Game Night! – CAH & the Return of #FrozenFoodFridays!

Greets, mortals!  Let’s start things off with a thank you to those of you that may have joined the game night crew earlier tonight as we dusted off the card table and streamed one of our favorites, Cards Against Humanity.  As always, it was whack, inappropriate, borderline-aneurysm-inducing (Editor’s Note: well, for him, anyway) fun.  For those that couldn’t join us live, don’t despair, my marvelous minions – just look below!

Now, normally that might be enough to call it a night – oh but I told you last time, old EWE has decided he wants to start ramping things up around here again.  Sure, I may not be able to post as OFTEN as I might like – but when I do, dammit, I’m going to make damn sure it was worth it.  So I have reached WAY back to find one of my most beloved segments from early in the blog’s life, dusted off the mothballs (Editor’s Note: or, in this case, freezer burn) whatever – I present to you the return of #FrozenFoodFridays!

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So, if you know me at all, and you think I’m going to find anything wrong with this dish, all I can say is hahahahahaha!!!

So, let’s get the negatives out of the way right off the bat, shall we?  Devour frozen meals have a completely godawful marketing department.  I mean, a balls-out, what-the-shit, genuinely horrific messaging campaign marked their entrance into the marketplace, and only got marginally better with their recent Deadpool 2 tie-in commercial campaign.  I loved that movie, but it didn’t influence my frozen dinner purchasing.  The commercial itself was entertaining as hell though, I’ll give them that.

The problem with all of this fancy packaging, 6th grade “food you wanna fork” (seriously, that is their slogan – if my eyes rolled any harder they would fall out) marketing campaign, and Deadpool licensing agreement is that it all leads to increased cost to you at the register.  When purchased at regular price, Devour frozen meals are some of the most expensive per ounce frozen meals you are going to find in the standard frozen food section of the grocer’s freezer, without venturing into specialty areas such as gluten free or the like.  However, this is where the good news begins because the meals are quite often not at regular price recently – more and more often, they are on sale.  And if you can find them while on such a sale, take full advantage of it, for you will not be disappointed.

Image result for devour alfredo lasagna
Look at this…LOOK AT IT!

I’ve not been fortunate enough yet to have sampled all of the wide variety of Devour meals, in particular the new sandwiches – but what I have had so far has been universally fantastic.  Painless preparation – heat, stir, heat again, let stand, stir and enjoy.  And as you’ve probably noticed above, they have one dish in particular that combines lasagna, alfredo sauce, Italian sausage, and bacon – four of my favorite things to eat in one scrumptious meal.  Devour frozen meals definitely get a thumbs up from me!

That’s it for tonight folks, as old EWE is hearing the siren song of his sheets and blankets – but with luck maybe I can be back before the weekend is out!  Until then, kiddos! – EWE

 

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A Fall Caffeine Fix and Some Other Bits

Greets, humans!  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind this past week or so, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

First thing’s first, good ol’ (and by that I mean REALLY FUCKING OLD) EWE had himself a birthday last week.  Yeah, don’t worry – it kinda sucked.  It was a horrifically awful work day, and most of the small group of people I’d have most like to have celebrated with actually DIDN’T REMEMBER IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY.  On the plus side though, it did manage to reaffirm my long held, but sometimes shaken belief in the human species.  Even when I meet folks like Malevolent Moogle or all of you fine blogging folk out there, and begin to think that your species has some potential, water always finds its level, and the balance of humanity always manages to sink well below any bar that might be set for it, no matter how low.  But hey – I’m still alive, so there’s always time!

EWE and Editor Always Time

As a present for not being dead yet, the universe decided to present me with the question “how the hell aren’t you dead yet?”  You see, hypertension runs in my veins (HA! I slay me) having reared it’s ugly head in a number of my ancestors.  Diet, exercise, protection spells, ritual blood sacrifices – nothing seems to help.  So after a year on a blood pressure med, my cardiologist called me in for a checkup.  After first asking me such inane questions as “any stresses in your personal life?” and having me scowl silently at him for several moments before awkwardly moving on, he determined that my blood pressure…was still too high.  So he prescribed a second med to go with the first, and said to call in with my blood pressure numbers after one month.  And so I did – I reported that after one month of taking his second med as directed, my blood pressure had managed to actually go up further.  I’m awaiting word on what the hell I am supposed to do now.  And while I wait, I was sitting at work when I received the following phone call.

“Hello?”

“Hi, it’s Mom!  Are you busy?”

“No, it’s ok – is everything alright?”

“Now, I don’t want you to panic or anything – ” (Editor’s Note: This is never a good lead.) ” – but I was just at my doctor, and they are saying I recently had a heart attack.”

“What?!  When?!”

“They aren’t sure, probably within the last couple of weeks – but don’t worry!  I’m fine, I’m even driving to physical therapy!”

“…YOU HAD A HEART ATTACK, AND NOW YOU’RE DRIVING BY YOURSELF, AND THAT’S SUPPOSED TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER?!?!”

First off, Evil Mom is fine.  She’s home, and she’s being closely watched.  But everything about that conversation is a sample of why when the cardiologist asks “any personal stress?” I just stare at him in abject fury.

But all is not doom and gloom!  Yes, it is my favorite season of the year – fall!  Autumn!  92 fucking degrees and humid!  Wait, that’s not right…anyway, in celebration of the season, let me share with you my favorite fall morning fix, and save you a trip to Starbucks every day.  Here is EWE’s Fall Coffee!

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So here is what you will need: a standard drip coffeemaker, a coffee bean grinder, your favorite cinnamon coffee beans, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, ginger, ground clove, vanilla extract, and Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice Creamer.  Grind the beans based upon how much coffee you want, place in the filter, then add just a dash of each of the spices above.  Be particularly careful with the ginger, clove, and vanilla – just a bit of each is powerful and can quickly overpower the other flavors.  Brew the coffee, pour, and add just a touch of the pumpkin spice creamer.  Voila – with minimal effort, you have the best fall coffee on the face of the earth.

Now go make some and enjoy what are looking like the last days of my body’s functional lifespan! – EWE

#FrozenFoodFridays – Malevolent Moogle Request Edition

Greets and welcome to the weekend, humans!  I hope that the evening finds you well, or if you live in the U.S., at least finds you not dying in a natural disaster.  The South is underwater, the West is on fire…but hey, let’s not worry about climate change, it’s all just a bunch of lies spread by the Chinese, right?  Sure.  Tell me – when Trump Tower is suddenly not above sea level anymore, can that stuffed lion you had your kid riding on in your horrifically gaudy family photo be used as a flotation device?  Probably something you should think about at this rate.

I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for my newly-remodeled alma mater, The University of Akron School of Law, along with my BFF and fellow law grad Malevolent Moogle.  MM, in the blunt and forthright manner that is one of the primary reasons I value her friendship and advice above all others (this is the same person who once told me “oh my god, you are fucking flypaper for crazies!”), complimented my recent blogging work while lamenting that it had been some time since the last entry in #FrozenFoodFridays.  And so, without further ado, I welcome you to the latest installment in the now-quite-irregular ongoing series, #FrozenFoodFridays – Malevolent Moogle Request Edition!

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Not Pictured: Malevolent Moogle immediately after this was taken chasing me around like a maniacally laughing madwoman, attempting to decapitate me.

Now, one of the reasons that I put the weekly #FrozenFoodFridays to bed for a while is because I simply hadn’t been able to try as many different frozen foods, even using my extremely malleable standard of what can even remotely involve the term “frozen food.”  However, I am pleased to say that I have lately come upon a new product in the freezer section of my local Giant Eagle: Healthy Choice Power Bowls!

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Focused on a blend of high-protein meats, grains, and greens, these quick fixes come in four varieties, all of which I’ve enjoyed quite a bit – although frankly they had me sold at Korean BBQ.  Just microwave them according to the times in the instructions (I advise sticking to the lowest recommended time, and even then I’ve had some of them come out kind of overcooked and dry, but only rarely), then stir and enjoy.  The Korean BBQ is a bit spicy, but the rest are just flavorful, and the portion size is actually perfect to leave you not feeling still hungry but not overfull either.

Image result for healthy choice power bowls

And with that, our #FrozenFoodFridays has come to its end!  But my night is far from over – I need to get some new material written for the open-mic stand-up I’ve been doing lately, and I want to get some more progress made in Mario x Rabbids as well as Final Fantasy XIV, and maybe read a little bit before I completely crash and shut down.  But let it be known – my promise to Malevolent Moogle to bring you a #FrozenFoodFriday came first! – EWE

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.

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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.

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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

#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 – 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

Super Duper Sunday with EWE & Editor

Greets, humans!  It has been a bit, hasn’t it?  (Editor’s Note: Hello, friends.  Apologies for the prolonged absence, as well as for missing the last week’s #FrozenFoodFridays.)  Grr…as you can see, in recompense for being a bit derelict in my #FrozenFoodFridays duties, I have elected to allow a bit more freedom to Editor in this entry, per the suggestion of LightningEllen – who for some reason seems to believe that Editor makes positive contributions here.  (Editor’s Note: Well, I do seem to be a bit more honest about my emotions than you.)  Do…not…push…it.

this-could-be-fun

The past few days have been…exhausting.  On one hand, work is going well.  I found out that a coworker is leaving the office, which does sadden me somewhat, as she was a human that I didn’t constantly abhor, but also presents an opportunity to work more, which I always enjoy as a distraction from the absolute shit show that is my personal “life.”  (Editor’s Note: Now, now, it isn’t all that bad.)  Oh?  I wake up during the night calling a name who, if she knew it were happening, would quite likely murder me.  Horribly.  (Editor’s Note: That isn’t…necessarily true.)  Really?  She wishes I was someone else.  That isn’t a metaphor – she LITERALLY wishes I was a different person.  (Editor’s Note: Be patient – let her get to know you, and she will likely not wish you were anyone else at all.)  ……you do know who you’re talking to, right?  (Editor’s Note: Sigh.  We both know it isn’t in you to give up anyway, particularly in this instance, correct?  So don’t worry so much.  Remember one of our favorite songs?)

Sure, fine, whatever.  Optimistic asshole.

lots-to-offer

On the plus side, I managed to indulge in my enjoyment for cooking and baking, even if I did miss out on #FrozenFoodFridays.  But never fear – I bring you a culinary delight that is even better than a frozen treat.  Behold EWE’s Beastly Beer Bread of Butchery!  (Editor’s Note: It’s just beer bread…tasty, but just beer bread.)

beer-and-cheese-beer-bread
Mmmm…

Ingredients:

  1. 3 cups self-rising flour
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 12 oz. beer (as a starter recipe, I use Great Lakes Eliot Ness)
  4. 1/2 cup melted butter (that’s one stick)

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and beer and mix.  Pour mixture into a greased or non-stick loaf pan.  Pour the melted butter over the top of the mixture in the loaf pan.  Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes.

For best results, continue drinking the entire time the bread is baking, and then pull the fresh bread apart and consume immediately after it is finished.  But hey, that’s just me.  (Editor’s Note: It’s actually good even if you haven’t gotten thoroughly drunk waiting for it to bake…)  Yeah, but what’s the fun in that? – EWE