Note: At the time of writing, the editor, Ryan, also wrote for gameranx.com where the interviewee, Holly Green, was managing editor.
Today, we have a special treat; an interview with veteran gaming journalist, photographer, and now, published author, Holly Green. Holly recently published Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide to Video Game Grub. Fry Scores is a cookbook with recipes for all the wonderful food in videogames you have always wanted to reach into your screen to taste–but never could. It is currently available for purchase on iTunes here for only $ 5.99, for iPad (iBooks 3/iOS 5.1 and above) or Mac (iBooks 1.0/OS X 10.9 and above).
The idea behind Fry Scores was not just to make cooking all this video game food possible, but accessible. That is, assuming you’re willing to take a few minutes in the kitchen. With this in mind, Holly took high-quality photos, and from what I hear, there’s even some video! We talked to Holly about video games, cooking, Guy Fieri, and more.
The appeal behind Fry Scores is easy enough to understand, but what was the specific impetus that drove you to make a game themed cookbook?
The idea for my book actually came from the community members of the last publication I worked for after I’d written an article about video games that made me really hungry. From there it morphed into the idea to make popular video game themed dishes. I wasn’t sure it could be done easily but once I found iBooks Author and had a framework to establish the formatting, the rest fell into place.
You alluded to Drunken Moogle in another interview, and of course, there are other folks that make game-themed recipes. What do you think makes your cookbook / recipes different?
I love what Drunken Moogle does but I was always disappointed that the cocktails were original creations based on video games, instead of cocktails actually featured in video games. With Fry Scores I also wanted to offer in-depth, inventive recipes that would be accessible to the novice cook. I found that when I spoke to other industry members about the idea for my book, they always professed to have “zero” skill in the kitchen. It was then that I realized that my target audience would need to learn some of the basics along the way. I try to assume little foreknowledge on the part of my readers.
What’s you prior experience as a cook? Did you go to cooking school, or do you have professional experience, or learn under anyone famous?
I actually started out in meats and seafood as a cutter and then later was an assistant baker at a local chain. Much of my knowledge of food preparation comes from the grunt end of the service industry. I’ve also been a hobby cook for as long as I can remember. As a child I found recipes very comforting, because they offered a stability that my home life did not. One of my earliest memories is of memorizing the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies recipe because I made it so often for my sisters during the summer. I did a lot of cooking while taking care of them and once I got older that warped into a mother hen-like tendency to turn into a super hostess during any event or holiday. I get a weird sort of high out of doing things like planning and making an entire Thanksgiving dinner by myself. It just appeals to my brain.
People who have been following you for years know you are a huge fan of Guy Fieri? Do you think he would like this book? What would you tell him if you got to meet him?
I actually never even watched one of his shows til a few months ago. Wild, right? I wrote 200 jokes about him but never saw DDD until it showed up on Netflix. I have no idea what I’d do if I met Guy Fieri. Probably laugh a lot and then get too nervous to do anything snarky. I’d be a total chicken.
You’ve published the book initially in iTunes, and are now working on a Kindle edition next. What have you learned from making and publishing your own book in digital?
Self publishing is actually a lot easier these days than people think, is what I learned. It’s so accessible. Almost anyone with an idea can put it out there if they just buckle down and do the work. I actually had to put in more effort to learn food photography and set styling then I did self publishing, which is amazing. Another thing I learned about writing a book is that if you have an idea, you should just get started on it right away. You learn so much in the process that it doesn’t really matter how or where you begin, because the final product will look so different anyway. And many of the lessons you learn along the way can only be learned by just getting out there and trying. My advice to ebooks writers is also to start your book as a Word Doc and then reformat from there. It’s the easiest to adapt across several platforms.
What other platforms would you consider bringing the book? Is Humble Store under consideration?
I am currently working on the Kindle version of Fry Scores, which I hope to have out in the next few weeks. I would love to work with Humble and am very open to it but I haven’t been approached. I think having the book available for Kindle will really help, though.
What’s your advice to other gamers who will try these recipes in your book, or maybe even make their own?
I think successful cooking boils down to a few essentials, primarily watching the heat (when in doubt, start low and work your way up), not using substitutes, and always having the right tools on hand. But almost anything you learn can be solidly reinforced by absorbing information from several sources, so always cross reference a new recipe (whether your own or someone else’s) with others. And if you’re unfamiliar with a technique, look it up immediately, watch a video and read written instructions. When you consult several sources you begin to get a feel for what factors are the most important. Get yourself some basic instructional cookbooks too, references you can fall back on. I love The Joy Of Cooking, which is a classic, and Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.
To end, Holly was generous enough to share one of her recipes with us. This is a delectable recipe for the french toast from The Sims 3. We hope you enjoy it, and again, you can purchase Fry Scores here.
French Toast (The Sims 3)
6 slices of bread
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Dried grated orange peel or 1 tsp. orange juice concentrate
Orange bitters (optional)
Cinnamon or apple pie spice
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Like Grilled Cheese and Key Lime Pie, French Toast is one of the earliest recipes available in The Sims 3. Players will note, however, that the Sims technique requires baking the toast in the oven, as opposed to stove top frying in a pan or on a griddle. As such, this mixture was written to be used for either method.
Begin by cracking the eggs into a large bowl, then add heavy cream, orange peel or concentrate, bitters, and cinnamon. Whisk vigorously with a fork until all ingredients are well blended.
If you are baking your French toast, first cut the stick of butter into half inch slices, then place the slices in a large Ziploc bag with light brown sugar. Shake to coat thoroughly, then empty into a 13” by 9” pan and distribute evenly.
Submerge a piece of bread in the egg mixture, then rotate it three or four times until coated heavily. Place in the pan on top of the butter and repeat with remaining slices of bread until dish is full (about eight slices). Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least six hours (but preferably overnight).
When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350, then unwrap French toast and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, then cut through the egg with a spatula to remove each slice from the pan.
If you prefer to use the frying pan method, preheat a skillet on MEDIUM while preparing egg mixture. Grease the pan with butter or cooking spray in between slices of bread or as needed.
Each piece of French toast will take 3-5 minutes to cook. When it is ready to flip, it will scoot across the surface of the pan easily with a push of the spatula. Take care to make sure the egg is cooked thoroughly; apply pressure with the spatula to sear the surface of the bread to ensure doneness.
Serve with apricot preserves, powdered sugar, slivered almonds and warmed maple syrup.
Tips: Texas toast makes this dish especially good, but an even better substitute is cinnamon raisin bread. I also like the seasonal fruit breads available from Franz. My personal favorite is their summer Peach Cobbler loaf.
Try adding some fruit puree or preserves to unsalted butter. Use a few tablespoons of jam and twice the amount in room temperature butter, then whip in a small food processor.
If you want to add a little kick, heat the maple syrup on LOW and add a few drops of bourbon and a dash of cinnamon.
To give the French Toast a real spice, omit the cinnamon from the egg batter and instead, fry a cinnamon stick until it darkens and fully unwinds from the heat. Then remove and fry French Toast per the rest of the instructions.