Saturday, 27 November 2021

Belgian Tart

For our next trick, mum and I decided to tackle one that looked a little safer than the omelette that we attempted last week. It wasn't exactly clear what a Belgian Tart was supposed to be, but given the ingredients it had to be some kind of biscuity thing, right?

I was expecting that we'd be looking at some kind of shortbread, but never having made shortbread, even once we'd made the dough I had no idea if that was on the right track. There was nothing for it but hope that we'd got the mix right, divide the dough in half and slather it in jam. When a recipe calls for 'apricot or raspberry jam' it's going to take something really incredible to make me chose raspberry, and since we had a new jar of extremely promising looking apricot provided by a friend who'd purchased it from Balaclava High School the previous weekend there really wasn't any competition.

So far the recipes have been pretty good at giving us exact amounts, but here we had to take a bit of a guess at what Mrs. W. Broderick of Riverton considered a 'thick layer' of jam, and to skip ahead a little, I can report that our diners were in two minds as to whether or not we'd used enough here, with one commenting that they hadn't even realised that there was any jam at all until right near the end. It's definitely true that the dish was mostly about the pastry, but for my money this amount of jammy goodness was just about right. And it left plenty of jam in the jar to enjoy later, too.

The tart looked extremely satisfying coming out of the oven, though it was a little difficult to lever out of the tin, definitely a case of the cook getting a piece that looked a little more mangled than everybody else's. I really have to remember to utilise baking paper one of these weeks. The pastry smelt divine and turned out more like a crumbly pie crust than a biscuit, and fell apart in the mouth very nicely. It definitely benefited from being served hot from the oven (not least because hot slivered almonds are just *mwah*), and I suspect the whole thing might have been a little dry and bland if it had been left to cool. It was probably a little on the dry side anyway, but it wasn't anything that a little dob of cream couldn't counter.

All in all, a big winner, with four ticks of approval from the four diners, who all got a decent-sized slab of dessert and who would all happily eat it again some time soon. Definitely an example of something that I wouldn't define as a 'pudding', but October 31st gets a big 'yes please' from us. I've decided not to try and rank the puddings or anything so crass as all that, but this one is definitely right up there.

It seems like it might be fun to keep track of all the big-ticket items that we're using a lot of over the course of the progress through the calendar. I'm not going to bother with conversions unless they're easy, though, because I am terrible at them at the best of times. So, over the course of three puddings:

  • Eggs: 9 (8 separated)
  • Sugar: 2 cup, 2 tbsp
  • Butter: 3 3/4 oz, 2 tbsp

Friday, 26 November 2021

XCOM 2 Succession Game (Part 19) : Operation Bone Father

It's been quite a while since we last strapped on the flight goggles here at Leaflocker HQ, but after I was reminded that the world was in mortal peril and only I could save it from an alien occupation, I sprung into action. What follows is an AAR of my most recent turn in the our Blogger Succession Game of XCOM 2, you can find my previous entries in the series here and here, and the explanation of the whole concept and a handy summary over at Naithin's blog here.

If you prefer your XCOM content in video recording form instead of AAR, you can find the footage for my turn just here:

On jumping into the game it was immediately obvious that I'm a little rusty at this whole planet-defending thing, but after a little bit of manic clicking around the Avenger I was able to successfully upgrade our GREMLIN drone capabilities and set to work on a little bit of interior design work. I refrained from building the Shadow Chamber that is our current major objective in favour of excavating a more favourable location for it, and instead began construction on a Workshop to increase the effectiveness of our engineering corps.

On returning to the Geoscape I was alerted to a little gang warfare, and was able to sweet-talk my way into successfully redirecting the gangs hostility toward their local alien occupiers, which in turn opened up an opportunity for me to complete a little Guerrilla Op of my own while ADVENT was distracted dealing with the mobsters. A slightly understrength team weakened by a number of recent casualties dropped into the Eastern U.S. for Operation Bone Father, designed to interfere with ADVENT's research into advanced armour technology.

After dropping onto the roof of a building across an elevated highway from the location of the Macguffin we'd been deployed to protect, the mission went south almost immediately when our troops were detected by a pod of unusually vigilant aliens, causing weapons to go hot a little earlier than initially planned. We stumbled onto a second, larger pod at the beginning of our second movement turn, but the ADVENT units thankfully hunkered down under flammable cover a little too close together, allowing the team to make good use of the multitude of grenades that we'd brought along for the mission. 

My lack of recent experience of command reared its ugly head, resulting in a couple of unfortunate mis-clicks and ill-advised tactical decisions that thankfully didn't end up biting me all that badly. Some very avoidable but thankfully non-terminal damage was dealt to Ranger Corporal Svetlana Sidarova, first when she was shot at by a Muton at long range, secondly when a poor order of operations saw her step into an ADVENT Trooper's Overwatch, and finally when I foolishly sent her into melee combat against the aforementioned Muton, who was not impressed and showed it with the brutality that we've come to expect from the mainline stormtroopers of the alien forces.

The team's advanced weaponry and elite training won out, though, allowing them to finish off the pod and advance towards the objective, but not before the aliens attempted to flank us by sending in a dropship of reinforcements behind our lines. Thankfully the timing worked out well enough to allow Magi, Volcano (the mission MVP) and Bookahnerk to prepare to face them, while Geoff Mason (who I personally think of as Unwiseowl Jr), Black Widow and the newly-revived Svetlana moved to secure the objective and pincer the final ADVENT pod.

When the dust settled, it was another success for team XCOM, who made short work of the aliens and arrived home to the Avenger in time for tea. Svetlana will be in the recovery ward for a month due to her extensive injuries and suspected brain damage (trying to punch a Muton will do that), but the rest of the team escaped scot-free, and there were promotions for Major Magi (Steady Hands), Captain Bookahs (Threat Assessment) and the newly-christened Sergeant Geoff 'Rocket' Mason (Suppression).

With that, I pass the torch onto our glorious leader, Naithin, who I fondly hope has more of an idea of what we're trying to do at the moment than I do. The save file can be found here.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Puffy Jam Omelet

For the second leg in our journey through the CWA Calendar of Puddings, we selected October 27th's Puffy Jam Omelet.

Looking back at it now, there were a few warning signs.

First there was the name: 'Puffy Jam Omelet' should have given us a moment's pause. Puffy is not generally a word associated with all things delicious. Jam, while an excellent foodstuff, isn't usually considered these days to be a good option for the primary flavour for things other than jam. And omelettes (however they're spelled) aren't the sort of food that I generally associate with dessert. We made an unspoken pact not to share the name of the pudding with our diners, in the hope of not poisoning them to the whole idea before we'd even started.

Then there was the instruction to fold stiffly beaten egg whites into the some sugary, vanillarised egg yolks. Folding is a delicate process that one has to get just right, or you'll end up with a mixture that is either stodgy or not all that mixed at all. I am infamously inept at judging this sort of thing, so naturally I was left in charge of the mixture. In my attempt to avoid the former I erred a little too far towards under-folding, more of a crumple, really, resulting in an omelette that was a little inconsistent. Next time I have to fold something I'll know better. It still looked pretty good in the pan, though.

After slathering it in a good serving of jam and folding it over on itself, we had a dish that looked pretty darn appetising, if I say so myself. Good enough to bait our diners into eating it, anyway. Unfortunately, after tasting it their reactions weren't all that positive, ranging from between "nope" to "well, it's a little like a pancake", and I have to say that I agree. While the texture and consistency were pleasant enough, the lingering egg-ness was a little distracting, and I found myself wishing for a little maple syrup to have with what was for all intents and purposes a milk-less pancake, not really the wow factor that you're aiming for when you've spent so much effort beating all those egg whites. It also just wasn't very much food once split four ways, which would have been a pity if anyone had particularly enjoyed the experience. I'd say this one is really only a recipe for two servings.

We're not totally convinced that we gave the dessert omelette concept a completely fair go given the imperfect folding, so we'll give it another go before we assign this one to the kitchen waste bin of history, though we've promised to do it some night when there's just the two of us so that we don't run the risk of putting anyone else through an ordeal. 

Heck, when there's 366 recipes in the book, they can't all be winners. Hopefully we'll have better luck next week.