following, references in the media, and eventually led to a cookbook deal. I know what you’re thinking – how did these ladies get so lucky, and can it rub off on me? (Here’s hoping.)
So. Tiny Doom and I like ASOIAF. We also both like cooking, most especially if it involves some sort of crazy project. Would you like us to pit one million cherries by hand? Steep blueberries in vodka for a week? Churn our own butter? We will do it. Clearly, this cookbook was made for us. And when I heard that the ladies behind it would be at our local bookstore, with lemon cakes (!), we were so there.
The lemon cakes turned out to be important, because that’s what kicked off the whole project. If you’re familiar with Martin’s books, you know they come up a lot – they’re arguably the most important foodstuff in there.
In fact, I’d made the version of the Elizabethan cakes that was up on the blog myself, for a Season Two finale dinner Tiny Doom and I had cooked. It was clear that the cakes had continued to go through various iterations, as mine looked nothing like the ones Sariann (known as Chopped Ginger on the blog) had made.
This variation turned out to be a major theme of the talk – clearly, working from medieval recipes leads to interesting and variable results, not all of them positive. Monroe-Cassel and Lehrer spend a lot of time testing, tasting, and re-testing recipes to be sure that they are edible, replicable (it can be hard sourcing period ingredients) and safe (it can also be deadly sourcing period ingredients – we’re talking about people who brewed beer with hemlock).
Folks asked great questions during the talk, and the ladies had thoughtful answers and were willing to share their tips, tricks, and sources. We learned that snake is pricy, swan is illegal (in New England, anyway), and that brawn is just not that tasty no matter how well prepared. Sariann revealed that she’s fallen in love with suet pastry, and Chelsea gets satisfaction out of beating meringue by hand (the trick is a copper bowl).
All in all it was a grand evening, we got our books signed, and yes, the lemon cakes were delicious. Keep an eye out for future posts as TinyDoom and I cook our favorite recipes from the book!