Category Archives: Awesome

Hawaiian Piggy

I’m working on a new post, I promise. In the mean time, I give you my most ridiculously rich recipe to date. I have yet to serve this to someone who hasn’t told me it was one of the best meals of their life.  Enjoy.

Hardigan Hawaiian Piggy:

Sweet, succulent slow boil-roasted pork and vegetables, topped with coconut-banana gravy. Served with Sweet Mushroom Soup and Whiskey Sweet Flat Bread with Sweet Potato-Mango dip.

WARNING: THIS DISH IS A FUCKING BEAST. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Additional Warning: This is a dish you only make if you want a MEAL. As in an “I am so satisfied , I couldn’t fit anything else in my stomach if I used a compressor.” Not a “that was nice, but I’ll be hungry again in two hours.” This recipe is VERY complicated, and takes a VERY LONG TIME, so it is not for the faint-of-heart. You will also need a good size kitchen or a lot of patience. This is not the type of meal you make for lunch on a whim. This is the kind of meal you take ALL DAY to make. In the best of circumstances this dish will take you at least six hours to make. Ideally it will take you a total of 14 hours.

I guarantee you that this will be one of the richest meals you will ever eat in your life. I have served this meal to five friends and every single one had the same initial reaction: “Holy Crap, This is amazing!”

This meal is very sweet, without being too sweet, with just enough salty after taste to make you enjoy every bite. The pork is extremely sweet and succulent, and with the banana gravy and potato dip, it is dinner and dessert in one.

To go along with this meal, I highly recommend a nice light drink, such as mate tea, kombucha or some nice, hot, green tea. Hot Sake would also go fantastically with this meal.

MATERIALS:

Measuring Spoons

Measuring Cups

Soup Ladle

Wooden Mixing Spoon

Mixing Whisk

Food Processor

Beater

Large Mixing Bowl (2)

Small Mixing Bowl (2)

Large Soup Pot

Medium Sauce Pan

Medium “Tub Style” Oven Roasting Pan

Meat Knife

Vegetable Knife

Large Frying pan

Medium Frying pan

Large griddle (large frying pan will work if you don’t have this)

INGREDIENTS:

Pork Loin Roast, About 4-6 Pounds

For this recipe, pork loin will work best, but you can use shoulder or bottom round if you prefer that. It will not have the same effect, but will be equally delicious. Just as with all meat, prices fluctuate, so if you are the price-sensitive cook, you can just go with whichever of the three is the cheapest at the time. Since it has a much more robust flavor, it is HIGHLY recommended that you go with wild hog/boar if you can get it. This dish is ALL about flavors, so something like wild hog or boar that has a beautiful, robust flavor will only make it better.

Two Full Mangos, not overly ripe, diced

If you don’t know how to choose mangos: A ripe mango should yield to gentle pressure, but not have any spots or blemishes. It shouldn’t be too green.

Two, large sweet onions, chopped

Only use sweet onions. Vidalia, Texas 1015, Walla Walla, Oso Sweets, or Maui Sweets. These are the only types. Do not use ANY other type of onions other than one of these five types. Additionally, use two of the same onions. Do not, for example, use one Vidalia and one Walla Walla. If possible, Maui Sweets are the best for this dish, followed by Oso Sweets. Vidalias follow that and are in the same category as Walla Walla, but Walla Walla will cost more. Only use the Texas 1015 if you have no access to the others. Imperial Sweets CAN work, but only if you have nothing else as they aren’t sweet enough. Bermuda sweets can work as well, but as with the Imperial Sweets, only use if you have nothing else.

Two, Large Carrots, sliced

If you cannot get large carrots, use four medium carrots. Don’t use baby carrots.

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

BROWN SUGAR. Not Turbinado sugar, not cane sugar, not confectionery sugar. BROWN. FUCKING. SUGAR.

Two Fresh Large Lemons, juiced

If you’re lazy, you can buy a bottle of lemon juice and measure out 1/2 cup.

Two Fresh Large Limes, juiced

If you’re still lazy, you can buy a bottle lime juice and measure out 1/2 cup

1 1/2 Stick of Butter, melted

Don’t use margarine or any butter substitute, unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case use the CLOSEST thing you can get to butter. Soy butter, goat butter, sheep butter, whatever. Just don’t use margarine.

3 Cups chopped pineapple

1/4 Teaspoon Dill

Yes, Dill. No, I’m not kidding.

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

No, I’m not kidding on this one, either.

1/4 teaspoon Rosemary

Guess what? Yup, still not kidding.

16 ounces Coconut milk

DO NOT USE LOW FAT COCONUT MILK. Make sure the coconut milk you get is full, pure, coconut milk. Do not get reduced fat or low fat coconut milk. If possible, get fresh coconut milk rather than canned. Only get canned if: A. It is natural and B. You have no other options. If you can, get your own coconuts and make your own coconut milk. If you think that coconut milk is the liquid you find inside the coconut, just buy the damn milk because you’ll fuck this up. I warn you again to not use low fat coconut milk. If you do, it will be like using cardboard as flour for a cake. This isn’t a low fat dish, don’t try to make it one. IMPORTANT: Cream of Coconut IS NOT Coconut milk. Get regular, unsweetened, coconut milk.

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SWEET MUSHROOM SOUP

Two Large Portabello Mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

If you can’t find Crimini, you can substitute regular white mushrooms

1 Cup Shitake Mushrooms, sliced thinly

Two leeks, chopped

1/2 Brown Sugar

1/4 teaspoon Dill

1/4 Nutmeg

1/4 Rosemary

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

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COCONUT-BANANA GRAVY

Four ripe bananas, sliced medium-thick

As ripe as you can get without getting black spots. A good rule of thumb is to buy them when they are green, put them in a brown paper bag and let them sit in room temperature for two days. You want them soft and sweet, but not mushy. Yellow: Good. Yellow with spots: Not good. One or two spots is okay, but stay away from ones that anything more than a couple small spots.

16 ounces Coconut Milk

1 Stick of Butter, melted

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

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SWEET FLAT BREADS:

2 Cups All purpose flour, Sifted

If you use whole-wheat flour I will find where you live, and personally come and kill you for your atrocious crime committed against cooking. In fact if you use whole-wheat flour when cooking anything but bread I will come and kill you for your crime against cooking. The next person to try and cook a cake or pie or fucking pancakes/waffles with whole-wheat flour will die. And don’t get me fucking started on muffins. Seriously, people. Whole-wheat flour is sandwich bread flour. You do not use it in baking.

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

2/3 cup Cream

You can use milk if you want the bread to be lighter, or if you don’t like cream. Milk substitutes or even water will work fine if you are lactose intolerant.

7 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey (roughly about 2.5 shots)

The way this bread is made, not all the alcohol is cooked out, so if you don’t drink, don’t want to serve this to kids (you prude), then you can take this out of the recipe, the breads will function fine without it. If having this bread for a breakfast treat, feel free to use Irish Cream instead of whiskey.

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

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SWEET POTATO-PINEAPPLE-MANGO DIP

One Full Mango, Very Ripe, peeled, diced and pureed

You can use a blender to puree the mango and sweet potato, but a food processor works best.

One Large Sweet Potato, cooked, chopped and pureed

1/2 cup chopped pineapple

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar Water, Cooled

I go over how to make this below.

2 Tablespoons Butter, melted

PREPARATION

PORK:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, dill, rosemary and nutmeg.
  2. Take the pork loin, take a fork and stab the meat all over until it is covered in fork wounds.
  3. Take a small handful of the brown sugar mixture and rub the pork with it.
  4. Put the pork in a large zip-lock bag after rubbing the rest of the brown sugar on it. Put the brown sugar mixture in with it
  5. Leave the pork in the bag in the refrigerator overnight (8 hours).
  6. Remove the pork from the bag and pour the brown sugar mixture into a small mixing bowl. Set the pork aside.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine 16 ounces of coconut milk with the brown sugar mixture, Whisk until smooth.
  8. Add 1/4 cup lime juice and 1/4 cup lemon juice to the coconut milk and whisk until smooth. Put in the refrigerator.
  9. In the medium frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the onions and fry until glazed.
  10. In the soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add the pork and brown it. Add 6 cups of hot water, the carrots, leeks and then the glazed onions. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the pork, the onions and carrots from the water. Place the pork in the greased oven roasting pan along with those onions and carrots.
  12. Add the pineapple and mango.
  13. Remove the coconut milk mixture from the refrigerator and add the rest of the melted butter to it. Whisk until smooth and add to the roasting pan along with 1 cup of the water from the soup pot.
  14. Pre-heat the oven for 475 degrees.
  15. Place the roasting pan with the pork in the over and cover.
  16. Cook pork for 20 minutes and reduce heat to 325 degrees.
  17. Cook pork for 1 hour and reduce heat to 250.
  18. Cook pork for 1 hour. Remove 1 cup of the liquid from the pan and set aside.
  19. Reduce heat to 200 and cook for 2 more hours.

NOTE: Make sure to continually baste the pork in the cooking liquid as it roasts.

SWEET MUSHROOM SOUP:

  1. After placing the pork in the oven, bring the water in the soup pot back to a boil. Add the rest of the dill, nutmeg and rosemary. Boil for one minute.
  2. Add brown sugar, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Add all mushrooms.
  4. Cook on medium-low for 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
  5. Sit in 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  6. Simmer for 20 minutes.

COCONUT-BANANA GRAVY:

  1. Combine the coconut milk and melted butter. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 of lime juice. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Add brown sugar. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into sauce pan. Add liquid you took from the roast pan.
  5. Heat on medium heat until hot, stirring constantly.
  6. Turn down to low.
  7. In the large frying pan, fry the banana slices, making sure to give them all enough room in order to not under-cook or over-cook any of them.
  8. Add the cooked bananas to the coconut milk mixture in the sauce pan.
  9. Gently mix with the wooden spoon until smooth, taking care not to mush the banana.
  10. Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  11. Turn off stove and allow mixture to cool, stirring every once in a while to keep it smooth.

SWEET BREAD:

  1. In a large bowl, combine: flour, cream, salt and whiskey. Combine into a soft dough.
  2. Turn dough out onto lightly-floured surface and knead briefly.
  3. Divide dough into golf-ball size pieces and cover with a damp cloth.
  4. Take a ball of dough and roll out until very thin, but not tearing. Sprinly lightly and evenly with sugar.
  5. Fold dough into a small square and roll out until thin once more.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with all the rest of the dough balls.
  7. Heat the lightly-oiled griddle over medium heat.
  8. Place the rolled dough onto the pan and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes each side until golden.
  9. Repeat step 8 with the rest of the dough balls. Serve immediately.

SWEET POTATO-MANGO-PINEAPPLE DIP

  1. Combine the mango puree, potato puree and melted butter. Mix until smooth.
  2. Add the brown sugar water. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add the pineapple. Mix until smooth, taking care not to mush the pineapple.

BROWN SUGAR WATER

  1. In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and add 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  2. Turn down the heat and mix quickly. Do not stop mixing until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Down off burner and whisk until smooth. Take off stove and let cool.

HOW TO SERVE THIS MEAL:

ORDER: Serve the bread with the dip first, the soup second and the pork with the gravy last.

HOW TO SERVE THE FLATBREAD:

—Slice one of the flat-breads into quarters and place upon a small plate. Put a large dollop of the sweet potato dip in the center.

HOW TO SERVE THE SOUP:

—Take a small soup bowl and fill with a generous helping of sweet mushroom soup, taking care to get an even balance of broth and vegetables.

HOW TO SERVE THE PORK:

–Remove the pork from the oven and remove from the pan, placing on a cutting place. Slice the pork thinly and gently. Be patient as it will fall apart.

–Place a generous helping of pork into large bowl. Add vegetables and fruits. from roasting pan, taking care to add just a little juice from the pan as well.

–Top Pork with a generous helping of coconut-banana gravy. Put enough gravy to cover the pork, but not enough to bathe it.

–The perfect way to eat this, is to mix everything together with your fork, and enjoy.

Alpha Torment: Or Why Chris Avellone is Gaming’s Flawed Christ

If you have been involved in video games between 1997 and now, especially in the vein of Computer role playing games, then the name, “Chris Avellone,” should evoke tears of joy and fond memories especially of the beautiful, golden years between 1998 and 2002. In the nineties and early 2000’s, there was a little company called Interplay®. At Interplay® there was a little division dedicated to CRPGs called Black Isle®. For any of you who have ever played a role playing game, you should feeling some great nostalgia right about now.

Black Isle, the division of Interplay that specialized in CRPGs, were arguably the one of the best, if not THE best CRPG developer in history. They gave us some amazing pieces of art, such as Fallout, Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, and Icewind Dale 2. Additionally, they were the publishers of the Bioware® magnum opus Bladur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. Now at this little division there was a developer by the name of Chris Avellone, who had a neat little idea of starting an RPG after the death screen. But he was working on Fallout 2 at the time.

After Fallout 2 was finished, he began work on his own magnum opus. This game was, and still is, considered to be one of the best role playing games of all time. It was, of course, the utter work of genius known as Planescape: Torment. This game was so revolutionary, so incredibly well made, and so fucking amazing that it elevated Mr. Avellone from just one developer at Black Isle to a status of game design god. With one game, he joined the ranks of other genius developers, such as John Carmack(Quake, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom), John Romero(Quake, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom), Sid Meier (Civilization), Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid) and Shigeru Myamoto (Mario Brothers).

Planescape: Torment has yet to be topped in terms of uniqueness and revolutionary ideas. And it is still a game that many CRPG developers aspire to. Avellone would follower Torment with work on two more works of greatness: Icewind Dale and Icewind Dale 2. While neither compared to Torment in their uniqueness or depth, both were amazingly well written, and are widely considered two of the best CRPGs ever developed.

He then began work as Lead Designer on what was supposed to become Fallout 3. Unfortunately, however, Interplay’s financial woes were slowly eating into Black Isle, and the division was cut and everyone laid off before the planned Fallout 3, then called Van Buren would come to fruition.

Along with original Black Isle head, Feargus Urquhart, Avellone would leave to start Obsidian Entertainment®. And things went south, or so I believe. While at Obsidian, Avellone has proven time and again that he has lost none of the wit and genius that made Torment such an enormous success. He has, however, not proven that he can deliver everything he promises. Every single game that has been released by Obsidian has been marred by shoddy gameplay, sever technical problems, unfinished content, or all of the above.

Obsidian’s first release, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: the Sith Lords was largely unfinished, had a multitude of technical problems and left a very sour taste in the mouths of the millions of fans who had eagerly awaited the sequel to the 2003 game of the year, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The first game had been developed by Bioware®, but when they weren’t able to develop the sequel due to creating their own IP, Lucasarts contracted Obsidian to do it.

Now with KotOR2, Obsidian is mostly left off the hook because the unfinished nature of the game and multitude of technical difficulties were the result of the greedy morons at LucasArts rushing the game out the door far too soon. At least that was the excuse. But similar stories were to follow.

The next release was Neverwinter Nights 2, the long awaited sequel to Bioware’s 2002 opus. On release day, I remember awaiting eagerly at the gamestop, waiting for my copy. After receiving it, I barely got through my classes at school before rushing home, installing it on my computer and having the biggest disappointment of my life. If Biwoare’s Neverwinter Nights was a slice of pie, Neverwinter Nights 2 was a storebought crust with week-old whipped cream. Its technical problems were horrendous, its gameplay was annoying, it had quests that you couldn’t finish and it would just randomly crash for no reason. While the story was decent, it didn’t make up for the rest of the problems.

But still, since I revere Avellone to such an extent, I wasn’t willing to brush Obsidian off, and when they announced their next project: Alpha Protocol, I awaited it eagerly. The role playing options that were being offered were quite impressive, and if they returned on their promises, I knew that this would be the game to prove to people that Avellone was still the genius that designed Torment over a decade ago.

Sadly, while Alpha Protocol completely delivers on most of the conversation options and choice-effect mechanics in the game, the rest of the game is a mess. But it says something about a designer, when I will trudge not once, not twice, not three times, but four times through everything that’s bad, just because what’s done right is that good.

So is Chris Avellone still the genius that brought us Planescape: Torment? Damn right he is. Is he able to deliver on everything he promises in his latest releases? No. But nobody’s perfect. And that’s why he’s the industry’s flawed messiah. While I dislike a lot about Neverwinter Nights 2, KotOR 2, and Alpha Protocol, I love just as much. And I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t give anything just to work with him.

Insanity reformed

There is a large amount of time (not too large) between this post and the last. I apologize for that, but I’ve been trying to figure out how to order this beast without being so chaotic. A little bit of chaos is always great, but I think I would do well to have a selected mission briefing for myself on what I’m going to write about with this blog, and since I enjoy so many topics I don’t think just writing about what I’m thinking about at the time will work very well, so without further ado, I present to you the schedule of Scribatious Insanity.

Monday: Nothing. If I do write anything, it will be about something pressing.

Tuesday: What pisses me off. Every Tuesday will be a rant about something I hate, dislike or something that just generally pisses me off. Fun times.

Wednesday: Same as monday.

Thursday: What I love. The opposite of Tuesday, Thursday will be something I truly love, like or something that just makes me happy. More fun times.

Friday: Video game Friday. I love video games, and Fridays will be the day that I review a game that is either near and dear to my heart, or a game that I think should never have been made. Or maybe something in between.

Saturday or Sunday: Writing critiques, education, etiquette. On either Saturday or Sunday (Or both if I’m feeling particularly creative) I will be talking writing in one form or another that has to do with my own form of writing. I will be talking about either story writing, video game writing, or screenwriting. How to do it, or what I’m doing it with, etc.

I hope you will enjoy this schedule, and you can expect the first post in this new schedule tomorrow when I talk about the differences between screenwriting for films, and screenwriting for television.