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

Advertisements

Burning the Midnight Oil on #OmNoMonday

Welcome back, feeble carbon-based mouth breathers!  My, am I feeling productive this week – well, that or possibly I’m not sleeping enough.  But either way, you get more of my meandering musings, so you win either way.  You’re welcome!

So as anyone who read through my recent retrospective of the Dragon Quest series has probably figured out, I am a fan.  So I was eager to throw myself into the latest remake of a classic Dragon Quest game – the 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past.  DQVII, for those that missed my retrospective (and you had better go correct that poor life choice right…now) was originally released on the PS1…after the PS2 had released.  Poor timing, coupled with an abysmal translation, led to lackluster sales of the original release.  However, the game was immense – 100-200 hours per playthrough was required if you wanted to see everything the game had to offer.  And it’s gameplay systems were solid.  So I was hoping that this remake would correct the errors of the past while maintaining the classic elements – and for the most part, it did so.

dragon-quest-vii-1280x725

Graphics

First things first – and you’ll find that I’m going to say this about damn near every single game on the 3DS – slide the 3D setting down to “off.”  It adds absolutely nothing to this experience, and in fact can detract from it.  Not because it’s bad, but because it will cause unnecessary eye strain in a game that begs to be played in long stretches, and will drain your battery faster.  You’re going to be spending hundreds of hours with this game – and you don’t need 3D in any of them.

The graphics are a noticeable improvement over the PS1 originals.  The camera in the original had a tendency to obscure, well, everything when rotated – but that has been largely corrected in this upgrade.  The characters models are MUCH more detailed than in the original, although there is some hilarious incongruity in the sizes of the characters in comparison to their surroundings.  Seriously, Keifer is apparently this world’s version of King Kong, because he’s larger than a lot of buildings.

The graphical improvement extends into battle as well.  In the original, battles were first-person against static monsters.  In this edition, battles are third-person, with your party fully visible on screen, executing lively animated attacks and spells against equally animated monsters.  Akira Toriyama’s legendary character designs have always been associated with this series, and they are beautifully brought to life here.  Another change from the original graphics centers on the games robust vocation system – while in the original, a character’s vocation wasn’t evident by looking at them.  However, now each and every vocation results in a new appearance for the characters – a very welcome addition.

dq7-3ds-discover-classes-pv

Sound

Not much can be said here that hasn’t been said before.  Dragon Quest features charming and catchy melodies and sound effects that will definitely become repetitive long before the game comes to a conclusion.  This especially evident in this installment, which is without question the game with the longest required playtime – a standard playthrough is going to eclipse 100 hours easily.  If you like the music, be sure to play with headphones because the 3DS is not known for it’s stellar audio hardware.  Once you begin to tire of it, just take them off.

Gameplay

I’m not going to go too in-depth here, mostly because if you have ever played a Dragon Quest game or you have read any of my Dragon Quest retrospective, you already know how this plays – and if you haven’t, this probably isn’t the entry-level Dragon Quest game I’d recommend.  The original version had a notoriously SLOW beginning, with the player going several hours before encountering their first battle.  This has thankfully been reduced in the remake, but it is still a slow open – it will still be 30-60 minutes until that first slime gets whacked with a cyprus stick.

One of the biggest changes from the original is also one I initially welcomed but soon grew annoyed by – encounters.  In the original version, monster encounters would occur at random while wandering in the field or dungeons.  The encounter rate was on par with classic RPGs in general and Dragon Quest in particular.  The remake has seen the introduction of the system first introduced in Dragon Quest VIII on PS2, in which monsters appear on the world map and can be avoided or battled at the player’s choosing.  Now on paper, this sounds great.  Unfortunately, the spawn algorithm makes the encounter rate incredibly aggravating.  I lost count of the number of times I would be trying to work through a dungeon, finish a battle and take two steps only to have another monster spawn directly under my feet.  I was soon longing for the days of a random, but fairly steady and predictable encounter rate.  The real shame is that this same system was executed to perfection in DQ VIII – this felt like a significant step back.

Story

If you are looking for a strong main narrative running through the entire game, you are likely to be disappointed.  There is a central plot revolving around a demon king sealing off the various islands of the world from one another, and your efforts to bring them back and defeat the revival of the big bad.  But the true stars of the show are the smaller, self-contained narratives of each of the trapped islands.  Each region has its own quest that must be solved before it appears on the world map – and these mini-epics are phenomenal.  Some are lighthearted, others are tragic to the point of being tear-jerking, and they all feel very REAL – there are choices made and consequences that must be lived with, for better or worse.  These feel all the more at home in a portable format – each island only takes a few hours to complete, making it ideal for an evening gaming session to have a definite beginning and end.

So Should I Play It?

Have you been playing Dragon Quest games since the NES?  Do you lament that the Final Fantasy series moved away from turn-based battles and into whatever the hell this weird kind-of action shit is now?  Do you not mind wandering around for a while trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing?  Does the thought of grinding a character through a bunch of different classes to make them into a physical god make you giddy with excitement?

Then you should play this game.  It’s a love letter and a magnum opus to the game design of JRPGs from a different era.

Is the first Dragon Quest game you played VIII?  Is your favorite RPG series Final Fantasy, starting with VII or later?  Do you have a relatively short attention span if not much is going on during a gaming session?  Do you need a breathtaking main narrative to drive you onward?

This probably isn’t your game.  You’re going to feel like this game is boring and old.  It’s not, and you’re wrong – but I can understand your mistake based on your tastes, so I will allow you to live.  This time.

I played the original DQ VII on PS1.  I still have it.  I’ve played it more than once.  I still enjoyed my time with this 3DS remake even more than the original.  It still has flaws, but if you love old-school JRPGs, you should give this one a shot.  Since these seem to need some kind of arbitrary numerical score, I’m going to give it:

burning-village burning-village  burning-village burning-village

Four Burning Villages…out of Five.

But that’s not all, kids!  No, because it is once again #OmNoMonday – and last time, I got a request for a chicken dish!  So I have scoured my Evil Recipes That Didn’t Kill Anyone, and I have found this delicious and healthy take on classic Chicken Cordon Bleu!

chicken-cordon-bleu

Ingredients:

  1. 4 thin-sliced boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  2. 4 slices ham
  3. 6 slices swiss cheese
  4. Ground black pepper
  5. Crushed red pepper flakes
  6. Olive oil
  7. OPTIONAL – 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  8. A Ziploc bag
  9. Baking dish
  10. Toothpicks
  11. Tenderizing mallet
  12. OPTIONAL – a child that enjoys smashing things with a tenderizing mallet

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Use a small amount of olive oil to grease the baking dish.

Place the chicken in the Ziploc bag and use the tenderizing mallet (and, if available, the child) to pound the chicken to about 1/4 inch thick.  If using child, be sure to make sure they do not pound the chicken so hard that the Ziploc bag explodes.  It isn’t fun to clean up.

Place the chicken in the baking dish.  Season to taste with the black and red pepper.  Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on top of each piece of chicken.  Roll up and secure each piece of chicken with a toothpick.  If you want crunchy chicken, sprinkle bread crumbs over them.  For a healthier alternative, don’t use the bread crumbs.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove from oven, place 1/2 slice of cheese on top of each piece of chicken and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, or until cheese has melted.  Remove from oven, remove toothpicks, and enjoy!  Or, if you’re serving them to someone you don’t particularly care for, someone that may have wronged you, DON’T remove the toothpicks, serve, and enjoy watching!  Either way, I believe you will walk away satisfied. – EWE

#OmNoMonday – Eat Your Damn Vegetables!

Well hello once again, my ravenous rapscallions!  Today I bring you a special entry in response to a reader request.  Well, actually, I don’t even know if she reads this.  But she asked for a recipe of mine, and I’m putting that recipe here – so I know she’s going to read at least ONE of these blogs!  But since this isn’t Friday, and the dish in question doesn’t involve anything frozen, I needed a different gimmick.  I debated #MunchieMonday, but that just seemed to easy.  So I arrived at #OmNoMonday.  Will this be a new regular segment?  Well…define “regular.”  If “regular” to you means “whenever EWE decides to do it” then yes, yes it will.

Now on this first #OmNoMonday ever, I have been requested/instructed to provide my super-ultra-secret recipe for delicious roasted brussel sprouts!

roasted-brussel-sprouts
Mmmmmm.

What’s that, you say?  You don’t like brussel sprouts?  Oh, never fear – I can fix that in three easy steps!  Step 1: Shut up.  Step 2: Never contradict me again.  Step 3: Follow this simple and delicious recipe and you’ll now love brussel sprouts.  See, wasn’t that easy?

Now, there are very few required ingredients here, and a few optional ones.  But the most notable thing about my recipe is that the measurements are…let’s go with “vague.”  This is because I developed this recipe during the consumption of several adult beverages by basically just combining things and eyeballing the amounts.  Now, onto the show!

Required Ingredients:

  1. Brussel Sprouts (like, 1 lb?  A bag?  However many you’ll fucking eat?)
  2. Olive Oil (roughly 3 tablespoons, assuming you’re in the neighborhood of 1 lb of sprouts)
  3. Ground Black Pepper (How much?  Well, how peppery do you like things?)

Optional Ingredients:

  1. Balsamic Vinegar (a few dribbles, maybe up to a single tablespoon – nothing too overpowering)
  2. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (the more the merrier, er, spicier)
  3. Ground White Pepper (ditto)

Now, you can even simplify further I suppose by just using the sprouts and the olive oil and forgoing any pepper at all…but then you and I both know that you’re really making bitch brussels, and nobody wants to serve bitch brussels, right?

Anyway, onto the preparation instructions!

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rinse your brussel sprouts, cut off the brown stem ends, and cut each sprout in half.
  3. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine all your other ingredients (olive oil, black pepper, crushed red pepper, white pepper, balsamic vinegar).
  4. Dump the cut brussel sprouts into the bowl and cover it tightly with a lid, a plate, saran wrap, whatever.
  5. Using both hands to keep a secure grip on the bowl and ensure the lid remains tightly in place, vigorously shake the bowl like it’s a relative that voted for Trump.
  6. stupid-trump
    Goddamn you, Uncle Jim Bob and Aunt Tammy Sue!
  7. Check to make sure the cut sprouts are thoroughly coated with the mixture, then spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 400 for ~40 minutes.  You can, if desired, turn the sprouts over halfway through in order for them to brown equally on either side, but in practice, this isn’t necessary.

And voila!  Now you like brussel sprouts.  Or at least you should – if not, it isn’t the sprouts, there is something wrong with you.  You should feel bad.  These are obviously tasty fresh from the oven, but be sure to refrigerate any leftovers because they might actually be even better chilled as a snack, in my opinion!

And with that, the first-ever #OmNoMonday comes to a close!  So remember kids – eat your vegetables, or you’ll wind up a bitter, pathetic hermit, living alone, unloved by anyone…actually, even if you eat your vegetables, that’s still a possible outcome.  Goddammit. – 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