Jan 30 2011

I hate Mini Me

Category: PersonalRobert McGovern @ 3:46 pm

After 4 months and apparently 700 odd games I still can’t topple Mini Me from the top of the score board. (Playing Solitaire with draw 1 card, Can cycle through deck 3 times) BTW Solitaire City is easily my favorite of the various iPad solitaire apps.

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Jan 20 2011

Choc Chip Cookies

Category: Cooking,ThermomixRobert McGovern @ 11:47 pm

While I have a couple of other food entries to do too, I thought I’d tackle this first as I made them today. {Note I have tweaked the formating for the moment as I couldn’t get the post to format as I wanted, with some pics between the text}

When I was looking at the many recipes over at Forum Thermomix, I spotted this simple recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies that dede converted from somewhere. Given we all like cookies I figured I’d give it a try (though admittedly I prefer soft cookies over crispy cookies).

To quote Dede’s post:

Choc Chip Cookies

150g Butter
100g Brown Sugar
85g White sugar (or Raw)
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
220 g Self raising Flour
choc chips as desired (I add 100 grams)

1) Pre heat oven to 180 degrees and line baking trays.
2) Place butter, sugars and vanilla into TM bowl and cream together for 20 seconds on speed 6, scrape down sides.
3) Add egg yolk and beat on speed 3 and gradually add flour, set lid to closed lid position and mix for 30 seconds on Interval speed.
4)Add choc bits and mix for 20 seconds on reverse + speed soft.
5) Roll mixture into balls and place 5 cm apart on prepared trays. bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Being not particularly thoughtful I started to go wrong from the start. To begin with I only had 100g of plain flour so I ended up using 120g of Bread flour for the rest, with 2 tsp’s of baking powder per the suggestion in the thread.

As I couldn’t find an choc chips in the supermarket I was in I ended up buying a chocolate bar and trying to grind it up in the Thermomix. That kind of worked (I had meant to take a photo), though I had a bunch of “powdered” chocolate and a bunch of chunks. Initially I gave it about 3 or 4 seconds on speed 4 to see what it would do, and thats why I had a bunch of powered chocolate as it mostly just knocked pot marks into the chocolate cubes. I then ran it for a few more seconds at speed 8 which gave more of the desired effect. (I think this was part of the reason for the darker look)

I wasn’t sure what “1 tsp vanilla” referred to so I used the “Vanilla Bourbon” (its a non artificial Vanilla extra that we used in some other dish a few days ago). I used 5g’s worth (about the tsp listed in the ingredients) but I feel it was too strong.

The brown sugar I used had been open a little while so was a bit too lumpy and hard. Some bits didn’t break down well during step 1.

I messed up step 3 somewhat. For whatever reason I switched my brain off for step 3 and beat the egg in at speed 3 for 44 seconds before I started adding in any flour.

The dough at the end of step 4 seemed to come out sensibly enough, though my initial shaping had the cookies being a little big.

For whatever reason though I had to give them way longer than the suggested 10-12 minutes, with tray 1 I think they had nearly 25 minutes (due in part to 4 of them being huge) and tray 2 had about 17 minutes.

Overall the kids and my wife enjoyed the cookies, though Bob (the wife) did comment that she’d prefer them softer and a little sugary (though it didn’t stop her having a few). Me, well I don’t like them particularly I don’t like the taste & feeling it leaves on my tongue (which may be the brown sugar, the baking powder or the vanilla) but its unfair for me to fully judge when I botched making them a bit.

Some photos:

The completed cookie dough, not bad if a little vanillaie, rolled into ball nicely

As you can see the cookies in tray 1 are a little large

This was the first cookie from tray 1 I felt was ready to remove

These are the first tray of cookies

This is the second tray of cookies, more sensibly sized

This is tray 2 part way through cooking

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Jan 19 2011

Thermomix Cooking

Category: Cooking,Personal,TechnologyRobert McGovern @ 12:08 pm

thermo_press
Photo is “thermo_press” by abby_luque, on Flickr

Last year Bob get herself a new toy for the kitchen called the Thermomix (DE site). To quote the UK site the device

Thermomix is a super fast food blender and processor that also weighs, cooks, simmers and steams!

It really does replace a bunch of devices in the kitchen, though in our case more only a Magic Mix food processor. You can cook a full in the Thermomix as it has a simmering basket (which can be useful for steaming rice) and whats called a Varoma which is used for steaming vegetables / meat / pasta. It so versatile you can make bread dough, soups, sauces, drinks, desserts and main meals.

Whats odd about the machine, is that you can’t simply go to a store and buy one. They are basically sold via demonstrators, who come to your house and for a couple of hours they come and show you what the machine can do and cook various dishes for you (for instance when Bob had a couple of demos the demonstrator made Wholemeal bread rolls, soup, a dip of some kind and I believe a jam).

You might think its a little dodgy that you can only get the machine this way but it honestly isn’t. Its an expensive machine and they don’t want you to simply discount it because of the price and they want you to truly see what the machine can do which if it sat on a shop shelf you never would (nor would you see how damn easy it is too clean).

You have to convert your recipes a bit to use it, something I do not feel comfortable trying to do yet but thats fine as there are tons of recipes on blogs on the Internet and in the rather busy and very friendly Australian Thermomix forums.

Given I’ve started to use it more, I’m going to (try) and blog the recipes we use with photo’s of what the final dish looked like. I suspect it will be a long time though before you manage to extract and original recipe from me (if ever!) 🙂

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Jan 09 2011

“Acting” & “Singing”

Category: Music,PersonalRobert McGovern @ 7:49 pm

Sometimes we all do daft things, well at least I do, and a few weeks ago I got involved with a couple of Telltale Games fan videos created by a bloke on the TTG Forums called Silverwolfpet.

He has done a whole bunch of videos before (seriously checkout him out onYouTube) and he decided for Xmas (with the approval of Alan from the TTG forums) to do a tribute video and posted about it in the Back To The Future forum (which if you don’t know, TTG are doing a 5 part adventure game based on Back To The Future, its worth checking out). In a fit of insanity I asked if it was too late to join in, was told it wasn’t so recorded my voice and a video of me miming the words and sent them along.

Here is the completed video that was released a couple of days ago:

(direct to YouTube)

You can hear me in a couple places where you don’t see me, particularly toward the very end. BTW Here are my original video & audio recordings (excuse the phone & doorbell in the audio, I didn’t hear them during playback as I had the backing track enabled which masked them out)

Anyway, related to this, is another video I ended up doing for Silverwolfpet. I had been going to bed the same day I recorded the above video but checked the TTG forum one last time (1am) and so a message from SWP asking if I could step in at the last moment for someone else. It was supposed to be hush hush but could I record some lines and actions. Having enjoyed the other recording I accepted and got my lines. I was supposed to be Doc from BTTF and needed to dress in something he might (hence the Hawaiian shirt and dressing gown, come on what else am I going to come up with at 2am).

It was slightly awkward as SWP needed me to yell, so off to the basement I went and recorded my stuff (a few times mind you) and half an hour later synced the video of the iPhone 4 (recorded of the front cam so I could see what the heck I was doing) and uploaded it for SWP.

The final result is this:

(direct to YouTube)

You’ll have to excuse the dreadful Doc Brown impression, give me a break it was 2 in the morning and I didn’t think to check YouTube for a BTTF clip with Doc Brown 🙂


Jan 09 2011

Human Target

Category: Personal,TVRobert McGovern @ 7:22 pm

Those that know me, know I have a thing for Film & TV scores and I have done since I was a child (in part thanks to the music of Tom & Jerry cartoons, Looney Tunes cartoons and the tapes of Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ghostbusters that I got from my dad).

Of late most of the scores I have been buying have been expanded re-issues of old scores (like Star Trek 2, 3 & 5, Batman, Batman Returns, The Edge & Home Alone) and premiere releases of classic scores (Back to the Future, Amazing Stories, Black Sunday), very little though has been recent stuff (though I have a couple of things in my Amazon basket from this last year).

One exception was the CD set by LaLaLand Records of Bear McCreary’s score to the first season of Human Target. I bought it based on my enjoyment of his Battlestar Galactica scores, I thought what the heck I’d take a chance.

Turns out it was well worth it, there is some great if not fantastic music. For instance Baptiste, Tango Fight (both CD 2), Theme from Human Target (Long version – CD 1), The New Christopher Chance (CD2). You can check out some of Bear’s favourite music from the show over on his blog.

Check out the samples for the score over at Bear’s blog. Its highly recommended and a steal at $24.95 for 3 CD’s.

Now as an aside, I’ve since started watching the show based on the strength of the music. Season 1 was very enjoyable, the interplay between the 3 leads (Chance, Winston, Guerrero) is fun and the action was generally superb.

Unfortunately the second season brought in a number of changes in an attempt to draw in new viewers and appeal to a wider audience (say, I dunno, women) and save money. Gone are many of the fun fight sequences, replaced with more “drama” and interplay with 2 new characters (both women, a young sassy lass [Ames] and a rich business woman who is now Chance’s partner [Ilsa]) who don’t really add much and indeed both are kinda annoying (Ilsa who week in & week out complains about the method’s Chance and his team employ, after 7 episodes this hasn’t improved much with her going to the State Department after someone is kidnapped and then tries to get her private jet turned around in the air) even if I like the actresses. Also gone is some of the magic between the original 3 leads, with Guerrero seeming to became a shadow of his season 1 self. One other change was the main producer (indeed creator) of the show stepping back and someone new coming in in charge.

The most annoying change of the 2nd season was not asking Bear to come back and score the show. In an effort to save money (as having a new orchestral score each episode is expensive) they decide to go with a new composer (Tim Jones) who has done the music for the last 4 years of Chuck.

Now his music there has been quite serviceable and I’d quite like a CD of it, there are some nice themes but his music for Human Target has been lacklustre at best. At times it can best be described as passable, the rest of the time it is just

His new theme for the show is however dreadful. It starts out as a distance relative to Bear’s season 1 theme and then after about 15 seconds it descends into noise. Gone is the unique identity that Bear gave the show and leaves you with a theme that is both very generic and doesn’t make you want to watch the show.

This is the Season 1 theme:

(direct link: Season 1 theme)

and this is the season 2 intro:

(direct link: Season 2 theme)

Oh yeah, one other thing I didn’t like about Season 2’s new direction, dropping the plot point that was setup at the end of season 1 where Winston had been captured and The Old Man was going to help Chance to rescue him. I don’t particularly have a problem with how Winston was saved (if yes a little quickly at the beginning of the ep) but I do feel a little short changed.

[Edit]

Though of a couple of other things that bug me about the second season, for instance the new high tech computer equipment provide by Ilsa like the funky computer table.

Ep 8 of S2 was written by the creator of the show but still doesn’t help (Ilsa “oh my god your stealing from him”), if Ilsa & Chance end up kissing by the end of the episode I’ll be very disappointed.

Btw the shake up of the show means it has both more a Leaverge and a Chuck feel to the show.