After a few extremely busy weeks at work and home, it feels good to be on a short break away in the English Lake District. Besides stocking up on my favourite ale at the Watermill Inn (located just outside Bowness-on-Windermere), I’m going to catch up on some of my review pile that I’ve been wanting to read through. The first is one released by Stellagama Publishing; ‘Cauldrons and Casseroles’ is one of the more ‘unusual’ RPG-related products I’ve been asked to review, but one I’m more than happy to look at. C&C (as I shall refer to it from now on) is a cookbook / book of recipes that is aimed at the role-player / RPG gamer. Written by Hannah Saunders, it is available from Drivethru RPG, for $8.99 and totals 97 pages as a watermarked PDF.
So what makes it stand out from every other recipe book on the market? The author has broken the book up into several sections and interspersed a storyline (based around a party journeying on their adventure) which helps to bring a running ‘theme’ to the meals presented. There is quite a variety of things to tuck into; Bread and Sandwiches, Burgers Skewers and Sausages, Dips, Drinks, Fish, Pies, Poultry, Snacks and Sweets, Soups, Tarts, Tortillas, Vegetables and other dishes that don’t quite fit into any other category.
Each recipe is described with the number of servings, ‘Kitchen Sorcery Level’ ie. the level of difficulty in preparation, ingredients and method of preparation. The levels cover ‘1’ (a child could prepare it), ‘2’ (any adult) and ‘3’ (takes a bit more skill or effort, so have your familiar handy). To cover all preferences, measurements are provided in both metric and imperial systems. The various meals are pitched as a tasty alternative to the usual gaming staples, such as savoury snacks, pizza or biscuits (hob nobs? I’m looking at you The Grognard Files!) The author has made a good job of fitting in a running storyline to go with the meals, for example Elven-related meals are generally vegetarian or the Dwarven meals have plenty of meat. I did like the variety; they are meals that don’t require a huge amount of preparation or ingredients. I think the author has made reasonable choices with the ingredients in that you wouldn’t have to specifically buy in and use only once (such as bizarre or obscure spices), so it isn’t going to cost you a packet to feed your gaming group.
The recipes are well-laid out and the writing was easy-going, with a few illustrations and photographs of the dishes by the author (who also did the colourful cover) to help break up the text. I should mention that the book is predominantly aimed at meat-eaters or vegetarians, there is no mention of vegan options so I can’t recommend this book if that is your preference. Those with food intolerances will be able to pick out recipes suitable for them as there is a detailed list of ingredients for each meal. The contents page contains clickable links to the recipe page and there is a useful index listing each dish by type (eg. fish, pies, soups etc) though these lists aren’t hyperlinked.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reviewing a recipe book, but by the time I finished reading, I was hungry! Its a good job I had something to nibble on whilst I read the book as there are a lot of really tasty-sounding dishes. For example the ‘Halfling-style Second Breakfast’ which is more or less an English-style breakfast sandwich (comprising of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, roasted potato slices), pub-style beef burgers or leek and potato soup – nice, homely grub, ideal for a winters night gaming! I think that’s what made me like the book; food inspires feelings and any book that can inspire or enhance an evening’s gaming gets my vote. If you are looking for something a bit different to help your players enjoy your game (or pacify them with a few Dwarven Dogs (sausage rolls wrapped in bacon – yum!) whilst you slaughter them mercilessly, I recommend that you grab a copy of ‘Cauldrons and Casseroles’. Personally I think I shall definitely be trying more than a few recipes out once my kitchen is refurbished in November! I’d like to thank Omer Golan-Joel of Stellagama Publishing for kindly sending me a copy to review.