Introducing the Pop Culture Kitchen

So I haven’t blogged much in the past few months. I realize this, and there are a few reasons for my inactivity. The beginning of this pregnancy was intense, to say the least, and I fell into a bit of a depression. I got my medications pretty well straightened out almost immediately, but I had some lingering icky feelings for quite a while. I essentially quit feeling like I had anything worth writing about, or if I came up with an idea, I just didn’t feel like sitting down and writing about it because where in the hell was I supposed to get any extra energy or brain power from?

As I gradually came out of this slump, I found myself busier and busier with work (teaching at a nearby community college) and simultaneously chasing around an increasingly mobile toddler who no longer naps all day. Added to this was the pleasant surprise that a book that I had written a chapter for a while ago, which had subsequently been shelved for various reasons, was suddenly going to be published again, and I needed to update my chapter before the end of the year. It was a busy, busy time, and I loved having so much to do. I think this really helped get me back to my happy place where I feel almost confident about stuff like, ya know, having a skill set. Oh, and my new therapist is probably helping a bit, too (that is, a LOT).

In any case, I finished teaching the fall semester and won’t be able to take on a class in the spring (because there’s essentially no provision for maternity leave when you’re an adjunct instructor), so I’m on a leave of sorts until next fall. And I finished revising that book chapter. And I can’t really take on copyediting work since I’ve got two months before I’ll have a newborn and my life is thrown into chaos. So I looked around one day over the holidays and realized I needed something to do when the holidays were over. Also, my therapist told me to find a new project, since I’m happiest when I’m busy with something that engages my brain. Go figure.

I knew I had this blog hanging around in the background, but I just couldn’t keep it going with the disorganized I’ll-post-when-I-think-of-a-topic manner that I started with. I needed a specific theme that I could base a publishing calendar on so that I can give myself specific assignments and deadlines. Otherwise I’ll never get anything done, except maybe beat a shitload of levels on Candy Crush, which I’m awesome at, but it isn’t really all that satisfying.

Inspiration struck when I read the book A Life from Scratch by blogger Sasha Martin. She set out to cook a meal from every country in the world, which gave her a specific goal and laid out a lot of assignments for her to fulfill. I decided that I needed that kind of structure and long-term planning. (By the way, Martin’s book is very good, but definitely not the light food-blogger book I expected it to be. She lived through some serious shit, y’all.)

I decided a cooking challenge was my best bet, since I really enjoy cooking and do it pretty much every day. Although I’m no pro, I can generally find my way around a saucepan. And my only other ideas were for projects that I’m just not in any way willing to commit to on a long-term schedule: DIY projects or a diet/exercise program. I mean, come on. I’ve had a half-painted armoire sitting in the middle of our guest room for about a year, and I’m seven-ish months pregnant, which is a fabulous excuse to avoid working out and eating healthy.

The pop culture cooking idea came to me as I was digging through my cookbook shelf. I noticed that I own several cookbooks based on books or authors. Pop culture and popular literature are absolutely my chosen areas of study (That book chapter I wrote? Yeah, that’s about The Walking Dead), so friends and family have given me these cookbooks as gifts over the years. That’s right, I personally own cookbooks based on the Song of Ice and Fire series and Jane Austen’s books, as well as a book by author Marian Keyes. And I’ve also read through several Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Fifty Shades of Gray cookbooks at the book store (from what I can tell, the Fifty Shades cookbook is much better than the novels). Why do these things exist? Because of nerds like me. That’s why.

But I’m not into recipe development; I’m just a humble recipe follower. I like to watch cooking shows and pretend I have more skills than I actually possess and try out new things that I read about on other blogs. So I’m going to take this opportunity to work my way through these recipes and write about my experiences. This isn’t an ambitious quest; it’s merely a project to keep me from going crazy while I’m staying home with my kid(s). I’m sure I’ll still work in some life updates and gif posts along the way, but the cooking format gives me a basic outline to stick to.

So here’s the plan. I’m going to start with The Hunger Games, making one meal per week from recipes in The Unofficial Recipes of the Hunger Games (Rockridge University Press, 2012). After that, I’ll move into A Feast of Ice and Fire (Monroe-Cassel and Lehrer, Bantam, 2012) and so on, until I run out of steam or cookbooks. Interspersed with these, I’m going to have a burger night every week based on the Bob’s Burgers specials board (if you haven’t watched Bob’s Burgers, go do it now). I’ll document my successes and failures and talk about how each meal turns out, and I’ll probably also do a bit of discussion of the book/show as well. I may also develop the blog further along the way (perhaps switching to private hosting and changing the domain name), but that is yet to be seen because I have just oh so much to learn.

And, of course, if you have any recommendations on cookbooks or want to discuss books and TV shows, by all means, comment away. I look forward to seeing how this goes.

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