Switch Quick Hits, FF XIV Update, and a Sweet Treat

Hello again, kiddos!  It may seem to have been a while since I was last with you, but worry not – I’ve been busy putting together all sorts of fun for you since I spoke with you last.  And a big part of that has been to sample several of the titles on my Nintendo Switch.  So what do I think of the initial batch of take-anywhere titles?

Binding 1

For those unfamiliar with The Binding of Isaac, you control the titular Isaac – a terrified, naked toddler who is trapped in a nightmarish hellscape after his mother tried to murder him, trying to escape and combating the horrors there by weaponizing his tears.  So, yeah…it’s fucked up.  Not bad, mind you – in fact, it’s one of the best twin-stick shoot-em-ups that I’ve played in a long time – but clearly the minds that concocted this scenario are in serious need of some therapy.

Binding 2

There are a couple of things that stand out here.  First of all, this came is brutally difficult.  In true bullet-hell fashion, shit is flying everywhere all the time, and you will die, a lot.  And permadeath is in full effect – you die, and that cool gear you’d been racking up is gone.  But this is somewhat offset by the second thing that stands out – the randomly generated maps and powerups lead to near-endless replayability, and keep you coming back over and over.  For anyone that has played this on PS4 or PC, you already know this – but here is where the Switch gimmick shines through, letting you take poor, abused Isaac with you wherever you go.  So long as high difficulty doesn’t bother you, a definite recommendation.

Shovel 1

Next up, we have a modern-day love letter to classic games.  Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove collects the original Shovel Knight game, and adds the two expansions, Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment, all in one package.  For fans of classic 8-bit and 16-bit action/adventure games, picking this up should be a no-brainer.  And since I’m incredibly old and a fan of those types of games, there was no question that I would want to be able to take the heroic Shovel Knight and his quest against the Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter on the go with me.

Shovel 2

Fantastic platforming and action are the order of the day, beginning with the original Shovel of Hope base game, and just being further refined and perfected in the two subsequent expansions.  A well written and witty story are the icing on the cake.  In particular, the newest expansion, Specter of Torment, is just a joy to play, incorporating all of the feedback received and improvements that indie developer Yacht Club made since the release of the original game.  If you like pure gaming goodness, get and play this game.

Setsuna 1

Another love letter to the past, I Am Setsuna was developed by Tokyo RPG Factory, a studio set up by Square Enix with a simple mandate – make games in the vein of the beloved 16-bit RPGs of yore.  For their first effort, they chose a very good game to look to – the seminal SNES classic, Chrono Trigger.  I Am Setsuna, from a gameplay perspective, is a RPG that you’ve played before.  Turn-based active-time battles, combination Tech attacks, spells and abilities learned from equipping magici- er, sorry, spritnite…but again, all distilled and refined from years of experience into their purest form.

Setsuna 2

What sets I Am Setsuna apart from the predecessors that it emulates is a heartfelt, emotional story and a beautiful, haunting piano soundtrack, both of which you will remember long after you’ve completed the game.  It isn’t the longest RPG you’ll ever play, but this feels more like a trimming of fat and padding that has become all too common in many modern games, rather than anything missing from Setsuna.  Square Enix has gone on record that it intends to strongly support the Switch, and this is a tremendous first effort toward that goal.  Highly recommended.

Zelda 1

Ah, here it is – the one everyone wants to hear about and talk about.  And for good reason – Breath of the Wild is without doubt a tremendous game.  Beautiful, artistic, breathtaking – all of those adjectives definitely apply.  The visuals and score are absolutely stellar.  Story is a timeless (pun completely intended) Legend of Zelda tale, and at the same time turns that classic formula in some surprising new directions.  It is most definitely the star of the Nintendo Switch launch lineup.  BUT…is it for everyone?

Zelda 2

Here is the thing – Nintendo’s latest magnum opus is a game that requires something that has become a lost art among many modern gamers – PATIENCE.  It is almost intentionally trying to frustrate you.  You can only carry a handful of weapons, and they are going to break after only a few solid hits against your enemies – probably in the middle of a fight.  There is a huge open world to explore – but many times it will feel too big, too empty, as you struggle to determine how to get to your next quest objective.  You can climb any surface – but if you run out of stamina, which seems to disappear as if Hyrule were located in the Bermuda Triangle, you’re going to take a long, fatal fall.  And even if you get to the top of that mountain, I hope you’ve brought some cold weather gear or food, otherwise, you’re going to freeze to death.  These are all elements of many of the survival games that have come into prominence among hardcore gamers in recent times, but those same elements are likely to completely frustrate gamers who just want to play a Zelda game, rescue the princess, destroy Ganon, and all that.  Do I recommend it?  Yes I do.  Do I enjoy it?  Yes, I do…when I am in the right mood.  It isn’t a game you can just pick up and play for a few minutes – you have to have a good chunk of time to devote to it in order to feel like you’ve accomplished anything.  So be warned – while a great game, this isn’t a Zelda game like any Zelda game you’ve ever experienced before.

39210_screenshots_20170409234110_1

So, you may ask, “EWE, that’s all great, but you still seem to be gone a lot lately?  Has your personal life improved?”  Well, there are a few answers to that – the first being WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YO- Ahem, sorry, I mean, I suppose it depends on what you mean by “improve.”  If you mean, have I finally turned the head and won the heart of my maiden fair…no.  No I have not.  So thanks for reminding me of that.  Assholes.  BUT, if you meant spending time with cool people and having fun – well yes, because I’ve fallen headlong back into Eorzea with my beloved summoner, appropriately named Evil Wizard.

39210_screenshots_20170304034409_1

Currently, I’ve been trying to power through story content in an effort to see most, if not all of it before the new expansion, Stormblood, drops this June.  I’ve managed to get to level 47 on my main class (as I said, summoner) while only minimally indulging in my normal penchant for leveling absolutely EVERYTHING there is to level equally (also known as OCD to normal people).  For the first time in a long time in an MMO, I am very pleased with the community and player base.  Long ago, I was a member of an absolutely fantastic World of Warcraft guild and community, with people that I loved playing with and interacting with even outside of the game.  Alas, due to complicated personal circumstances, it became best for them that I step away.  I quickly found that I disliked most of the player base outside of my friends, and left the game.  Since then, I’d never quite been enchanted with a player base in an MMO – but FF XIV just seems to have a predominantly kind and encouraging community.  There will always be exceptions to the rule – but by and large I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game.  More updates to come – I’m currently trying to get to level 49 so I can continue to wage my personal war against the Garlean Empire!

oatmeal raising cookies

Last, but not least – you didn’t think I’d let you leave hungry, did you?  Silly humans.  Have some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/2 cups old-fashined rolled oats
  2. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1/2 cup raisins (or craisins)
  4. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 6 tbsp butter, room temp.
  7. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  8. 1/4 cup sugar
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, raisins, baking soda, and salt.  Mix together and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar and mix until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.  Slowly add in the oats mixture, mixing until combined.  Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto two baking sheets, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart.  Place in oven and bake approximately 12 – 16 minutes, until cookies are golden brown but still soft.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Pour a glass of milk – and if you’re me, add some Kahlua – then enjoy your dessert!

And with that, you’ve reached the end of this bit of my ramblings, mortals!  Thanks for sticking around, and see you all again soon! – EWE

Advertisements

#FrozenFoodFridays – Out-of-Town Seminar Edition

Salutations, children!  This week was a bit different for me – I spent the last two days traveling to Columbus, Ohio for a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar.  While there, I was treated to something so delicious, it merited a very special edition of #FrozenFoodFridays.  So tonight, I’m not giving you a recipe – I’m telling you about an entire location, and one that you should make every effort to visit if possible: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant.

Schmidt's

My party and I stopped here after dinner for some dessert – and boy were we not disappointed.  The coconut cream pie was delicious.  The German chocolate cake ala mode was also quite good, and officially makes this conform with #FrozenFoodFridays, although I’d have preferred if the cake was warm rather than room temperature.

German Chocolate ala mode

But the absolute masterpiece, and Schmidt’s claim to fame, is their cream puffs.  Dear sweet baby jeebus, the cream puffs.

Cream Puff

Let me put it to you like this – this place put me into such a food coma that within ten minutes of returning to my hotel room, I had intended to boot up my computer and spend the evening writing this entry LAST night – but instead completely passed out and slept soundly the entire night.  IT’S THAT GOOD!

People, I know #FrozenFoodFridays is typically something you may be able to replicate in your own home.  But some things are just too good to not experience in their original glory.  Schmidt’s desserts are a perfect example of this.  If you are ever, EVER remotely near the Columbus area, do yourself a favor and drop by!  You’ll be more than glad you did. – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Better Late (And Drunk) Than Never Edition

Greets, kiddos!  Yeah, I know – it isn’t Friday.  But in fairness, I started to plan this on Friday – it just took me a few extra days to work the kinks out and get some other matters attended to.  So, I’m still counting it as #FrozenFoodFridays, and to hell with anyone that wants to argue the point!  Now, I’ve noticed that two particular types of treats seem to appeal to most of you moreso than the rest – sweets, and alcohol.  I knew there was something I liked about all of you!  I’m kind of glad I haven’t set you all on fire…yet.  Anyway – I decided to once again combine these two favorites of yours, mine, and anyone who has any taste whatsoever, in a way that I hadn’t tried before.  This resulted in something very special – I give to you EWE’s Boozy Buckeyes!

buckeye-booze
The ability to make just about any flavor liquor is one of humanity’s only positive traits.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups creamy peanut butter (maybe more depending on how mixing goes)
  2. 1 cup butter, softened
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 5 cups powdered sugar
  6. 1/4 cup peanut butter vodka
  7. 1/4 cup chocolate liquor
  8. 3 cups dark chocolate chips
  9. 1/8 teaspoon coconut oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt until it is well mixed.  Slowly add the powdered sugar, continuing to mix as you go.  When it is all well mixed, add the booze.  Continue mixing until thoroughly combined.  If the mixture is too thin to scoop into balls, add additional peanut butter to thicken.  Once combined, scoop into 1″ balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.  Freeze for 30-40 minutes.

While the peanut butter balls are freezing, combine your dark chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and melt in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst.  Once the peanut butter balls are set, insert a toothpick into the center of each ball and use to dip the ball into the chocolate bowl – but make sure to leave the top of each ball exposed so it looks like a buckeye, otherwise you’ve missed the entire point!  Return the chocolate covered balls (HA!) to the baking sheet and return to the freezer until the chocolate has set.  Remove the toothpick and keep these refrigerated until ready to serve.  Or, if you’re me, remove the toothpick, reflect on the pathetic state of your life, and eat the entire fucking tray while drinking the rest of the peanut butter and chocolate liquor combined in a glass and mixed with your tears.  Either way, enjoy! – EWE

#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

#FrozenFoodFridays – Beating the Winter Blue(berrie)s Edition

Salutations, my friends (and enemies…so, so many enemies)!  How are you all on this fine Friday evening?  Me?  Well, I’m much warmer than I was last week at this time, thanks to my furnace finally being fixed.  But only after I spent FOUR FUCKING NIGHTS with no heat.  I was displeased.  Very, very displeased.  But I persevered, kept warm by the burning hatred that makes up the core of my being.  And now the heat has returned, another busy week has drawn to a close, and it is time once again for everyone’s favorite Friday tradition – #FrozenFoodFridays!

mario-luigi-high-five
#FrozenFoodFridays?!  SWEET!

This week, we enjoy another yummy dessert – because when you’re single, living alone, and pretty consistently rejected, one of the few barriers against depression is getting to eat whatever the hell you damn well please.  And since blueberries are one of my favorite actually healthy foods, I can even twist this into being a somewhat good for you treat as well!  So let’s make ourselves some Frozen Blueberry Cream Pie!

frozen-blueberry-cream-pie
Yes…it is as good as it looks.

Ingredients

  1. 9″ graham cracker crust
  2. 1 cup fresh blueberries
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. 3 tablespoons sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  6. 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  7. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  9. 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  10. 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  11. 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  12. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Stir together the blueberries, water, sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to burst and the mixture begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest.  Place the mixture in a bowl and let it cool for approximately 10 minutes.  Lightly cover the bowl and refrigerate approximately 1 hour.

In another bowl, combine the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar and beat it until smooth.  Add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract and continue beating until stiff peaks begin to form.  Gently FOLD (do NOT stir) the chilled blueberry mixture into the cheese mixture.  Spoon the mixture into the graham cracker crust, gently spreading it to the edges of the crust.  Lightly cover and freeze until firm.

When ready to serve, let thaw 20 minutes at room temperature first.  Then enjoy with a glass of your favorite red wine!

And so, another #FrozenFoodFridays draws to a close.  Look forward to some more gaming posts this week, including my thoughts on the Nintendo Switch launch date and game lineup, as well as (hopefully) another guest entry by Malevolent Moogle in the near future!  Until then, mortals, be well! – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Evil Ice Cube Edition

Hello, warm-blooded mammals!  How are you all doing, hmm?  Oh, me?  Well – I’M FUCKING COLD!!!  See, I arrived home from work Thursday to find my furnace broken, and my apartment 51 degrees.  It was after hours, and in a rare moment of kindness/insanity, I left a message for my landlord that I would get through the night, but to please send someone the next day.  The next day, I received a message that the heat had been fixed while I was at work – hooray!  EWE was pleased – until I arrived home, once again after hours, on Friday to find my apartment…49 degrees.  So this time, I called the emergency maintenance line, as my landlord wouldn’t be back in the office until Monday.  The technician was quite nice…and quite overbooked, and couldn’t get to me until Saturday morning.  Thus, this is how I spent my evening last night:

temp
NOT.  HAPPY.

With all that being said…I am somewhat late, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give you another edition of #FrozenFoodFridays!  Seeing as how I myself was fucking frozen on Friday, it seems appropriate that I bring you another frozen treat – and nothing says frozen like the classic Popsicle!

popsicle
Editor’s Note: If you can’t see the jokes about licking a frozen EWE coming already, you probably should just stop reading now…

SHUT UP, EDITOR!  I have NOT become THAT desperate!  (Editor’s Note: Um, actually…)  I swear, I will kill you.  I don’t care if you’re me, or I’m you, or whatever.  I will freeze and incinerate you/me/us right this second if you don’t shut up.

Ahem – now, if you were ever a child, and even bad old EWE was a child many, many, MANY years ago, then you likely know all you need to know here – go to the store, go to the frozen desserts, and purchase/barter/appropriate these.  Alternatively, on a hot summer day, the ice cream truck may come by and you could purchase one from there, but you’ll overpay.  Unless you melt the driver’s face, silence anyone in the vicinity, and get the Popsicle yourself.  As a bonus, you also now have a new, if rather conspicuous, vehicle!  (Editor’s Note: DO NOT DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS.)  Ugh…killjoy.  Now, as you likely already know, there are a TON of different flavors of Popsicle that you can find out there.  But here is the real secret I am here to let you in on – the three in the image above are the only ones that matter.  Mango, peach, banana, tropical coconut fucking a passionfruit…they can all go to hell.  If you’re not enjoying cherry, grape, or orange (in that order) then you’re Popsicling wrong.

Sorry about the delay in the resumption of #FrozenFoodFridays – the heat seems to be working now, but even if it quits again (which the technician seems to think likely, goddammit) I fortunately have other sources of warmth…

burning-hate

Until next time, little ones, remember – even if it seems like I hate others, I probably hate myself more…and I fucking guarantee I hate Donald Trump far, far more than that.

#FrozenFoodFridays – Yeah, I Know It’s Not Friday Anymore Edition

So…I have to admit, I’m not going to apologize for this one.  See, last night, I attended a Christmas party for my local bar association.  And I was fortunate enough to do so with a lovely and amazingly witty and fun companion – one who asked if we could find the table closest to the corner, drink wine, and people watch while making snarky comments.  I literally cannot conceive of a better time or a better person to have it with.  Thus, I was unable to meet the deadline for #FrozenFoodFridays.  But never fear – thanks to my evil, omnipotent powers, I shall reverse time so that this entry will now take place in the past!  It’s kind of like that scene in Superman when he flies backwards around the planet to reverse time – except not fucking stupid.

So with that said, welcome to the latest edition of #FrozenFoodFridays!  Now, this week we will once again return to something that involves very little effort – in fact, there is practically no prep for this at all.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a treat!  In fact, it’s one of my absolute favorite desserts – Coconut Cream Pie!

coconut-cream-pie

Now, I know what you’re thinking – SOMEBODY has to prepare this!  Well, that’s true – and under other circumstances, perhaps I will attempt to make my own version and share it with you.  But for the purposes of a quick and easy treat, find your niece or nephew that is having a school fundraiser, or hop in the car and run to your local bakery/restaurant, or even the grocery store to the frozen dessert section.  Once you have the pie, place in your refrigerator long enough for it to not be completely frozen anymore.  Then, either cut yourself a slice and enjoy – or if you are a pathetic nobody living alone, forgo cutting slices and just take a fork to the entire thing.

Now, one last thing before I go.  You see, I may be the personification of evil, but most of you out there are…sigh…good.  And so, I ask for your help.  You remember the lovely young lady that I mentioned earlier?  Well, she is the loving momma to a sweet and adorable black cat by the name of Sylvester – or as I affectionately call him, Beastie.

beastie
‘Ello, Beastie!

Beastie, sadly, is feeling very under the weather right now.  He is under his momma’s care, but he can use all the positive vibes he can get.  So if you have a moment or two to spare, send a kind thought or well wish to little Beastie.  He is the only cat I have ever seen in my long, long existence that not only doesn’t bite you for scratching his belly, but actually LIKES it.  Bless his heart.  And from the bottom of where I should have a heart, I thank you for the positive feelings.  If you have a beastie of your own, make sure to let them know that they are special and loved. – EWE