tiny dragon age twine is tiny

…but here is a thing! That could happen! Hypothetically!* If you haven’t used Twine before you want to open the html file with a browser once you have downloaded it. If you have an editor like Sublime installed, the default will be to open it there, and that’s not gonna help you at alll. (Though it’s interesting to see how they pack those Twine files, it’s true.)

Erm, spoilers for Dragon Age comics and Dragon Age : Inquisition.

I hadn’t used Twine before–I prefer InkleWriter and have used it for a couple of projects; but I get that Twine has visual style much friendlier to vast storylines (which I fully acknowledge I didn’t exactly take advantage of here).

*Eh, prolly not, since it’s a bit of a hamfisted way to bring that conflict into fruition–but then perhaps the time for subtlety is past? I don’t know.

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yes but can i romance phileas fogg

I’ve been playing 80 Days obsessively this past week. On the bus, in line at Walgreens, in the elevator…I begin a new journey as soon as I finish the previous one.

I want to crack the code that is Phileas Fogg, goddammit.

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I paid only distant attention to him before, taking more interest in the man dressed as Death in New Orleans, or the determined Mongolian engineer on the train in Russia, than in my master’s better welfare. I kept him alive, of course, but I cared little for his constant sniffs of disdain, or his eyebrows lowered at me over the top of his newspaper as I returned from some back-alley watering hole smelling of spices and mystery. He just seemed like an aristocratic wet blanket. And, okay, he is that, but…

Once I, Passepartout, woke to find him (admittedly, unnervingly) staring at me whilst having sleepwalked to my room on a boat somewhere in the Indian Ocean. That was creepy, sure, but more charming was his discomfiture at my offer for him to stay, if he were so rattled, and I would put on a light and he could read or something. Your relations deteriorate slightly at that, but his discomfiture was news to me.

Another time–and this is new content, so if you haven’t played much since their big update, STOP READING–he spoke with sudden and utterly out-of-character joy of his grandfather the explorer. “You admired him?” Passepartout suggests, and Fogg corrects you: “I wanted to be him.” He used to enact his grandfather’s tales of derring-do as a child, and that was what made him so uncharacteristically excited to head to the North Pole. Desires! Fervency! From Fogg!

And of course there was that lovely moment at the bottom of the ocean when everyone expects to asphyxiate, stuck at the bottom of a trench as you are, in a submersible, with neither food nor water left. He can be quite sociable in near-death situations. Okay, so that was more camaraderie than romance, but at least it’s indicative of him having a heart in there somewhere, under the layers of cravat and waistcoating.

First I tried being a superior valet, never complaining and always tending to him, but that appeared not to work–he became annoyed with my constant chipper attitude (aren’t I familiar with that, sigh…I’m looking at you, workplace) and treated me solely as the provider of tea and starched shirts. Lately I’ve had more luck with risking the occasional heartfelt aside like “This is rather an inhospitable place, isn’t it?” which prompted a shared look and fervent (fervency again!) agreement from the usually opaque Fogg.

I am determined.

I would not be surprised if you cannot get closer than these occasional brief moments of intimacy, since the divide between master and servant and the social mess embroiled there is one of the points of the game. But I can hope. And I can deliberately avoid looking up a yea or a nay. Damn you, Fogg, I will figure you out. People are the only puzzles that interest me and I will find something other than distant regard behind those eyes!

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fandom teas : drink all the things

teas

And lo, the Dragon Age tea journey continues…because they had a sale and because I’m not made of stone, okay?! First set was here. And yes, I bought a second mini-Solas tin because the artist changed some of the artwork to sexytime!tins. Have I mentioned I’m not made of stone?

Iron Bull: Its closeness in scent to Solas–must be the lapsang souchong?–plus its inclusion of roses made my hopes rise, but ultimately it can’t compare. I assume the inclusion of roses and chestnuts and tiger eye (? I thought that was a rock?) takes some of the kick out of what, in the Solas tea, is just an avalanche of earthy woodsy goodness. A landslide, if you will. Probably if I had had Iron Bull before Solas (*snickersnicker*) I would have been impressed, but as it is…I’m a bit jaded.

I love how these innocuous tea reviews have turned south so fast, by the way.

Cole: Pear! Pearpearpearpearpearpear. Maybe it’s just because it’s such a rare taste in tea (at least those I’ve had), but the pear realllly stands out here and makes it good. I worried the ginger would be too strong and make me cough–I love a good ginger snap but I’m really not a giant fan of pain, and too much spiciness can sometimes take me down that road. But no! Cole has so much pear it drowns most else in the tea–certainly the white tea which, again, I don’t generally like. The lemongrass makes it through, though, and pairs sweetly with the pear. A good tea for when you are huddling under a blanket with a pounding weather-change sinus headache, as I was last night. Thanks, Cole!

Josephine: This was one of the ones I was most excited to try, and I tried it first of its batch when it came in the mail. Rose petals again–to which I’m always drawn, in hope–but also the inclusion of aniseed made me determined to try it! When you open the tin, the aniseed shoulders its way past even the earl grey, making sure you know it’s there. When I first started drinking tea (only fruity ones) with my mom in grade school, she would give me anisette toast to dip into the tea. So despite my general dislike of black licorice and even Pernod (hey, I TRIED to like it), I do have a soft spot in my heart for anise.

However, even anise can’t stand up against the onslaught of earl grey, and that’s pretty much all you taste with Josephine. I love earl grey, mind you–it’s my favorite black tea–but I was hoping some of the more unique flavors of this tea might make it past the earl grey, and they don’t. That’s okay, though. It’s still a lovely earl grey.

Cassandra: Ah, Cassandra. I thought for a moment they’d gone extremely racy by including cherry in this one, and had to check with himself (who romanced Cassandra on both his playthroughs because yeah, she’s that awesome) if she was…ah…a newcomer to the romantic realm. Which would make this particular tea a somewhat oblique comment on that. But no! To my relief–because seriously, if we didn’t tease Alistair for it, why would we nettle Cassandra?–that is not the case. And that’s good, because I like the cherry in the finish of this tea. By and large, I loathe cherry. Cherry candy, cough drops, liquor; cherries on cakes and ice cream and in chutneys and pies. Anything other than the actual fruit (sans maraschino, which is less a fruit than a cruel joke about fruit), I tend not to like. But this faintly fruity burst at the end of the tea is good! Pairing it with anise is also an awesome tactic that should become more common than pairing cherry with almond.

Sera: Milky, sweet, bizarrely sustaining…everything Sera herself wasn’t, for me, though Tyler has given me hope for a new Sera-centric playthough. Also sprinkles. Gotta love them sprinkles.

Fenris: Green, strong, bitter…not unlike our broody hero. Husband’s comment: “This smells like weed.” Okay then. Pouring the water over it, it smells almost like Argo Teas’ genmaicha–which has popped rice in it. I don’t know what gave it that odor but the taste is assuredly (and sensibly) not there. Just a strong green tea. Which is not a bad thing. Besides, this one has the sexy cover art. How can you argue with that?

Krem: Do you know what my most loathed phrase in college was? No, of course you don’t. Well, it was “the take-home point is…” Ridiculous for a number of reasons. It’s business jargon-y and dumb, for starters. If you need another field’s jargon to make yourself feel worthwhile you’re in the wrong line of work. Also, it’s college. Every point should be a goddamn take-home point. You think we get that far and then only have enough room to cram a handful of facts in our brains? Don’t demean us.

ANYWAY that’s all preface to the fact that the take-home point here is: I love lapsang souchong. I had never heard of it. Again, I may have spent two years in Asia but tea was not at the top of my list of concerns. Lapsang souchong is the shit! And so is Krem’s tea. I don’t know how the “cream” is translated into a dried flavor, and the caramel would definitely turn me off, as it did in many of the other teas. (Again: if it normally comes in a baked good, I in most cases would prefer the baked good to a pale liquid reflection of it.) But the lapsang, man. It makes up for everything.

Merrill: Low-key but pleasant. Rose hips and orange is a really nice mix. You won’t get much of a caffeine kick out of this, but the “vanilla green” isn’t too vanilla-y (which is good), so it leaves room for all the fruit flavors to come in. And that can go bad really easily: blueberry tea, raspberry tea, strawberry tea…blech. This is a good mix, though!

Varric: Okay, remember everything I said about not wanting to have to add milk or sugar to tea? Forget it. Forget all of it. Because oh my god this tea, with milk and sugar, is like cake. FANTASTIC. I ordered a giant tin of it, after the sample. I was sure it would be a disappointment, embracing as it does precisely the creamy flavors that always fall short in tea for me. But damn. Between the toasted mate, the spiced apple, the mocha nut mate and the actual cocoa nibs…it makes for a really lucious, indulgent tea. Definitely my favorite, right after Solas.

cooking in thedas : ferelden turnip and barley stew

Best. Stew. Ever.

I won’t post a picture because you can’t make stew pretty. But. It’s fantastic. Go make it now. Ohmygod.

Notes (for me if not for you):

  • Used 2 lbs turnips instead of 1, because misread the recipe
  • Used giant wad of spinach instead of turnip greens because the store cut the greens off the turnips we bought
  • Doubled the amount of each vegetable based on the turnip situation
  • Spices, barley and bean amounts stayed the same, as per the recipe
  • Used beef broth instead of stock because that’s what the store had
  • Wait a day to eat it–we made it the night before, then shoved it in the fridge and didn’t touch it till the next day (too tired). The resultant melding of flavors, as the recipe suggests, makes the wait worth it!

I make a lot of stews. This is better than all those. Eat it.

cooking in thedas : pig oat mash

(Yes, I know the picture’s weird. You try taking a tasty picture of gruel after dark!)

So! Pig Oat Mash, aka Hanged Mash (one can understand the preference for the former name) is touted in its flavor text as a hangover cure. This of course meant that–for science, you understand–I had to drink enough to obtain a hangover with which to test this theory. I’m alive and typing on a bright little screen as a ramshackle bus hits every pothole in the road on the way to work, so…consider that aspect of it tested!

It’s filling, definitely, and won’t lack for flavor if you choose the right meat. I fried up 16oz of bacon for the “handful of meat” part–which was more than a handful, sure, but what was I going to do with two or three lone bacon strips? To these I added an actual handful of blueberries, because measurements, ha! And also because I hand-picked all those blueberries and am a bit stingy with them. I want the stockpile to last!

Per the recipe, I went with rolled oats….but in the future I’ll go steel-cut. Rolled oats marinating for an hour means gelatinous goo. That’s okay if you don’t mind it (I don’t), but there are a lot of picky eaters in my life. Steel-cut oats may fare better.

Oh! And for the liquid! Definitely need more than the recipe calls for. I started with one cup of water and one 12 oz bottle of Loch Down beer, but then added about 9oz more water (filled the beer bottle back up to neck with water and poured in) because it was looking too dry. Loch Down is a scotch ale and not the “weak ale” they called for, it’s true. But again: standards, people. I’m not going to dump some filthy Bud Lite into my cooking pot, and I’d rather drink motor oil than an IPA. So scotch ale it is. And its flavor meshes beautifully with the bacon!

Re:apples, next time I will slice them up instead of just inserting fourths. The apple spoonfuls were considerably better than those which lacked apples. I figured at the time, “well it doesn’t say slice them, and would a busy cook at the Hanged Man bother to do it?” But the answer is yes. Yes they would. Because it’s that much better.

In short though, this is probably a very Varric-friendly dish. (Speaking of Varric, he was by far the best of the latest dragon age tea haul–but more on that later!) Saves and heats up again well, too, for the morning after a hard night’s “historic beers of Scotland” sampling. Now all I need is some Tylenol…

cooking in thedas: dalish hearth cakes redux

  
This time with real flour! Real flour is great.

It’s finally cool enough to use the oven again, which means I now have ingredients to make Ferelden Turnip and Barley Stew, Butter Soup, Pig Oat Mash, and the Blessed Apple. (Have I made an apple pie before? No I have not!)

Before all that, though, I wanted to do the Dalish hearth cakes again, this time without the rose hips that were so crunchy. Blueberries fare much better! And because I keep getting hits on that original post about the Dalish hearth cakes, I assume about the temperature: yes, 10 minutes at 350 degrees is sufficient. These only look lumpy because I was afraid to mash them into better shapes–I kept popping blueberries and shooting the juice everywhere. But they cook through, I promise!

I am really looking forward to that turnip and barley stew, though. It’s stew weather again! Presentation be damned, stews are all about tasting fantastic. I am much better at making things taste fantastic than at making them look it. And anything that is supposed to simmer forever and meld flavors for hours at a time is going to make the house smell wonderful.

I had resigned myself, with the resumption of school on top of my 40-hour workweek, to a life without cooking. But, as with running, it turns out I’m unwilling to put it aside. Nor will I let my grades dip. I can sleep when I’m dead.

In the meantime, I shall grab my apron!