drink of the day

Chocolate? Check. Dark enough that it swallows light? Check. This is everything I want in a beer. I don’t even think they were showing this around at beer fests last summer or I’d’ve remembered it. Nom.


cooking in thedas : the blessed apple (with bonus wedge of destiny!)


I’m almost 30, and I never made an apple pie before. Apple pie (at least in the US, for well-known, justifiably spoofed reasons) is one of those recipes people obsess over. There are contests, jealously guarded recipes, Thanksgiving Day arguments over who makes the best kind…and yeah, I steered clear of that whole mess. But for our Halloween party I thought I would make an exception. So behold, the Blessed Apple pie from World of Thedas vol. 2!


  • I skipped all the “optional: add more butter” parts, less out of a concern for health than for my supply of butter. And this STILL is an extremely rich pie. Extremely rich! I’ve had apple pies for which you ask for second helpings in one sitting. This is not one of those. Good for large gatherings, because holy shit you can only handle one slice in your stomach at a time.
  • Next time I will buy better apples. These ones (6 of them I believe) were yellow and local but I think a crisper, tangier apple–so, the Granny Smiths everyone always uses–would work better. These weren’t bad, but they could be a bit sharper in their taste.
  • I had never made a pie with a crumble top before either. I was skeptical, piling all the crumble on pre-baking–that’s a lot of crumble! But it does settle. Again though, very rich–there’s an entire stick of butter in the crumble itself. I wouldn’t even serve this with ice cream. The pie itself corners the market on your gastrointestinal real estate. Don’t push it.
  • My mom always bought pre-made crusts, always, citing the misery of crust-making as reason to embrace modernity and the pre-made ones. But this wasn’t bad at all! Just knead it like you were baking bread, till it’s all crumbly like the recipe says, and mash it in there. Easy, and kind of fun. I discovered that I could tell my phone to play specific songs without touching it (hands being covered in buttery gunk as they were) so I sang along with the DA:I tavern music songs whilst crust-mashing. It was a good time.


Here is pie plus my Wedge of Destiny shield. There are straps on the back for holding, and yes you can see the notch where the dagger goes–but there is no dagger, because I used an actual sharp-bladed dagger to stick in there, which means that when I bent over it would slide out, endangering the dogs. Ah well. My plastic daggers are squirreled away with my pirate garb. I’ll pick them up at some point and put a safer dagger into the Wedge.

fandom teas : drink all the things


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┬áhas 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.