GeekGirlCon Raids the Gamer’s Fridge
A geek girl’s gotta eat. Niki Casselberry proves that gamers can not only eat, but eat delicious meals inspired by games. Her blog, The Gamer’s Fridge, includes meal inspired from a variety of games. Featuring recipes from Pac-Man to World of Warcraft, Casselberry creates recipes that appeal to food lovers, geeks, and gamers. She took some time to give GeekGirlCon the inside scoop about blogging, cooking, and gaming.
Stephanie Little: When did you start playing games?
Niki Casselberry: I’ve always played PC games like real time strategy or adventure games, but Warcraft was my first MMO. The first computer game I remember spending hours playing was The Sands of Egypt. It was in 1983 on our family’s TRS-80. I was 8 and gaming.
SL: WoW influences a lot of your recipes. How long have you been playing WoW?
NC: I started playing WoW a few months before “Burning Crusade” (BC) was released. I can claim to have played in vanilla, but truthfully I didn’t start end game content until BC.
SL: Do you consider yourself a gamer?
NC: I do, and I am proud of that. There is a stigma on adults who game that we’re jobless and living in basements and I want to change that. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if I hadn’t developed a fondness for games. I am happy that I can turn gaming and baking, my two favorite things, into a full time job.
SL: What are you currently geeking out about?
NC: SWTOR! I am very excited about Star Wars: The Old Republic being released. There is currently a non-disclosure agreement covering anyone on the beta right now, and my trustworthy guildies (I’m in Outer Rim Division, it’s a sister guild of Old Republic Dads) won’t tell me a thing about vendors or food in game. I have been trying out recipes for food from the movies that I hope turn up in game.
SL: What games do you play on a regular basis?
NC: I haven’t had a lot of time for any MMO’s recently. I let my Warcraft account run out while I wait for SWTOR to be released. Five years of consistent playing, I am due for a break. My downtime now consists of Minecraft and a few games on Steam. I like listening to podcasts about baking and gaming, and I will continue to follow my favorite blogs. I adore the WoW community; I have met some awesome people from all over the world.
SL: What games would you like to include in your future food creations?
NC: I would like to include Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. But GW2 and SWTOR are still in beta, and I’d need a beta key. (Hint, hint BioWare and ArenaNet.) I’ve played Guild Wars a little, but I don’t know enough about it yet to start writing and creating recipes.
SL: What inspired you to create The Gamer’s Fridge?
NC: I get asked this all the time, and quite honestly, I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it sooner. I’ve always been a creative type in the kitchen. I often take recipes and change them so they suit my family’s likes. Why I never thought to do this with cooking recipes in games, I don’t know. It’s two of my favorite things together: cooking and gaming.
I was on the hunt for the Kickin’ Chimera Chops recipe, and I was stuck. I Googled the quest chain, and I stumbled across a website with a recipe for Smoked Desert Dumplings that someone had made in real life. I found a few more recipes scattered here and there, but you really had to search for them and many recipe websites hadn’t been updated in years. I had a thought; I could write about gaming and cooking. I could make easy to follow step-by-step directions anyone could do. If I was looking for real life recipes, there had to be others. I was giddy.
SL: How long have you been creating recipes?
NC: It started with chocolate chip cookies. The “back of the bag” recipe was good, but it wasn’t amazing. I wanted amazing. I spent 3 years trying different ingredients, portions, and baking times till I made the perfect cookie. My husband says while eating one of my discarded cookies, “This is what it’s come to, a cookie recipe that people have been baking for a hundred years isn’t good enough anymore.” Nope, I can make it better.
SL: When did you start cooking and baking?
NC: Since I can remember. It was something my mom and I always did together. Then as a teenager, I started working in a local bakery. I learned a lot there, and my knowledge expanded to include all different types of cookies, breads, pastries, cakes, and cake decorating.
SL: Do you hope to publish a geeky cookbook in the future?
NC: That would be fun, and I would love to. But I doubt Blizzard, Warner Brothers, and all the rest would give me permission to use items from their games.
SL: Do you actively search for cooking ideas, or do they just fall into your lap?
NC: Both. I do a lot of searching for different recipes. I get emails from followers with suggestions or ideas, and I belong to several recipe circles so I get different recipes emailed to me daily. Friends, fellow gamers, and family also know I like different recipes and send them to me when they find one.
SL: What ingredients do you most enjoy using in your recipes?
NC: I do use a lot of the same ingredients; I like to keep it simple. No running all over town for a spice you will use once and then it will sit on your spice rack for a year. If I do have you buy something you don’t normally buy, you will see it being used in many other recipes.
I don’t have a specific ingredient I like to use, but I do have love to split ingredients. For example, if a dessert calls for 2 cups of flour, I like to scale that down to 1 ½ cups of flour and ½ cup of oatmeal. It adds a different kind of texture and look to a recipe. I like to do the same with white sugar. If a recipe calls for 1 cup white sugar, I will split it with brown sugar so the recipe will have ½ cup white sugar and ½ cup brown sugar. You can’t do this all the time, but it is interesting to see when it works out well and when it doesn’t.
SL: What obstacles have you had to face as a cook?
NC: I do have a section on my blog called “That’s a wipe” containing creations that have gone bad. I think a lot of cooking and baking blogs out there are misleading folks who are honestly trying to make something new. They only show the perfect final product, and you will feel less than perfect if yours doesn’t turn out the same way. I know I make mistakes, and my final product is not always perfect. Obstacles are learning experiences. I don’t hate them; I welcome them.
SL: What obstacles have you had to face as a blogger?
NC: Getting noticed is the hardest part of blogging. There are so many recipe blogs out there and so many gaming blogs out there that trying to find your voice so you stand out is difficult.
SL: You manage to update The Gamer’s Fridge very regularly. What keeps you motivated?
NC: Dinnertime, it shows up everyday. I’m just joking, kind of. Dinnertime is a motivator; but honestly, I don’t need motivation. I’m having fun. When was the last time you needed convinced to do something you look forward to doing? Talking to you right now is also motivating. Every comment, email, or post I receive on the blogosphere encourages me. I am in awe at the attention The Gamer’s Fridge is getting, and I can’t wait to write another post.
SL: Do you create geeky things outside of cooking and baking?
NC: Oh yes! I have made a few YouTube videos with the help of my husband. He’s a graphic designer who does animation and 3D models. I basically draw stick figures of what I want each scene to look like and he creates it. I’ve also written several MMO-related articles for other blogs and websites. You can find links to them on my site.
SL: How do you work past a block in creativity?
NC: I walk away from it to clear my head if I am feeling frustrated or a recipe isn’t working out. I usually have a few posts done ahead of time so if I do get blocked I’m not postless. It gives me an extra day or two to work out any problems. It keeps me working when I know a post has to go up in a day and I don’t have anything. It pushes me.