The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so.
Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.
Well, do we have a treat for you? This time, in every sense of the word! Please join me in welcoming back one of the most creative bloggers I know, Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate! She transmutes dishes from The Legend of Zelda series into real life recipes you can cook at home. I don’t want to say anything, but let’s just say you won’t be disappointed with the end-result of this piece. She’s already composed two amazing pieces (and dishes) for Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds!
Once you finish this piece, you should head over to Sheikah Plate and enjoy some recent posts:
We hope you enjoy this delicious chapter of The Games That Define Us!
– Matthew, Normal Happenings
For my first Hyrule…
Game: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
System: Nintendo 64
Release Date: November 21, 1998
I’ve learned to be brave. It’s not a big, bold bravery – one where I stand up to “the man” or “the bully” and win. It’s just an internal bravery. One that means I’m willing to accept when I’ve made a mistake, and do everything I can to make up for it.
When I heard about this project I was so excited! Finally an excuse to gush about my love for The Legend of Zelda… again! But then how do you say the words you feel in your heart? How can you put two decades of love, pain, and growth into a blog post? How do you sum up the changes in your life that have come because of your favorite thing? And yet this is the insurmountable task Matt has asked us to perform. And while others have been enthusiastic, eloquent, and impressive in their ability to complete the challenge I have struggled, from day one, to say what I really think and feel. And at the final deadline I still am not sure if I’ve done enough to express what The Legend of Zelda as a series, and more particularly Ocarina of Time, has done for me.
It starts when I was a kid. My family, my entire life, had gaming consoles. Gaming was simply something my family did, be it tabletop or video. And being an incredibly nerdy family meant that it never occurred to me playing video games for hours “wasn’t something a girl should do”. But these passions; video games, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings to name a few, meant I didn’t have a lot of friends. Sure, I had my younger siblings who followed me around, but outside of family I was a pretty lonely child. There were a few friends, off and on, but rarely consistent. We didn’t live in the same neighborhood, parents worked, they moved on, we went to different schools, etc… In fact, I couldn’t keep a friend for more than 6 months for most of my young life. Which meant I spent a lot of time indulging on the singular pursuits that I loved so much.
I remember dabbling in earlier video games – playing Mario Bros 3 when my siblings weren’t there and trying desperately to get through the stampede level in The Lion King alone. But my first real video game, the one I finally played, start to finish, alone, with no help, and without watching to see how someone else did it, was Ocarina of Time.
The graphics were incredible. The three dimensional world, blocky but still defined, allowed my imagination to soar. With a relatively open world (it felt like it took forever to travel from Death Mountain to Hyrule Lake) I was able to explore, imagine, and create my own ideas about Hyrule. It was so easy to imagine myself there! And not only were the graphics incredible, but the story was so inspiring. Here’s this little boy, lonely, with only one real friend, suddenly sent out to save the world with the help of a very new acquaintance. He’s smart and sensitive, determined and courageous, and, well, cute. And with only his wits and his basic supplies he’s able to gain new weapons, new abilities, and save the world.
And just like that, Link became my hero. Some kids idolize superheroes, but not me. I idolized a video game character. He was everything I wanted to be – smart, kind, and brave. I wanted to be able to solve intense, challenging puzzles in mysterious ruins. I wished that I could have a fairy to help and guide me through challenges. I wanted everyone in the whole world to like me, just as they all end up adoring Link. I mean, I still remember the first time a girl in Hyrule doesn’t have a crush on Link. And it’s very recent. That’s how popular he is! But he’s popular because he helps everyone – he finds the cuccos, takes medicine to other people, plays matchmaker, supports businesses, and fixes entire towns! And he’s so brave. He always stands up for what’s right. He always pushes to be better, work harder, and fight the bad guy. As a timid, shy little girl I could only dream about that kind of courage.
I ate up every single thing I could about the Legend of Zelda. I bought every game, usually saving up to purchase it and the new console it was released on. I played everything obsessively, over and over again, until it was all memorized. And if I got bored, I simply paused, played a different game, and then found myself drifting back toward Zelda after a time.
And as I delved further and further into the world of Link, Zelda, and Hyrule, I didn’t realize then how much the game, and Link, impacted my life. It’s really only now, looking back, that I’ve seen the influence it had on my development and on me.
I didn’t realize how unique it was to be really good, and I mean really good at puzzle solving until recently. Difficult brain teasers, spatial reasoning, logic puzzles, all these come naturally to me. And yes, you could say some of that ability I was born with, but quite a bit of it is enhanced and focused thanks to my life spent solving the puzzles within the Zelda universe. It is exactly the type of thing I learned by exposing myself to really difficult puzzles at such a young age. And it pushed me toward a love of questions and answers that led me to become a scientist – someone who literally solves puzzles for a living.
I learned that being kind is the best way to make friends. I tried the bragging, boasting routine and I couldn’t even attempt the “cool” factor. No, when I made friends it was because I was kind. In a high school that thrived on catty, gossiping behavior it certainly didn’t make me popular. It didn’t even mean I had any close friends – because I certainly didn’t. What it did mean was that I had a lot of general acquaintances. Quite a few people who thought I was great, even if we weren’t close. And plenty of people willing to say hi to me in the hallways. And as I’ve gotten older, the friends I’ve made that have stuck – the people who are still a part of my lives – have come through kindness. A willingness to help others and serve those around me that I learned through example, both my parents and my hero, Link.
I learned the art of perseverance. As many of you may (or may not) know about me, I’m an incredibly and insatiably determined person. If there’s something I want to learn I don’t just google it. I research it, the information relating to it, journal articles, books, podcasts, documentaries, classes – the list goes on and on, until I feel I’ve completely mastered a subject. And I don’t give up and I won’t back down. Just like getting through a LoZ temple – the drive to complete, to overcome, is simply too powerful to just let things fall by the wayside.
And I’ve learned to be brave. It’s not a big, bold bravery – one where I stand up to “the man” or “the bully” and win. It’s just an internal bravery. One that means I’m willing to accept when I’ve made a mistake, and do everything I can to make up for it. One that pushes me to express my opinions, even when they aren’t the popular opinion. And one that allowed me to recognize when things were wrong in my life and seek professional help for my anxiety and depression before they got worse. It’s the bravery that’s helped me navigate my way back into more of a social life than I’ve had in years. And it’s the bravery that’s helping me finally learn to accept myself, warts and all, and simply be who I was always meant to be.
So, while it wasn’t some big life-changing moment, my life has been irrefutably and undeniably influenced by Ocarina of Time. This simple game, played by a kid, was able to change the woman I would become. And for that, and so many other things, I will be eternally grateful to my best friend, Link, and Nintendo for creating him. And, in homage to my first Hyrule, I wanted to create a special meal, inspired by the entirety of Hyrule, to share with you. So here, with some very shortened instructions with but links to the more complex issues (I’m looking at you, roast chicken), I present to you: Lon Lon Ranch roast chicken, roasted Goron garnet sweet potatoes, and fresh Kokiri Forest green salad.
Lon Lon Ranch Roast Chicken
This one’s the hardest, but also the one most worthwhile! For more detailed instructions on the pre-cooking bit check out this recipe for my Salt-Grilled Gourmet Meat aka Turkey. We start by unpackaging the whole chicken, removing the giblets and the neck by checking the cracks, crevices, and insides and taking out anything that looks like it doesn’t belong. Pat the chicken dry, rub with generous amounts of salt and pepper, and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. Wash the sage and thyme, slice a medium onion into quarters, and remove the skin from the garlic cloves. Place these inside your 9×13 baking dish, putting the onions in the corners.
After the brine, rub the entire chicken with room temperature butter, ensuring the entire bird is covered. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Put your chicken in the pan and put your pan in the oven on the middle shelf. Close the door and walk away for 45-50 minutes to prep the sweet potatoes! Continue to bake (with the sweet potatoes – check out that recipe below) until the internal temperature, using an instant read meat thermometer, reaches 165°F (74°C). Remove the chicken (and potatoes) from the oven, cover loosely with foil for about 15 minutes, and allow the chicken to rest.
Roasted Goron Garnet Sweet Potatoes
Wash and dice your garnet sweet potatoes (I mean, it could be any potato, but Goron’s eat rocks… so it has to be garnet sweet potatoes, right? And yes, they do exist. Cool, huh?) into large bite-size chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, with 15-20 minutes left on the chicken, add them to the bottom of the pan containing the chicken and herbs. Add one pat of butter on top of each pile (in the corners was the easiest place to put them) and bake with the chicken.
When the chicken is resting, remove the sweet potatoes and allow them to rest in their own bowl so they don’t get mushy next to that hot chicken!
Kokiri Forest Green Salad
It’s pretty to make a chopped green salad – cut or break apart your greens, wash and cut your veggies, toss them all together with your croutons, and drizzle with delicious ranch. But that’s where this recipe kicks it in to high gear – homemade ranch. You can easily skip this and use store brand or the Hidden Valley ranch packets (which is wonderful). Or you can add all the ranch ingredients I listed together, shake it up, and allow to refrigerate for about an hour. It’ll be thick, creamy, and delicious!
Lon Lon Ranch Roast Chicken with Goron Garnet Sweet Potatoes and Kokiri Forest Green Salad
Whole roast chicken with garnet sweet potatoes and a chopped green salad with homemade ranch dressing.
- 1 whole chicken
- 2-3 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 7 sprigs fresh thyme
- 7 sprigs fresh sage leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 medium onion
- 3 large garnet sweet potatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 tsp black peper
- 3-4 tablespoons butter
- 1 head salad greens (I prefer romaine or red leaf lettuce)
- 1-1.5 cup snap green peas
- 1-1.5 cup cucumber
- 1 large tomato
- 1 cup croutons
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/8 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh italian parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
- 1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 drop Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Make the ranch by adding all ingredients to a container with a lid and either shaking it or whisking it until it all comes together.
- Refrigerate ranch until ready to eat.
- Unpack the whole chicken, removing the giblets and neck.
- Pat the chicken dry, rub with generous amounts of salt and pepper, and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Wash the sage and thyme, slice a medium onion into quarters, and remove the skin from the garlic cloves. Place these inside a 9×13 baking dish, putting the onions in the corners.
- Rub the entire chicken with room temperature butter, ensuring the entire bird is covered.
- Put your chicken in the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes
- Wash and dice your garnet sweet potatoes into large bite-size chunks.
- Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and, with 15 minutes left on the chicken, add them to the bottom of the pan containing the chicken and herbs. Add one pat of butter on top of each pile and bake with the chicken.
- Wash and cut or break apart your greens
- Wash and cut your veggies into bite-size pieces.
- Toss the veggies, greens, and croutons together.
- After 1.25-1.5 hours, check the temperature of the chicken with an instand read meat thermometer. The chicken should reach 165°F (74°C) – if it doesn’t simply cook until it does.
- Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven and put the sweet potatoes into a separate bowl. Cover the chicken and potatoes with foil and allow the chicken to rest. Serve with the salad and enjoy!
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