I told my mum to buy The Hunger Games, then stole it off her before she had a chance to read it. Sorry mum. You were too slow. Plus you’re reading about 8 books at once.
I only started reading The Hunger Games on Friday night and haven’t been able to put it down…I’ve just a few chapters left, but felt I had to blog about it this week – especially considering the movie is out too. For those who haven’t read it – it’s by Suzanne Collins and set in a bleak vision of the future where what’s left of the destroyed world has been divided up into districts. Food is scarce and children are forced to enter The Hunger Games where you either kill or be killed. It’s a bit like a cross between Logan’s Run and Gladiator, where Katniss and Peeta have to survive in a hostile wilderness, constantly under the eye of the cameras. You can’t put it down.
Finding things to eat is a strong theme in the book, and the descriptions of what real hunger is like are so vivid. ‘The Hunger Games’ is also a foragers delight. Katniss and Gale create incredible meals with what they can find in the forest. Fish, rabbits, wild strawberries, wild greens like dandelions, pokeweed, wild onions and pine bark and roots. Even the name Katniss, is a type of edible root – also known as a Sagittaira, arrowhead or duck potato. Check out this recipe for arrowhead and chicken soup, and arrowhead pasta.
It’s definitely a skill I would love to have, to know which wild herbs and roots to make stews out of, how to hunt with a bow and arrow. I’m not sure I’d be so keen on hunting squirrel – which features a lot in District 12. The closest I’ve come to foraging is hanging out with a famous mushroom hunter called Dick the Mushroom. He has a secret map of Perthshire and Fife with places to find incredible mushrooms like the Miller, Chantrelle, Ceps mushrooms.
The Capitol – is where the wealthy live in the book and the menus that Suzanne Collins describes are incredible…chicken and chunks of oranges in creamy sauce, with rolls shaped like flowers, and dessert the colour of honey. Later as they progress through the training for the games, they have “mushroom soup with tomatoes the size of peas, rare roast beef sliced as thin as paper and noodles in a green sauce, cheese that melts on your tongue served with sweet blue grapes.” Katniss’ favourite is the lamb with dried plums.
The first meal of the book is the most simple and humble; a tiny goats cheese wrapped in basil leaves that Katniss’ sister Prim gives her.
So here’s my version…
Goats cheese tarts
For the pasty cases (a gluten free recipe especially for my future mother in law)
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3 tbsps gluten free flour
1/4 cup purple corn flour (this is from a corn grown in Peru and you can get from the health food shop)
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g/4oz cold butter, cut into cubes
2 tbsps ice cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Mix all your dry ingredients together.
2. Rub in the butter.
3. Add the egg.
4. Drizzle in the water, using a knife to pull all the ingredients together.
5. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Roll out and cut to fit mini quiche tins.
7. Bake in the oven with some dry beans for 10 minutes at 150C.
For the filling
Baby organic tomatoes
Fresh goats cheese
Salt & pepper
1. Saute your garlic, onions and courgettes until just translucent.
2. Simply arrange you fillings and add some goats cheese on top.
3. Bake in the oven at 150C for 10-15 minutes.
Serve on a bed of lettuce, basil and mustard greens. To make these tarts even better I would suggest smearing the bottom of the cases with tomato paste and some more of the goats cheese.
For Peeta and Katniss the best thing they eat is ‘hot chocolate’. They break off bits of roll and dip them inside it. So for this next recipe, I created special sweet dipping breadsticks flavoured with almonds and poppy seeds and a lovely hazelnut chocolate dipping sauce.
Bread dipped in hot chocolate
For the breadsticks
250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp yeast
50g poppy seeds
For the chocolate sauce
100g of hazelnuts
200g of chocolate
1. Mix your dough ingredients together (for breadmakers – just use the dough setting, then form your twisted sticks and leave to rise for another 20 minutes.
3. Brush with an egg wash and put into the oven for 15 mins at 175C.
2. To make the chocolate sauce, simply heat the chocolate in a bowl over some simmering water, add in the roasted chopped hazelnuts.
Definitely eat these hot – they are lovely and crispy but with a soft centre to help soak up the chocolate and cream.
Has anyone else read the book or seen the movie yet?