COOKING ADVENTURE # 64: Tetris Birthday Cake
Before we even begin on this colorful wacky adventure, we need the proper atmosphere. Kindly click here. Is it playing? Good. Now we can begin. This week was my brother’s birthday. Since both of us grew up in the nineties, we were both nintendo addicts. One of my brother’s favorite games was Tetris, a puzzle video game that is probably one of the most well-known classic video games. While browsing on Pinterest last fall, I came across a cake that someone had done in homage to Tetris and knew that this was what I would have to recreate for my brother. The RaspberriCupcakes website is the origin of this delicious idea. And what a hit it was with my brother and the rest of the family. However, not as easy a task as it might seem. I had to get my hands frosted for this one, dyed all the colors of the rainbow, and then as is usual with most cooking adventures, injured myself just when I thought I was in the clear. Good thing it tasted good so that it was all worth it!
There is nothing more that excites me than finding a positively unique and brilliant story from something. Be it music, books, movies, or often video games, I immediately respect and admire anyone who has the capacity to come up with a story that no only engages its reader but also makes them connect with the protagonist in such a way that they don’t at first realize it. I enjoy studying the uses of story-telling in various media so that I can better my own writing. Every time I watch a movie or play a game, I am subconsciously paying attention to the story-telling, character development, and world-building. And as of only a few weeks ago, I was introduced to an atmospheric dark indie game that proceeded to hook me in very little time; The Cat Lady.
COOKING ADVENTURE # 63: Strawberry Pie
(Thanks to Celena for the title suggestion!)
No, no. Wait. Don’t tell me. Let me guess… You are wondering why the picture above is not of a strawberry pie! Good question. It’s because this Cooking Adventure turned into a disaster; kind of. Had the end result not come out to be something super sweet and incredibly delicious, I would have written the thing off entirely. It is true that the creations above appear to be some sort of strange cr-wierd-ssants… made with pie crust. Had the directions for this recipe been just a tad clearer, it might have come out okay. But they were not and I was left to fill in some blanks myself… which is most of the time just a bad, bad idea. Also, this recipe involved jello which, along with onions and flour, is a particularly nasty foe of mine in the culinary world. Why do you ask? Because I’ve had trouble making it before. Yes. Jello. It’s okay. I can hear you laughing from where I’m sitting. It’s okay, because you’re not technically laughing at me, you are laughing with me. I realize how pathetic it is not to be able to make jello. But I think I’ve learned my lesson this time, the key word of that sentence being “think.”
I write about vampires. I’m not ashamed of this nor am I embarrassed by it. Sure, you may be saying to yourself, “Everyone is doing it right now.” And you’d be partially correct. There’s a whole vampire explosion that’s happened in the literary world ever since a certain series that shall not be named emerged several years ago. But you’ll also agree that the majority of these books are paranormal romance. Now, I’ll be painfully clear: The Monstrum Chronicles is not a paranormal romance series. There may be hints of crushes, sexual innuendos, and even a few on page kisses here and there but romance is not the sole focus of the series. This series is best described as “The DaVinci Code” with vampires. Oh, and without the religion. But like I said, here and there, there are hints of romance through out the books sprinkled in the background. The reasoning for this makes some sense. Vampires are meant to show our inner most desires fleshed out and exposed to the world. They were human at one point and so a human side must be shown in contrast with their monster. What’s more human than love? And let’s be honest, vampires can be pretty sexy (as long as they’re not sparkling.) Unfortunately for me, I’m not the most wonderful writer when it comes to romance. However, it helps that I have one musical group that I can listen to for inspiration on anything vampire: Bat For Lashes.
COOKING ADVENTURE #62: Beef Stew
Ever had one of those moments where you see a recipe and think, “Oh, that looks delicious! I’ll make that tonight!” So you look at the list of ingredients, write it all down, go to the store and pick up your groceries… You come home and look up the recipe again… only to find out that it isn’t at all how you thought you’d be preparing it? Yup. That happened here. I tracked down this delicious recipe for a pot roast that looked hearty, and quite flavorful. But I skimped on paying any attention to the actual preparation of the dish. In the end, it called for a dutch oven (something I don’t own) and a mere three to four hours of cooking. I was assuming that I’d have this recipe all set up in the crockpot and set on the lowest setting so that it could cook while I went to work for eight hours. So, I had to modify the recipe. And in doing so, I just basically created my own. Although I’m not sure I’d describe this beef stew as a runaway hit, it was pretty tasty and with a little more tweaking, could very well be a cold weather treat that I make next winter. If not for that blasted rosemary…
Music projects ideas into my head in a very unique way. When I hear something, I usually am able to conjure up a mental image to accommodate the various instruments, rhythms, and harmonies that I’m listening to. Every now and again, I will listen to one particular song and when closing my eyes can completely see everything that happens in the scene behind it. I tend to be able to do this easier with instrumental music. One of my go-to instrumental bands (along with Atra Aeterna and Little People) is Emancipator. Emancipator is actually one artist, Douglas Appling, who specializes in trip-hop, which is arguably one of my favorite music genres. Although I am a huge fan of Portishead, Massive Attack, and Morcheeba, I do enjoy really getting into pieces that aren’t guided by lyrics. I prefer to have the openness of letting whatever story wants to tell itself be told. I remember being introduced to Emancipator from a song that was used in a Banff Mountain Film Festival video that we were showing a few years ago. The song was “Maps” and it changed my life. Up until that point, I hadn’t given much thought to the idea of instrumental trip hop. I’m very glad to have been introduced to Emancipator back then as its one of my principal inspirations while working on my current story, Night Time, Dotted Line. Today, I’ll be sharing five of Emancipator’s songs with you and give you an idea of what I see when I listen to them.
COOKING ADVENTURE #61: Raspberry White Chocolate Tiramisu
The last time I tried to make tiramisu, I was defeated by an evil cookie known as the Anisette Sponge. The putrid taste of anise completely overwhelmed my decadent tiramisu and tasted as if someone had dumped a ton of licorice into it. It was just awful. I knew when I failed at making tiramisu last year that I would have to make another attempt at it. I can’t let myself be beaten so easily. The opportunity to prove myself came with the invite to a potluck party for a couple departing co-workers. Having free reign to bring any kind of dish I wanted, I decided to not go for something dripping in chocolate but also nothing that someone else might bring. I was craving raspberries that week and thought the combination of those and white chocolate might be a different spin to try for a dessert. I searched through Pinterest for all raspberry chocolate recipes until I stumbled upon this amazing tiramisu recipe from Sweet Sugar Bean. It looked so delicious that I knew I would have to tackle that as my redemption from last years disaster. And folks, all I can say is that I aced it… LIKE A BOSS. (I was told never to say that term because it “[didn’t] sound right coming from [me]”. I’m going to say it all the time now.)
Soooo… I’m depressingly behind schedule. I was supposed to have a Cooking Adventure up for you last week and an Inspiration Through Music up on Monday and neither have been done. I’m going to try and have Cooking Adventures up for you later this evening. And (if a miracle occurs) I may have Inspiration up for you, too. Don’t cross your fingers though. I’ve got to file my taxes… and that might burn out the last portion of my brain working this evening. Stay tuned, folks. Things will return to normal soon.
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There are songs you listen to when you’re happy. There are songs that you may intentionally avoid when you are sad. And then there are those tunes that seem to satiate the rage inside of you when you just don’t give a damn anymore. Likewise, this can help you get into a character’s head if they are having a really, really bad day. Folks, I introduce you to Three Days Grace. This band has actually been one of my favorite rock bands for a number of years and has helped to inspire scenes for books all across the board. I listened to these guys back in 2008 when I was just starting out on the first draft of Memento Mori and now, I find myself revisiting their music as I prepare to dive into it again. As we move further and further into The Monstrum Chronicles, the darker and darker situations will become. In Memento Mori, we return to the event that started everything: the Seraphim City tragedy. We get inside four new character’s heads, and two returning characters. It’s ambitious, trying to write six different characters and make it work for the story but I’m confident that I will be able to pull it off. All of these characters are trying to overcome something dark in their pasts and all of them have a reason to be angry about it. That is where Three Days Grace really succeeds in helping me flesh these stories out and bring them to life. Today I’ll be sharing four of their songs with you and writing down what I see when I listen to them. Enjoy.