Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, both book and movie, is the feature at both Food 'n Flix and Cook the Books. You didn't have to read and watch it to participate, but I sure did and it was quite enjoyable.

Our host for Food 'n Flix is the busiest woman on earth, Heather at Girlichef - the announcement post may be found HERE. If it's the book announcement you are looking for please check out Cook the Books HERE

Narrated by Katniss Everdeen, this story starts off in Panem where you get a feel for the harsh world she lives in, dealing with a permanent struggle against starvation. Hunger, poverty and loss are every day issues for the people in District 12. For all districts except the folks in the Capitol where food is abundant and people are spoiled.

You get the back story of a rebellion and the resulting punishment for all districts involved. District 13 was annihilated, leaving the other 12 districts to forcibly participate in an annual televised event. That is The Hunger Games. A ceremony is held in each district where the names of a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are drawn to be contestants. These 24 children are called tributes and will be groomed, trained and placed in an arena to fight to the death. One winner gets the fame and all the luxuries of food and comfort for their district.

Now, how freaking cold is that….to bet on this “sporting event” that is clearly unevenly matched.

The day arrives (called the day of reaping) and as luck would have it, Katniss little sister, 12 year old Prim, had her name drawn from the bowl. Knowing she won’t survive, Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place. It’s an act of love, a sacrifice she isn’t sure she can win, but she won’t let her sister go to slaughter and instinctively steps up. One thing I loved in the book (and movie) was how the other folks of District 12 placed their two fingers up to their mouths in a gesture of homage and respect for Katniss’ action. To their credit, as Katniss relays it, they didn’t clap.

The male tribute is Peeta Mellark, a baker's son who saved Katniss' family from starvation by tossing them a burnt loaf of bread one evening. He saw katniss’ desperation, her hunger, and gave her food in spite of the beating he knew he’d take from his mother.

The two tributes get loaded on a train with their trainer, Haymitch Abernathy, a survivor of The Hunger Games many, many years ago. But now he’s a drunk. Great….

Just in case someone reads my post and hasn’t read the book, let me stop rehashing the plot so you can find out how entertaining this book is, and pick up a copy and get started. No spoilers from me….but there are twists with the plot that I think you will enjoy. Let’s get to the food, shall we?

I made quite a few dishes as I was overwhelmed with the descriptions of food and what it meant to Katniss and her family…to all the people who wrangle with hunger on a daily basis.

As I am participating in both Cook the Books and Food ‘n Flix let me say a few words about the movie. Overall I would say they did an excellent job of staying true to the book’s story line. The cat was not the same color. Not a big factor but there you are. A big change was leaving out the Mayor’s daughter and her exchange with Katniss and Gale. The symbolic gift of the Mockingjay pin was integral to the story as it emphasized, once again, the differences in the lives of the poor families vs. the families with professionals and rank in the community.

Woody Harrelson was not who I pictured to play Haymitch Abernathy but I have to say, he pulled it off well. Good job on being the drunken mentor.

Lots of action, story certainly held my attention and wow - so much food in the story line. Perfect. Just difficult to pick one dish. So, I bring you several dishes and recipes to follow during the week. Otherwise, this post will be excruciatingly long...and it kinda already is)

The representative dish for this post is Rabbit Stew. Recipe follows after I share photos of the other dishes I was inspired to make from this book.

Rabbit stew with a K – This dish represented a huge turning point in the Everdeen's survival. Katniss snared her first rabbit and brought it home to her mother. Mom slowly emerged from her numbed state of grief over losing the love of her life and she made a stew. She started taking care of her daughters again. She became part of their lives again.

*Note: We have recently had a less than pleasant experience with rabbit. I have not posted that yet (but will) and so, I am calling this Rabbit with a K. Like how you see crab spelled with a K cause it's not real crab. Also, K is for Katniss, so while I substituted chicken thigh meat for this dish, it's still all about the symbolism of this stew and what it meant for the Everdeen family. Cool? Cool.

Other dishes prepared are:

Sauteed Rabbit (Story and dish posted HERE)

Gale's Marrow Bone Beefy Soup

Apple Tart: Hunting outside of your district is illegal, but that doesn't stop Katniss from snagging nice Fall apples. A tart would be a nice treat for people who don't often get a dessert.

The next few posts will highlight the sauteed rabbit, the marrow bone soup and apple tart...with accompanying recipes.

Now here is the recipe for rabbit stew, substitute chicken if you'd like:

Ingredients and Directions

2 TB oil, vegetable oil works but I used olive oil
· 1 cup coarsely chopped peeled turnip
· 1 cup chopped peeled carrot
· 1 (3-pound) rabbit, cut into pieces
· 3/4 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
· 2 thyme sprigs
· 1 bay leaf
· 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
· 2 cups chopped leek
· 1 cup finely chopped celery
· 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
· 1 tablespoon minced garlic
· 1 cup dry white wine
· 2 cups homemade chicken broth
· 1 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
· 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
· 1/4 cup heavy cream
· 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
· 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
· 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
· 12 ounces fettuccine or egg noodles

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Stir in turnip and carrot; sauté 12 minutes or until vegetables begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove vegetables from pan; set aside.

Sprinkle both sides of rabbit evenly with salt and pepper. Add 2 1/4 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of rabbit; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove rabbit from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 1/4 teaspoons oil and rabbit. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.

Place peppercorns, thyme, cloves, and bay leaf on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add leek, celery, shallots, and garlic; sauté 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add wine and cheesecloth bag; bring to a boil. Stir in broth and stone-ground mustard; return rabbit to pan. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until rabbit is done.

Remove rabbit from bones; shred with 2 forks. Discard bones. Strain cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Return meat and cooking liquid to pan. Stir in reserved turnip mixture, Dijon mustard, and cream; bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid is slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in chives, parsley, and tarragon. Discard cheesecloth bag.

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place about 1 cup hot cooked noodles in each of 6 shallow bowls, and divide rabbit mixture evenly among servings.

This is my submission for Food 'n Flix as well as Cook the Books. It was a blast! Please check out the other dishes later this week.


May the odds be ever in your favor!


  1. Let me start by saying that I really like your new layout/look...very clean and great header!!

    Second - wow, you really went all out. I love everything that you made and would be happy to sit down and feast. Funny you didn't picture Woody as Haymitch...he fit so perfectly for me. The only one that wasn't "quite right" for me was Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. I did wind up liking his portrayal, but I picture him totally different!

  2. Everything looks delicious, but I'm really not sure I could eat the rabbit. I raised them as pets when I was a child. My dad had thought he was going to eat them, but he underestimated a tiny force of nature - me!

  3. Nice job. I just went to a butchery class for an article I was commissioned to write and we discussed rabbit marketability during our lunch break. Interesting how people feel so strongly either way - to eat or not to eat. In any case, I love your pick.

  4. What a great selection of Hunger Games inspired food, and review of both movie and book. Now I'm looking forward to that rabbit post.

  5. So many dishes. You were truly inspired! Whether rabbit or chicken, this stew looks delicious.

  6. I don't know which I like more, your comments about the book and movie or your Hunger Games feast. Well done!

  7. Thank you all so very much. I have been absent lately, dealing with a sick dog and just...busy.
    Off to visit you now though!

  8. I love all of your Hunger Games inspired food, especially the apple tart! The rabbit stew is really interesting...I've never made rabbit!

  9. Wow - so many dishes. Great job!

  10. Lots of people raise rabbits here in Georgia to sell as meat, so I think it's becoming trendier to eat it. Hope so as the rabbit I had in Switzerland was delicious.

  11. I am near the Georgia border and have found one meat market which may have fresh rabbit. Will need to check it next time we venture north.

  12. Wow, you really prepared a Hunger Games feast! I am particularly intrigued with the bone marrow soup. That's something that would definitely be made in a place where food is scarce. By the way what are you doing in Florida? Comeback to Aston or Drexel Hill and enjoy our 28° weather!

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  21. You cooked such fabulous dishes for this round and so many of them! I especially want a big slice of that gorgeous apple tart! ;-)

    (I am sorry to just be getting around to seeing everyone's dishes a month later! Bad co-host!) ;-(

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