Vanilla

Feb. 19th, 2019 12:06 am
owlmoose: (cookies)
[personal profile] owlmoose
T and I are long-time subscribers to Cook's Illustrated, a magazine put out by the same folks as the PBS cooking show America's Test Kitchen. One of the regular features is taste tests, where the editors taste different types of the same ingredient to determine which one tastes best, and which is the best value. Not too long ago, they published the results of their vanilla testing, which pointed to imitation vanilla as not only the best value (since it's something like 10x cheaper per ounce) but equally good in flavor to their preferred pure vanilla. On some level this isn't too surprising, since the chemical that provides the actual vanilla flavor, vanillin, is chemically identical in both the artificial and natural versions, but it still took us a bit aback. And it took our friends R and S so far aback that they decided we needed a vanilla tasting of our own. So we got together for brunch, and then did a bunch of baking, and had our taste test today.

We tried six different kinds of vanilla -- the imitation brand that won the Cook's taste test, three brands of store-bought pure vanilla, one vanilla that our friend Jen made herself with vanilla beans and vodka, and a vanilla powder -- in four different dishes: pound cake, shortbread cookies, pudding, and whipped cream. And, although the imitation vanilla wasn't anyone's favorite, only one person liked it the least. I put it in about the middle of the pack, ranking it higher in fresh applications than in baked goods. My favorite was actually the homemade, but I didn't like it so much better that I feel the need to start making it for myself. And fortunately, my second or third favorite was the kind we currently have in our house (which happens to be the natural vanilla that the magazine editors also liked the best).

Maybe the most interesting outcome was that, especially in the pudding, people tended to prefer different vanillas mixed together to any one vanilla alone. It's like the slightly different flavors complement each other in unexpected ways. Not necessarily to the point that I would recommend having six different vanillas in your house and making custom blends. :) But it certainly is a thing that one could do.

It was a fascinating experiment, and I'm already considering whether we can do similar trials with other foods in the future.

KH3: Third and final reaction shot

Feb. 16th, 2019 05:42 pm
owlmoose: (kh - xemnas)
[personal profile] owlmoose
So, that was pretty good, and mostly satisfying. I am only a little bit confused. I think.

It was much shorter than I expected, based on previous games. Less than 40 hours! Partially that's because we didn't really do any sidequests, but I think it also has to do with how the game was structured. Thoughts about that and other things, under the cut. )

KH3: second reaction shot

Feb. 11th, 2019 05:56 pm
owlmoose: (kh - roxas)
[personal profile] owlmoose
We've made a bit more progress, three new worlds since I last posted, including what I presume are all the worlds in the second world map area. I'll put it all behind the cut for spoilers.

A personal note about that, since there are many new folks here since the last time I gameblogged anything: for myself, I am very anti-spoiler, and tend not to even seek out lots of promotional material for a game I've been anticipating, so I ask that you avoid saying anything in comments that alludes to events past the point I've reached in game. I feel like that's a courtesy not just to me, but to anyone else who wants to click through to comments but might also not be finished. That includes spoilery icons as well as commentary, and also any informed answers to any speculative questions I might pose. Thanks so much!

Finished what seems to be the main plot in our current world; our next step appears to be simple exploration )

That's about it for now. But I find myself very unsure of what's going to happen next, and that's kind of exciting.

Weekend

Feb. 10th, 2019 01:09 pm
owlmoose: (tea - it's good for you)
[personal profile] owlmoose
Friday: Friends cooked spaghetti and meatballs and invited us over, followed by a sampling of Girl Scout cookies. Thin Mints continue to rule the pack. Much yummy food and fun conversation.

Saturday: Slept in. Made chicken marsala for lunch (that was supposed to be Friday's dinner before we got the invite out) and watched Moonlight, which was a beautiful movie with brilliant acting, if a bit short on plot. Dinner was all-you-can-eat crab at a charity dinner in Alameda. I won two bottles of wine and two bottles of vodka in the raffle! Even more yummy food and fun conversation.

Today: Slept in again. Bacon and eggs for breakfast. Soon I'm heading out to another friend's house for Indian takeout and season 2 of The Marvelous Ms. Maisel.

Pretty good for a rainy weekend, I think. :) I hope all is well with all of you!

Quick posts

Feb. 8th, 2019 06:52 pm
owlmoose: A bright blue butterfly (butterfly)
[personal profile] owlmoose

I wish I could even remember what kinds of things I used to write quick posts about. Sharing links? Memes? I miss memes. I wish Tumblr-style memes would catch on here. (I actually saw one today, but it was about ranking favorite fanfic tropes and since I'm not really a tropes-based reader, it didn't speak to me.) What I really miss are fic prompt memes. We should bring those back.

I know -- I can share an actual tidbit of useful information! Did you know that DW supports Markdown? Just put "!markdown" at the top of the box, and DW will interpret Markdown syntax -- like those italics above. Super useful for simple formatting. Much less trouble than HTML. If you're not familiar with Markdown, here's a basic guide. I forget who shared this on my reading list recent, but whoever it was: thank you!

I hope everyone has or is having a lovely weekend!

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