Archive for August, 2011

Tasty Noms Recipes!

August 28, 2011 2 comments

I saw Glynis Mitchell talk about Breakfast Risotto on Twitter. Until I received this Australian cookbook when I was living in Perth, I would have never thought of risotto for breakfast. As soon as I saw it, I fell in loooove. I told her I would post the recipe, but while I’m writing, I’ll just jot down a few other faves of mine.

Breakfast Risotto – We use less sugar, because I am not a fan of sweet things.

1 cup Arborio Rice
5 cups milk
2 tbs vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla pod, split, with seeds scraped out)
1/2 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan, stir and bring to the boil
Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to stir for up to half an hour, until the grains are cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed
Serve topped with sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey

Caramelized Bacon – A couple years ago this idea came to me after drooling over and finally eating, the Maple Bacon Bar from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland.

1 slab thin-sliced bacon
2 cups brown sugar (A guesstimate?)
3 tbsp cinnamon (Another guesstimate?)
Unsweetened cocoa powder for garnish

Heat oven to 300F. Mix brown sugar & cinnamon in a bowl. Cut slab of bacon in half.
Take each halved bacon piece and dredge it in sugar/cinnamon mix
Twist and place on broiler pan. You really need a broiler pan for this.
Bake in oven for 20-30 min, depending on your oven. You want it hot enough to cook, but not so much it is burning everything and stinking up the house.
Bacon pieces will /look/ burnt, but they are not.

When finished cooking, remove from oven and immediately put pieces on a glass plate. Sprinkle small pinches of the cocoa powder on each piece and place in freezer. I usually leave the plate in 10 minutes. Since I’m usually taking this to a party or other location, I cover the cold place or put the pieces in a container.

Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells This originally came from a cookbook I had LONG ago, but I’ve modified it. I lost the book in a flood, so I just do this from memory every time. I haven’t actually written down the measurements, but then, it’s not rocket science on this one.

1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 lb ground beef
1 small container green onion/chive cream cheese
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
1/2 cup salsa (I use D.L. Jardine’s Chipotle Salsa)
1 package shredded cheddar cheese (You won’t use the whole bag, but cheese measuring ain’t my thang!)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup green onions or chives

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pasta as normal. Drain and coat with butter/margarine.
While pasta is cooking, brown grown beef in a skillet. Once brown, add in black pepper, salt, and garlic powder to taste. Add in chili powder & cumin. Mix well. Add 1/2 container of the cream cheese (put the rest in the fridge; you won’t need it). Once mixed, set aside to wait for pasta.

In a 9×12 pan, lay out the pasta shells which are intact (no tears or pieces missing). Put as many as you can in the baking dish. Fill each shell halfway with beef mixture. If you have beef mixture left, you can put aside with the broken pieces of pasta for a later snack or just use whatever is left over equally in each shell.

Spoon a small amount of salsa over each stuffed shell. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips on each shell. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and remove foil covering. Sprinkle cheese over each shell and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve the shells on to plates and then garnish with sour cream and green onions.

Honey Glazed Stuffed Chicken Breasts – I found this recipe long ago and love to make it. It is excellent with grilled portabellas on the side.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 tablespoons Boursin cheese with herbs (I actually use goat cheese, sprinkling black pepper & tarragon)
8 slices bacon
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cut a slit in each chicken breast, and stuff with equal amounts cheese. Wrap each breast with 2 slices bacon. Secure with toothpicks. Arrange on a baking sheet.
Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken juices run clear. Drizzle breasts with equal amounts of honey during the final 5 minutes of cook time.

Mushroom Pie This recipe came from a Swedish medieval music CD called “Figs, Fiddles and fine play”. I picked it up when I was visiting my Star Wars Galaxies Guildmates from Gorath.

17oz Mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 oz cottage cheese
1 oz Pecorino cheese
1 oz cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil to cook the mushrooms

Pie crust:
1 1/2 cup flour
5 1/2 oz butter
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt

Mix up the pie dough and press it into an oven proof dish. Put the dish in the fridge while you cook the mushrooms. Wash the mushrooms and cut them in half if necessary. Saute mushrooms briefly in olive oil until they shrink a bit Mix cheeses, oil and spices with the mushrooms. Put the filling in the pie crust and bake for 45 minutes in pre-heated 400deg oven. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pie and serve with a good ale.

Categories: Main, Recipes

Turntable.FM and My Love of Community

August 27, 2011 Comments off

Just over a month ago, one of my co-workers linked to a Turntable.FM channel he created for our staff. As a former club/radio DJ, I was immediately smitten. My major in college was RTF as it was called back then. Radio/TV/Film. I was already a club DJ and signed up to be a DJ on the college radio station (KSYM). Our tagline at the time was “KSYM – The Alternative”. Back then, “alternative” wasn’t even a music genre. Yes. I’m old.

I was always more of a fan of DJing in clubs, because I loved the great feedback loop when you had a good groove going on. I worked in clubs playing C&W, top 40, oldies. Heck, I got my first DJ gig at a skating rink.

A few years ago before I started working in the video games industry, I picked up DJing again, this time for Booty Island Radio, a fan radio station for Pirates of the Burning Sea. I did a couple of theme shows, “Disco Saturday Night” and “Bagpipes Around the World”. Plus just some other random themes. It was paired with a fantastic IRC community, which kept things lively.

I’ve missed the community that comes with sharing music with people; the discovery of new-to-me music and the shared groans of one too many horrible 80s hair band tunes.

I love the ebb and flow of a Turntable.FM room. You can create themes on the fly, just by one person setting up a trolling challenge. My friends LoJo and Koolaider are experts and taunting a room so all of a sudden. You’re in a great groove and then BAM! Comedy music. Everyone scrambles to find all their Weird Al or Doctor Demento tunes. The more odd, the better. And then BAM someone else plays 8-bit game music. Everyone is arranging their playlist to play all their video game music. I’ve had a room going where everyone started playing Sci-fi/Fantasy TV & movie themes.

Which brings us to the chat feature. When these amazing things happen, it gets everyone talking and sharing about their musical loves. The chat supports URL links, so you can easily link people to Wikipedia or band websites. The way this all happens is what I love about working in community. Bringing people together, sharing something wonderful and supporting others in being awesome.

I have a story from last night. On Friday night, when I am around, I host the Disco/Funk Love room, which is full of 70s/80s disco and fun. Last night, it was almost all funk, based on the folks who showed up. When I opened the room, I instantly had someone pop in. It was a young girl, who was absolutely excited that I was playing music. She’s new to all the funk from the 70s/80s and commented, “I wish my parents listened to this instead of NPR all the time.”. She talked about bands she had discovered and that this music was perfect for jamming before she headed out to a birthday party.

My pal Koolaider dropped by, to join in. We played heaps of great tunes and gave her lots of band/song names. She stayed around longer than I thought she would. I think she was happy to have adults take her seriously, which is something hard for teens at times. Being young doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer in conversation & interests. I hope she had a great time an comes back again. Maybe it’s just that people who come for the funk are happy to hear it, but we were sharing the musical love last night.

I do have a few criticisms, however. First, that this beta is US only. Okay, I can be bummed, but I understand that. I’m sure there are reasons for it and since it is their dollars, I play by their rules.

I don’t like that there is a “lame” button. Rather, not that it is there, but that it is called “Lame”. I would rather it simply said “Dislike” or “Skip”. My wee pedantic bit about word usage, dontcha know. I also wish that you could edit your room better. As example, my regular room, Dani’s Mix has a requirement that you have at least 5 points before you can be a DJ. My Gods & Heroes channel for my game’s community is open to anyone. I have a lot of IRL pals drop by, and I’d love to add them up. To do that, I would have to adjust the rules for my room. I can’t. I would also like to be able to delete rooms I create. And lastly, I’d love to be able to sort my playlist by music style. These may be features upcoming; people have been requesting them enough in their community.

All in all, I love Turntable.FM. I’m going to get back to my room full of IRL pals. Who are talking about Twilight. HALP?

Categories: Main

A Women & Girls Guide to Gen Con

August 1, 2011 Comments off

There are scads of blogs out there which offer up fantastic tips about packing, food, safety and such out there regarding Gen Con Indy attendance. I’ll start with listing some of my favorites:

Many people tend to lose common sense when they’re at a convention, especially if it is one’s first big show. The tips above cover health & hygiene, how to be a good Con attendee and other tips. No, I don’t want to hear about your character and neither does anyone else. Just sayin’.

None of that really has much to do with my original thoughts on this blog post. I spend a lot of time talking to women who play games, but never want to attend Gen Con (or other game conventions). I actually don’t do a lot of gaming when I attend Gen Con; I spend the majority of my time talking about games. It might seem odd, I suppose.

However, that is one of the biggest reasons people attend a big convention. It’s not just the shopping for awesome things, but the opportunity to see old friends, play new games and meet new people. Not to mention, start new traditions with these people.

I’m an old pro at conventions; I’ve been attending and volunteering them since I was in high school. Wow. That’s over 30 years! Not just gaming cons, but all sorts of conventions & conferences. The most rewarding and the most frustrating are gaming conventions.

The frustrating part? It hasn’t always been the most welcome environment. Not on purpose, of course. Hardly anyone is intentionally unwelcoming. It is almost like people don’t consider that all the women & girls who attend, would be interested in playing.

I’ve spent many years wandering expo halls, looking for game demos or trying to get a turn at a video game. I run across touchy-feely men. I’ve been told that “girls don’t play strategy games/war games”.

Thankfully, a whole ton of people don’t think this way. While I talk about how I wish more game companies and demo’ers reach out to me like they do to the passing dudes, I have no problem stepping up and being heard and seen.

When I find an unwelcoming environment, I turn my back and look for a welcoming one. A lot of times, people are so engrossed to what they’re doing, they just don’t notice. I get that; we all concentrate on what we’re doing. That being said, if you’re hosting, leading, demo’ing or whatnot, you should reach out to everyone. Even if they’re not your target audience.

On Twitter, someone reached out to the Gen Con Twitter hash tag that they’re bringing their 15-year old niece to the convention. The question was “What shouldn’t she miss?”. I tried to think of anything which would say “15 year old girl” but then thought that she should like the things everyone likes. At 15, she is probably already a bit geeky (or a lot) if she’s agreed to attend Gen Con. So finding something she’d like, will probably be easy.

So. Advice for women & girls? Read the program. Sign up for things you feel are interesting. If someone ignores you, move to the next booth or table. Try something different. Something might not seem welcoming, but when you check it out, it might be the game of your dreams. Tired of games? Check out miniatures painting. Don’t think you can paint? Try it anyway! All the instructors are patient and helpful; you also can take home your model!

Take in a Seminar. Participate in the Zombie Walk. Reach out to the other women & girls who are gaming and find out what they like. While I *loathe* the name “Spouse Activities”, there are some great classes, crafting, tours and more if you’re up for a non-gaming activity.

I could go on and on! If you see me wandering around the con, wave at me and I’ll drag you into all kinds of places!

One final note. If someone touches you inappropriately or threatens you, it is NOT okay. Look for other women, especially anyone wearing the Back Up Project ribbon. I’ll have mine on my badge and I will be handing them out to other women who are interested in helping women back up other women.

If you’re a dude, it is isn’t your personal dating grounds. While people do hook up at cons, it is not appropriate to hug someone you don’t know, or touch them without permission. Don’t be “that guy”.

Gen Con and Indy itself is a pretty darn safe place. Let’s all remember Wil Wheaton’s saying, “Don’t Be A Dick”.

Categories: Main, Women Gamers
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