#FrozenFoodFridays – Return of the Sweets Edition

Hello, humans!  I just couldn’t let another week go by without letting you into my kitchen for everybody’s favorite part of this blog – I mean, aside from my rampant nihilism – #FrozenFoodFridays!  Now, as an extra special treat this week, this delicious treat will both satisfy your sweet tooth and your booze craving – and I made it up completely myself!  Which will be evident by 1. the actual picture of it I took, and 2. the relatively vague measurements I give for the recipe.  So here, without further ado, is EWE’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter Beer Bread with Bailey’s Irish Glaize!

Bread Ingredients:

  1. Self-rising flour (3 cups)
  2. Brown sugar (1/3 cup)
  3. Vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon)
  4. Honey (not too much, just to taste)
  5. Hershey’s chocolate syrup (again, to taste, but the more the merrier)
  6. Genesee Brewhouse Salted Caramel Chocolate Porter (12 oz – and obviously any chocolate beer can work)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well until a rich brown dough is formed.  If you overestimated on the flour, you can add a little more beer/chocolate syrup/honey to make sure everything gets absorbed.  Place dough mixture in 9″ loafpan and make sure it is evenly distributed and smooth out the top.  Place in oven and bake for 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making the glaize.

Glaize Ingredients:

  1. Powdered sugar (1 1/4 cups)
  2. Bailey’s Irish Creme liquor (2 tablespoons, at least)
  3. Heavy cream (2 teaspoons)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth.  For a slightly thinner (and far more potent) glaize, add a few more splashes of Bailey’s while mixing.

Place the bread on aluminum foil and lightly drizzle the top with honey.  Then pour the glaize over the entire top of the bread.  Finally, drizzle lightly with some Hershey’s syrup.  And I know what you’re thinking – how the fuck does this fit with #FrozenFoodFridays, right?  Here’s how – slice and serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

And there you have it, kids!  Next time you’re massively depressed and can’t decide between getting shitfaced or pigging out on sweets, remember – EWE says, why the fuck not both?! – EWE

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Paladin’s Quest and a Restaurant Review for #OmNoMonday

Happy Martin Luther King Day, humans!  Today marks the celebration of one of the greatest men your species has ever produced.  King’s dream may not yet be a complete reality, but one of the reasons that I still allow your existence as a whole to continue is that you seem to be stumbling ever closer to achieving it.  Though I sometimes wonder at the steps back that you take *glances over at US election results* but I’m still encouraged enough overall to not wipe you out.  Yet.

Today, I have a special treat for you, my groveling little minions – not one, but TWO reviews.  And the first even comes with a little background story.  You see, young ones, even old EWE could occasionally make a mistake or two in my younger days.  (Editor’s Note: His last mistake was literally five minutes ago.  He got Windex in his eye.)  Not listening to you!  As I was saying, many years ago, I skipped numerous lunches in order to save up enough money for a copy of Chrono Trigger for the SNES.  Now, as anyone with a passing knowledge of RPGs can tell you, Chrono Trigger has gone down as one of the greatest games in the history of gaming, and if you never played it on the SNES, it has been remade for the Nintendo 3DS as well as iOS and Android, and you should drop what you’re doing and go play it.  Now.  I’ll wait.

But this isn’t about Chrono Trigger.  You see, and I know this may come as a shock to you, but I was, and still am, a nerd.  Stop laughing right now or I swear I will roast you and serve you to your family member for dinner.  (Editor’s Note: He will.)  So as I reached the threshold amount of funds, I also managed to achieve straight A’s in school and my mother saw fit to reward me with a rare gift of a video game, as we were quite poor and she could not often afford to do so.  And so it was that now I was in the extremely odd position of having money for a SECOND SNES cart of my choosing.  So after selecting the ticket for Square’s Chrono Trigger, I glanced through the other games in the aisle until seeing one made by Enix, the creator’s of Dragon Quest and the other dominant console RPG studio in Japan.  What could possibly go wrong with that choice?

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As it turns out, a lot could go wrong.

Whomever developed Paladin’s Quest at Enix was quite clearly treating it as stand-in for that one girl that you just can’t get out of your head or resolve your feelings for.  You know the one – she somehow at the same time inspires both a need to impress her with your talent and flair and also burning, punishing hatred for never appreciating you enough.  The game has certain aspects to it that are quite laudable, but it’s maddening aspects drag you down the path to mind-breaking insanity.  The sum total is a RPG that is incredibly unique in artistic style and even somewhat groundbreaking in its gameplay for the time, but with a maddening difficulty level and some downright bizarre design decisions that leave you scratching your head and wondering how it and Dragon Quest came from the same place.

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You definitely won’t mistake it for a Dragon Quest game.

The first thing that will reach out and grab you about Paladin’s Quest is it’s vibrant, colorful graphical design and world.  It’s almost as if Enix intentionally designed a world as polar opposite from its prior Dragon Quest games as it could possibly could be.  The architecture, flora, fauna, and character designs are all alien, the color schemes are filled with pastels and clashing hues – it simply can’t be overstated how unusual the visuals were for the time, and still remain to this day.  But while this is definitely one of the game’s strengths, it can almost reach nauseating levels at times.

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That’s no moon…it’s a battle station!

Dungeon design retains the alien, sci-fi aesthetic, though it is somewhat less original than the other visuals in the game, taking tremendous inspiration from Square’s Final Fantasy IV and VI.  That isn’t really a negative – those are two of the greatest games of all time – but it isn’t executed with the same level of expertise that those two titles have gone down in history for having.

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A snake and a monkey? This shouldn’t take too long…oh, shit, I’m dead.

Now, then, let’s talk about the gameplay – or rather, let’s talk about how this game is going to make you wail and scream in frustration as it kicks your ass from one end of the planet to the other.  This game is hard.  HARD.  You read my last entry about Dark Souls III?  Don’t think for a second that difficult RPGs started with that series, kiddos.  Literally ever random encounter in Paladin’s Quest carries the very real possibility of killing your party and ending your game.  First of all, for a world in which magic plays an integral part, there is no MP.  An NPC in your hometown even lampshades this.  Instead, every spell or skill you use is cast from hit points.  This in and of itself isn’t so extreme – you just need to keep a close eye on your HP and pragmatically heal often in order to progress, right?  Oh, wait – healing can only be done via use of an extremely limited supply of consumables that are very difficult to replenish.  And that wide variety of different schools of magic spells?  Well, if you want any of them to be worth a shit when it comes to battle (and you do) you’re going to have to SLOOOOOOWWWWLLLLLYYY grind away in order to skill up the spell’s corresponding school of magic.  Oh, and other than your PC Chezni and his ever-faithful companion Midia, those other two spots in your party?  You’re going to have to fill those with expensive mercenaries, many of which have specific requirements to recruit and can easily be permanently missed, and often come with their own crippling weaknesses as well.

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If you thought the wildlife kicked your ass, just what do you think these guys will do?

The story itself is a sci-fi take on a classic fantasy tale.  Chezni, living a safe and sound life in his hometown and attending the Academy there, is asked by his friend Duke to sneak into the nearby Forbidden Tower.  Because, as the main character in a RPG, Chezni is a complete fucking idiot with absolutely no common sense, he obliges, climbs the tower, and unseals the world-demolishing evil contained within.  The rest of this village, rather than admit that perhaps locating an Academy full of curious children DIRECTLY NEXT TO such a place might have been a less than stellar idea in hindsight, instead banish Chezni and instruct him that now it’s his responsibility to travel the world and find a way to stop the hellish beast he has released.  Because Chezni has obviously displayed fantastic judgment and intelligence up to that point.  Chezni is quickly joined by Midia, who probably just couldn’t bear to see someone so abysmally stupid wandering around on his own.  The tale as it unfolds isn’t “bad” by any stretch, but it isn’t anything you haven’t heard before, and it unfolds at a snail’s pace because of the copious amounts of grinding required to overcome the high difficulty curve of the game.

Battles (which you will engage in VERY OFTEN) are of the standard turn-based variety, with each party member choosing to attack with a weapon (which includes using healing items as they must be equipped) or a spell (of which you can choose between the four equipped to a character), defend, or flee from battle.  Turn order is essentially impossible to predict once commands are entered, except for the old favorite that the enemy is almost always going to beat the shit out of you before you’re given a chance to respond in kind.  Boss battles feature the kind of spike in difficulty compared to the minions leading up to them that you can easily find yourself moving steadily through a dungeon with little in the way of danger only to end up being completely destroyed in a single turn by the boss.  It’s not a question of IF this will happen to you; it’s simply WHEN and HOW MANY TIMES it will happen over the games 20-40 hour quest.

One bright spot for me during my time with Paladin’s Quest was the music.  While I won’t sit here and compare it to the phenomenal work done by Uematsu in the Final Fantasy series, but the tunes were a pleasant surprise and even though I was forced into spending hours grinding away, the music made that chore a bit less unpleasant than it could have been.  But while that surprise was nice, the positives in this game just aren’t enough to overcome the sheer levels of frustration that the drawbacks inspire.

THE VERDICT – EWE SAYS:

paladins-quest-verdict

Now, after a game leaves you feeling that broken (Editor’s Note: or in EWE’s case, when literally all of life leaves you feeling that way), you need a drink.  And something to eat.  And probably a good, long cry.  As for the first two, I’ve got something a little different for #OmNoMonday – rather than tell you how to make shit on your own, I’m going to tell you where to go when you just say “Fuck it, I want someone else to make it.”  And that place is BJ’s Brewhouse.

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If they delivered, I’d sell my car.

Now, I’ve been to a few different BJ’s locations on quite a number of occasions, and I can honestly tell you that I have not yet once been disappointed in either my food or drink.  The bar is extremely well-stocked, and there is an impressive rotation of craft beers on tap at any given time.  But the best part about BJ’s, what sets it apart, is that they also brew several of their own craft beers as well.  Whether your taste is for lighter, American-style pilsner, amber ales, or heavier porters and stouts, there is a house brew aimed at you.  As a fan of beer from the medium to heavy end of the spectrum, I love the ales, porter and stout, but my absolute favorite is the Jeremiah Red.  Now, while all of the food that I’ve had is delicious, my favorite has to be their pizza.  BJ’s has a wide variety of deep dish, think crust, and flatbread pizzas and they are all fantastic.  A particular favorite of mine is the deep dish BBQ Chicken Pizza.  Lastly, for dessert, if you don’t get a Pizzookie (deep dish, warm cookie with ice cream on top) you aren’t living your life right.

BJ's Restaurant + Brewhouse
Kids, don’t let your teachers fool you – these are the food groups that matter.

THE VERDICT – EWE SAYS:

bjs-brewhouse-verdict

And with that, boys and girls, #OmNoMonday draws to a close.  We’ve learned that while not all classic RPGs are worthy of the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, at least they can be helped by the beer goggles of hilarity.  And that, my friends, is the secret of life. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Finally On Time Edition!

Greets and welcome back, minions and minionettes!  I do hope you enjoyed our guest contributor last time, the ever-loving-to-tell-me-what-a-loser-I-am Malevolent Moogle!  She did so great that I am thinking of dumping more work off on- I mean, asking her to come back and contribute more often!  But that isn’t the first time you have all been introduced to the maniacal mind of MM – no, she actually was the inspiration for everybody’s favorite segment here!  That’s right – it’s time for #FrozenFoodFridays!

Tonight, we have an extremely versatile vittle – is it a snack?  Is it a side dish?  Is it a meal unto itself?  The answer depends on how many you have, the variety, and just how pathetically lonely and sad your sorry excuse for existence has become.  (Editor’s Note: EWE prepares these as a meal by seasoning them using salt from the actual tears he is shedding while realizing that he is preparing them as a meal for himself.)  Hey, fuck you editor!  Don’t you mock me!  (Editor’s Note: I’m you.  You are writing this.  You literally just told yourself to go fuck…yourself.)  Moving on…

Well, no matter in  what capacity you serve them, Mrs. T’s Frozen Pierogies definitely won’t disappoint you!

perogies

Now, there are a few different ways that you can prepare these little frozen wonders, but here is what I like to do – I heat some olive oil and butter in a wok (and sometimes add some minced garlic, if you’re in the mood, and you fucking should be because garlic is amazing), and then add the frozen pierogies and saute them until they’ve turned golden brown, very much like the lovely picture on the front of the box.  (Editor’s Note: EWE learned this from putting puzzles together while staring at the box art as a child.)  SHUT.  UP.  Ahem – be sure to stir/turn/physically manipulate in your manner of choosing the pierogies as they cook, and don’t overcook them or the goddamn smoke alarm goes off and if you live in an apartment you feel like a fucking idiot.  Or so I’ve been told.

Once they are cooked to perfection, just serve them and eat them.  Be sure to cut open the first few to let the filling cool a bit – unless you don’t give a shit about your tongue or having skin on the roof of your mouth, in which case, just toss that bastard in there whole, moron.

And here is a bonus preparation method that I discovered while drunk a while back – instead of the oil and butter, you can saute these in beer.  No, seriously – it turns out great.  Assuming that 1. you like beer, and 2. you use actual beer, not Bud or Miller or some shit like that.  Seriously – go buy a goddamn oatmeal stout, pour some of that in with the pierogies – delicious.

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Then drink the other five-plus of these in the pack.  You’ll thank me later.

And there you have it – a delicious snack/side/meal and a drink (or 5) to go with it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of #FrozenFoodFridays – but if you haven’t, well, I’ve just about had my fill of bitchy people this week, so I’m pretty sure you know what I’m going to tell you what you can do.  But since I know none of you would still be reading this if you DIDN’T like it, that doesn’t need to happen!  So until next time, kids, remember – if you’re poor and don’t pay your taxes so that you have some money to buy food and keep your heat on, you’re a criminal and are likely going to be prosecuted.  But if you’re filthy rich and don’t pay your taxes, you’re a goddamn genius who should be nominated to be president despite any blatant signs of dementia that you may display.  And that is the American Dream! – EWE

Must…Keep…Playing…

Good evening, my little devils/angels/non-denominational supernatural beings!  I believe that I have neglected to mention that NIS America has recently announced that Disgaea 2 is coming to PC in January 2017!  The Disgaea series is an anime SRPG dream – tons of different classes, wacky stories full of memorable and insane demons, angels, and humans, a near-bottomless well of skills, items, and equipment, and the ability to level all of those things up to level 9999 (that is not a typo) then reincarnate them with higher stats and do it all over again.  But above all else – murderous, peg-legged, dual-machete toting penguins that end every sentence with “dood” and EXPLODE WHEN YOU THROW THEM.  If you aren’t pre-ordering this now, something is wrong with you.

So, you know that one book, or game, or TV series, or whatever that just grabs ALL of your attention?  Like, you kind of want to do other stuff too, but you must continue partaking of it?  Well, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past for Nintendo 3DS is apparently that game for me.  I want to focus on writing a wonderfully witty, cutting, insightful entry for all of you out there – but I can’t stop.  I have to keep killing slimes.  I.  Have.  To.

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They all have to die.

 

But whilst I continue my slime death march, I can, in fact, bring a recommendation to any seasonal brew aficionados that may be out there.  I was in a local pub and discovered Breckenridge Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte Stout.  Now, the name may be a mouthful, but the drink itself is absolutely superb – frankly the best seasonal pumpkin-themed beer I’ve had, and I’ve had more than a few.

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Find this, drink this, love this.

Finally, this is last call for any requests or recommendations for the next profile of a member of the gaming community!  Next one should go up soon!

Until next time friends, remember – when the best thing that can be said about you is “well, he hasn’t done anything OVERTLY racist, sexist, xenophobic, or bigoted in the last few days” then there is a better than good chance that you are both a terrible person and also not a good choice to be president.  #SorryNotSorry Trump fans. – EWE