The Real-Life Quest to Cook All 74 Stardew Valley Recipes

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if the pandemic Had it never happened, Ali Z might never have joined Tiktok.

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But by the time the short, dark January days arrived, she was getting restless. Nearly a year into the quarantine, her well-known hobbies—cooking, baking, and playing video games—feel lonely. Notably, she missed cooking for friends and family. “It’s not that much fun if you’re doing it on your own,” Ali told me in a recent phone call.

In the midst of this reflection, Ali realizes that her favorite video game involves aspects of cooking. his favourite, stardew valley, including 74 recipes and even its own in-game cooking show, queen of sauces, In a jiffy, Ali scoured TikTok looking for accounts that repurposed the game’s creative menus in real content. To her surprise, nothing came out – so Ali decided to be the queen herself, using the platform to find the community online.

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As @thaqueenofsauce, featured in Ali’s first post a Tried and True Classic: Her family’s recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. She spent about a week planning, filming, and editing the video in iMovie, slowly tweaking it until it was perfect. The clip shows off what would be the hallmark of her style: quick close-ups that explain the steps of each recipe, overlays of the game’s colorful pixel art, and a cool narration. “Fucking finding your chocolate chip cookies in the trash?” He asked, adding audio to one of his game clips stardew valley Avatar a garbage can (sometimes a tactic to loose the object). “This recipe can help.”

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“Within a day, it was viewed 80,000 times,” Ali says. “It took off, which I totally didn’t expect.” Since then, Ali’s channel has continued to attract fans, especially from within TikTok’s active casual gaming space. When we first spoke last May, @thaqueenofsauce had nearly 30,000 followers. Now, that number has increased to over 55,000. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” she says. “Whenever you’re in the internet space, you expect to find the occasional negative comments streaming in, or little things that people don’t like. But I haven’t found almost any of them, I guess. that it’s a testament stardew valley The community itself.”

The way Ali’s channel has won the hearts of the audience, it echoes stardew valleymeteoric rise. First released in February 2016, the game sold out 500,000 copies Within its first two weeks, rapidly climbed to over a million within the next fortnight. It was a surprise hit from debut video game developer Eric Barone, who had spent nearly five years passionately working on every aspect of the game. The result was an immersive, bizarre and sometimes dark world simulating rural life. Since then stardewThe release of continuous, content-rich updates—including a multiplayer option and massive new unlockable environments—has continued to reward even the most passionate players.

Fortunately, Ali’s effortless approach to her channel doesn’t resemble Barron’s notoriously grueling 12-hour workdays, which shield her from the potential downsides of virginity. A week after his first video went viral, Ali felt a new sense of pressure. “Once you have an established group of people following you, it changes the stakes,” she says. But the second video was highly appreciated and the third one too. “Now I’m having fun with it.”

Ali’s TikTok joins the rich legacy of Pak cosplay. professional cookbook author Chelsea Monroe-Castle Has built a career based on publishing cookbooks, recreating fictional recipes game of Thrones, world of Warcraft, the Elder Scrolls, The Lord of the Rings, and many other fandoms (including even stardew valleyThis month, Simon & Schuster will publish bestselling cookbook author Laurel Randolph’s The Unofficial Simpsons CookbookFeaturing 70 recipes inspired by the show. And in some cases, authors even release official versions of their fictional recipes – such as author Brian Jacques’ Redwall CookbookFeaturing recipes for dishes such as Shrimp ‘n Hotroot Soup or Great Hall Gooseberry Flowers, their anthropomorphic beavers, rats and badgers whip up.

Like other creators who recreate fictional recipes, Ali strives to balance loyalty. stardewPixel art with in-game content and accessibility. A recent recipe for game salmon dinner substituted polenta for amaranth when she struggled to find grain at her usual grocery store, farmers market, and cooperative. “I, no kidding, went to three different places,” Ali says. “I was like, well, if I can’t find it, anyone trying to recreate it or looking for inspiration probably won’t even find it.”

Although stardew Incorporating so many familiar, real-world elements—like pumpkins or bait crab pots—it also has a vivid streak of imagination. Cast fishing line and you can make a lava eel or a purple super cucumber. Sleep for the night and you may wake up to find a purple meteorite in your yard or a polka-dot void egg in your coop. you can buy hats from stardewBefriend the hat mouse, a sewer-dwelling shadow man named Krobus, and run to the bottom of the Skull Mine to meet the mysterious Mr. Qi.

The game’s wacky sensibility informs its cuisine, too. It wasn’t long before Ali received a request for Chanel Strange Bun, whose in-game ingredients included wheat flour, zero mayonnaise (made from zero eggs, of course), and a periwinkle (a type of edible sea). ) is included. snail). “I was like, OK, how am I supposed to put this together that people will actually eat?” Ali says.

To celebrate reaching 10,000 followers, Ali wore a witch’s hat and sat down at his kitchen table. funny buns Otherwise too. She started by making the dough for sweet milk rolls, then swapped the periwinkles for honey garlic shrimp and “mixed mayonnaise with minus the powers” (brilliant blue food coloring). For future milestones, she plans to tackle other horror-inducing recipes, such as carp wonder (“It’s soft and oily,” the in-game recipe says, and surprisingly, it’s made from foraged carp) and sea ​​foam pudding, a strange delicacy made of squid ink, flounder and the imaginary midnight carp.

In the meantime, stardew valley Offers many other cuisines to explore. Ali’s TikTok follows the season loosely, with spring salad and radish toast, along with tricolor ice cream and strawberry rhubarb pie. In between, she cooked her way through a range of breakfast dishes, ranging from basic scrambled eggs to cheesy hash browns. “The pancake recipe is great and I wasn’t kidding, the best pancakes I’ve made,” Ali says, with a fluffy texture reminiscent of dinner fare. Now that the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, she has finally been able to make them for her family.

Sometimes, viewers tag Ali in their pictures stardew-Inspire creations, or comment on how they made her recipes for family and friends. One person recreated K’s version of Ali pink cake– A bundt cake with fresh watermelon – and decorated it with strawberries, cut into precise, small hearts. Small moments of community and engagement are exactly what inspired Ali to post on TikTok in the first place. “I’m really happy about it,” she says.

Like Ali, I’ve missed sharing meals with family and friends over the past year. My husband has a weak immune system, so despite the easing of restrictions, we have had to strictly quarantine. Figuring out ways to keep our cooking from getting monotonous is a constant challenge. While working on this article, I realized I had ingredients for Ali’s pancake recipe in my pantry—and as dinner drew to a close, I felt excited to be cooking for the first time in weeks.

As promised, the pancakes cooked up plush and fluffy with a crispy brown crust and a sweet, fruity tang, thanks to apple cider vinegar and splashes of vanilla extract. Despite nearly a year and a half of near-separation, as I fork another bite, I felt a sense of cynicism and connectedness—the exact same qualities that keep me coming back. stardew valley,


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