Etheric Recipe #3: Cardamom Popovers with Honey Syrup

Large fluffy cardamom spiced popovers topped with honey syrup would be at home on any dining table, elegant or rustic

For the third installment of recipes for Daniel Swensen’s Etheric (upcoming sequel to Orison), I wanted to go with something a bit sweeter after the recipe for a warming drink and some satisfying street food. Daniel requested some recipes as part of an opulent meal, so I took the opportunity to turn to a recipe which I really thing deserves a lot more attention in the kitchen, the popover.

A loose egg batter that is closely related to a Yorkshire pudding, the recipe uses intense direct heat and the explosive power of steam to give an impressive amount of lift to the final product. While the popover is perhaps from somewhat humble origins in the kitchen, I think that with the right approach , the billowy and crispy foundation of the popover would look wonderful on a well-appointed dining table.

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I hope that this picture is convincing!

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Etheric Recipe #2: Grilled Lamb on Flatbread

Grilled meat, grilled bread, and cool yogurt make this dish a well-balanced way to kick off the summer

A bit of friendly note, this is a very meat centric post, so if that isn’t quite your thing you may want to skip this post.

Onto my second recipe installment for Daniel Swensen’s Orison, hot off tail of the last beverage recipe of Barley Cocoa Tea. So if you wanted something a bit more substantial you’re in luck, I’m giving it to you with a take on street food. Daniel asked for something a soldier would partake of, so I wanted to make something hot, savory, and filling.

Given the time of year, I really wanted to leverage the freedom to grill something up, and try a few takes on lamb. I’ve gone a bit further and grilled the flatbread over the charcoal as well, which I imagine would translate well into fiction, ideally into a three person operation over a very long built-in grill so they could work the fires side by side, one dutifully turning the meat skewers, another firing bread to order based on the number of people in line, and finally a runaround handling any prep work needed for the resting meat and add-on condiments.

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Etheric Recipe #1: Barley Cocoa Tea

An earthy warming drink when you rather relax than wake up

So I’m back from a bit of a hiatus, but I’m glad to start an announcement here. This is the first installment of a series of recipes I’m working on as sort of a peripheral Etheric, the sequel to Daniel Swensen’s Orison.

As a quick pitch Orison is Daniel’s first full length novel, a tale of the young thief Story, set in the grim, dirty city of Calushain. I loved the vivid imagery and the amount of agency given to the young female lead. It’s a welcome addition to my bookshelf. It’s very well reviewed, so if you want to know more, don’t just take my word for it.

I’m very excited to collaborate with Daniel, in that I’ll be helping to add some flavor to his sequel, by creating some recipes that his characters will come across in his world.

For this first installment, Daniel mentioned that some characters would be taking tea with one another. I thought it would be great to actually make a new tea recipe, so I decided to tweak some barley tea, which my family has been playing around with lately.

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Hanging Out with Sean Nittner, Founder of Big Bad Con & Project Manager at Evil Hat Productions

Hey fellow cooks and geeks. Time for one more interview, then it will be back to cooking for a stretch.

Last February I had a chat with Sean Nittner over Google Hangouts (yes this is very delayed post). Sean is the Founder of Big Bad Con and a Project Manager at Evil Hat Productions. I’ve been meaning to talk with Sean for some time now, having met him in 2012 at Big Bad Con, and I was struck by his confidence in running a convention, and his ease at joining into conversations and relating with new people.

For the interview, we spent a lot of time talking about an array of issues, but basically the four things we focused on were:

  • Conventions
  • Gaming
  • Food
  • Evil Hat

Not so coincidentally, the videos have been separated into four parts that match up pretty neatly on those lines.

Part 1: Introduction and Gaming Conventions

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Geekonomic Stimulus Portland Edition: Day 1– Breakfast, Bridges, Books and Branch

Sunday in Portland: Cameo Café, Bunk Bar, Downtown Portland, Powell’s Books, Dixie Tavern, Branch bar

If Diane Sawyer is to be believed, supporting our country by buying American things is a great way to improve the economy. While buying “Made in America” is not always practical for the average American, I figured going on a “Geekonomic Stimulus” road trip to visit some of the cities on the West Coast might be a fun way to take a well deserved vacation and inject some money into some local economies.

Let’s not worry about the gas money being distributed in large share overseas, I was on vacation here.

The picture below sets the tone of my trip pretty accurately. Portland was a great city, and I had the pleasure of hanging out with Nathanael Cole, online friend who I have now met in the “meatspace” and also the creator of Motobushido, among other games. It was great to have such a talented and creative guy as my first tour guide to the city of Portland!

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Balsamic Vinegar Chocolate Truffles Recipe

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.

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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.

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Big Bad Con Recap!

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…

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…A game of Fiasco with the creator himself, Jason Morningstar of Bully Pulpit Games!

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!

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+5 Recipe Test #4 and the notion of “Sandwich Gaming”

Wild Rice Pancakes

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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!

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+5 Food of Eating Recipe Test #3: White Pepper Strawberry Sorbet

White Pepper Strawberry Sorbet

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.

In case you’re wondering why this is #3 and not #1, I’ve done two posts earlier on Cast Iron Therapy, one on Peanut Butter Jalapeno Hummus, and another on Olive Oil Crackers.

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!

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