A year of cats, food, and friends both new and old
As promised, my review of 2015, at least in terms of what was documented on my phone. After selecting what I liked from that collection, there’s definitely no room for the stuff I legitimately documented on my camera.
Even without the official camera pictures, I sure did a LOT of stuff this year. I almost feel accomplished with how much fun I had.
Initial impressions, I took a lot of animal pictures.
Like, a lot of animal pictures.
There was also a very brief yet intense Alphabears period. Barbecue was very much in evidence, along with the surprisingly popular #farmjokes on instagram. Also I went to a lot of food trucks for lunch, and I really wish I wrote down more of what I thought of them.
I also reconnected with many old friends, and made many new ones. 2015 was a good year, and not without its challenges of course.
Hey readers, it has been a while, and I promised to give an update post on where I’ve been and what has been going on. Well, here it is.
Things officially got crazy for me around the end of 2012, and here we are, almost at the end of 2013. I had mentioned that I was substituting, and seemed well on my path to becoming a teacher. Plans switched suddenly and thanks to some connections, I ended up working at a startup as a QA Analyst. I think I’ve managed to become even geekier by landing a job in tech.
It’s been a blast and I’m still having a lot of fun there. I’m not going to say what the company is here, but if you snoop around enough I’m sure you could find out.
I will post this picture of Maisy though, who is often at the office.
Her title is Officer of Morale, and she does a damn good job of it too.
Add a touch of class to a gaming night with these elegant and rich bites of chocolate, with the fruity finish of balsamic vinegar and cherries.
At the request from the splendid and wonderful Tiffany Simmons, writer of the soon to be published +5 Food of Eating, I have boldly completed a quest on her behalf, testing a new recipe for some chocolate truffles!
These chocolate truffles are great for both geeky and nongeeky affairs. Why? Well it’s chocolate! And most people like chocolate. Unless you’re a supertaster perhaps, in which case other options need to be explored.
As for the straight gaming applications there are at least a few ways they could add immersion to a game. Given their origin they fit in quite well with settings placed in the late 19th or 20th century, or perhaps in a French inspired setting as well. Their rich sweetness lend themselves to the image of high society balls and intrigues. And the small but generous portions of chocolate truffles make fantastic dessert finger food.
With this year’s sudden onslaught of projects, classes, and all the like, one of those things which has unfortunately fallen by the wayside was my participation on the 52 Weeks of Cooking subreddit challenge.
While I’m not going to be able to make up all the weeks that I’ve missed, I’ll do my best to jog along with the more diligent posters until the end of the year. Thankfully this week’s theme, cinnamon, requires a bit less planning and grand productions!
Cinnamon has been quite a versatile spice that has found its way into so many different cuisines for uses both savory and sweet.
Growing up, cinnamon was primarily featured in my mother’s pho broth along with star anise and black cardamom. As I grew older I discovered it has its place in things like hot cider, cake, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch (I preferred Golden Grahams though.) One of the more exotic things I’ve done with cinnamon was actually making a cinnamon ice cream.
This morning I decided to go the hot drink route however, and found that a cinnamon mocha would be a splendid way to start the morning, quite a bit different than my usual black coffee.
Big Bad Con was lots of fun, full of geekiness and gaming.
So I went to my first roleplaying convention ever. No, Blizzcon does not count. While I’ve role-played before and play a lot of tabletop games, I’ve yet to actually go to one of these, not for lack of desire but simply not having the right place and the right time.
Big Bad Con managed to satisfy both those requirements, and so I went for it!
Organized by Sean Nittner, flanked by his staunch allies Kristin Hayworth and Eric Fattig, put together one hell of an event, and I was never left wanting. For me, Big Bad Con was a great introduction to the world of roleplaying cons, and I’m definitely down for more.
Now for the greater details and highlights for those curious for a look into the world of the roleplaying con.
I stumbled into the con late Friday afternoon and witnessed a game of Quirkle in action. I got the general idea, and would have loved giving it a try, but there was an offer I could not refuse…
It truly was a Fiasco of a game, involving cults, a dissolving marriage, a bumpkin hero and everyone ending up a little worse off at the least, which was entertainment for the players! Mission success!
Before launching into this post’s specific recipe, I want to talk about a phrase I call “sandwich gaming.” These are hobbies (preferably geeky ones) that are easy to do while eating at the same time, provided that the food being eaten isn’t terribly messy. Actually I’d give bonus points for an activity that allows you to eat really messy food while being entertained at the same time.
There’s very few ways I enjoy relaxing more than cracking open a book or playing a more relaxed kind of game, say one that is easy to put down like Suikoden or Shining Force II, while noshing on a well made sandwich or some other easy to eat finger food. And of course I have to add other role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Apocalypse World as fantastic social games for the sandwich recreation phenomena.
It is perhaps this leaning that drew me towards the +5 Food of Eating project, with its emphasis on finger foods tailored toward the tabletop gaming community, and by extension, perfect dishes for other kinds of “sandwich gaming.”
This recipe for Wild Rice Pancakes that Tiffany asked me to try out is no exception either, and I personally found it marvelous. It was served at the +5 Food of Eating West Coast event I mentioned in my first post here.
There is a weakness with the dish though, and that it does not do well cold at all. While deliciously fluffy and savory right off of the pan and into my mouth, being placed into an icebox and plated did not do any favors to the guests or to the recipe at all, but some quite rewarming on a cast iron pan helped considerably. Still, if I were to serve this again for guests or at a function, I’d definitely make a point to fire these up on site!
As I mentioned in my introduction post, I’ve been fortunate enough to be one of those trusted foodies that Tiffany Simmons has selected to do some recipe testing for her food for gamers project, the +5 Food of Eating cookbook.
For A Cook and a Geek, I’ll be starting off with something sweet with a hot twist on it, White Pepper Strawberry Sorbet, a definitively vegan dessert that leaves a lasting impression, melding the sweet tartness of strawberries with the unapologetic bite of freshly ground white pepper.
I didn’t exactly get Tiffany’s thoughts on how this could add to the immersion of a board gaming night, but it certainly provides an impact. It would perhaps effectively accent a rousing tabletop gaming session involving chilly climes, or then again it could simply be a very effective way to wake up people in the late hours with its surprising contrast of heat and cold.
Ah, for the record, I’m not a vegan, in case you think that is the purpose of this blog.
As a matter of process, if you just want the bare bones recipe, you’re welcome to just skip to the bottom. But if you want pictures and the thoughts that pile into my head as I worked through the recipe, keep on reading!