Fan Project for Home Bakers: Sandworm Bread

In honor of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune release in Europe, here’s an older but still impressive project for making your own sandworm bread with—you guessed it—spice filling.

Kitchen Overlord Chris-Rachael Oseland Sandworm Bread

The recipe is by Chris-Rachael Oseland at Kitchen Overlord, and it’s an entertaining read as well as a very neat fan project. Please visit her site for more foody, nerdy goodness of all shapes!

Found via File770.

Image by Chris-Rachael Oseland at Kitchen Overlord

Geeks eat, too! Second Breakfast is an occasional feature in which we talk about food with geeky connections and maybe make some of our own. Yum!

An Ancient Minoan Saffron Gatherer

Here’s a beautiful ancient Minoan fresco of a woman gathering saffron on a rocky hillside.

Saffron is a spice derived from the crocus flower, and since each flower produces only a tiny amount of the spice, gathering it on any scale is a labor-intensive process. With her large earrings and the many colorful, decorated layers of her clothing, this lady seems a little overdressed for such hard work. There may be various explanations. Perhaps this fresco represents a ceremonial harvest, not unlike the use of a golden shovel to dig the first scoop of dirt on a building project, or possibly a small harvest for religious use. It might also be simply an artistic depiction suitable for an elite home and not intended to represent the actual attire of an agrarian worker.

Whatever the case, it’s a beautiful work of art.

Image: Detail of saffron-gathering fresco, photograph by Yann Forget via Wikimedia (Akrotiri; c. 1700 BCE; fresco)

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Halloween Tentacle Cupcakes Headcanon into House Stormsong

The newest World of Warcraft expansion, Shadowlands, was supposed to be released next Monday, October 26, 2020, but Blizzard decided to postpone it for an unknown time. Bleah. Well, these Halloween cupcakes do actually fit better with the House Stormsong aesthetic from Battle for Azeroth:

nikki-wills-tikkido-horror-cupcakes-6_0

Visit the tutorial by Nikki Wills at Tikkido to find out how to make yours!

Geeks eat, too! Second Breakfast is an occasional feature in which we talk about food with geeky connections and maybe make some of our own. Yum!

Baking Stuff: Crusty Bread

This isn’t my kind of geeking, but holy cannoli! Magnificent! Jaime Delano shared phenomenal photos on Twitter:

Twitter Jaime Delano Geobake1

Twitter Jaime Delano Geobake2

In another tweet, she describes how the loaf came into being:

“I threw the leftover dough into a different pan and baked it, this one is coming to campus to share. The flavors are pretty mild but they’re there. If I did it again, I’d increase the basil and maybe find another red (paprika was just… fine). The garlic was very pronounced.”

I really appreciate the effort that went into baking a loaf, any loaf, never mind one with the Earth’s crust built into it. She’s a doctoral student at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and her dedication truly shows.

Images by Jaime Delano on Twitter.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Green and Orange Iridescent Turkeys

A lot of us in the U.S. and with U.S. connections are going to sitting down to a turkey dinner this week. A lot of us who live in the woodsier parts of North America also know that the farm-raised domesticated turkeys we put on the table are not the only kind of turkey out there. We have local flocks of wild turkeys around us who periodically come through our yard and entertain us with their antics. (We’re less entertained by the, shall we say, “fertilizer” they leave behind, but that has its uses, too.)

But did you know that there is a variety of wild turkeys found in the Yucatan Peninsula that has blue heads and irididescent turquoise-green and bronze-orange plumage? I didn’t until I stumbled across a reference to them this week. Look at these beauties!

Ocellated turkey, photograph by George Harrison via Wikimedia

Ocellated turkey, photograph by TonyCastro via Wikimedia

Ocellated turkeys, as they are called, are an important part of the local cuisine in addition to being extraordinary to look at.

The next time you’re writing a fantasy world and looking to spice up the local fauna, why not add some big shimmery-winged birds–that could end up roasted or stewed on the dinner table, too?

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

A Levitating Snitch Cake

Twitter user Michael Harris shared a cake made by his significant other, Kate Pritchett, with an actually levitating quidditch snitch (follow the link for a video):

Instagram Kate Pritchett Levitating Quidditch Snitch Cake

She shared a few details of the cake:

“I told you I was going to make a floating Snitch cake. (3 x 2 layer white chocolate mud cakes with vanilla meringue buttercream and blueberry and lemon or raspberry and black pepper filling. Special shout out to the wood-look board I made. [fist icon])”

 

Instagram Kate Pritchett Levitating Quidditch Snitch Cake Detail

Pritchett clearly is a foodie—just have a look at her amazing Twitter and Instagram feeds. Her dedication to getting the details just right is incredible. Everything is thoroughly thought-out and carefully prepared.

Instagram Kate Pritchett Levitating Quidditch Snitch Wings

I’m gawping here! (Yes, I just declared gawp to be a word.)

Kudos!

Images by Kate Pritchett via Instagram: Cake. Closeup of details. Snitch wing prototypes.

Geeks eat, too! Second Breakfast is an occasional feature in which we talk about food with geeky connections and maybe make some of our own. Yum!

Visual Inspiration: Aztec-Engineered Floating Garden Islands

Did you know that Aztecs created floating garden islands on swamps to feed 200,000+ people? I didn’t before now.

Te Papa Aztec Chinampa Model

An article by Lynette Townsend for the Museum of New Zealand descibes the structure of the chinampas:

“These ingenious creations were built up from the lake bed by piling layers of mud, decaying vegetation and reeds. This was a great way of recycling waste from the capital city Tenochtitlan. Each garden was framed and held together by wooden poles bound by reeds and then anchored to the lake floor with finely pruned willow trees. The Aztecs also dredged mud from the base of the canals which both kept the waterways clear and rejuvenate [sic] the nutrient levels in the gardens.”

Apparently the chinampas were separated by channels, and canoes were used for transport. In addition to food crops and flowers grown, fish and birds drawn to the chinampas were caught for food as well.

Te Papa Aztec Chinampa Model Closeup

What an incredibly smart feature to engineer! It also strikes me as a fantastic (no pun intended), pragmatic thing to adapt into a SFFnal world.

Found via Ultrafacts at Tumblr.

Images: models by artisan collective Te Mahi via Museum of New Zealand / Te Papa Tongarewa.

The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?

Living in a Science Fictional Present: Food from Air, Water from Sunlight

“I’m going to have to science the shit out of this” is my favorite line from the movie The Martian. The amazing thing about our species is that we do that every day, and every once in a while it pays off in a phenomenal way. Below are two cases that have the potential to do just that.

Researchers at the Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. have created a process for making protein from air. Specifically, it uses carbon dioxide, water, and electricity, plus added nutrients.

Solar Foods Solein Protein Powder Sm

Apparently they’ve had a test installation running since June. The resulting protein powder, dubbed Solein, looks like flaky meal and reportedly tastes like wheat.

Read more at Yle news (Finnish only), or in English at The Guardian or Solar Foods website.

Professor Peng Wang from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia lead a study introducing a strategy to produce fresh water. Essentially, a distillation unit attached to photovoltaic panels evaporates seawater at relatively low temperatures more efficiently than conventional solar stills and yet generates electricity at the same time.

BBC News Wenbin Wang Solar Panel Water Purifier Concept

More at BBC News and journal Nature Communications.

Images: Solein protein powder by Solar Foods. Combined solar panel and water purifier by Wenbin Wang via BBC News.

A Minas Tirith Wedding Cake

One reason I love my fellow geeks and nerds so much is the dedication we put into things we care about. Exhibit number 18,452: a Minas Tirith wedding cake.

Flickr Jenny Wenny Minas Tirith Wedding Cake at Enchanted Forest

Photographer Jenny Wenny gives only this detail about it: “Minas Tirith wedding cake at the Enchanted Forest”; sadly no other information is available at all.

Isn’t it astounding, though? So incredibly detailed I wouldn’t want to touch it! And even though it’s a few levels short of its literary model, the adaptation works for its intended purpose perfectly. Kudos to the creator(s)!

Image by Jenny Wenny on Flickr.

Geeks eat, too! Second Breakfast is an occasional feature in which we talk about food with geeky connections and maybe make some of our own. Yum!

Wine and Sheep for a Princess

Administrative records from the Persian Empire preserve some evidence of a lady of the royal court gathering resources, probably in preparation for a feast:

A message to Yamaksheda, the wine carrier, from Pharnaces: Issue 200 marrish [about 2,000 liters] of wine to Princess Artystone. By the king’s order.

First month of the nineteenth year [March or April, 503 BCE]. Ansukka wrote the text. Mazara conveyed the message.

– Persepolis Fortification Texts (published) 1795

A message to Harriena, the herdsman, from Pharnaces: King Darius commanded me in these words: “Issue 100 sheep from my estate to my daughter, Princess Artystone.”

Now Pharnaces says: “As the king commanded me, I command you: Issue 100 sheep to Princess Artystone as the king ordered.”

First month of the nineteenth year [March or April, 503 BCE]. Ansukka wrote the text. Mazara conveyed the message.

– Persepolis Fortification Texts (collated) 6754

(My own translations.)

We can learn some interesting things from this evidence.

For one thing, it gives us a sense of how the Persian imperial bureaucracy worked. There were higher officials like Pharnaces who were responsible for overseeing the distribution of goods, scribes like Ansukka, messengers like Mazara, and lower officials in charge of particular categories of goods. Messages like these directed those who were lower down in the hierarchy to issue certain quantities of goods while at the same time keeping a record of what had been issued and where it came from.

Secondly, this is evidence for the scale on which elite Persian women could command economic resources. 2,000 liters of wine and 100 sheep cost no small amount of labor to produce. Artystone could, with her father’s consent, draw on the fruits of all that labor.

And finally: it looks like Artystone really know how to throw a party.

Image: Tribute bearer with rams, photograph by A. Davey via Flickr (Persepolis Apadana staircase; c. 518 BCE; stone relief). CC BY 2.0

History for Writers is a weekly feature which looks at how history can be a fiction writer’s most useful tool. From worldbuilding to dialogue, history helps you write. Check out the introduction to History for Writers here.