All posts by Michael

Pecan Pie

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs (room temp)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped pecans
1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves

After lining the pie pan with pie pastry, trim the rim so that there is only 1/2-inch overhang all around, and tuck it under. Using the tines of a fork and working from the outside with the tines pointing inward, press the edge all around. Chill shell until needed.

In a small heavy saucepan combine the butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar. Place over low heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove form heat and cool to room temperature.

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 325F. In a large bowl whisk (not beat) the eggs, vanilla, and salt together. Whisking constantly, pour in the cooled syrup in a steady stream until smooth.

Place the chopped pecans in the prepared shell and pour in the filling. Starting around the outside top edge, arrange pecan halves in concentric circles, placing them directly on the filling. Set pie pan on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, until the pie is puffed in the centre and the edges are light golden brown. As the pie cools on a rack, it will level.

Serve at room temperature.

Sandy’s Pie Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Crisco shortening
1 egg
2 tablespoons ice cold water (put some water in a glass with a few ice cubes, then measure the chilled water from the glass)
1 tbsp cold white vinegar

Blend flour and salt in chilled medium-sized metal bowl.

Cut shortening into flour mixture using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining.

Combine egg, water, and vinegar and beat until light. Pour evenly over flour mixture. Stir with fork until mixture is moistened.

Test dough for proper moistness by squeezing a marble-sized ball of dough in your hand. If it holds together firmly, do not add any additional water. If the dough crumbles, add more water by the teaspoonful, until dough is moist enough to form a smooth ball when pressed together.

Divide dough in two, one ball slightly larger than the other. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Flatten balls into 1/2-inch thick round disks.

Roll larger ball of dough from center outward with steady pressure on a lightly floured work surface (or between two sheets of wax or parchment paper) into a circle 2-inches wider than pie plate for the bottom crust. Fold the dough in half, and then into quarters and carefully place the dough in the pie pan and carefully unfold the dough easing it into pie plate.

Trim edges of dough even with outer edge of pie plate. Fill unbaked pie crust according to recipe directions.

Roll out smaller dough disk. Transfer dough carefully onto filled pie. Trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold top edge under bottom crust. Press edges together to seal and flute as desired. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to vent steam.

Bake according to specific recipe directions.

Sandy’s Sublime Snickerdoodles

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Grease a cookie sheet.
3. Stir together flour, baking soda, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt.
4. Cream together butter, 2 cups sugar.
5. Add the eggs, milk, and the vanilla. Beat well.
6. Add dry ingredients, beating until well combined.
7. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
8. Roll in a mixture of 3 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon.
9. Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.
10. Bake 8 minutes or until a light golden colour. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

4e D&D is not D&D

I have nothing particularly against 4e D&D (I am currently enjoy playing in a campaign), but I have to say it isn’t D&D. That isn’t a bad thing, it just has changed so much that it is no longer the same game. Which is okay, as I like playing all kinds of games: D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Runequst, etc, etc.

Both v3.0 and v3.5 seemed like a logical evolution from AD&D. You could look at the system and see how things evolved from v2. A cleric was still a cleric, a fighter was still a fighter and so on. But 4E does not seem have that connection. It is a completely new game. This caused my initial negative reaction to it. It called itself D&D, but it wasn’t. Once I got that out of my head and began to play the game not as a D&D game, but rather just a new system that happens to be called 4e, I started to enjoy the game a lot more.

I don’t think I will never migrate to GMing a 4e game, I still prefer the type of game I get in 3.5  for that (dark, gritty, and often pyrrhic for the players). But I can enjoy the occasional 4E game. That being said I have a few observations about 4E.

  • It may be a lot easier to GM, but it is no easier for the player. My GM waxes poetic about how easy it is to set up a game. Great, but I don’t find that the construction simplicity carries over to play. This leads to the next point.
  • Combat is not fast in 4E. I’m sure some of it is familiarity, but I have found that combats actually seem to take longer in 4E than in 3.5.
  • Combat can be a bit repetitive in some cases as each character has a power that dos about the same thing (deals damage) for about the same damage with jazz being the only difference.
  • I hate marking. It slows down the game and I think that there could have been a better way of giving the fighter types more style/oomph in combat. It seems to lead to unnecessary bookkeeping in already long combats.
  • I hate having to pigeon hole my character into a Paragon path.

Painting with Words

Twenty years on the road of love
but the road is still unmapped.
Sometimes I was the victor.
More often the vanquished.
Twenty years, O book of love
and still on the first page.
– Nizar Qabbani

I love this book:
On Entering the Sea

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