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Fuel for the Boiler: A Steampunk Cookbook – Book Review

Fuel for the Boiler: A Steampunk Cookbook cover art

Written by: Elizabeth Stockton aka Ms. Boo Dreadful
Published by: Lulu

It is the holiday season and one’s thoughts turn to family gatherings. These gatherings are always centered around food. And in some households there’s a focus on sports, but we wont speak of that here. Food is at our core and we all seem to have recipes we like to collect and to give out as a token of our care and love to others.

As a cookbook collector of sorts, I have a relatively small library of cookbooks but they are top notch. Recently I received the Vincent Price cookbook for my birthday. I have already taken on his version of Spaghetti Bolognese to a welcome success. In fact I was perusing the internet and my favorite food sites for holiday items and I found a delightful cookbook centered around the Steampunk subculture.

It is called Fuel for the Boiler: A Steampunk Cookbook by Elizabeth Stockton. There are 91 pages in the book with images of the steampunk-bedecked crew members of HMS Ophelia, also known as Abney Park, as well as some good folk from Brass Goggles. There are plenty of people in the steampunk community that helped Ms Boo Dreadful (aka Elizabeth Stickton) bring this book to fruition. Such as the handy conversion chart for U.S. to Metric capacity and a very handy cooking measurement equivalents. I am sure she had received some help from our friends from across the pond. The layout and design allow the owner of the cookbook to make notations in the margins–a handy feature as I like to alter recipes on occasion.

[ad#longpost]The recipes are easy to follow. Any galley cook can man the harpoons while fighting a blockade then create a fine dinner for his cohorts in the evening.

The book is divided in sections such as Appetizers and Beverages, Main Dishes, and so forth. My favorite chapter is called This, That and The Other. Some recipes have very clever names such as Epiphany’s Double Baked ‘Tatters, Mr. Gone’s Sandwich of Good and my favorite Fried Kraken (fried squid). There are some old family recipes that Ms. Dread wants to share as well as some updated popular ones. If the recipe has a mundane title, please read the recipe over as there might be variation from what you, the cook, are used to. I found this to be the case in her recipe for Yorkshire Pudding.

Ms. Dreadful’s version of Yorkshire Pudding was intriguing as I have a failure proof recipe I have used from former NY Times food editor, Craig Claiborn, that I have had for years. Her recipe called for more egg than milk and less flour. I tried her variation and was quite pleased with the results, a delicate puffiness with the egg coming to the forefront in taste. This Yorkshire pudding was a great compliment to the beef I was serving.

Experimentation and craftsmanship with recipes is what makes this cookbook a perfect example of what is behind the Steampunk culture: the sense of Do It Yourself. This DIY nature is quite evident in the recipes of a more alcoholic nature. There is a recipe for Mead, Ginger Ale, as well as fruit Hip Flask Liqueurs. These recipes require time and care but I am sure with a keen eye to detail the most novice could pull off one of these spirited libations. One might not be able to gather a potable concoction before Yuletide, but winter is long and dark and there is plenty of time.

One can download a free pdf of the book or purchase a perfect bound book of 91 pages for $11.06 from Lulu.

At the price of Free for a download and $11.06 for a bound book this cookbook this is nice addition to anyone’s cookbook library.

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