Friday, March 27, 2015

Chocolate Soda Cake

Chocolate Soda Cake by freshfromthe.com

Sometimes laziness wins out, am I right? That and curiosity. They say curiosity killed the cat, but when it comes to baking, does the saying hold true?

Well. I mean, yes. Sometimes it does! Some of you have probably heard that you can make a cake with just two ingredients - a box of some cake mix and a can of soda. Or pop. I'm from Oregon and I grew up calling it pop, but since living in LA and being surrounded by soda-sayers, I feel like I'm supposed to say soda? Ah, life. People also don't say the full name of freeways in LA, either. It's the 405 to the 101 to the 110 to the 10 to the 5, etc. All "the" something. But in Oregon it's I-5, I-205, I-405. Probably because there are way less freeways. But I digress.

Cake. We're talking about cake!


So, first and foremost - yes, you can make a cake with just a box of cake mix and some soda. It doesn't have to be an actual soda drink like Coke or Pepsi or whatever else. I just used sparkling water here to see if that would work, and it does. But despite what other people may say, you kind of do have to mess with the directions on the box before baking. I was going by the directions on the box, then noticed only 10 minutes unto the 25 minute cook time that the cake was already looking close to done. So, in my instructions below, I advise you lower the oven temperature and shorten the baking time by about five minutes. I'm just glad I was paying attention, or this would've been one overdone cake.

The question remains, though - just because you can make a cake this way, does it mean you should? I can tell you that, no, I will likely not make a cake this way again. Why's that, you ask? It's extremely crumbly. The egg that is normally in there has a purpose, people. You may not be able to tell from these photos 100%, but it was very hard to get out a normal piece of cake without it crumbling everywhere. However, a different experiment would be adding in something else to help as a binder. You could try some applesauce, pumpkin puree, mashed banana. Those would all be ways to add a little more moisture and bind-i-ness, and perhaps get a more cake-y cake out of the process.

But if you just want some fast and easy cake you can scoop into and dollop some ice cream on top of, then hey, this totally works for that.




Chocolate Soda Cake

Ingredients
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 12 ounces soda/sparkling water
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray the bottom of a 9x13 pan (or you can do it however you like, in two round cake pans, cupcakes, etc.).
  2. Mix together the cake mix and the soda water. It can be slightly lumpy. Pour into your prepared pan and smooth out.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Your cooking times will vary depending on the pan size you are using.
Chocolate Soda Cake by freshfromthe.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Supernatural 10x16 "Paint it Black"

Supernatural 10x16 "Paint it Black"I don't mean to be a drag, but... snooooooooze. Like, literally, I was falling asleep watching this episode. Was it just me? The last couple have felt like a lot of treading water. Which is when you start to think how cable series have it right when it comes to serialized stuff. Because if this show was only 12 or so episodes a season, we wouldn't be faced with so much filler waiting to get to interesting stuff. Just saying.

But, recapping is what I do here, so I suppose I shall get on with it. The brothers Winchester find themselves on a new job, where some dudes are killing themselves rather terribly. Though at first there doesn't seem to be much connection between them, they soon figure out that all of the men were Catholic and went to the same church, and all of them happened to go to confessional right before they died. Suspicious, much?

Rather than focus too much on the actual investigating of Sam and Dean, the show decided instead to have us listen in on one sister telling another her tragic tale of love and loss. It was quite clear all of this was taking place a long time ago in the past, to me, before the "big reveal" partway through the episode, but whatever. Turns out it's a vengeful spirit all along, possessing people's bodies after she hears them confess to cheating, because that's what her paramour did in the past, then killing them before leaving their bodies once more. Of course, the brothers aren't quite sure of this at first, so Dean has a confessional moment wherein he talks about his feelings and blah blah. You know, I'm sure back in like season two or four, a confessional like that would've made my heart go pitter pat, but now it just seems like more of the same, over and over.
Supernatural 10x16 "Paint it Black"
Anyway. The other sister tells them this woman's stuff was sent over from Italy, along with this journal where she confesses her murder, so Dean is like let's burn that stuff since there are no bones to find (she was burned at the stake, yada yada), while Sam is like wait there could be clues. Luckily Sam does not listen to Dean here, because he discovers that the crazy woman cut off part of her finger to be ground up and used in the paint her dude painted her with. So, burn the painting, and the ghost burns up with it. Bing, bang, boom.

MEANWHILE! You may have been wondering what is going on with Crowley and his wee mother Rowena. Or maybe not, but you're going to find out anyway. She's in a huff because she feels like her baby doesn't care about her. Crowley, either feeling magnanimous or bored or something, decides to deliver the head coven woman Olivette to Rowena to basically torture and huff indignantly to. She wants to know about some special potions and whatnot that were taken many moons ago, and Olivette confesses it was the Men of Letters that took it all, and that Sam and Dean happen to be some of the last Men of Letters around. Thus, Rowena's hatred of the brothers intensifies, as surely she is now on the hunt for them as well as their bunker that apparently contains these magic witchy things.

And... that's pretty much all she wrote, apart from the patented brother moment in the car at the end of the episode, where Sam basically tells Dean yet again that he needs to keep fighting and they'll figure out how to get rid of the Mark, which is a lot of the same refrain we've been hearing for a while now.

Random Thoughts:

- Next week's episode at least looks interesting, even though they are doing what they love to do and not letting dead characters stay dead. I wouldn't have thought I was looking forward to Castiel and the angels being back in the mix, but dang if I don't just want the story to move forward already.

- Witches seem crazy powerful in this world. Like, she can make mini faces appear on the back of heads and turn people into hamsters? That seems kind of scarier than some of the other things they've faced in the past, just because of the unpredictability.

- I know a lot of people are not huge fans of Rowena. I think part of it is they've made her a bit too whiny and vindictive rather than seeming like she has her crap together and is super powerful. Obviously she's powerful enough to have stayed alive this long, and certainly she is good at manipulation, but it's still not quite clear what her real goal is, and maybe that's the real problem people are having with her.

Quotes:

Dean: We'll figure out what's going on with Terry Sloan.
Sam: Probably nude selfies.
Dean: I'm feeling good about this.

Sam: Sister, I've got a question.
Dean: I'm sure it's a different question.

Dean: Tell me you didn't think that nun was hot. I think she had a little thing for me too.
Sam: Dean, she was married to Jesus.

Dean: I believe there is a god, but I'm not sure he still believes in us.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Supernatural 10x15 "The Things They Carried"

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x15 "The Things They Carried" by freshfromthe.comWell, that was kind of a gross way to come back into season ten, huh? After the last episode, which was definitely one of the overall arc episodes, this episode was a break from all of that, focusing on a single case for the brothers to solve. Of course, the case of the week episodes always have thematic connections to the overall story, and this was no exception.

The episode started as many an episode has in the past, featuring a gruesome death of a young woman. This time, she was hanging from the ceiling upside down, and got her throat slit, to drain her blood into a nice bucket, you know, for ease of drinking. The brothers catch wind of this troublesome death and decide to investigate. Or, rather, Dean decides they should investigate, while Sam is still stewing about the Mark. Sorry dear Mark, you need to go on the backburner for a bit.

They head off to a military town, and soon find out that the girl was killed by an army vet. They're a bit suspicious as to whether the killer was actually the killer, but when the local sheriff tells them that he followed that up by dousing himself in gas and setting himself on fire, well, it became a little more credible. They head off to talk to the deceased's wife to see if she knows anything, and find out that he was definitely acting weird. Mostly in that he was thirsty, like, all the time. She also tells them that the husband of a friend of hers has also been acting strange in much the same way, so it's off to investigate this new dude!

But it's only the wife who's home. After some rather unconvincing lies about how her husband Kit is just having a normal decompression after coming home from overseas, she confesses that he has been acting weird, and thirsty, and all that. But what does it all mean? Before the boys can try to figure that out, they run into Cole, who happens to be friends with this wife, and wants to know what the Winchesters are up to, as it never seems to be anything good. They want him to skedaddle, but he has some nice army connections that can give them good intel, so he gets to hang around.

Said intel includes a video of the overseas mission those two army guys were on together, attempting to rescue a POW. But the POW basically attacked them when they were trying to get him, so they ended up killing him. At least that's what is implied. Alas, this does really give them much information to go on, so they really need to find that dude Kit. Cole gets a call from the wife cluing him into a secret cabin that Kit may be at. Instead of telling Sam and Dean about it, though, he tries to be sneaky and go off to check it out on his own. Because, you know, he doesn't want them to kill his buddy. Oh Cole. Oh silly Cole.

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x15 'The Things They Carried' by freshfromthe.comAt least Dean and Sam aren't stupid enough to fall for it, and know he's up to something, so they follow him to the cabin. And good thing, because Kit is there, and attacks Cole. But he doesn't kill him, instead he goes full ick and opens his mouth, dropping out this worm parasite thing right into Cole's mouth. Uh oh. The brothers are too late to stop this, and Kit also manages to get away. But now Cole is infected with this parasite thing, and while the easiest thing would be to just kill him and be done with it, they're not so into that idea. You know, saving people being one of their family mantras.

Sam goes off to try to track down the wayward Kit while Dean stays back with Cole. First they try shocking Cole a bunch, since that worked with the last ear worm thing they encountered, but it's no good. But, since the parasite seems to love water, they decide the best way to try to get it to leave its host is to dry it out, so they turn the cabin into a veritable sweat lodge. Cole struggles to fight against the thing inside him taking over, which is clearly a mirror of Dean fighting the Mark, etc. Though they do struggle, and Cole tries to attack Dean a couple times, eventually the sweat lodge works, and the worm comes back up Cole's gullet to be foot-stomped by Dean.

Meanwhile, back at Kit's house, Sam is not so lucky. Though he is able to tie up Kit for a time, he manages to get free. The only way for Sam to protect himself and the wife is to kill Kit. Right before Dean calls him up with the good news about the sweat lodge, too. Poor Sam feels terrible since he was not able to save the guy, but again this is supposed to be about him being able to accept that he might not be able to save Dean in much the same way.

Cole is back off to go be with his family, and possibly return another day. And that's all she wrote!

 
Random Thoughts:

- Sam, why do you deny Dean his cake? Homemade cake at that! And Dean, why don't you just take some of it and spite Sam? Who cares! It's cake! Ahem.

- I'm not the biggest fan of Cole as a character, but what about everyone else? I feel like the fandom isn't vehement one way or the other, but then again, I may be off base.

- I don't have much to say about this episode, to be honest. Though it was thematically relevant, it was kind of a filler episode in terms of overall story. I mean, that worm thing coming out of Cole's mouth at the end, though, that was pretty gross.

Quotes:

Dean: So I'm gonna keep doing what we do, while we still can. And I'd like you to be there with me.

Dean: And you bought him dinner.

Cole: At least I get a medal for my efforts. But you, I tried to kill your ass.

Dean: All right, let's fire this puppy up.
Cole: You say that like it's just another Tuesday.
Dean: Oh buddy, it's only Monday.

Cole: Guess I've seen it all now, huh.
Dean: Some. Not all.

Previous Episode

Monday, March 16, 2015

Banana Blondies

 Recipe for Banana Blondies by freshfromthe.com

I was a bit reluctant to make these blondies. Not because I didn't think they would be delicious, but because it's been in the 90s here in Los Angeles. Yeah, I know, some of you are still inundated with snow and are probably like oh poor you with the 90 degree weather! But, it's hard to justify turning on the oven when it's that hot, and you don't have air conditioning. 

Not so fun fact about LA: If you want an affordable living situation, you will likely not have AC, a dishwasher, or laundry in your own apartment. If you want to go live in the valley where it's even hotter than 90 degrees, sure. But, bleck.

Recipe for Banana Blondies by freshfromthe.com

Despite my reservations, though, I decided to heck with it, I'm going to make these things. And I'm glad I did. They are so good! The recipe I saw these at originally had an additional frosting element, but man I feel like that would just overload the sweetness factor for these. They are already pretty sweet (but not too crazy sweet or anything), so they don't really need that extra frosting business. Of course, if you are wanting these to be more of a dessert, then by all means, get on that frosting.

But I think what we all know and love about any baked recipe that has bananas in it is this - it is always nice and moist. I hate a dry bar more than anything, but these are anything but dry, and still cooked all the way through. The original recipe said to put in foil and then spray that with cooking spray, but I said pish posh and just sprayed my pan. Turned out just fine for me. I hate wasting foil and such when it's not needed. I also didn't use a mixer, just a bowl and a spatula, to make these. So you know they are even easier than normal!

What are you waiting for? Get on it!

Recipe for Banana Blondies by freshfromthe.com
Banana Blondies

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (approx 1 medium banana)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray; set aside for now.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and brown sugar until combined.Then, mix in the egg and vanilla extract until fully incorporated. Stir in the salt, flour, and banana until batter is nice and smooth.
  3. Pour that into your prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake that in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the middle is set.
  4. Place your pan on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, dig on in! 
Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups via Smitten Kitchen
Recipe for Banana Blondies by freshfromthe.com

Friday, March 13, 2015

King of the Nerds 3x08 "The Nerdtastic Finale"

I think one of the things viewers of this show enjoy is when they can sort of play along with the nerds on TV, testing their own nerd knowledge. At least, that's something I personally enjoy quite a bit. Tonight's finale was no exception, with multiple games to satisfy everyone's cranium.

But, before all of that, it was time for the ousted nerds to come back and swear their fealty to who they wanted to see take home the prize, as well as be able to help in one of the final competitions. Kaitlin was able to snag Colby and Ori, Lily got Amanda and Todd, while Jonathan got Heather, Jacob, Thomas, and Raychelle, leaving Ben with... well. No one. Basically, everyone said they thought Ben was well-rounded enough on his own and wouldn't need any outside help. But would that prove true?

The first competition to cut the numbers in half was sort of a quiz bowl type thing. They would be presented with a random trivia question, whoever buzzed in first would answer. If they got it right, they got a point, if they got it wrong, another player would then be able to buzz in to answer. The two players to get to five points first would move on. They were also allowed to use each of their helpers on one question. Jonathan and Kaitlin shot forward to early leads, but then Ben started to pick up steam, and Lily got a few right as well. But, it was Ben, without any help, who got to five points first. Who joined him in the final competition? Jonathan, beating out Kaitlin when she got a little too buzz-happy.

After spending a night together getting wasted and making out with each other (or at least some of each other), it was time for the final battle of wits to decide who is the new King of the nerds - this time an actual king. This final competition was the best out of seven, whoever could win four of the games first would be crowned. Each of the games were a bit different, some of them more head-to-head, others more of an individual puzzle.

Jonathan started off strong with two wins in a row, one playing speed chess, and another playing the Tekken video game. But then Ben started to make a comeback, besting Jonathan in a crossword puzzle and a logic puzzle where you're given clues to figure out what goes where, basically. Very similar to these puzzles I used to do for extra credit in math class. Yeah, I did extra credit in math, shut up. He also beat him in this math equation thing that you would've thought Jonathan would've had in the bag. Next up was a game of Connect Four, which Jonathan had to win in order to stay in the competition...and... he did! Which left the final game to decide their fate. And it was some kind of logic grid thing called a griddler. All in all, it was pretty close, with Jonathan messing up on his first try, but in the end he managed to pull it together and take home the win!

So, congratulations to Jonathan, who I sort of predicted back in episode two had the potential to go all the way. Do I like when I'm right? Um, doesn't everyone? Ha ha ha.


Also, random side note that I didn't want to divulge until the show was over - my boyfriend has actually played the Game of Thrones card game with Ben a few times, so he knew who he was from the start. Actually pretty funny as he also knew Ivan from season one from college. What a small world, huh?

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