New Thing #338: Guinness Chocolate Float

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Beer and dairy aren’t two things that I tend to think mix well. But I couldn’t resist trying a Guinness Chocolate Float after I saw a recipe for one this weekend.

It’s dark, creamy, and delicious. Everything I like about Guinness, but with the added bonus of chocolate ice cream.

I mean, really, how could this possibly be a bad thing?

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New Thing #337: Build a 3D Puzzle

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I thought I’d be terrible at 3D puzzles. I’m never that great at spatial problem solving and figuring out how to fold a complex box or tie a knot are my worst nightmares.

But this 3D puzzle of Big Ben was almost too easy. It turns out that each side uses the same set of pieces as the others so once you figured out one the rest are a breeze.

The only trouble I really had was folding the top bit. It took just about as long to close up properly as the rest combined.

Thank god I didn’t get the Eiffel Tower instead.

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New Thing #336: Play Pokemon

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You’d think that after all these years of playing video games I would have caught a Pokemonor two along the way. But I never saw the allure. Or really understood what the game was all about.

So I went straight to the source and asked my friend Sherry Tang which installment I should throw into my DS to introduce me to the world of Pokemon. So I slotted Pokemon Diamond into place and for the next couple hours I immersed myself in a simplistic, long-winded JRPG.

I understand that the whole phenomenon was always targeted at children, but I figured there must be something exciting going on behind the scenes for all these adults to get caught up in it. But man, was I wrong.

It’s just a regular role playing game where cute little monsters are the weapons you find along the way. You can level up each “weapon”, which is nice, but it all runs so very, very slowly. And everyone wants to talk to you. Everyone.

I’ve never found turned based fighting to be at all engaging, and Pokemon definitely hasn’t changed my position on that. It probably doesn’t help that I’m nearly 60 hours into playing Skyrim at the moment either, which is the type of RPG I can really sink my teeth into.

At least my little monkey…I named him Chimichanga…was cute. And never fainted on me once.

Sorry Sherry. Do I lose geek cred for this one?

New Thing #335: Drink a Tea-based Cocktail

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As a nice change of pace tonight, Shauna whipped up my new thing of the day: an Orange Blossom Oolong Tea cocktail.

After attending a tea mixology seminar last week she’s been eager to try out her new found knowledge. Plus, they sent her home with said orange blossom oolong syrup and some recipes.

The syrup itself is a normal simple syrup with tea used instead of water. Why I never thought of flavoured simple syrups before now is beyond me. And this little lemon-gin-oolong ditty knocked our socks off.

Now I think some experimenting is in order.

New Thing #334: Make Potato Chips In A Microwave

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If you’d have told me that I’d be eating potato chips cooked in a microwave oven today, I’d have called you a big, fat, stinking liar. Then I would have apologized profusely, because that’s just rude.

As it turns out though, that’s exactly what I made today. After being left with an abundance of russet potatoes a couple of weeks back I’ve been looking for just about anything I can do with these things. And it turns out that if you slice potatoes super thin, line them up on a piece of parchment paper and use a bit of cooking spray you get some pretty nice homemade substitutes. 

Sure, there’re not as good as the ones that my Grandpa would fry up himself when I was a kid, but they’re actually not that far off the mark. 

I think I finally have an excuse to bite the bullet and get a Mandolin now. You can only shave so many potatoes with a vegetable peeler after all.

Here’s a link to the original recipe I used, although mileage will vary depending on your own microwave oven.

 

New Thing #333: Word Wars

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I love Scrabble.

In fact, I became rather obsessed with the game some years back after reading Word Freak, which chronicled the lives of tournament level Scrabble players. 

That’s why I had wanted to see Word Wars, which follows some of the same people documented in that book. Unfortunately, it was rather hard to come by back then and it fell off my radar.

But I fired it up through iTunes today and saw all of the dysfunctional, delusional, megalomaniacal behaviour set out on the page brought to life. And although the documentary is pretty trite and not that well produced they did manage to capture all of those things very well. The end moment even managed to stir up some emotion in me as one of the underdogs rose to the top.

Although I did study all the two and three letter words in the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary back in the day my skills have definitely gotten rusty. I’m rather intimidated to play in an actual tournament today. But I’m still pretty good competition in Words With Friends if anyone’s ever interested in a game.

 

New Thing #332: Make Shrimp Tacos

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After coming home sick from work today, and still working from home all afternoon I didn’t think I’d actually be able to make these shrimp tacos for dinner. But I’d gotten the frozen shrimp out of the freezer and really didn’t want to see them go to waste.

I’m glad I did, because these things are dead simple to make and down right delectable.

Not since my trip to Mexico have I had something that tasted this authentic. The flavours melded perfectly together and still turned out light and refreshing. The fresh lime juice squeezed over top just brings it up that perfect notch. It was like I was on the beach all over again.

Protip: Wearing latex gloves when you slice Jalapeños. Because when you have an itch, no matter where, you’ll forget where your hand’s just been.

(Yes, what you’re thinking really did happen to me once, and is therefore intelligible for this blog.)

If you’re interested in trying them out for yourself, here’s the recipe I based things off of.

New Thing #331: Eat a Granadilla

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I found a bunch of Granadillas at our local grocery store last week and grabbed one. It’s definitely something I’ve never tried, or heard of before.

Turns out it’s sort of like a Passion Fruit, where you basically have a bunch of slimy tadpole like seeds surrounded by a gooey membrane. It sort of reminds me of how the seeds in grapes will often have that outer layer of guck on them. But here it’s a selling feature.

They taste pretty sweet, with just a lingering sourness to them. Of course all of this comes at a price, they’re a damn sight hard eat. Well, not so much hard as tedious. There’s got to be a couple hundred seeds to individually suck the fruit from and although I really started getting the hang of it after a half I was really done at that point.

In any case this is a pretty neat little fruit to try for novelty’s sake, but I can’t see a real reason to eat them on a regular basis.

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New Thing #330: Red Rocket Coffee Danforth

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Red Rocket Coffee used to be my stop whenever I was down near Queen and Greenwood while Shauna would be out picking up plants across the street. Then they had their rent upped and they were forced to move. Lucky for us, it’s near our hood.

The funny thing is that they took up residence in the same place that housed another coffee shop a few years ago: Niche Coffee. It’s on the Danforth near Greenwood, and the I couldn’t help but get a huge sense deja vu walking in. Pretty much nothing has changed from the old Niche days.

The counter, backsplash, fireplace and furnishings are to be the same, with maybe a few more tables crammed together. Even the slelection of designer teas on the shelves look familiar.

But that’s not a bad thing, because Niche was a great, warm and inviting place to grab a latte and park yourself down on a cold day. But this isn’t a post about Niche, we’re talking Red Rocket. So how do they fare?

Well, just about as well as they did when they were on Queen. They’re ok. 

The coffee’s not bad, but it’s not great either. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to drop in if I’m around there and need a coffee fix. I might even take a nice leisurly stroll with them in mind in the summertime, but it won’t be replacing Grinder as my go-to spot for espresso. 

So check it out if you’re an east ender and help support another good business in the neighbourhood.

New Thing #329: Star Wars Uncut

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I heard about Star Wars Uncut a few years ago, but never realized until now that it actually got produced, or more importantly, released for free on the internet.

The concept is simple, recreate the entire Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in fifteen second clips using whatever means possible. Most are crude but creative, often funny and sometimes inspired. A lot of it comes off as a vintage Doctor Who episode, or childhood movie project. And there’s a lot of bearded Leias. A lot.

Clocking in at just over two hours you’d think that the visual cocophany of that many cuts would be overwhelming, but somehow it works. I suspect it’s because the original film is so ingrained into my memory that it was liking watching an overlay to the real thing. John Williams’ score is in place too which helps to meld the clips together even more. 

I’m really glad I got to finally see this, and if they’re ever remaking The Empire Strikes Back I’m definitely getting in on that action.