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Captain's Log: The Dungeon Cooking Chronicles

by Jeffrey A. Rothermel

Since the 1970's, many have written about their Dungeon's and Dragons adventures. The Captain's Book Shoppe continues that tradition, with an added twist: "The Dungeon Cooking Chronicles."

Bookstores deal in obvious secrets.

Cookbooks [food & drink] along with Dungeon's and Dragons

are some of the books that people hunt and trade.

The Dungeon Cooking Chronicles will highlight some of those book-hunting and role-playing adventures every month. The client that bought Chris-Rachael Oseland's book AN UNEXPECTED COOKBOOK, The Unofficial Cookbook of Hobbit Cookery at the Captain's Book Shoppe presented me with a challenge. If I would gather a party of worthy role-playing adventurers, he would "dungeon master" a campaign.

"The DUNGEONS & DRAGONS roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery. It shares elements with childhood games of make-believe. Like those games, D&D is driven by imagination. It's about picturing the towering castle beneath the stormy night sky and imagining how a fantasy adventurer might react to the challenges that scene presents."[1]

This adventure begins somewhat like the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter. As a bookdealer, I wear many hats. One hat is Centauri-the-bookdealer. Customers that browsed through the science fiction / fantasy paperback section were possible candidates for recruitment into the party. [Sidenote: Jonathan R. Betuel wrote the movie The Last Starfighter. Alan Dean Foster (ghost writer for the original Star Wars novelization) also novelized the film: The Last Starfighter.] As Centauri-the-bookdealer, those that picked up an Alan Dean Foster paperback were possible candidates for the D&D adventure. The final test were a few Bilbo Baggins (Tolkien) riddles. Ultimately, nine customers from all walks of life joined the adventure. The only common thread was that they bought a book at Captain's Book Shoppe LLC. Believe it or not.

Authors note: This is a somewhat fictionalized account of a real Dungeon's and Dragons Campaign. Few of the players knew one another prior to going to Captain's Book Shoppe. The campaign events are basically real, but aspects have been fictionalized to protect client privacy. Captain's Book Shoppe LLC has a strict privacy policy which can be found:

Customers can be assured that they will not be written about in the Captain's Log without their consent. Though, the one thing that cannot be assured is what interesting book will be awaiting discovery at Captain's Book Shoppe. Oddly, this story started with a cookbook.

One commonality that most Dungeon and Dragons adventures have- going back to the very first time a person started playing the game is memories of the food. The fond and jovial memories of "breaking bread," which back in my day of the 1980's was Doritos and Mountain Dew. Almost every player, has stories about D&D food madness. Today's adventures will always include a great recipe that was tested by the party of adventures.

Positive reviews of this fabulous chili were stated by the majority of the adventuring party. Though, the Dwarf complained that the Manticore Chili had a "Gnomey-Elf" taste. [Inside joke: the Gnome and Elven fighters got a bit scuffed up before the Manicore head was ultimately mounted in the local village saloon.] On a serious note, the recipe is a totally factual magical recipe. Well worth trying!

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Manticore Chili

The name of the Chili comes from the encounter the

adventurers had on

20 January 2024

2 Tablespoons olive oil

One onion, chopped

Two pounds ground beef (or substitute with ground Manticore)

1-2 tablespoons brown gravy mix/powder

1 very large can baked bean

2 Tablespoons beef base/bouillon

Salt & pepper to taste

3 regular size cans tomato sauce


Chili powder to taste (a lot!)

2 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • Note: This recipe comes from a chili-making-master that does not measure. There is a lot of guessing, all seasoning to taste - mild, kids like this chili. Offer additional toppings like hot sauce, onions, jalapenos, etc - sour cream, shredded cheese, crackers or chips or cornbread.

Heat Dutch over medium heat, add oil. Add onion & cook until softened. Add ground beef, salt & pepper ~ cook until finely crumbled. Add beef base, gravy mix, chili powder & sugar - cook until thickened/almost dry. Deglaze the pan by adding vinegar. Add beans, tomato sauce & water until correct consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste.

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You can discover more interesting cooking recipes at:

Ideally, the Captain will get some of the many boxes of paperback fantasy, science fiction tales listed online in the same manner as the cookbooks. That is a story for another time.

Last, I am often asked where I get these great book finds. Most normally walk in the front door of the store. This past month, a retired archeologist did his research by reviewing my "Buyers Guide" and then gave me a phone call at the store. We set up an appointment for him to come by with about thirty histories of Iowa and science fiction books. We had a positive, smooth transaction. I have Russell's permission to write about his books and his relationship with them.

The book trade often originates when people transition from one phase of life to another. I prefer to deal with the living book collector. The great thing about books is that once in a while, you get to meet a real Indiana Jones. Archeology is about research. This week's client had done his research and knew what I'd be interested in. Additionally, we traded stories of places we had both been. Later, Russ sent me archeology articles about places he worked at, and that I had also been. Sometimes, the book trade is better than a Steven Spielberg film because you get to meet the real, humble legends.

It was a few days after Russ's visit that I finally got around to examining the Leonard Nimoy book, I am not SPOCK. Softbound book. Millbrae, California: Celestial Arts, 1975. First printing. Blue dot [remainder mark] on bottom edge. Bookseller pencil notation $40 on top corner of half title page. (The book's list price printed on the back cover: $4.95). Black cursive signature on half title page.

I was no longer wearing the Centauri recruiting hat. I put on the Columbo trench coat and began to investigate the book. Russell had not mentioned it had what looked like a potential Leonard Nimoy signature. I gave Russell a phone call and asked him if he remembered the Leonard Nimoy book. His reply: "Of course, he signed it for us at Big Bear Lake."

"Who signed it?" I asked.

"Leonard Nimoy." He replied.

Bookselling is not only stories of mythical manticores and dragons. Understanding real facts versus fictions is a requirement for survival in this trade. This book requires further research concerning signature authentication. The book gets added to my collection of books that I continue to research before making a decision about the disposition of the book.

Some books take a while to fully research. Others less time. It is the nature of the trade.

Stay tuned, for what will likely become a monthly installment of The Captain's Log: The Dungeon Cooking Chronicles. You will be able to read about the latest feats of the adventuring party, a new recipe, and possibly a great science fiction or fantasy book mystery. Determining fact from fiction remains a fun, but serious business adventure.

I welcome your insights on this topic. Feel free to give me a phone call at (319) 351-3166 or send me an email at:  You can also enter your comment below.


Captain Jeff the bookseller

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[1] Mearls, Mike and Jeremy Crawford, , and ... D&D PLAYER'S HANDBOOK . Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2014. P. 5.


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