Nice to know I’m not the only one obsessed with what my favorite TV characters are eating. My May 6 column, Memo to TV execs: More food needed on NCIS, Castle, The Walking Dead and other TV dramas, got some interesting responses.
Right afterwards I had my IT guy over and, hunkered over my laptop, he suddenly turns to me and says, "Gibbs eats steak, raw, and cuts it with his pocket knife."
And then I get this email from a reader in Baltimore, Md. — Sherry Pennel, who designs packaging for a drug company and describes herself as a frustrated chef who loves to cook for friends and family.
She has this fabulous blog called The Walking Dead Survival Cooking Blog. Its tag line? "The blog for everyone who wants to survive the zombie apocalypse and still pretend to be a gourmet."
She wrote, "I feel the same way! Which is why I started The Walking Dead Survival Cooking Blog. I could not stand not seeing how the Atlanta survivors made it without eating at least a little something."
If you're a foodie fan of The Walking Dead this blog is a must read.
If you're a foodie fan of The Walking Dead this blog is a must read. Not only does she recap every episode, she offers up three to four recipes on what the survivors might have eaten based on where they are and what foods might have been available to them.
"I was sort of fascinated by the premise of the show," she told me in a phone call. "Our culture is so caught up in food, it's how we celebrate and connect, and I wondered what we would be eating if the world ended."
She started the blog on May 4, 2012. Her brother Drew Pennel, also a fan of the AMC show, designed the logo for the blog: A zombie head with a spatula through one eye. The text next to the logo pretty much sums up the blog: "There are no more McLunches or Runs for the Border, and the only thing left that's Finger Lickin' Good is you. We all need to learn how to cook together. And I'm just the woman for the job."
So how does she come up with the recipes?
"I just watch the show and think of what kinds of food that would work with the episode," Pennel says. "In Season 2 they were on the farm so I got to work in a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits in the recipes. In Season 3 they're in the prison with a big pantry and they only have canned goods and packaged foods so that's what those recipes are based on."
Like her dessert recipe for "The Suicide King Part 3," a Bartlett pear and blue cheese tart that uses eight simple prepackaged ingredients that could very well have been found in the prison pantry (find the recipe below).
"I did try to add more dessert recipes this season," Pennel says. "Because you need a treat when things are going bad."
She says it's hard to pick a favorite recipe, but admits the egg McMuffin pie comes pretty close. It's equally hard for her to pick a favorite character.
"It would be Daryl and Carol," she says. "I'm fascinated that their lives actually improved because the world ended."
Oh, and here's the real kicker: She was never a zombie fan.
"I can't believe I love this show," Pennel says. "People kept telling me I had to watch it because it wasn't about the zombies but the relationships between the survivors. Watching it has gotten me over my fear of zombie movies and I've actually watched Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland!"
And another foodie zombie fan is born.
Bartlett Pear and Blue Cheese Tart
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix (Heart Smart if you can scavenge it)
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. Butter-flavored shortening (softened or melted)
For the filling:
3 Tbsp. Butter-flavored shortening
2 Tbsp. Minced, Dried Onion
2 (14 oz) cans Bartlett Pear Halves, drained
1 (5 oz) jar Roka Blue Cheese Spread
1 bag shelled Walnuts, chopped*
1 Tbsp Dried Parsley Flakes
*If walnuts are stale you may toast them lightly over medium heat or coals to restore their flavor. This really works; trust me.
For the Crust:
If you have a working oven; preheat to 400°F. Alternately, heat campfire coals until red hot and allow to burn until covered with white ash. Grease a pie tin or a 9-inch baking pan with shortening. In a large bowl, combine baking mix, water and shortening. Blend well until mixture comes together in a ball.
Gently (grease fingers if necessary) pat the dough into the bottom and sides (about 1 inch up) of the pie tin or baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes in oven or 15 minutes (sealed well in foil) over campfire. Remove from oven/fire while you prepare the filling.
For the Filling:
In a small saucepan, melt the shortening. Add minced, dried onion and allow to simmer VERY briefly. The moisture in the shortening will also allow the onion to reconstitute slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.
Slice each pear half into fourths and layer the slices in concentric circles in the tart crust. Use all of the pears. Using a spoon, drizzle the onion mixture over the pears. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes. Alternately, seal well with foil and cook over campfire coals for 15 minutes, checking often so the tart crust does not burn.
Remove from oven/fire. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over tart and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven/fire again. Using a small spoon, drop teaspoonfuls of the Roka Blue Cheese Spread evenly over tart. Sprinkle with dried parsley flakes.
Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.