The Hunger Games novel for young adults kept popping up as recommended reading and I have been ignoring it because I'm not into books written for young people. I tried that with Harry Potter, didn't like that I felt like a 5th grader, and only was able to finish a few pages. After a few months I finally gave in, read the book in less than a day, and surprise surprise I love it. The story has some similarity to the violent Japanese novel and movie Battle Royale but not as gory or bloody. The story will probably make some people cringe. Here is the book description
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.
One of the things I love about the novel is the incorporation of food throughout. Katniss loved the lamb stew with dried plums served on a bed of wild rice, that when she was asked what impressed her most about the Capitol, she blurted out: the lamb stew. It must be really good.
I was tempted several times to stop reading to prepare one of the dishes. I even considered buying the unofficial cookbook inspired by the novel but there probably would be many recipes on there that I won't be making like grilled squirrel or "groosling" (wild turkey). The 2 recipes I was dying to make were the lamb stew and [the Boy with the Bread] hearty raisin nut bread, the recipes are available from the cookbook's Amazon page.
Although the stew has 2 ingredients, lamb and prunes, that I particularly don't care for, I went ahead and made half a recipe and to my surprise (again!) I loved it This time I didn't find the lamb very game-y and the sweetish sauce is so good with steamed rice.
Katniss' Favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums
adapted from The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook
2½ pounds lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1½ inch cubes
1½ teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup water
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
2 cups diced carrots
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 large onion, diced
1 large potato, cubed
2½ cups dried plums
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
½ cup ginger ale
- Place lamb, salt, pepper, and flour in a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat meat evenly. Heat olive oil in a large pan and brown the meat, working in batches. Remove lamb to a plate. Pour off fat, leaving ¼ cup in the pan.
- Add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion becomes golden. Deglaze frying pan with the water, scrape the bottom of the pan to stir up all of the tasty bits of meat and onion. Cook to reduce liquid slightly, then remove from heat.
- Place the lamb and garlic-onion mixture in a large stockpot. Add beef stock and sugar, stirring until sugars are dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours. Add the vegetables, dried plums, herbs, and ginger ale to the pot. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until meat and vegetables pierce easily with a fork.