Books, Booze, and…huh, I’ll be damned, Bears – Oh My!

Greets and salutes, mortals!  How are we this evening?  Me, you ask?  Oh, I’m experiencing…some rather bothersome discomfort (Editor’s Note: MIND BOGGLING PAIN) brought on primarily by the seasonal weather.  Rather than vent my irritation by converting my lovely apartment complex into a necromancy factory – good idea, that – I have instead settled on catching up with all of you.  Aren’t you lucky?!  The correct answer to that is yes.  Unless you like being set on fire.  Then feel free to answer no.

Now, as the title above would suggest, the first item on the agenda tonight is my latest literary lark.  Actually, lark might not be the best word, considering this is a 1500 page mammoth, but I like my alliteration, so fuck it – lark it is.  Anyway, if you recall WAY back when, I gave my impressions of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, the first book in Sanderson’s epic fantasy series, The Stormlight Archives.  I’ll let you read my original impressions on that first book for yourself – but in short, I found it a very promising start to a series, particularly if you are a fan of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.  After finishing The Way of Kings, I eagerly started the second book of the series, Words of Radiance.

wordsofradiancecover

I am very pleased to say that if you were a fan of the first book, you will definitely find more to love in the second.  My primary complaint about TWoK was that it could be somewhat confusing in the way it blasted the reader with new information, concepts, and terminology – sometimes it required quite a bit of work on the part of the reader to piece these together into a coherent tapestry.  But by the time you’ve begun to read WoR, you have finished TWoK and are familiar with this world and its systems.  Consequently, as a reader you can focus on what Sanderson has shown himself to be a burgeoning master of – world and character building.

All of the major characters left standing at the end of  TWoK return for WoR, and some new ones are introduced as well.  The most developed characters, and likely by intention, are Kaladin and Shallan – but none of the characters lack for significant development here.  One of the elements that I love the most about this series so far is that these men and women are flawed – not in cliche, obvious ways, but in real, believable ways.  As with many epic, sweeping narratives, at this stage it is difficult to identify any card-carrying villains – while some characters actions or plots may seem more sinister, or less honorable, than others, it is made clear that each one is acting for what he or she truly believes is the greater good.  And the world itself is a character – Sanderson’s vivid descriptions and the way in which its harsh and violent nature impacts the characters and action add tremendously to the story.

Speaking of action, I am a big fan of the way Sanderson scripts his action sequences.  In particular, the climactic battle in the closing chapters is an absolute gem – I couldn’t stop reading until I’d finished it.  Quite frankly, that sentiment applies to the entirety of this novel – once I started it, it consumed all of my spare moments until I had finished it.  My biggest gripe is that based upon Sanderson’s website, the rough draft of Book Three is still only 95% complete – meaning it will still be quire some time before we have it in our hands.  Goddammit, Sanderson – how dare your massive creative endeavor take more time than I want to wait!

But what do you need when you are engrossed in a great book?  Why…a great drink, of course!  And nothing says fun like EWE’s Rum Punch!

jamaican-rum-punch,

This fun concoction that is relatively simple to make.  At it’s base, you’ll need Disaronno, Malibu / Captain Morgan Coconut Rum, cranberry juice, and orange juice.  Take a tall tumbler glass, fill with ice, then combine one part Disaronno, two parts rum, and fill the glass with equal parts cranberry and orange juice.  Garnish with a lime, cherry, or both, and enjoy.

But why let the fun stop there?  There are any number of varieties of flavored rum out there from both Captain Morgan and Malibu – pineapple, mango, passion fruit, etc.  You can also substitute other fruit juices, such as pineapple, cherry, etc.  So long as you base it with Disaronno and finish with orange juice, you’re going to be in good shape.  Well, until you have had four or five because they’re so damn good and you don’t notice the alcohol.  Then you might not be in good shape.  But fuck it – you won’t care!

And that brings us to bears.  Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “how can even EWE possibly shoehorn bears into this in any kind of coherent way?

panda
Never doubt me again, humans.

I was humbled and honored to be nominated for a PANDA Award by the lovely and talented LightningEllen at Conquering the Gaming Backlog.  Her blog is a true gem – while the title may give away that she is chronicling her epic journey through the ever-expanding backlog that we gamers inevitably accrue (I feel you, kid.  The struggle is real.  The struggle is real real), giving us her thoughts, impressions, reviews and insights along the way, that isn’t the end of the story.  From touching tributes on Remembrance Day, sharing slices of her life (I’m currently scheduling an Amiibo intervention for you), giving glimpses of upcoming games and demos – it is an absolute treat every time I catch up on your posts.  All of you, minions, go forth and follow her, read her words, and be better for it.  Or I will find you.  And then no one will find you.  EVER.  AGAIN.

As LightningEllen said in her post, this award is particularly special because it was founded by Mr. Panda, a mainstay here in the blogging universe who has always been quick with a kind word, comment, or critique in my short time here as a malevolent omnicidal demon blogger.  What makes this award different?  Well, I will quote LightningEllen, quoting The Shameful Narcissist, quoting Mr. Panda, because I can: “This award is much different from the other chain awards floating around out there. PANDA stands for ‘Play A New Day Award’. I’ll quote the Shameful Narcissist’s quote of Mr. Panda’s explanation: ‘I want to encourage others to play for another day. No matter what is going on, whether in the world, your country, your home, or even in your mind, I want you to play for a new day. We’re all in this together, and we can make it together.’

The rules for the PANDA are quite simple.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Nominate any number of people for the award.
  3. Encourage them in any way, whether through thanking or complimenting them.

In considering my nominations, I must first note that LightningEllen managed to nominate a number of the same folks that I would have as well – and her words for them would be echoed by me.  But in addition to those fine folks:

Anna at Anonymously Autistic – Autism is something near and dear to my heart, as my youngest son is autistic.  No matter how much I may try to learn about and understand what that means, all the science in the world is not as insightful as a look through the eyes of someone that sees the world in much the same way that he does.  For that, I can never thank you enough.  What you do is an amazing gift for so many people, autistic or not.

Donna at Dine And Rhyme – While it is no secret to anyone that reads my blog regularly that I LOVE FOOD, far fewer people know that I also have loved and admired poetry for most of my life.  My senior thesis in high school English was an original book of (horrendously awful) poetry.  Not only do I admire the work itself, but I have the utmost respect for people that put their thoughts and feelings into prose and then open themselves by putting those poems for the world to see.  Thank you for your blog.

Toreishi at Toreishi Games – told you before about the fantastic reviews over at Toreishi’s blog, but I think I’ve come to look forward even more so to any post titled “This is not a post and the cake is a lie.”  Because I know hilarity is about to ensue.

Beauty Beyond Bones – I don’t know if I even have sufficient words to express my respect for you.  I know something of dark places, and crawling out of them, and while we may not always agree on ideologies, you chronicle your struggles and triumphs with grace and eloquence, and in doing so, you are a source of inspiration for innumerable people that may be in a similar place.  You should be very proud – not just for your own journey, but for offering your experience to others as well.

And with that, my little ones, we come to the end of tonight’s journey.  As always, I am grateful and humbled that you joined me.  Whatever the cause of my sleepless nights – be it pain, confusion, loneliness, or what have you, I take solace in knowing that you are there.  If you ever need someone who has wronged you punished…or their family…or friends…or neighbors…you get the point – I’m your Evil Wizard. – EWE

 

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#FrozenFoodFridays – Thanksgiving Edition

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, minions!  The holiday is actually why I haven’t been as active this past week – this time of year there is just so much going on, and most of it is stressful and aggravating and makes me want to feed people to my dragon.  But since that’s “frowned upon” I will instead have to vent my irritation on all of you lucky boys and girls!

But before that – we can’t let Thanksgiving go by entirely without my personal recipe for an all-time holiday classic – yes, it’s time for EWE’s Probably-Won’t-Kill-You Pumpkin Pie!

And, of course, because I will be damned if I’m going to break from the theme of #FrozenFoodFridays, we will be using Marie Callender’s Frozen Pastry Pie Crust as a base.

frozen-pie-crust

Since we are talking about one of my personal favorite pies, I’m not going to mess around with optional ingredients – everything is required for this one, folks!  So if you decide you don’t need to follow my instructions, your pie may not turn out – and I might hunt you down and set you on fire.  You’ve been warned.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 9″ Marie Callender’s Frozen Pastry Pie Crust
  2. 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  3. 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  11. Whipped cream (your own, store bought, whatever)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium-large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, and spices until the mixture is smooth.  Pour the mixture into the still-frozen pie crust.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Now reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Continue baking for ~45 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted 1″ from the crust and comes out clean when removed.  Remove and allow to cool for several hours until room temperature.  Once room temperature, keep in refrigerator unless being served immediately.  Before serving, garnish with whipped cream.

See?  Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?  I just made a few of these the other day, and if I do say so myself, they turned out quite well.  I mean, there was one person who decided upon looking at it that it hadn’t been cooked enough and threw it out.  But I’m pretty sure that person just hates me.  Which, in fairness, is not that uncommon.  Besides – a whole bunch of other people ate it, and to the best of my knowledge, they aren’t dead yet.  So we are going to call it a success!

So that’s all for #FrozenFoodFridays this week, kiddos!  I promise to try and come around more this coming week – and I haven’t forgotten the request I received for a chicken recipe, so I will be seeing what I can do!  And I’ve also completed a couple of books and some games as well, so look for my thoughts on those too.  And, of course, ranting.  Lots and lots of ranting. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – End of the World Edition?

Well, humans…you had a good run.  I mean, not really – but hey, I’m trying to let you go out with some dignity here, which is a far cry from the way you wiped out so many other species over the years, including SOME OF YOUR OWN PEOPLE.  But sadly, all awful experiments have to come to an end sometime, and for you that time is now.  Some of you are definitely not that bad, and I will genuinely miss a few, but it’s the other several billion that ruin it for you.  So, I’m afraid it’s meteors, tidal waves, and my newest experiment, fire tornadoes across the globe.  Sorry, nothing you can do now to stop it.  Nothing can change my mind.  I’ve had enough.  Nothing could…possibly…

…………….GODDAMMIT, Alanah!  Now what am I supposed to do, huh?!  I can’t destroy that!  LOOK AT THAT!  IT’S FUCKING ADORABLE!  Now thanks to you and Chelsea (I love you Chelsea, you’re adorable, don’t ever ever change) 5.99 billion mouthbreathers are going to get to continue fucking up the earth, and more importantly, MY LIFE!  Fine then – but when I finally make good on taking a trip to SF, you owe me a drink!  You know…after the, like, 20 I probably owe you for all the good shit you’ve done.

Anyway…I guess since I’m NOT going to vaporize you all now, it’s time for #FrozenFoodFridays.  Once again, I’m cheating a bit this week, as the item in question may be frozen, or may not.  And if it is, you’re gonna want to thaw it before you get started.  But fuck it – it counts.  So here are EWE’s secret/created in a drunken stupor and can’t remember anything exact recipe Cilantro Lime Swordfish Steaks!

swordfish-steak
Commence drooling, mortals.

Required Ingredients:

  1. Swordfish Steaks, frozen or fresh (if frozen, be sure to thaw first; if not, um, don’t).
  2. Limes, several (in case you missed it last time, I’m not big on numbers – just get a bunch).
  3. Cilantro, 1 bunch washed and chopped (if on the fence about how much to use, err on the side of MORE CILANTRO).
  4. Olive Oil (a small amount to grease the baking dish).

Optional Ingredients:

  1. Lemon (use sparingly, as it combines well but can overpower the lime, which defeats the whole purpose)
  2. Garlic, 1 clove, minced (I love garlic in almost anything – but sometimes just the simple cilantro and lime combo is very refreshing.  Try both and see what you prefer!)
  3. Black Pepper / Crushed Red Pepper (see comment for garlic above).
  4. Liquor (not actually an ingredient, but tends to help me think I’m not fucking up too badly).

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Grease a baking dish using a small amount of olive oil.  Place the fish steaks in the baking dish.  Cut several of the limes in half and squeeze them over the fish until the steaks are covered and surrounded by lime juice.  Cut a remaining lime into slices and place these on and around the fish steaks in the baking dish.  Now cover everything with the chopped cilantro.  If you have used any optional ingredients, add those at this time as well.  In a small bowl, squeeze a few more limes to be used to baste during baking.

Place the baking dish on the middle oven rack, uncovered, and bake for 15-20 minutes, basting occasionally, until the fish is easy to flake with a fork.  Serve garnished with a fresh lime or lemon slice, if desired.

So I hope you enjoyed #FrozenFoodFridays once again, as well as the world not ending.  You can thank Alanah and Chelsea.  I did get a small measure of revenge though – while she was playtesting a VR game, I projected an image of my face into her headset.


Ah…good times! – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – The UnFrozening

A week?!  It’s been a whole week since I’ve seen my devoted little demons?  Oh, how I’ve missed you – well, I mean, as much as I miss people ever.  I do apologize, truly – life had a way of getting away from me this past week, and even in my occasional spare moment I was exceedingly tired.  As an ancient evil wizard, my body doesn’t tend to like seasonal changes, and the weather swings this past week have been rather painful for me.  But don’t worry – nothing a few slaughtered villages can’t cure!

But in my return, I knew I needed to do something special – and something special is indeed what I bring you.  Tonight, we bring the heat to #FrozenFoodFridays – as we explore the outcome of my attempts to create homemade alfredo sauce!  And it still counts, because I guarantee that at some point, something I used was frozen somewhere in transport.

alfredo1

Now, like any good recipe, you need ingredients.  So here you go:

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-low heat.  Next, add the garlic, cream, white pepper, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.

Now comes a VERY IMPORTANT POINT.  From this point forward, you should just basically plan on stirring constantly the rest of the time.  Not occasionally, not frequently…the whole fucking time.  Trust me – it just works out better that way.

Add the parmesan cheese and simmer and stir for 8 minutes or until sauce has thickened and the consistency is smooth.  Then add the mozzarella cheese and continue stirring until the sauce is smooth.

And there you have it!  My version above is a peppery take on alfredo sauce – for slightly less kick, eliminate the black pepper and crushed red pepper.  I have made this a couple of times now, and I feel it has turned out quite well.  Try it over your favorite pasta ASAP!

So with that, I will bid you goodnight, kids.  I will try to make amends for my prolonged absence, but until next time, remember – if you are still supporting Donald Trump at this point, then when you are registering to vote for him you should just take an extra minute to also register as a sex predator.  It’ll save you some time down the road. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Healthy Edition

I got new art!  Seriously, I saw this piece by Mari Lyn and knew I had to hang it in my place.  I’ve been proud to know her through the years – she is an amazing and talented woman. Check out her work and support her!

It’s time once again, folks, for another #FrozenFoodFridays!  Now, this may seem like a shorter, cop-out edition this week, but there is a decent payoff in return – you see, I’m trying my hand at an actual, not frozen, homemade cooking adventure!  I will hopefully be able to share the success (or hilariously dismal failure) of it soon – but even a homemade meal needs a frozen treat!  And so, I finally bring to you the backup dish I’ve been threatening since I started this segment…

Halleluja!

That’s right, it’s everybody’s (read: my) favorite vegetable, broccoli!  Now, hear me out – I know throwing a bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave sounds pathetically simple, even for me.  To that I say: 1. If you ever call me pathetic again, I will rain meteors upon your village until not even a cockroach remains, and 2. There are ways to improve even the simply delicious steamed flavor.  For example, I like to dump the frozen broccoli in a pot with a can of chicken or beef broth and let it heat on the stovetop.  This lets the broth soak into the broccoli and compliments whatever your main dish may be.

Now, as for my new cooking adventure – I love alfredo.  I mean, as much as I am capable of the feeble human emotion of “love.”  So after having some early success with following recipes for alfredo sauce, I am going to attempt to create my own take on it this weekend.  It may be delicious.  Or it may kill someone.  It should come as no surprise that I am satisfied with either outcome.

Until next time, kids, remember – you know what, I don’t even need to do the clever Trump remark thing, do I?  I mean, look at him.  Just look.  Look at that shit.  Really?  Do I need to pile on that?  It’s beneath me. – EWE