While we all cook our way through the ongoing covid-19 pandemic from the relative safety of our own kitchens, it can be easy to slip into the habit of making the same thing every evening just for the sake of getting it done. But chances are that even if you’re stocked up on goods with long shelf lives, you’ve probably got some stuff in your pantry or tucked into the depths of your fridge that can be turned into dishes plucked from the more whimsical parts of your mind.
Our own Therese McPherson took it upon herself to make some truly inspired lembas bread including a (banana) leaf wrapper which is exactly the kind of creative energy we should all approach cooking with these days. Check out her baking process and recipe in the video above and our suggestions for what you might be able to throw together at home below. Not everything on this list will necessarily be as aesthetically pleasing as Therese’s bread—in fact, it might be gross—but what we’re all going for here is fun sustenance rather than looks.
When the Planet Express crew stumbles upon a literal nest of small crunchy objects that taste surprisingly good, they could scarcely believe that the “popplers” were actually the newborn and quite sentient offspring of the Omicronian race whose...babies look and taste an awful lot like chicken nuggets or other fried foods. In the likely event that you don’t have alien meat on hand, breading and coating bite-sized chunks of whatever kind of meat you do would likely suffice.
The secret to Slurm’s addictive deliciousness is that it’s actually a liquid substance extruded from the cloaca of the Slurm Queen and not just a regular soda, as it’s marketed to the general public in Futurama. In order to make Slurm of your own, you’ll have to get a bit creative, but the basic elements you should be going for are a distinctive green hue, a strong effervescence, and an overall refreshing mouthfeel that belies the drink’s disgusting origins.
The first question you must ask yourself when making True Blood’s titular vampire-sustaining synthetic blood is whether you want to consider it as a drink or a soup. A drink is easily the easiest route that could be whipped up out of a juice, soda, or carbonated water with an added splash of grenadine if you happen to have it lying around. But the far more interesting option would be to go for a smooth, but filling blood-red soup that could essentially keep you alive indefinitely if you truly needed it to. If you have beets, this would be the place to use them.
We here at io9 do not endorse cannibalism (as it lowers group morale, and people are gross in general) [Editor’s Note: Well, this is awkward. -Jill P.], but in these trying times, it’s understandable that one might consider making a go at Soylent Green from Richard Fleischer’s 1972 dystopian film of the same name.
In theory, homemade Soylent Green—the original Soylent, and not the stuff the optimization-obsessed like to pretend tastes good—could be some sort of unleavened baked cracker situation, but given the circumstances, the goal should be something relatively calorie-dense that’s square-shaped and vaguely green. You could get away with using an old box of cake mix with some dye tossed in for effect, but the real flex would be figuring out a way to work some blended frozen spinach into the batter. You know, for nutritional purposes.
The beauty of Futurama’s Bachelor Chow is that it’s meant to be eaten alone in your studio apartment as you stand over the sink because you can’t be bothered to clean up after yourself. Because solitude is the main ingredient in this dish, you don’t exactly have to worry about what the finished product looks like exactly so long as it fills you up, has at least one clearly discernible flavor, and can be served out of a dog bowl.
The curious thing about Magikarp is that depending on who you ask, they’re either utterly delicious or completely inedible. In the Pokémon anime, Magikarp are (at different points in the series) depicted as being nothing but rock-hard scales and bones, but also as a tender delicacy that humans apparently dream of eating. For home cooking purposes, any fish is a Magikarp is you will it to be so and broiling one whole shouldn’t prove to be all that difficult.
The making of legitimate lembas bread is likely to be quite arduous and complicated, as the food is one of Lord of the Rings’ elves’ most cherished foods. But if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, it’s probably just pita with a bit of elf dandruff (which is magical) worked into it for taste. [Editor’s Note: Thank goodness Therese didn’t go that route! -Jill P.] Even if all you’ve got is mostly dead yeast, water, salt, and flour, this is something you can definitely make.
If you’re trying to be strictly canon, Carol’s cookies from The Walking Dead are meant to be fashioned out of acorns and beets. Which is to say, they’re probably nasty as hell, but you excuse it because you’re in the midst of a full-on apocalypse. Because people aren’t yet eating each another, you don’t have to bake that struggle into the cookies in the same way Carol did, and it’s more than likely that you have more than a few ingredients lying around to make your take on them much, much more delicious.
The Hero of Time is quite the accomplished cook, but anyone who’s played their way through Breath of the Wild knows that when Link isn’t paying close attention, it’s all too easy for him to make a hot, steaming bowl of edible horror. Unlike Bachelor Chow, which can be served cold, Dubious Food must be as hot as it is ugly and suspect and undeniably nourishing. Close your eyes, pick things at random, and throw them into a pot together, and you’ve essentially made an upgraded version of this dish.
Tasty Wheat is probably just cereal that’s been left in milk for too long, but because what you’re going for is peak nutritional value, you should feel free to chuck in whatever cereal-adjacent detritus you happen to have access to. Got some chia seeds you’re never going to use? Old oatmeal? Cornmeal you don’t know what to do with? Mix it with the milk of your choice and you’re golden.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.