Shameless Plug #436

Short post tonight to say that I’ve finally set up my fundraising page for my London Marathon/Wings for Life insanity!  Only 57 days until the marathon now!

Go donate if you’re so inclined!
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ChristopherPowell

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Food Extravaganza!

So on Saturday and Sunday last weekend, I prepd and served Toni’s birthday surprise, a five course meal!  I actually did ten courses last year, so one could call me comparatively lazy, but more effort and care went into each dish than last year.

I also made homemade mackerel pate (Toni’s favourite) and homemade saffron bread rolls for breakfast, which is what I did last year (although with shop-bought pate)

First course were “Sole and Wild Mushroom Bouchées” (I didn’t know what the were before, that’s just what they’re called in the recipe book and they looked like a nice starter

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(They did look a little better than this, but starting to eat them seemed like a greater priority than taking a picture)

One of the big things about these ones was I made my own puff pastry for them.  That whole thing that other recipes tell you about just getting it shop bought because it’s basically the same/better?  Complete lies!  The pastry was gorgeous and I’ve got some left over to make Mille Feuilles this week 🙂  So yeah, if you’ve got a day in advance to spend constantly taking some dough out of the fridge to roll it, fold it, it’s totally worth it.

Next up were smoked salmon scotch eggs

Nothing too special about these, although I’ve never really tried anything like them before and was impressed with how neat they came out (and Toni had no idea what they could be before cutting into them).  They were very tasty though.  This was a bbc food recipe you can find here

For main was my special chicken teriyaki recipe.

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This is my own developed recipe and had some more authentic ingredients this time (I found mirin!) although it ended up tasting much the same.  Still, I’m yet to find a restaurant version that I prefer!

For pre-dessert, I had made a trio of sorbets, all tea flavoured!
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This was what made the kithcne smell amazing on thursday, these brewing away in some bowls before I put them in the freezer.  From left to right they were Earl grey, green tea and chai.  The Chai one in particular was fantastic, although very sweet.  Definitely something I’ll try and make again.

Last up was the piece de la resistance

 

An Easter egg (yes, I know it’s not Easter yet, but they didn’t have any better moulds), with a slive of Buche de Noel inside (French Christmas log with chestnuts, yes I know it’s not christmas either).  This is tual a bit of a cheat picture as the one on the right is a separate slice (mine) as I tried to melt open the easter egg with a hot chocolate sauce, but basically just made a mess…

So that’s the fruits of a weekend of cooking!  Toni thoroughly enjoyed it and I enjoyed it myself as well (although probably the eating more than the baking).  I do need to get better at this whole taking pictures of food malarky though…

DJ Sushi?

I’ve started work on Toni’s birthday stuff (which is on Saturday).  I’d talk about it more, but I know she reads this and I want to keep it a surprise. The kitchen did smell goooooood last night though 🙂

Also, I finished my first game of 2016 yesterday, yay!  Was actually a game I hadn’t been trying to finish before now, Splatoon.  Definitely my favourite game of last year, but the campaign was secondary to the core experience.  I’d been roughly half way through the campaign and had some time last night, so decided to blitz through the rest of it (it’s not too long).  My completion criteria is all of the campaign collectibles, the amiibo levels, level 50 and S rank, so I may be a little off of that still.

Jumped online afterwards and went back to using a charger (a more sniper type weapon) and realized I’m a hell of a lot better at doing that than trying to use the shorter range stuff.  I ended the evening with a turf war game where from having held a defensive position in the middle of the map, I finished with just shy of 1000 points, 8 kills and 0 deaths, with my team romping the victory.

Frickin Andreas…

Below follows my account of Wednesday’s Pathfinder session.
(Brian(me): dwarf sorcerer, Maldred: rogue human. Yu: Half orc monk. Andreas: Elf fighter

Following our descent into a winding tunnel, seemingly hewn from the rock by previous picaxers, we came across some light in the distance.  Following an all-clear from a stealthy Maldred, we came across an opening, with a pile of rubble, a flat wall and a stone door.  From the pile of rubble, Brian noticed a hand and very enthusiastically started hacking away at the rubble to uncover what was underneath, not that whatever may be attached to the hand may still be alive.  However, a misplaced (read: crit fail) picaxe swing found blood and caused the source of the hand to start screaming.  Maldred took offence to the screaming and, despite attempts to stop him from the other members of the group to stop him, skewered the source of both the hand and the screaming straight through the hole that Brian had just created (read: crit success) and the screaming ceased.

We uncovered the rest of the rocks and discovered a dwarf girl with little more than light clothes and a picaxe, obviously having fallen foul of a cave in having reached the clearing.  Her story shall remain a mystery though as Maldred had BRUTALLY MURDERED HER.

Following this latest spate of bickering, we finally proceeded into the room behind the stone door.  Behind it was a large chamber with a pillar, four caskets each containing a currently unmoving skeleton and a fountain.  On the piller was the following riddle

As time turns forward, so it goes
The path will open when we close
But should you fail the present task, it’s
Your fate to be in these caskets
The blood, of course, is the origin.
Then the life force drains. Begin.

Maldred’s initial scout of the room revealed one casket had a blood stain on, so Brian readied to close that casket (“The path will open when we close”, plus “The blood, of course, is the origin”). Yu and Maldred stood attentive but distanced, remembering our recent run-ins with skeletons and expecting something bad to happen, even if we were doing the right thing with the riddle.  Meanwhile, Andreas decides to nonchalantly close one of the OTHER caskets.  The three remaining skeletons rose from their caskets and started to attack.

Combat proceeded about as well as it does with us an skeletons, with us constantly failing to make connections, but this time, neither were the skeletons.  Brian slipped up the skeleton from the casket that had been in front of him and managed to keep it busy until Maldred and Yu had finished with theirs and were able to charge this last one down.  After taking some hits, each skeleton would return to it’s casket and once all three had done so, the lid of the casket Andreas had closed also opened (shortly after everyone has yelled at him for trying to open it again).  Resetting the puzzle.

Yu and Brian then immediately started to subdue and tie up Andreas.  While unsuccessful in tying him up, they did distract him enough for Maldred to go around closing the caskets in the right order to solve the puzzle, with no further fleshless doom.  With the final casket closed, the fountain drained, revealing a grate we could remove.  Maldred went in first to check it was all ok and found a statue with an outstretch hand, it’s other hand on it’s chest and the following riddle

It can be said:
To be gold is to be good,
To be stone is to be nothing,
To be glass is to be fragile,
To be cold is to be cruel.
Give this to me and I am yours

What follows is the list of all of the items we tried to place on the outstretched hand before getting it right: A gold coin, a stone, a vial, a winter coat (around the shoulders), a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and Andreas.  Andreas also broke his sword trying to hit the statue.  After lots of umming an dahhing, Brian begrudingly suggested getting the heart from the dwarf girl, which Maldred did with pleasure, eviscerating her as he went.

Placing the heart on the outstretch hand caused the statue to move, bringing the heart to it’s chest and oustretching the other hand.  On the other hand was a pendant with a heart and a skull on it.  Written on the pendant was an incantation, which Brian spoke.  It did something, but we can’t discern what and it appears to not be re-usable (not immediately at least).  We proceeded back to the surface…

 

Normal Bloggery Stuff

I’ve not had enough to write a whole blog post about in the past week or so, but enough things have probably piled up now to make a few bullet point updates.

-Running is ramping up heavily (although hampered a little the past couple of days by a cold).  I ran almost 50km last week, ending in a 22km run (in stupid winds).  I now feel more prepared for the marathon than for the first karting event.

-The first round of the karting championship is in a little over two weks now and I don’t feel prepared.  I’m not sure there’s all that much I CAN do, but it will have been 3 months since I last raced, so I probably just worry I’m going to be a little rusty.  I’ve got an hour’s session practice in the morning, so it should all be fine…

-I ordered the racesuit, which should just about arrive in time.  I went with a slightly modified red vs blue design in the end, following a discussion that the tron one might look a bit generic.

-Last week’s D&D was reasonably uneventful (we got attacked by some goblins, Brian was loud, Maldred stabbed stuff, Yu punched stuff, Andreas was naked and overslept).  It’s my turn to write out what happened this week, which was a little more eventful, so  I’ll probably just turn that into a blog post too

-Made these for dinner this evening and may have a new top contender in the “Quick, easy and tasty” category 🙂

Everyone! Get in here!

The weekend before last I went to my first Hearthstone Fireside gathering/tournament at Loading bar.  I wouldn’t consider myself to be particularly good at Hearthstone, I’ve played it a bit every month for almost two years now, but the lowest level I’ve reached is 14…  However, I’m competitive and it seemed like quite a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Needless to say, I didn’t last long.  I lost my first match 3 games to nothing and that was pretty much it.  This does, however betray my chances a bit as were it not for a really dumb mistake I probably could’ve won the second game, plus I comfortably won the friendly we played afterwards while waiting for the next round.

I played some other non-tournament games with some other people and it turns out Hearthstone is much more enjoyable to play when you can see your opponent, deliberating across the table.  It was actually a really fun afternoon (even given the trek to get there takes just over an hour), the only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been if it was in an actual tavern, with roaring fires and stuff, so that’s the next big kickstarter project sorted…

LaSer Team

We went to the London showing of Rooster Teeth’s lazer team today, which was a hell of a lot of fun!  I was a little worried that the crowd was going to be unnecessarily loud and boisterous, especially given some weird cheers at some of the trailers. Luckily, it ended up being a pretty normal fan crowd, which are always great, “getting” more of the jokes and generally being quite cheerful.  It was incredibly funny with some fantastic moments and I was surprised by the quality of the story and how well it was paced too.  Definitely felt like a normal movie release with a decent budget, rather than a crowdfunded flick from a small time internet videos company. 😉

Unfortunately, I worry it might be difficult to recommend.  It felt like a lot of the biggest jokes relied on familiarity with Rooster Teeth’s other stuff, pretty much fan service if you will.  That being said, most weren’t “in-jokes” per say, just nods to other things that Rooster Teeth have done (the best joke of the movie in my opinion relying on it, but still being a beautiful setup regardless).  I would expect for anyone unfamiliar with Rooster Teeth it would fall under “Enjoyable Romp”.  The bigger recommendation would be to go and watch a bunch of Rooster Teeth’s other stuff first, because most of it is pretty good…

Custom Racesuits

So the new karting season is ust over a month away for me and I’ve been thinking about getting a new race suit.  My current one is looking a bit worse for wear, plus it’s kind of plain and boring.

I’ve been sketching out some potential far more interesting designs for getting a custom racesuit done and I’d be interested to what what people think.

First up, I’ve got a unique design that I’ve had in my head for ages.  It looks kind of red vs blue based, but that’s more of a happy coincidence.

RedBlue

Next is a somewhat Tron themed one

Tron

Then I’ve made an approximation of Samus’s Varia suit from Metroid
Samus

And finally, Blanka from Street Fighter

Blanka

I’m yet to decide which one I’d actually like to lose, so let me know what you think!

 

I’m surrounded by idiots…

We had our first proper Pathfinder (D&D) session last night, which was…rough.  It would be cliche to say that the dice hate us, but that’s pretty much it.  It was really good fun though

Our party of 4 woke up in a crypt, having been transported there mysteriously from our day to day lives, not previously knowing each other.  We got out of our various stone coffins, some with more ease than others (After everyone else struggling, despite having thee lowest strength, I basically threw the lid off and into the wall).  Our rogue (Eldred) went to check what was in the next room, rolled a 1 and alerted all of the skeletons, which then hit high and hard, disabling him before he was able to retaliate.

Despite my protests, both of the others ran forward down the corridor, giving me some accuracy issues (was rolling more than high enough to hit them unobstructed).  Before killing any of the 3 skeletons, one of the others (Andreas, a fighter elf) was also disabled, probably deserved given he was trying to attack skeletons with a spear… Just afterwards, I finally melted one of the skeletons with acid, giving us our first semi-success.

Given it was now 2v1 at close range, and our half-orc monk (Yu, that led to a lot of dumb jokes) still refused to back away, I summoned a humanoid shaped light to give another target (because skeletons are dumb). Yu finally rolled some hits and rolled top damage on each skeleton, completely disintegrating both of them, ending up 2HP away from leaving me as the last one standing…

To finish things off, I used some cheap tricks to make it look like Andreas had soiled his pants.  I’ve decided I’m going to be nice to people, but be increasingly derisive when they screw up 🙂

Mince Lies

So one of the few foods Toni doesn’t like, most of which seem to fall into “seasonal”, is Mince Pies.  To counter this, over the holidays I decided to try and come up with a mince pie recipe that she’d like, but still remained reasonably festive.  I present you, mince lies!

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Look like mince pies, don’t they?  Well, they pretty much are, it’s only the filling that’s a bit different.  Instead of a typical mincemeat recipe, I made my own filling, recipe below:

  • 3 Cooking Apples, chopped into 1cm cubes (ish)
  • 70g cranberries
  • 6 Stem Ginger Balls, grated roughly
  • 2 Tbsp Stem Ginger syrup
  • 2 Tsp Mixed Spice

Basically, chuck all of the ingredients in a pan, keep stirring and simmer until most of the apple turns to mush (you still want a couple of chunks leftover for texture though).  Then, use it like pretty much any other mincemeat, make (or buy) your pastry, add the filling and bake them.

Despite the main base being apple, these don’t taste like apple pies at all.  You get a very warm sensation from them due to the ginger and the overall experience is very mince pie like without having quite the same flavours.  Toni likes them, so mission accomplished!