Category Archives: baking tip

Cooking with the Kitchen Overlord: A Parent/Kid Whovian Food Review

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Originally ran May 30, 2015:

Images: Lisa Kay Tate

I recently had the privilege of talking with Kitchen Overload creator Chris-Rachael Oseland about her work on a “Regenerated” edition of her popular Dining with the Doctor unofficial Doctor Who cookbook for GeekMom.

The book, funded with the help of a Kickstarter campaign through June 2, will offer more than 140 Whovian recipes, including 60 from the original cookbook and more than 60 new recipes, high-quality photography, interior artwork by Tom Gordon (illustrator for Oseland’s Kitchen Overlord’s Illustrated Geek Cookbook), bonus chapters for cocktails and Fish Fingers and Custard, and an updated index with dietary restrictions.

“Dining With the Doctor: Regenerated is going to be a brick of a book because I’m including a recipe and mini recap for every episode of series 1-8. So if you’re into NuWho (the 2005 reboot onwards) I’ve totally got you covered,” Oseland said.

Oseland also shared a few favorite Whovian recipes for myself and my family to try out, and the Minion Feeding 101 clan was more than anxious get started.

We had been familiar with Kitchen Overlord for sometime, and even used The Doctor’s Yorkshire Pudding recipe during Christmas dinner. This was the first time, however, the girls took on the task of creating a recipe themselves.

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Five-year-old Erin took her job of creating Zygon French Bread Pizza Heads very seriously. That didn’t mean she couldn’t sneak a few mini-pepperonis.

The first recipe we attempted was the Zygon French Bread Pizza Heads. This was the easiest of the three, and the best suited for my youngest daughter, Erin, a recent Kindergarten “graduate.” My only part in the process was slicing the bread and peppers, and adding the “nostrils” afterwards. Erin adeptly arranged the Zygon heads, and followed the recipe perfectly with the cheese, pepperoni and roasted pepper placement. She was extremely thrilled at these coming out looking close to the ones in the official recipe, and couldn’t have been happier if she’d made a perfect soufflé.

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My awkward little eggs, compared to the official image from Oseland’s beautifully crafted recipe. They were, however, still extremely nummy.

I tried the Deviled Ood With Horseradish and Bacon myself, primarily because it allowed me to face long-time culinary fear — hard boiling eggs. I’ve been able to get away with shoddy boiling jobs during the annual Easter egg hunts, but I really wanted to get this one right. The filler mix was easy enough, and temptingly good. If I didn’t want to go Whovian, I would have just mixed the egg whites, bacon, cucumber and basil in with it to make a sandwich spread…which I may do in the future, because it IS that good.

Now here’s the embarrassing part….of the three recipes Oseland suggested, it was the “grown up” who messed hers up the most. Despite thinking I have followed every “how to boil an egg” instruction to the letter, my poor Oods’ heads looked like they were still waiting for their skin to clear up after those awkward teen years.

I also didn’t realize until after they were half-consumed how squishy I had their heads, so they weren’t only battling a skin condition, they were getting over that adolescent Ood baby fat. Poor things. Despite this, they were still presentable, and very edible.

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Molly, now 14, spent her last day as a 12-year-old perfecting the art of dough-making…with a little help from official “glaze-master” and companion, Erin.

My oldest daughter, Molly, wanted to do the Pull Apart Bow Tie Rolls, because the little scientist in her wanted to see the process of making dough from scratch. She also confirmed, of course, that “bow ties are cool.” I was at first worried about her attention span in making the bread, but creating dough by scratch worked perfect for the tween. She got to take an hour break, to play on her “three Ps,” Pinterest, Polyvore, and Pottermore,” before getting to punch a big wad of dough. The assembling of the bow ties was also great fun for her, and they looked really good.

They turned out really nice, and the consistency and taste of the bread was wonderful. We saved them, and had them for her birthday breakfast with tea the next morning. And, she made them, all by herself…almost. Little sister insisted on helping so much, we designated her official glaze-master. She handled the task like a true companion. Better, actually (we don’t always have the highest confidence in the Doctor’s people collection).

This one turned out to be our favorite recipe of the three, and we plan on making this one again soon.

Once we successfully created all three recipes, my girls offered their official on-the-record opinions:

“The recipe was fun to make, and it was really, really easy. I thought the dough would be hard to make, but it wasn’t at all. I was very happy with the way they came out. It was delicious. My favorite thing about making it was eating it!”

— Molly, age 12

“I thought these pizzas were really tasty. I really liked putting the cheese on them the most, but I also liked eating the pepperoni when we were putting them on the heads.”

— Erin, age 5 (who I estimate consumed a good two Zygons worth of mini-pepperoni pieces)

The final consensus from all of us was the recipes were simple, but not “simplistic.” There was actually something to them, not just a configuration of prepackaged foods made to resemble a pop culture character. The only one to actually come close to this description was the pizza bread, but that was a perfect fit for the busy hands and easily-distracted mind of an active five-year-old.

As for my older daughter, the bow ties were easy enough to not get discouraged, but involved enough to not be bored. Plus, you can never go wrong with “The Doctor” in our household. Most importantly, though, everything we made was genuinely yummy. Everyone in the family enjoyed all three recipes. Cooking and baking are fun, but what good is a recipe if you can’t have just as much fun consuming it?

Other books by Chris-Rachael Oseland we recommend. These aren’t “kids” cookbooks either, but recipes that are just fun to make and eat for geeks of all fandoms.

Other books by Chris-Rachael Oseland we recommend. These aren’t “kids” cookbooks either, but recipes that are just fun to make and eat for geeks of all fandoms.

The entire Minion Feeding 101 wholeheartedly recommends cooks of all ages and levels check out Oseland’s books and website to find a fandom befitting their culinary and pop culture tastes.

We’re looking forward to picking up a copy of her “Dining With the Doctor: Regenerated Edition” next year, as well as “going on an adventure” with another favorite of ours, Bilbo Baggins and crew with An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery.

One of the best ways to maximize that important dinner-table family time is to get my girls in the kitchen beforehand taking part of the process. These were a perfect excuse to get them laughing together, talking about their day, arguing over who the best “Doctor,” is and just enjoying each others’ company. This isn’t easy with two strong-willed kids separated by seven years.

Being able to compare the results of their labor, and be proud of learning something new  and showing it off to Dad, Mom and Grandpa was a positive as well. Plus, this gave them a huge pool of ideas for parties, summer projects and other boredom killers.

When else can you get to hear at the dinner table, “can I have another Zygon?”

Find more great recipe, tips and product reviews on Oseland’s Kitchen Overlord website, or pick up her books online at Amazon.

Read the entire interview with Oseland at GeekMom.

— Lisa Kay Tate

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Artist-inspired Projects: Jackson Pollock

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Pollock-tribute cookies are a fun way to introduce kids to art and cooking projects.

The Artist: Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock was a an American abstract expressionist artist best known for his drip painting, a form of abstract art created by paint dripped or poured onto a canvas or other surface.

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Even books about Pollock feature his drip painting method on their covers.

Pollock was born in 1912 in Wyoming. He always possessed an independent and aggressive nature, and was expelled from two high schools as a teenager. He later moved to New York to study at Art Students League, and later found work during the Great Depression for the WPA Federal Art Project. Soon after, he received a commission to create a mural on the townhouse of renowned art collector Peggy Guggenheim, and people begin taking notice of his talent.

It was in 1936, when he first discovered the use of liquid paint for drip painting method. He not only preferred this style, he used whatever he could to create his images, from resin-based paints to household paints. He became so well known for this style, a 1956 Time Magazine article dubbed him “Jack the Dripper.”

Although some critics regarded his style as nothing more than random, “meaningless images,” he went on to become one of the Twentieth Century’s most respected artists.

One thing about his style, is it very satisfying and energetic to try out, and there are even online sites that allow people to try out his method. The site jacksonpollock.org (not to be mistaken with the actual biography site), will take art lovers right to a page where they can create their own drip painting.

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My little image made on jacksonpollock.org.

Pollock died in a car accident in 1956 at age 44, and was given a memorial retrospective exhibit of his work at New York City’s Museum of Modern art a few months later.

Pollock didn’t always care what these critics thought, as he knew what he wanted to say and how to say it. That was what mattered.

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you,” he said in a 1950 interview in New Yorker. “There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was. It was a fine compliment. Only he didn’t know it.”

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Pollock liked to use unconventional means for his drip painting style. Why not decorative icing?

The Project: Pollock Cookies!

Pollock used a number of less conventional tools in his works, such as sticks and basting syringes, so this project will utilize a medium that is both unconventional and tasty… decorative icing!

Since this is an art project more than an actual cooking project, use commercial pre-made, plain sugar cookie dough, like the type that is almost too tempting not to eat raw.

Use regular commercial cake decorating icing or gel icing, or use a basic powdered sugar glaze recipe found in pretty much every baking cookbook there is. Different colored glazes can be made with just one drop of food coloring in each batch, and a small medicine dropper, syringe, or teaspoon can be used to create the drip pattern.

Like the Be the Artist project for Josef Albers, this project is primarily about identifying at theme through color. Find a favorite group of characters… Justice League, the characters of Inside Out or cast of Orphan Black, X-Men, the band Gwar…whatever you want to represent, and convey it, via drizzling color schemes on plain, cooked, sugar cookies in icing.

For example, the family really enjoyed Cookie Monster’s “Shower Thoughts” at with musings from New York City museums (including cookie-related comments like “cookie dough is sushi for desserts!”). We thought a nice cookie homage to him and other Monster muppets would be in order.

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Cookie Monster and Elmo cookies…Pollock style!

Use two, three, or four colors that represent that character. Drizzle them on the already baked and cooled cookies in icing, but not just all over the place. Think about how much of each color this character would best be represented by, as well as the placement. Let them dry and arrange them, not stacked, onto a serving dish.

Once finished, you can serve this little tasty gallery as part of an art-themed party, or just as a way to make dessert or snack time a little more colorful. To make it more interactive, have everyone guess which theme or characters the cookies represent, before eating them.

These may not be works in traditional paint on canvas, but the according to the book, Abstract Expressionism: Creators and Critics by Clifford Ross, Pollock expressed what he felt the important source of modern art is…and it wasn’t merely in the medium, or even in the subject:

“Most modern painters work from a different source, they work from within,” he said.

Originally ran in GeekMom July 30, 2015.

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Fozzy Bear and Kermit cookies, by two 12 and younger artists!

The Twelve* Whos of Christmas: Time Lord Gingerbread Men

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whocookies1Let’s do the math…

Able to overcome limitations of time and space: Check.
Has appeared in varying “versions” of himself for different generations: Check.
Has a completely badass-yet-unlikely form of universal transportation: Check.

It’s official — Santa is a Time Lord. How about leaving him at treat worthy of this title, Time Lord Doctors 1-4gingerbread men.

This is just a matter of taking your ordinary gingerbread men and jazzing them up a bit…something that becomes a pretty fun parent/kid activity, particularly if you like to eat frosting.

Okay, since this is just a “quick tip,” I’m not going to commit you to any new and revolutionary gingerbread recipe, use any gingerbread (or sugar cookie) recipe, as long as it’s one intended fore shaped cookies. I’ve used plain old Betty Crocker gingerbread mix for the little Whos down in Timey Wimey “Who”ville’ shown in the picture, but off-brands work well, too. When I’m in the mood to be more “authentic” I like to use the cookie and icing recipe Ray Keim (remember the Haunted Dimensions guy?), uses for his fantabulous gingerbread homes at Doctors 5-8 haunteddimensions.raykeim.com/index505.

Take plain old gingerbread man cookie cutter and get your 11 Time Lords cut out, but leave a little left over to cut out a rectangle for a Tardis (you can’t leave out your Tardis, after all). Now, since these are cookies, we’re not going to get too elaborate, but simply give some “hints” to each Doctor’s distinct look.  I’ve included some templates the geeklings and I cooked up, but feel free to “outdo” us in imagination. That’s what it’s all about. Don’t forget to leave some cookie scraps to make simple accessories like the Eleventh Doctor’s Fez or Seventh Doctor’s umbrella, you can attach with icing once they are done.

Most importantly, once you cook them, wait until they are completely cool before icing. This is the hardest part for myDoctors 9-10-1 kids (and, yes, for me too). Pre-colored cookie frosting works best if you are dealing with kids, since they often come packaged with easy-to-use tips for designing. Mix your own food coloring into plain royal icing for more specific colors (like that Willy Wonka-mated-with-the-Easter Bunny’s mutant offspring get-up the Sixth Doctor wore. Seriously, wassup with dat?) Most icing recipes are as simple as mixing about a half pound of powdered sugar with one egg white.

Our favorites turned out to be, not surprisingly, the Fourth Doctor’s awesome scarf and Tenth Doctor’s red 11th Doctor and Tardissneakers, but aren’t they the two best Doctors anyway (debate your own favorites among yourselves, here).
You can poke a hole in them lightly with a chop stick and string make some edible ornaments, or place them out for Santa and see if bring his sonic screwdriver with him…I’m betting he has one.

* Yes, I KNOW, there are only Eleven doctors…count the cookies!

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