Monthly Archives July 2011

Portals of the Week

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Baker’s Harry Potter Recipe: Treacle Tart

He felt it was a better use of his time to eat his way steadily through his steak and kidney pie, then a large plateful of his favorite treacle tart. – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This has got to be on the mind of most people who read Harry Potter and don’t live in the UK – What is treacle tart and why does Harry love it so much? Treacle isn’t quite molasses but is a syrup made during the process of refining sugar that just doesn’t seem that popular in the United States. It’s basically corn syrup and Treacle Tart is basically pecan pie without pecans. It makes sense why Harry would love it seeing as he was rarely given anything sweet by his aunt and uncle besides that single lemon popsicle.

Treacle (or golden syrup) can be difficult to find in the states. But Amazon seems to sell nearly everything, though it’s probably at a premium. So check locally. If for some reason you absolutely cannot find treacle, you could try mixing molasses and corn syrup, which will be close but not quite right.

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Mixologist’s Review: Celestial Seasonings Perfect Iced Tea Southern Sweet Black Tea Brew Over Ice K-Cup

I’ve always been a huge fan of iced tea. With my mom being from Maryland, sun brewed tea was always made daily on the porch and it’s one of those drinks I’ll always associate with summer. But I grew up with unsweetened tea and tend to avoid sweet tea because I don’t like the idea of my skull rotting out of my skull. But after wandering the streets of Boston during the Fourth of July weekend, Green Mountain Coffee provided me with some free samples of their “Brew Over Ice” brand.

Now, I’m guessing that “Brew Over Ice” is the same as the regular coffee, but the concept behind it is genius. K-Cups and Keurig machines are something I still find odd even though I have one at home and at the office. I find them excessively wasteful but given that an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts (when I’m not inflicting bodily harm on myself) is a couple bucks, K-Cups almost seem like a bargain.

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Innistrad Artwork: Liliana of the Veil

From Star City Games Facebook Fan page.

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Adventure Review: Scarred for Life

WANTED: For all manner of low-down mischief. Inquire within.

I’m not usually one to run published adventures. Or rather, I am, but I usually can’t help but tweak and edit the damn thing until it’s unrecognizable. Add new encounters here, clean up the stat blocks there, change some lizardfolk into orcs, swap the setting for my home game, and bump the level up a few notches. So, when I find an adventure that looks like it would be fun to run practically as-is, I get excited.

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Delicious Music Video: The Bacon Song

Everything in this song is true. Everything.

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Game Review: LEGO Heroica Waldurk Forest

LEGO has crossed a line. After a childhood of building with bricks and playing games, I’ve been amused by the LEGO Games line. Creationary was a great take on Pictionary while the Spinjitzu was a bit odd. But then LEGO revealed their next offering: a module, tabletop RPG. I don’t think they could have been a more perfect kryptonite for me.

Stop the dark druid from rising to power! Hidden in the ruins of Waldurk Forest, the Dark Druid is restoring his strength. You must use all your skill and power to find your way past his lurking monsters, but can you escape with the Chalice of Life?

Suggested ages: 8 and up
Number of players: 2 or 3
Playing time: 10 to 15 minutes
Contents: 225 LEGO bricks, 7 LEGO Microfigures, 1 buildable LEGO die, building instructions, rules booklet (in English, French and Spanish) and a mission map
Retail price: $19.99 available at Amazon.com or LEGO Shop

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Baker’s Recipe: Harry Potter Pumpkin Pasties

A pasty (or pastie) is a name given to a folded pastry crust that is filled with all manner of ingredient and baked. The most famous being the Cornish pasty – a meat and vegetable filled pasty product hailing from the southern portion of England – which may have its origins dating all the way back to the early 1500s. Though traditionally a savory delight, sweeter versions are not uncommon these days especially in the southern United States where the pasty has a very rich following, taking on appearances like the turnover.

With origins in the Middle Ages, they may have been some of the first “foods on the go”, becoming a handy alternative for travelers or those who could not readily afford utensils. Certainly a better alternative than Go-Gurt and cereal bars.

In the world of Harry Potter the pumpkin pasty is another concoction (along with the Cauldron Cake) sold aboard the Hogwarts Express. Though never explicitly stated as being a sweet, when sold amongst candies and other dessert like pastry, we can only assume that it was not quite the same traditional savory pasty. Though given the versatility of the dish adapting it for either sweet or savory applications requires very little effort.

The pumpkin pasties took center stage at our Potter Party, being the most substantial component that also wasn’t entirely made of sugar. Plus, the pumpkin is both a fruit and a vegetable so there’s at least a bit of nutrition there.

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Monsters & Madness: What the Moon Brings

O R'lyeh

In my original post I discussed a need to strike a balance between enmity and outright hatred. It’s alright to be at odds with another faction but I don’t want to have one group of PCs at another’s throats. I recognize this isn’t quite like the works of H. P. Lovecraft and his fellow writers, which normally focus on one or a group of ordinary people encountering something horrible and recoiling from it. Definite good guys and definite bad guys, just like D&D.

On the other hand, there’s always the secret sorcerer who hides his nature from the investigator at first or the rival cults of Cthulhu and Hastur who are at each others’ throats. There’s precedence, in other words, for the sort of campaign I’m envisioning in Lovecraftian works but there’s not necessarily a reason to stop there.

In this article, I want to flesh out the power structure in the game since that informs party balance and allegiances among the PCs. Ideally I’d like to have a party which is united not because of mutual trust and admiration, as in your average Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but by the lesser of evils when facing the truly horrific enemies that the DM sets in front of them. First, let’s figure out what we’re working with and then some idea of how to proceed might be clear.

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Magic: the Gathering Dark Ascension Officially Announced

From today’s Arcana:

Command the Night

Set Name Dark Ascension
Block Set 2 of 3 in the Innistrad block
Number of Cards 158
Prerelease Events January 28-29, 2012
Release Date February 3, 2012
Launch Parties February 3-6, 2012
Game Day March 3-4, 2012
Official Three-Letter Code DKA
Twitter Hashtag #MTGDKA
Design Team Mark Rosewater (lead)
Jenna Helland
Zac Hill
Graeme Hopkins
Matt Tabak
Development Team Tom LaPille (lead)
Mark L. Gottlieb
Zac Hill
David Humpherys
Ken Troop
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