Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Round Up

For a while now, I've been feeling like I want to give this here blog a makeover. So, last weekend I worked on creating a more streamlined look for it. I was getting a bit sick of the purple background. I also updated the background logo with the pie inside of the TV, as my old logo was a more old-style television, because back when I started this, LCD TVs were only just barely starting to become a thing. Yep, that's how long I've been blogging in this little corner of the interwebs. It's hard to believe sometimes that I've been doing it for so long. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if anyone even really reads it. Lately it seems hard to get any traction, not that anyone reading this actually cares about any of that, or wants to hear about it. But sometimes it does feel a bit like talking into a void.

Anyway! Let's move on. Have you all seen this spinning disk thing? When you stare at the moving lines, you start to see colors inside the middle lines. But the interesting part? Everyone sees different colors in it! What colors do you see? The first time I looked at it, I saw a mix of red and tan, with one eye seeing more red than the other. Now when I look at it, I only see the tan in both eyes. Is that weird or what? Seriously though, let me know what colors you see! Fascinating.

I'm sure most of you have done the Myers-Briggs personality test at some point in your life that describes your particular personality type. There was a new quiz floating around the web this week featuring a similar test, with far less questions to go through to get your result. I seem to vary in these things a little bit, but this time around I got ISTJ, Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging or "The Duty-Fulfiller." Sometimes I will get an N or an F in the middle bit, but I do always get the I and J portions. What type are you?

In keeping with my astronomy-related news in these round ups, I have another one for you today. Apparently scientists have found a signal coming from the sun that could be dark matter. You know, dark matter? That stuff that apparently makes up most of the universe but thus far has been impossible to detect? Yeah, it's a bit of a weird concept. Basically, there must be some other matter we can't see making up a huge portion of the known universe to make things work the way they do, otherwise things wouldn't make sense. I mean, when you think about how astronomers used to think that the Earth was the center of the universe, it's amazing to think what else we could discover. If only the government wasn't limiting NASA funding, though. Boo.

Speaking of the government, have you ever wondered what it would be like to be President of the US? Personally, I would never want the job. And apparently it really does take its toll on those who have been in office. Check out these portraits of presidents at the start and end of their terms. It does age them quite a lot, right? Although the FDR one isn't necessarily as fair considering he was president for twelve years rather than only eight.

That's it for this week! BTW, if any of you are so inclined, do me a favor and like my Facebook page? It's at I also just set up a Bloglovin account thing, which seems much more involved than Feedly, which I've been using as a blog reader up until now (you know, since Google Reader went kaput, sniff). Anyhow, you can follow my blog on bloglovin here if you are into that!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brioche Buns

Homemade bread is not always the easiest beast to tackle, and certainly not for those who lean impatient. When you have to wait at least two hours before the stuff is even in the oven, that takes some patience and dedication. The recipe isn't really that difficult, though, so at least there's that! And after all of the waiting, the end result is definitely just what we were hoping for, for once. Let that dough rise, and rise, and rise, seriously! You want it to be nice and light and full of air pockets, right? Right!

Ours also took longer because we had put all 8 rolls on one pan initially, which would've meant they baked into each other rather than forming nice separate buns, and separating them onto two pans meant they got deflated, so we had to let them rise again! Yes, lots of rising time for us. I put in my instructions to separate them onto two pans, but if you don't care about them touching, go ahead and leave them on one pan.

These buns are ostensibly meant for burgers, which you can see a photo of below, but I will say we definitely ate some straight out of the oven (after cooling, duh), and they were bready goodness. Of course, I love myself a good bread, so you will be hard-pressed to find me turning down any kind of bread product. Anyway, yes, slice them up and turn them into burgers, or BLTs, or perhaps even just a nice turkey sandwich. The burger below has a beef patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, romaine lettuce, a mayo/ketchup sauce, and it would have had pickles as well, but apparently we got a bottle that was not properly sealed so.. no pickles for us. But still, this burger was rich and, dare I say, decadent, in no small part to the addition of the homemade bun. I mean, SO much better than one you just buy at the store in a plastic bag.

What I really discovered in the making of these buns was the power of the dough scraper. I got one last Christmas and I'm not sure if I've used it since then, but I can tell you it was definitely a lifesaver with these buns! The initial recipe didn't say to spray the bowl before putting your dough back in to rise, and it would've been a sticky issue if not for the power of the dough scraper. Super handy! You can also use it to help in your kneading process as well, by scraping any sticky bits off your counter/cutting board/whatever you use and then slapping that dough back onto it. That way, you don't have to add quite as much flour, which is important. I would also recommend getting a good thermometer for when you put your yeast in the "warm" milk/water situation. Ours took a bit longer to foam up, but I'm not sure if it's because the liquid was too hot or too cold. So temperamental, that yeast!

Brioche Buns

  • 3 Tablespoons warm milk
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • sesame seeds (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. In a glass measuring cup, or a bowl, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar, and let stand for about five minutes, until foamy. While that's going on, beat one egg. It's best if warm = 105-110F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together your flours and salt. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper (your new best friend), stir in the yeast mixture and beaten egg until your dough forms. Scrape that out onto a clean, well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. The dough is going to be pretty sticky and messy, but try not to add too much extra flour or your buns won't be quite as light. Some is fine, just not a lot.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. You can always spray your bowl with some non-stick spray to prevent it sticking to the sides here as well. Cover that with some plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, which can take one to two hours. Some tips on rising below.*
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using your handy dandy dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange on your baking sheets, 4 to a sheet, so they can be 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated in non-stick spray and let those rise in a warm place again for another one to two hours.
  5. Set a large shallow pan of water on your oven floor (this helps to keep the buns from getting too hard on the outside, I suspect). Preheat your oven to 400F with your rack in the center. Beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water and brush that on your buns. You can sprinkle with sesame seeds here, if you so desire. Bake, turning your sheet halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can do one pan at a time here, as it's ok to let your second pan keep rising in the meantime.
*Okay, if you are having trouble with getting your dough to rise, here are a couple tips. One, you can try turning on your oven to its lowest temperature for a few minutes, then stick your dough in there. That may start to cook it just a little, so if you don't want to do that, another tip is to heat up some water in a saucepan, and stick that along with your dough in the oven. That gives it a little extra heat/moisture to get the rising process going.

Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Supernatural 10x03 "Soul Survivor"

How long until his arm is okay?
Well, that was quick. For being touted as the "Year of the Deanmon," Dean sure wasn't a demon for very long. Oh, sorry, am I giving the end away? But let's be honest, we all knew Dean wouldn't stay a demon, it was just a question of how long it would take until he was turned back. The answer? Three episodes. I know everyone was wanting Dean to get back to his old self, but the whole demon storyline feels like a bit of a waste so far. Hopefully it will have more resonance as the season continues, but who the heck knows. This show doesn't always excel in resonance.

Anywayz, let's get down to business. As you may recall from the last episode, Sam managed to get Dean back to the Men of Letters bunker, thanks to Crowley basically turning him over. Sam is determined to use the demon cure on him, which is basically just shooting him up full of human blood. I think it has to be blessed blood or something? I am not so much on the up and up on the whole demon purification process. The point is, Sam starts sticking Dean with human blood, Dean does a lot of yapping about how Sam isn't as innocent as he seems (it turns out Sam was the one who led the dude from last week to sell his soul to a demon, in order to get information on Dean's whereabouts), blah blah.

Down in Hell, Crowley is rather bored at doing his job, which is basically trying demons for treason and killing them. The demons are getting rather annoyed at his lack of fatherly compassion, leading to one even dousing himself with lighter fluid (or is it the holy oil stuff?) and setting himself on fire. For some reason, this makes Crowley want to help Castiel, which we'll get to in a moment.
As has become tradition, Jensen directed this episode.

Meanwhile, Castiel is trying to reach the bunker to help Sam. He is looking pretty worse for wear, though. He and Hannah stop at a gas station, only to be jumped by the angel Adina, whose angel bestie/lovah they killed last week or the week before or whenever it was. She manages to somehow wallop Hannah with some massive punch that leaves her moaning on the ground while she can get to beating down Cas. But, Crowley comes just in time to save the day. He steals Adina's grace and gives it to Cas. So that problem is temporarily solved.

Which is good timing for Sam, because back at the bunker, Dean has gotten free. Apparently he had enough of the human blood working in him that the special cuffs and the devil's trap didn't work on him anymore. However, he is still feeling the demon spirit, so he goes hunting after Sam. Sam uses his wits to try to keep one step ahead of Dean, which only results in Dean nearly slamming his head in with a hammer, and Sam having to put the special demon-killing knife to Dean's throat. Of course, Sam could never kill his brother, so he's lucky that Cas shows up just in time to help him out.

And, together, they manage to finish the blood purification ritual, and return Dean back to his human self. Except there is still the whole Mark of Cain thing to deal with, but for now Sam just wants to get Dean some cholesterol and get drunk. As I'm sure most people would. Dean seems rather wary of the whole situation when he talks with Cas, but it's hard to tell just what he is thinking or feeling at this point.

That's... pretty much it. Oh, except for this ending bit. Cas basically tells Dean to take it easy as things are pretty quiet at the moment, only for the show to end on a red-headed woman in a room, drinking some kind of brown alcohol, with two men impaled on the ceiling above her. The new big bad, we presume.

Random Thoughts:

- What exactly is Crowley's goal anymore? He doesn't seem to care about Hell, really. He decided to save Castiel, but for what purpose? It's hard to say if Crowley is really "evil," though I suppose that is kind of the appeal of his character.

- Castiel basically shut down Hannah on the romantic front before anything could even get started. I confess, I actually like the prospect of a romance between them, particularly since the show is so starved for any kind of genuine romance ever. It's not just some girl introduced who automatically has a history with one of the boys, but rather someone introduced over time. Much better.

- Could Dean go demon again? Just from lack of killing with the Blade or only if he were killed again? Obviously they have to deal with getting rid of the Mark as well, but I'm sure that will come in time.

- Next week's episode really just looks like it could come from any season anywhere. Hopefully this is not the case, but it does feel a little jarring to have a monster of the week episode right now. Though, I'm not sure what else they could do. Hmm. It just makes the last three episodes feel a little superfluous. I mean, am I wrong?


Dean: Sammy, you know I hate shots.
Sam: I hate demons.

Crowley: It's Hell. You wait. It's what you do.

Hannah: Castiel, if these are metaphors and you're attempting some kind of human communication, it's not working.

Crowley: Why can't you people just sit on clouds and play the harp like you're supposed to?

Dean: What does Sam say? Does he want a divorce?

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Round Up

The above photo is from the abandoned town of Kitsault, British Columbia. Apparently, the town sprang to life when there was a mine of some kind nearby, but then it was completely abandoned only 18 months after being established. So established that it had a movie theater, a library, grocery store, hospital... but everyone just completely left. The crazy thing is, the power to the town has been left on for nearly 30 years since it was abandoned. Most of the time when you see pictures of abandoned cities, they look desolate and terrible and trashed, but this place? No. It looks pristine. Apparently caretakers go in and upkeep the town in case it could ever make a comeback. I mean, it is rather beautiful, right?

Were you an English major in college? I was. But of this list of the 14 books every English major has read, I've only read... four. Um, yes. Only four. And one of them was completely independent of school, actually (that would be Jane Eyre). The others were never assigned in any of my English classes over the years, interestingly. I read way too much Charles Dickens for my taste, a lot of the Shakespeare dramas, and even more novels from the 19th century from both America and England. Like, Huck Finn, The Scarlet Letter, Wuthering Heights, that one about the girl that had Reese Witherspoon in the movie that I was constantly falling asleep reading, uh.. uh... Vanity Fair! I will say, however, that I always finished every book for my classes. It didn't even occur to me to not do that. I did not, however, watch every single movie in the '70s cinema class I took while abroad in Ireland. Whoops.

Sometimes, I will randomly get Sirius XM for free in my car, and when I do, I inevitably turn it to the '90s station, sometimes with a little '80s thrown in. But, I almost always know every '90s song, while sometimes they play obscure '80s music that just does not interest me. Anyway, this list goes through 21 supposedly terrible songs from the '90s that everyone secretly loves. But, come on, Everybody (Backstreet's Back) is just a catchy dang song. Can you really call it terrible? I do, however, agree with the inclusion of Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden, and no I do not secretly love that song. I have always hated that one. HATERZ GONNA HATE!

In less pop culture-y news and more just sad news, apparently we may be getting more drug-resitant UTIs because of the meat we buy? Egads. Basically, too many antibiotics are being put into the animals, and they are similar to the antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections, so the more you get the antibiotics in your system, the more likely the infections will develop a resistance to them. So let's just add this to the list of terrible things Americans do to their food. Ugh. It really is hard to buy groceries that are actually healthy these days, which is super annoying.

This is going to sound like a shameless promotion, but I promise it's not. My mom posted a song the other day on Facebook that one of my brother's friend's created with his band. I was like sure I'll check it out, not expecting much, and what! It's amazing! Of course, I am really into the whole electronic indie sound, so maybe I am a bit biased, but it sounds like a professional song regardless, and he just recorded it in his home studio. Anyway, you should check it out. Mermaid in China is the name of the band, which is maybe a hokey name, but the music is quality. Some of it has kind of a '70s vibe to it as well. They have five songs, but my favorite of the bunch is The Average Man.

Listen to their music below:

I will, however, end with a shameless plug of my own, and ask you to like my Facebook page if you haven't yet. - I would super appreciate it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Supernatural 10x02 "Reichenbach"

In last week's premiere, we got a sneak peek at the new Dean. It wasn't quite clear just how much of a demon he was, but this week the show delved even more into the new dark and twisted soul that inhabits the elder Winchester, with interesting results. But let's back up a bit.

In case you forgot, Sam was picked up by some mystery man with a mysterious past with Dean. That man turns out to be a dude named Cole. Apparently back in 2003, Dean killed his father. Of course, the kid didn't know that his dad was probably either a monster or possessed or something, so he's been training to come take down Dean ever since. Sam tries to convince him that there's more to the world, you know, monsters, but the guy is not having it, instead focused on torturing Sam to get info on where Dean is. So, Sam steals his rather conspicuously dropped pair of keys with a handy dandy knife on it and hightails it out of there to keep looking for his brother.

Some shiners for poor Sammy.
Dean, meanwhile, is still hanging around in the Dakotas - is he feeling somewhat sentimental or something? Like, because he's kinda near Bobby's old place? In any case, Crowley wants him to sate the Mark some more. Supposedly how this works is, yes, Dean is a demon, but if he doesn't keep sating the Mark by killing with the blade, then he'll get more erratic and crazy demony. O-kay. So, Crowley sets him up to kill this cheating wife. Her husband made a deal to sell his soul if they would kill her. But, Dean gets sidetracked when he goes to do the deed, instead satisfying all the women of the world by killing a man who started going on about how it was okay for him to cheat, but not his wife, because it's, you know, biological for men to do that.

Crowley is less than happy about this development, to be sure. He wants Dean to do his bidding, more or less, be one of his demon buddies. But Dean is all not so much. He wants to do whatever he feels like. Crowley has had enough of the surly behavior and points out that Dean is teetering on the edge between being a demon and being human. Dean says sayonara to that scene, leaving Crowley to pine over good times past.

Now you may be wondering, what's going on with the angels? Oh, you weren't? Yeah, me neither, really. Cas is still feeling sick, he ends up running the car off the road and blah blah. Basically this amounts to Hannah going up to talk to Metatron to find out if there is any of Cas' grace left. Metatron claims there is, and wants to make a deal, but Cas shows up in time to stop her. However, it does seem like the grace is out there somewhere. Now Cas just has to find it.

Still handsome even as a demon.
Back in the Earthly realm, Sam has managed to track down Dean. He wants to take him back to the bunker and work the demon cure on him, but Dean is not into that. However, Sam's plan to saunter over and put some devil's trap cuffs on Dean is stopped when Cole shows up, throwing a smoke bomb in the joint. Cole confronts Dean, who does not remember in the slightest who he is, and they "fight." Or, really, Cole tries to fight and Dean kind of swats him around. But, instead of killing him in the end, he lets him go (after showing him his demon eyes), which gives Sam enough time to throw some holy water on Dean and get him in the cuffs to take him back to the bunker.

Sam meets up with Crowley to give him the First Blade so Dean can't use it anymore. Crowley makes like this is good news for Sam, and that he's over Dean, but I'm not so sure. Didn't he say that Dean will go even crazier demon if he doesn't use that thing? Is that his secret plan? Hmm. Because next week does not look so promising for Sam, that's for sure.

Random Thoughts:

- Did they change the coloring back to more of a darkened feel and not quite so colorized? Back to basics!

- Cool transition from Dean punching someone to Sam being punched in the face.

- That past scene with "younger" Dean - ha. I mean I guess it looked pretty convincing, since he was supposed to be a couple years younger than when the show started.

- When Cas finally gets his own grace back, will that be the end of angel politics? Please?

- That picture of Crowley and Dean together was hilarious. I laughed out loud at that one.

- Why doesn't Hannah just do the wooshy transport thing with Cas? Can he not handle being teleported or something?

- Please let's be done with the Metatron storyline. The last thing I want to see is him getting free.

- Sam talked about how they can cure a demon with the blood magic stuff. Does that work when the person isn't possessed? It seems like it would be different, but who knows. How long do we think the Demon Dean thing is going to keep going? Are you liking the storyline so far? It certainly adds a new layer to the show that hasn't been there in a while. I also enjoy his new hair.

- Demon Dean, however, does not care about his beloved Impala. Regular Dean inside must be pretty pissed.


Sam: It's holy water.
Cole: Holy cow.

Sam: I guess the Mark... it messed him up somehow, I don't know.
Castiel: That is a vast understatement.

Crowley: So how you been feelin'? On edge, pent up, unfulfilled?
Dean: You sound like a Viagra commercial, you know that, right?

Lester: Yeah, I know what an alibi is. I watch Franklin and Bash.

Crowley: Hello, Bullwinkle. You miss me?
Sam: So much.

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