Monday, December 30, 2013

Can be the target of awesome T-shirts

How was your Christmas? Set anything on fire? No? Well, there's always next year.

But to the point, I have a set of new T-shirts to share for any other RPG nerds in need of new raiment.

Want to share with the world that you are protected from simple spells and abilities? Easy peasy.

 But while I loved the look of the single line layer, I wanted to also see if making the "Cannot be the target" part bigger would make it more legible.  Long story short, here's the second option for people you want to warn across the dungeon.

Second T-shirt.

So, if you're flush with Christmas money and need a shirt there ya go.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

To celebrate or if you need any very very last minute card's, here's a Holly Jolly Reaper from Mass Effect

Or to get into a Parasite kind of mood, let's all spend a Christmas under the sea at rapture. But you might want to leave before New Years.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Dreaded One Star

It had to happen. It was over two years ago I steeled myself with twitchy fingers while waiting at first patiently, then a bit impatiently, then throwing things around in Hulk rage impatiently (gods of mischief aren't gonna toss themselves) for the first reviews of my books to come in.

Funny thing about reviews, people only write them of their own, free, unasked will if they either love it/hate it/or hope they'll get something out of it. It's rare for the average not running a book review site person to drop a well articulated three star review for the hell of it.

But back to the point at hand. Anyone who dares to put something they've created out into the world knows that a dark cloud always threatens on the horizon. If you could please all the people all the time, people would bitch about how pleasing you are. Aside from caffeine and sloth gifs, complaining about things is what powers the human spirit.

So I knew that the one star bullet was coming for me, it was just a matter of when and where. (I didn't go looking for it, it was gifted to me by Smashwords brilliant plan to e-mail authors when their books receive reviews.) It could have been worse, it wasn't a piece I was charging any money for, I didn't spend three to four months drizzling my soul into it, and the reviewer didn't write my name on a piece of paper and then set it on fire (that's a tale for another time).

But despite all that it doesn't change the sting, the unabridged and un-coddled truth that someone didn't like me! Oh the wounds and arrows and other slings that bite into the psyche wrenching my soul in twain that a cookie? Mm, breakfast. Sorry, where was I? Oh right, the damning truth that one star isn't the end of the world. Unless it's our sun and it's heading towards the Earth, then End of the World orgy time.

Rejection hurts, or so every poor nice guy who never gets the girl stories tell us over and over and over. You can't recover, your very DNA is altered with each rejection. Soon you're covered in failure tumors and the only cure is holing yourself up in a basement wailing about how the amontillado won't love you. But then time passes, the grass prods up through the snow, birds return to Capistrano, and the hippo of failure recedes into the water. Besides, there are many more spectacular ways to fail just around the corner.

Which isn't to say that upon having a moment's good mood, hopes and dreams, milk and cookies crushed an author doesn't have to smile wide and brush it off. Contrary to the rising demands of the review sector of the internet, writers aren't all emotionless automatons pumping out words based upon focus grouped algorithms. (James Patterson excluded) If you stab me in the eye with a quill, do I not shriek "What the hell are you doing?" You didn't like something, fine, own it, but also accept with that that you did make someone sad. It's the darkside of reviewing but it's there and you can't divorce it from reality until those emotionless author bots are created. (Nothing but Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey books. You've been warned)

All the internet wants is a good blow up. Authors Behaving Badly falls easily into the genre of "You didn't grieve in the proper way so I am suspicious and suspect you're some kind of horrific monster." Because you got upset that I said I'd rather wipe my ass with this book than read it, I shall have every person I know on Goodreads boycott you for time immemorial until our grandchildren's grandchildren crumble to dust. Which then causes the author to come back even madder than before, then more reviewers jump in until everyone feels bullied and we get a grade 5 shit storm which fuels the ravenous internet.

What's my point? Just be good to each other. Let authors grieve ever briefly over something that kind of sucks and know that a bad review isn't the end of the world; giant space mutant hamsters are.

And to end this on a final pointless note, here's a book cover for my black protagonist YA fantasy I'm trying to get into a serial format now. (You want to get over rejection fast, try querying)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cyber monday

Once again the cyber warlords are upon us, and if we do not tithe at least 10% of our earnings to the God of Capitalism they shall trap us in a perpetual world forcing us to calculate pi all day.

So I might as well help out a bit with a few of my own curious offerings scattered about the internet.

Need some cards to tell your family that you're still alive? I got your back.

Cthulhu Santa Card

A new Skeleton Greeting Card courtesy of my Santa Skeleton
Want to don your tree in cat smashing apparel? We've got an ornament for that.

Tentacles on the tree! Out of a chimney, as they try to help out by decorating for you.
Want an ornament a bit less tentacley? Well, there's always a winter tree one. You didn't think I'd have something tree related?
Speaking of trees, I have a few lovely paintings left for sale on this fine gift exchanging holiday.

Sunset or Sunrise tree.
Poking through the branches
And finally for the nerdy crowd:

A Starry Starry Tardis print.
And for the vegetarian or zombie in your life, Vegetarian Zombie tshirt.
Now, get to shopping lest the cyborgs eat all our brains scraped across their toast!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dwarves in Space 2: Manuscript finished

 For the first time since I started the wackiness that is writing a manuscript in a month, I crossed the line of finishing the entire book before November 30th.

To celebrate, here's the opening chapter of my next book. Dwarves in Space 2: I'll think of the colon part later.

 Rubber soles, better equipped for marching across the metal grating favored by your class b star line, splintered as a sharpened branch drove straight through and into flesh. Orn yelped, his grip stumbling as he tried to fight through the forest attacking him. His cargo slipped from his fingers and clattered onto the crunchy ground.

Variel paused, turning to her beleaguered pilot so far out of his element he was into lanthanide territory. "Pick it up."

Orn huffed, stumbling to gather what breath he once held and pouted. The thick lip of the dwarves was a difficult one to cross. "Why should I?"

A blast shattered through a trunk a foot above the wheezing dwarfs head, answering for him. His captain only raised her eyebrow as she fired back into the woodland maze. They hadn't seen their attackers for over half a mile, but they traded the occasional scream and bit of weapons fire to keep the relationship from falling stale. Orn gritted his teeth and lifted a small tree off the ground. As his fingers connected with heavy bark a pair of eyes hovered a few inches before him. The Dwarf shook the sapling and shouted "Don't do that!"

The eyes blinked softly then scattered, appearing a few inches beside Variel. She paid the child no mind, all her focus on the hunting party behind them. "We're close to the compound."

"You said that three clacks ago," Orn whined as the sapling's fingers dug into his hair and knotted around his buttons.

"It's clicks and..." another shot fired across the pair leaving a larger burn across the ancient forest. "They're closing, run!"

"I thought I was running."

"Run faster," Variel chided, and shoving into Orn's shoulder pushed him onward.
Bubble, find that stupid bubble. Orn chanted inside his brain as the small eyes darted before him. It would pause, looking at the passing clouds or the swaying leaves filtering through the high branches as senescence claimed the forest; then, after Orn passed a certain threshold, would appear in front of him again. It would unnerve the dwarf if he had time to think about it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Date from Hell

I am a cruel cruel woman, especially when it comes to my characters.

In this scene I send my elven assassin, Taliesin, on a blind date with the female embodiment of every romcom heroine cliche one can think of.

Blind Date

With a force reserved for popping off troll heads, the kitchen airlock door slammed shut as a mopey elf dug through the cabinets looking for anything to wash away the past two hours. His fingers lingered upon a canister marked "Orn's Secret Stash! Do Not Open!" Tempting, but the handwriting looked dangerously official and he moved on.
"Nice shirt, kill someone fancy?"
Taliesin flipped around, a blot of uncategorized sauce falling onto his nice shirt staining the azure fabric. He didn't notice the Dwarf squatting at the back table when he entered the kitchen, or --sweet tree of life -- the captain sitting beside him, dropping some dice onto the table with the flick of her wrist. The elf was immersed in such a frazzled state he walked past two breathing organics without noting them. His old instructors would have his head for that. And for missing class for the past seventy four years.
"Meeting go badly?" Variel asked, casting one eye up from her game to the elf.
"What makes you ask?"
Her head tilted towards the door, but she didn't say more, letting her chips fall into a pile. It was Orn who took up the thread, "Thought you were gonna send that thing straight through the ship and onto the docking bay."
"Better than picking it up outside," Variel said.
"Yeah. You'd probably make me do it and I hate wearing those oxygen suits."
"They weren't designed to hold the massive storehouse of all things glucose that is your stomach."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Winter's coming

Long time no write, eh? That's actually because I've been using all those squid plopping abilities to fribble the gibbet of the NaNo behemoth that is the novel. Millennium hand and shrimp.

This doesn't leave much time for my brain to accurately align with that harsh mistress, English. But I did recently finish a painting. Unfortunately it also sold the day I listed it. Un-unfortunately, I have a print of it available for anyone that would like some blue trees in shadows.

There are all kind of fancy print options, like putting it on metal or in acrylics. Don't know why I didn't think to do the print of an acrylic painting in acrylic.

In other winter painting news, I finally took that tree that hangs upon my mantle every time I take down the Halloween one and pretend it's Christmas, and stuck it onto a christmas ornament.
It's in my zazzle store, along with a whole bunch of holiday cards that are extra nerdy with nerd sauce on the side for anyone that needs something both wintery as well as MST3k or Cthulhu or Doctor Who.

Back to the brain drain. It's been fun talking ball of string.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dwarves in Space preview

I'm currently enveloped in that national novel writing month designed to drive all your friends mad with each mention of the phrase "word count." Against all common sense I'm working on a sequel to the book I penned in august. It's got yer Dwarves and yer Elves and space ships and black holes and overabundant cliches all jammed together in a blender set to crush ice.

But, because I like to challenge myself to insane degrees I also created a small scene where the Dwarven pilot Orn, tries to teach his captain how to play a game. It goes about as well as one would expect when letting a highly trained ex-solider play around with a plastic gun.

Unnamed extraneous scene!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mass Effect Pants

N7 day is fast approaching and I have yet to dangle tinsel off the Normandy's nacelles or ask Garrus to calibrate the light show while Miranda bitches about how it isn't perfect. But I decided, rather rashly this year, that I wanted some pants to match the red striped hoodie I got last year.

The problem is that all the main bioware store offers up are black yoga pants with a small N7 on the top. Thanks to my incredibly short torso any of my shirts would cover it up, so if I got some pants I'd be left having to tell everyone "Hey, this is totally Mass Effect. I am not a fake geek girl. Put down your damn pitchforks and torches!"

So, I decided to make my own and it was better than I feared, worse than I hoped. *flashes geek card*

All I needed was a pair of pants (courtesy of Target), some spray paint (courtesy of ACE) and a tube of acrylic paint (courtesy of my paint cave) then duct tape and a cut up pop box.
 I taped my pants down to the ground outside, then kept taping them up until I had blocked off everything but the area I wanted the white stripe to cover. Putting the cardboard under the leg, I pulled out the white spray paint can. And that's when I learned that no, spray paint refuses to have a damn thing to do with cotton.

But it's okay, I know something that greedily does. Slowly hand painting, I added a white layer of acrylic. Then another later. Finally I put in a last dose of the white spray paint to provide a hard layer. This took forever to dry, so I had to leave my pants outside over night. The next morning a wind monster squatted in our tree and tried to batter every leaf down for funsies.

Taping up the pants, I pulled out the spray paint and added the red stripe, then promptly yanked the pants up and had to leave them inside lest I wind up with some camouflaged armor. The red needed another coat so it didn't look pink.
 The last bit was the N7, and there was no way I was free handing that. I did the all so exciting printing it out, then chopping the letter with an exacto blade and making a stencil. It also took a few coats, and I admit the red of the logo doesn't match the bright red of the stripe. Bite me.

And that's how I made my super comfy, super nerdy Mass Effect pants. If I can do it, I'm sure anyone else can.

Friday, November 1, 2013

This is Halloween

Prepare yourself for a heavy picture load, for we enter the land of all hallows eve.

This year I decided, damn it, I am getting all my skeletons upright. Or at least the ones that don't weigh a good 30 pounds. Buckey, I am looking at you.

It wasn't all that difficult, just the liberal use of garden stakes and zip ties. The wind made things a challenge this year as it picked up from negligible to 13 mph just before we were ready to flip the switch.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Steps in the Dark

It's Halloween! I'm probably neck deep in hot glue and creative bat-themed curse words, but I have time for one present for everyone. Steps in the dark is a short story about a mother trying to protect her children from an invader.

Darkness is eternal, endless, accustomed, secure. It is the safety of the womb, the calm of the grave, the pre-dawn, the post-finality, and my home. The darkness shall not be sundered, not while I live.

Many beats of the ragged heart passed since last someone dared to rouse me from my vigilant slumber. My legs are stiff and unwieldy, crackling from age and abandonment as I raise my head to the vibrations pulsing across my floor. A visitor has come. They always drop in just as I am about to lose faith in the inevitable and succumb to time's endless strokes.
My home is not much to view in the light, but within the dark it is an ethereal harmony to behold. Her beauty calls so many visitors to her, to see for themselves what the half legends and vague tales speak of. Ancient blood, bubbling when far deadlier things than I strode the lands, rouses from its slumber wakening my limbs, my eyes, and my thirst. Though, perhaps thirst is not the correct term. Language returns slowest of all in the eternal night. Oh well, I shall think of a better one later; we have guests.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Wars - The Finale

You've made it! Okay, so we're half crab creatures, we lost Dennis to the fudge pits, and Tabitha had to go and touch the forbidden gem of foreboding forbiddeness didn't she? But we're still here. And we all know that it's two people who survive through to the end of every horror movie, right?
Sod this! *shoves you into a vat of sugar acid and runs*


So here we are, the finale, the grand tuna, the one for all the markers.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Problem with the Bechdel Test

 As appears to be my particular idiom anymore, I got myself entrenched in a fight on twitter. Because if you're going to row with someone it should be in 140 characters or less.

It began with me inserting a moment of clarity in between the constant fart jokes:

If your female character doesn't exist outside of the prism of your male character's existence, you do not have a "strong woman."

Quite a few male writers had to rush to my somnolent twitter feed to inform me I was wrong (of course I am, I'm just a girl), that all of their characters are strong females because they hit things. Sometimes they hit things really hard. Maybe one's like a B cup, a large B cup of course. And then they drop the bomb, well it passed the Bechdel Test so they're all capable characters, can't accuse me of sexism.

Let us break down the Bechdel test for those who have yet to hear of it.

In order to pass all you need are
  • Two named women
  • Together in a scene (only one scene necessary)
  • Talking about something other than men
That is bloody it. Yet the point of it was how rarely movies passed, that so much of media falls upon the 25:75 ratio. One Sue Storm to the three other fantastics (soulless scientists not withstanding). It was to show how rare it was for women to exist outside, to have a point, beyond the main male characters purpose.

The test was supposed to draw attention to the dearth of female characters, instead so many men found it a convenient excuse to prove they can't be accused of sexism.

Throw in a character named Candy talking to another named Mandy about how awesome shoes are then back to the guys actually saving the world. Boom, Bechdel Test passed, this is a totally feminist work with three dimensional women.

I'm not a big fan of playing the reverse game, but imagine the utter shit fits thrown if all you needed to prove you have a fully fleshed out three dimensional male character is that you have
  • Two named men
  • Together in one scene
  • Talking about something that has nothing to do with women
This Brochdel Test is passed by, oh, just about every movie in existence. Men can have pasts, they can have motivations, desires, needs, wants outside of sex.

Women have that one scene where the love interest gossips with her best friend, who will probably never be seen again.

I came to realize recently that I despise the always tacked on female character in action movies because she's there for one reason, to polish the main character's penis. Once that's done she's nothing more than an animated set piece, occasionally transformed into a breathing Macguffin. Oh sure, maybe she throws a punch or two, taps a stick lightly against a rat of unusual size, but if you removed the male character she would cease to exist. All her motivation comes down to is making the male protagonist happy (ifyaknowwhatImean nudge nudge); without him around she'd stand blank like a Stepford robot in the kitchen making sad beeping noises waiting for someone to switch her off.

No, passing the Bechdel test does not mean you have a fully culpable, capable, or even somewhat realistic female character. If you're uncertain and concerned you could try asking another woman and, this is the really important part, listening to her. Don't ignore the words flowing out of her mouth and mentally fill in her criticism with diamonds/babies/yogurt/chocolate/pumpkin spice latte and change nothing. We've been doing this woman thing a hell of a lot longer than you. We may just know what the hell we're talking about.

So I say we need to have a second level of the Bechdel test; if you are basing the idea that you cannot be accused of sexism upon this test then you need to pass the second level.
  • Have a named female character
  • Whose life does not revolve around a male character
  • Done. Maybe have some pancakes to celebrate?
I'm guessing, much like the original Bechdel test, most media will fail.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fairy Tale Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Back at the start of September I submitted a fairy tale I wrote years and years ago and was shocked to learn it won a monthly contest.

It's about a garden of bickering flowers trying to determine who's the prettiest that learn who really wins when playing the beauty game.

Head on over to Fairytale Magazine if you'd like to read it.
If you'd rather sit here and play ping pong I'll get the paddles.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Our trip to Kansas City was rife with random interstate construction in the early weekend evening (when it's practically a ghost town on the roads and all), endless rains, sucking mud and mazes. But one of the bright spots came in the form of a Louisiana rice dish.

About the closest we come to New Orleans cooking is a Popeyes so it was with some glee we tried a bayou restaurant. Most of it was fancy sandwiches stuffed with alligator or shrimp, but the jambalaya appetizer caught my eye.

Like a tomato risotto with sausage and spice thrown in for good measure.

Despite knowing I'd be up getting to intimately know my hotel room thanks to heart burn we gobbled the whole thing up and set off to make it at home.

I swiped most of it from All Recipes but made a few tweaks the next go around. I never add file powder, as we don't have any, and it still sets up a beaut.
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
10 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into
1 pound boneless skinless chicken
breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can crushed
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
3 cups chicken broth

You'll be chopping forever. Onions diced, garlic smashed, celery diced like you're trying to sell a knife, then the chicken cubed and the sausage diced.

I've actually used Johnsonville sausage for the Andouille, perhaps not fancy but it did the job.

Add the tablespoon of peanut oil to a big ol stew pot and brown the sausage for a minute or two.

Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, which is when I dug through my drawers for said holy spoon of antioch. I thought about grabbing my dremel, a wooden spoon, and making my own but a typical unslotted spoon worked okay as well.

Dredge the chicken with the cajun spice and then brown it in much the same way and set aside.

Into the pot go the onions, the garlic, the celery (and if you're following the original recipe the pure evil green peppers that should be wiped from the earth). Saute them all together until the onions no longer tug at your tear ducts.
 Dump in the tomatoes, the red pepper flakes, the old boring pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce (I admit it, I used Franks. I regret nothing!) and worcestershire sauce. Dump in your meat and let it all marry in a mass tomato wedding for ten minutes.
Dump in the rice and the chicken stock, then raise the temperature up to boiling. Okay, that was fun, now take it way down to barely on and cover the pot for 20-25 minutes. I check on the pot constantly, rice and I are not good friends, and the rice will eat up all that liquid like a ghost kirby.
After the 25 or so minutes you should have something like jambalaya or a portal to the negative dimension. I should really scrub my pots more often.

And enough leftovers to keep you dreaming of the tomatoey gooeniess for weeks to come.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your Very Own Portal Gun

The Halloween dance our Halloween club throws every near Halloween (HALLOWEEN!) was this past weekend.

My husband went as a splicer from Bioshock. This was mostly due to the amazingly disturbing bunny mask we found which I painted up and covered in blood.
The latex appliances (that's Haunter talk for stuff you glue to your face to make it look creepy) I actually made the day of. Some tissue, some latex, a heat gun and then paint. Pretty damn easy really.

But we're here to talk about my Chell costume. I already had an Aperture Science tank top, so all I needed were some orange pants. Rather than get a "cheap" orange jumpsuit I scored a pair of white scrub pants for $5 and dyed them. The outfit part was easy, the gun however...
I also added bruises because I had the injury stack out and figured why the hell not.

I could have dropped someone from $100-$400 and purchased a realistic looking portal gun but I decided to try one on my own. Some of it turned out great. Others...
 Let's start with the basics, the aperture part of the gun. I printed off a picture of said portal gun and whisked off to Menards where I then lost a morning wandering around the PVC section jamming plumbing parts together until suddenly I had a camera head. All it needed was a coat or twelve of black spray paint.

The clear tube in the middle was a moment of perfection courtesy of the Dollar Tree. They had a whole bunch of bubble tubes that were nearly the perfect size to fit inside my PVC bits.

I tried hot glue at first, but she doesn't stick to PVC pipe, so I switched to a heavier craft glue. One of the ones laying around from my Tardis snow globe. 

I also wanted to anchor the back a bit more, thanks to the build up of PVC joints, it was incredibly front heavy. So I picked up a few more of the excess pieces and attached them to the end just for weight.

Now comes the part I put off for months. I had no idea how to fake the casing proper. In fact I put it off so much I gave myself about two weeks to finish before the dance. Big mistake.

From a craft store I got a foam ball, one of those you're supposed to stick flowers in or something, and using the hot wire I shaped it into both the back and front pieces of the casing. They are by no means perfect, somewhere in the passable range, but it was all I had time for.
In retrospect, since I went the foam way, if I'd had enough joint compound, I would have coated both the foam pieces in it to give a less porous surface. C'est la vie. 

Once the foam is carved, coat it with latex paint. Don't try to spray paint it, or glue it, or anything with a spray acrylic. That shit will eat right through the foam. It is a menace really.

After the thick layers of latex are dry, you can finally take the white spray paint to it.

For the final touches of paint, I printed off the aperture logo and cut out the bits to make a stencil.
The final touches were the spikes, or triple pokey bits on the end. I made those out of balsa wood, shaping it with a dremel and stinking of burnt wood.

It took four pieces; the first arm, the second was of two -- one piece half the size and sanded down to pinch together the first arm, the last the pokey bit to stab GLaDOS upon.

For the wires, I got some garden wire that I at first painted black with spray paint. When that refused to dry after a day or so I tried my acrylics and low and behold she worked.

The final pieces were just gluing it all together.
To make it light up I found the perfect answer at Target in their $1 section. Some glow stick foam. They even had Blue and Orange, until the night of I go to break the glow stick and learn their idea of blue is really green, and orange more of a red.
But with the foam in place, I can insert proper blue glow sticks the next time I feel the need to break out the Portal gun.

And that's how I did it. There's a lot I need to fix, better secure, and scream at for a while, but that's the curse of letting time get away from me.

But for a costume dance prop where most people had no idea what I was, I think it turned out pretty good.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Wars - Week 3

*chews through ropes, dribbles acidic blood across chains, stops for a sandwich*

Finally! After all these years of recaps, of struggling against the torture, I can see it. The flickering light of freedom.

Damn it!

Much like the protagonist in a horror movie whose contract is extended, you honestly thought you'd get out of here alive? Ha ha ha ha!

And to accompany us on your boat ride to Hades, complete with souvenir photo of Charon, is this lovely old lady.

Apparently she wrote the Sookie Sackhouse/True Blood books which all the contestants gave a shoulder shrug about.  Since she'd finished them off months ago, I assume Food Network offered her a free slice of buttermilk pie and then refused to let her leave.
From now on, every time Alexander Skarsgard gets naked you'll picture this face behind it all. Mwhahahaha!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Persian Beef Stew

I don't like stew.

It's chunks of parboiled beef floating in a flotsam of grains and lightly flavored water. Occasionally an old vegetable tries to claw its way out.

It's a hate/hate relationship.

So I'm coming to this Persian (if that makes you feel better) Stew recipe from a completely different angle. If like me, you're not wild about stew or want to try something different give this sucker a try.

The cool thing is that assuming you do a bit of baking and/or occasional Indian cooking you'll already have all the spices. Nothing's outside what you'd find in a regular grocery store but the combinations are deliciously exotic.

I found the recipe here.
 It calls to mix together the cumin, pepper, coriander, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon and to only use 1 tablespoon in the pot. I wasn't certain if I was going to like this at all so rather than waste spices I cut everything down by an eighth.

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until they're nice and fragrant and the onions do that onion thing.

Add the beef and brown it on all sides. This'll take around 5-7 minutes.

Dump in the tomatoes (I didn't bother draining the can because it's stew), cilantro (I also didn't add cilantro. I am neither for nor against the stuff, I just didn't have any), mushrooms, the spice mixture (1 tablespoon if you made the mix, a tiny amount of each if you didn't), and a bit of salt.

Mix all that together for about a minute.

Add the broth, bring to a boil and then let simmer for an hour and a half.

Add the green beans and then let it go another half hour.

Now you have Persian Beef Stew. I served it over rice which was a nice way to cut some of the spicy and also soak up the stewey goodness.

You may have noticed that your kitchen is rather fragrant as all the spices combined into one giant super spice (like Voltron). It will also make your hair smell delicious.

It isn't easy to explain just what this stew tastes like in English. We confuse spicy with hot. This isn't a throbbing drum beat to the tongue like peppers are. It's more like a cacophony, an orchestral hit to the tongue as all the spices fight together to be heard over the horde.

And that's what I love about it. It takes a little while to train the tongue to get used to the noise but once you do...oh Mamma!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Wars - Week 2

Welcome back to the part of the horror movie where the camera crew throws cats at us until one mutates into a rampaging hell beast and gouges out someone's eyes. (probably the funny sidekick)

That's right, you're back into:
Our guest judge this week was the candyman, who didn't actually bring any candy or sing about what he can do. Total let down.
You've shed your innocent blood all over the couch.

Since Food Network locked itself into these small challenges, they've got no choice but to keep flogging that decaying horse until candy or maggots fall out. This week's little challenge proves just how far down the "I don't give a fuck" hole they've fallen.

Something out of Greek Mythology, in 45 minutes. Go!
*cue 20 minute raspberry*