Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Supernatural 10x23 "Brother's Keeper"

Here we are at the end of a decade of Supernatural. That sounds completely insane, especially given the fact that it basically means I've been living in Los Angeles for a decade as well. Where has the time gone?

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x23 'Brother's Keeper' by freshfromthe.comI digress. We're here to talk about Supernatural, not my own life milestones. After an entire season all about ridding Dean of the Mark of Cain, things finally came to a conclusion tonight. I thought to myself as this episode was playing that there probably wasn't anything the show could do to surprise me anymore. And, to be honest, I'm really not that surprised by the ending, but that's not to say that I didn't like it. It looks like the brothers will be getting back to more of the working together to take down evil stuff rather than this save one another from something stuff, so that's at least something.

Anywho, let's get to the actual recap of it all. Sam is still hellbent on getting the Mark off of Dean no matter the cost, and you know that by using the Book of the Damned, there will certainly be a cost. Rowena has translated what is needed to do that thing, but it's not going to be easy. And her new terms for cooperating? She gets to go free, with the codex and the book. A bad idea, which Castiel voices, but Sam is in no mood. So just what do they need to work the spell? The forbidden fruit (a quince, apparently, not an apple), the golden calf, and the sacrifice of something the person casting the spell loves. That last bit appears to be the toughest part of the spell, because Rowena seemingly doesn't love anything. Or does she?

Meanwhile, Dean is off working a case brought to his attention by another hunter, Rudy. Dean is not in a very sharing mood, and basically takes over the case, and in not so nice a fashion. He ends up saving the missing girl in question, but in the process ends up getting Rudy killed by basically taunting a vampire. Or was the kid just a kid? I think he was a vampire. Anyway, yes, Rudy was killed. Dean is feeling very morose about letting a fellow hunter die, and decides to take things into his own hands with the whole Mark business.

What does that mean, exactly? Why, he calls up his old buddy Death. He wants Death to kill him for good this time, and rid the world of the Mark. But Death is like ummm dude, no. Turns out, the Mark is actually some sort of stopper against some even bigger evil than heretofore seen, called The Darkness. Basically, the Earth was overtaken by said darkness millennia ago, God came and smote it with his angels, and created the Mark as a way of keeping it at bay. He gave the Mark to Lucifer as a safekeeper, but the Mark corrupted him, so God had to send him to Hell. Lucifer then gave the Mark to Cain, who gave it to Dean, etc. Basically, Death could take the Mark off of Dean, but unless he wanted the darkness to take over again, he would have to pass it on to someone else. Dean doesn't want that, so Death gives him another option. That is, he can take Dean to some other realm to live, and leave the Earth in peace.

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x23 'Brother's Keeper' by freshfromthe.comDean is all for this plan, and calls up Sam. Sam happens to be in town as Rudy had called him up earlier on when Dean was acting rude. He heads over to hear this big plan. Death has also basically told Dean that in order for this whole thing to work, Sam must also sacrifice himself, because if he took Dean away, Sam would still work at trying to find him, thereby endangering the world. It's a bit of a flimsy argument, but whatever. Dean and Sam have some talky time that leads to fisticuffs that leads to Sam eventually agreeing that he will sacrifice himself for the greater good. So Death hands Dean his scythe to do it, but... wait! You know Dean can never kill his little brother. He takes that scythe and at the last minute turns it on Death himself. Uh oh.

Back at wherever they have Rowena holed up, Castiel has called up Crowley for help in getting the items on the Mark removal list. He agrees, mostly I think to stick it to Rowena, and actually finds the one thing she ever loved. Apparently, back in the day, she was nursed back to health by a Polish family after fleeing Scotland, and took to their son. He was deathly ill, so she repaid their kindness by healing him and giving him everlasting life. Crowley finds him, that guy from that diner he visited recently, and brings him to Rowena. Will she sacrifice the poor sap to work her magic?

You bet she will. She stabs the poor guy in the neck and uses his blood for the spell. After she's done the spell, she traps Crowley and Castiel in their places, takes the codex and the Book of the Damned, and puts some kind of spell on Castiel to sic him on Crowley. It appears to be the same one she did to those girls earlier in the season, with the bloody eyes. But Cas is an angel, so... hmm.

The spell she did, however, works in getting the Mark off of Dean. It zaps away in a hiss of lightning, leaving his arm all nice and shiny. The brothers head outside, thinking all might be well, when lightning starts zapping all over the place, and dark billowing smoke shoots out of the holes and starts coalescing together. They run for the Impala to try to drive away from it, but it gets stuck in a pothole. Damn lack of road maintenance, always ruining the fast getaway.

And, as the darkness engulfs the Impala, the screen goes black. Until next season...

Random Thoughts:

- Who knows what The Darkness actually entails. The black smoke is very reminiscent of demon smoke that we've seen a great number of times, and it seemed to be shooting up from the ground. So it would seem Hell is some kind of stopgap for the darkness, and now it's going to run amok or something? Hmm.

- What does it mean that Death is dead, so to speak? Will souls still be reaped? I mean, there are other Reapers, but it does seem like it would set things out of order, or like someone else would be called upon to be Death (it seems like it would be Dean since he was the one to kill Death with his own scythe).

- That Mexican restaurant looked very much like the old Roadhouse to me. Same set?

- How was there a chair blocking the door from the inside that hotel room if Dean wasn't inside, hmm? Did he really go to the trouble of setting up that chair and leaving through a bathroom window if he was just leaving Sam a note with the keys to the Impala? Maybe I misinterpreted that chair, but whatever.

- Last episode, Crowley seemed to say that he was returning to his evil ways, but I'm not so sure that's entirely the case. It's still not quite clear what his goals are, and those may shift now with the release of this darkness stuff.

- I'm never sure if I really want to keep recapping the show anymore. It's lost it's luster for me that it had in seasons 1 thru 5, in fact I would probably put all of the seasons after five behind those first ones, which is saying something when that was only half the show's life at this point. I suppose I will keep watching to the bitter end, but it does get difficult to care very much. Anyway, I'm just rambling.

Quotes:

Dean: I'm good. I'm good.

Crowley: Who summons anymore. Couldn't you call?
Castiel: You're not in my contacts list.

Death: Don't tell me that's queso.

Dean: So Genesis was a lie? Shocker.

Crowley: A long, long time ago there lived an ugly bitch. Sorry. Witch.

Crowley: It's only cruel if you actually go through with it. Though, who's the cruel one then?

Sam: You'll never, ever hear me say that you, the real you, is anything but good.

Dean: I think I just killed death.

Previous Episode

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Supernatural 10x22 "The Prisoner"

For those of you thinking that the Styne family was going to be the next big bad, I guess, uh, think again? For such a big, bad family that's lasted generations, they seemed to go down pretty easily once Dean was focused enough. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself again, aren't I?

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x22 'The Prisoner' by freshfromthe.comBasically, Dean is pretty pissed after last week's episode where, you know, the terrible decision was made to kill off Charlie. He pretty much blames Sam for the whole thing, since he was the one who brought her in to try to help decode the book of the damned. While he treks off to find the Stynes and go to town, he tells Sam to stop the whole business of looking for a cure. Or, rather, pretty much orders him to. Because that's always going to work well.

Nonetheless, Sam does go to see Cas and Rowena with the intention of stopping the whole thing, but when he receives the files from Charlie containing the decoder for the book, he decides no, Dean has literally gone to hell and back to save him, so he's not going to stop. He sends Cas off to look after Dean and tells Rowena to get to work. Only Rowena wants her end of the bargain struck now - for Sam to kill Crowley.

Sam, equipped with devil's trap bullets, the magic knife, and a hex bag from Rowena, manages to trap Crowley...for a bit. Though Rowena's hex bag is supposed to kill him, he's just too powerful of a demon for all that. And this murder attempt is going to come back and bite Sam in the butt sooner or later, because it turns out Crowley was acting more docile on purpose, in an attempt to feel something again. But Sam's reminder that he's just a big, bad monster serves as nothing more than a push back in that direction. He burns up the hex bag and, though he could kill Sam, decides to spare him so he can send a message back to Rowena that she's number one on his shit list.

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x22 'The Prisoner' by freshfromthe.com
Meanwhile, Dean heads to Louisiana in search of the Stynes. He gets pulled over and arrested just as he gets to town by some obviously shady cops who are working for the Stynes, but that only serves as a minor detour on the way to his destination - the house of the family Styne. Though he is met by an ambush of sorts once he gets there, and the manage to knock him out and get him strapped down to try to do some experimenting on the boy who can't die, Dean of course rockets into badass Mark mode and full on kills everyone in the house. Oh boy. Cas shows up just in time to see the leftover carnage, and calls up Sam to let him know of the damage, and that Dean's headed back to the bunker.

That's bad news for some of the other Stynes, who headed to the bunker themselves to ransack and burn down the joint. Among them is one of the younger, less evil-inclined, Cyrus, who earlier in the episode was forced to do some nasty stuff to a bully. He's not so hot on the family business, so when Dean comes in and kills the other two guys with him, he pleads with him to spare him. He's not evil like the rest. Now normal, regular Dean probably would've been fine with this. But Mark-crazy Dean decides that he's some kind of monster still, and just kills the kid.

Cas shows up just after this happens and they have a bit of a confrontation, wherein Cas basically tells Dean they're going to keep trying to get rid of the Mark, because in the end he'll be the one who has to watch him turn darkside over the years. Dean decides to teach Cas a lesson and beats him up a bit, sparing him the angel blade in the end, but seemingly only just. Dean, you're really not selling your compatriots on the idea that you're fine and dandy when you act like that, you know.

Well, until next week's finale...

Random Thoughts:

- I was thinking to myself, where is that Cyrus kid from? I knew I'd seen him somewhere before, and it turns out he was on Being Human. Connor Price, for those wondering. He's been in kind of a crazy amount of stuff when you look at his IMDB profile, actually. Surprised I haven't seen him in more.

- Is this really the last of the Stynes? I mean, there could be quite a few more of them around the world, I suppose, so perhaps they will come after Dean for killing the USA chapter or something.

- Everyone keeps bringing up what the price could be for using magic from the book of the damned to remove the Mark of Cain from Dean, but no one has so far had any conjectures about what it might be. Any ideas from the peanut gallery? It seems like it would have to be something pretty major. But you know they're not going to kill Sam. I suppose they could do a surprise twist and kill Castiel, but that seems unlikely. What's worse than either of those two things for Dean? Someone worse getting the Mark, like Rowena? Hmm.

Quotes:

Rowena: Eh, hello? Anyone wanna tell me what's going on?
Sam & Castiel: No.

Castiel: I'd be happy to kill her. She just called me a fish.

Officer: They're practically gods around here.
Dean: Yeah, well I kill gods.

Sam: By the way, she said to tell you - she should've taken the three pigs.

Dean: So you can save me the speech on the three hearts, the two spleens, the seven nipples... for the ladies. Or the fellas. I don't judge. But even with all that, you still only have one brain.

Previous Episode -- Next Episode

Monday, May 11, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies

Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies by freshfromthe.com

 I know I've made some Heath Toffee Bits Cookies before, and in fact those are one of my most popular recipes on this here blog, but I saw this slightly different version around the interwebs, and knew I had to give it a try. Was I disappointed? Um, no. How can one be disappointed with a cookie that has chopped up chocolate chunks and bits of toffee? Yeah. No.

Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies by freshfromthe.com

I went a bit cheapsies on the chocolate this time around and just used Hershey's dark chocolate bars. I looked at some of the more expensive chocolate, but dang, that was really expensive for some cookies. I mean, like three times the amount or something crazy like that. Cookies are always better with truly high quality chocolate, but these are still super yummy if you decide you don't want to fork over nearly $20 for some good chocolate.

The toffee bits you should be able to find at your local grocery store, though not Trader Joe's, and probably not Whole Foods either. Your regular Ralph's, Safeway, Kroger, etc. should be good to go, though. Sometimes certain ones have the regular bits o' brickle toffee, while others have the toffee/chocolate combo. For this recipe, the regular bits are recommended. But if you can only find the others, I suggest trying my other toffee bits recipe.

Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies by freshfromthe.com

These are a definite must bake if you like toffee. I had some friends over and they each ate quite a few of these babies, so they are a crowd pleaser as well.

What are you waiting for?


Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies

Ingredients
  • 14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (coarse if you have it)
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup toffee bits
Cooking Directions
  1. In your mixer, beat the butter and sugar until blended, for about three minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  2. Add in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, mixing for a minute for each egg.
  3. Add int the baking soda and salt and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Turn the mixer on low and slowly mix in the flour until it is just incorporated.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chunks and toffee bits, preferably by hand.
  6. Chill the dough for at least a couple hours or up to two days.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350F. Make sure your rack is in the middle. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  8. Scoop your dough out evenly. You can make them extra large or regular-sized. Keep the rest of the dough in the fridge so it stays chilled while you bake these for 10-12 minutes. The edges will be browned and the middle just set. Let that sit on the pan for another 4 minutes to set up, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
Recipe via Cookies and Cups

Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies by freshfromthe.com
 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Supernatural 10x21 "Dark Dynasty"

Sigh.

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x21 'Dark Dynasty' by freshfromjenI just... sigh. Really? You finally have a likable female recurring character on the show, so of course the best thing to do is kill her. I know it's "finale time" and all that, so the stakes must be big and whatever, but personally I'm disappointed that they killed off Charlie. One more time: sigh.

But fine, I'll get to the recap, because that's what I do. Sam recruits Charlie to help decode the Book of the Damned, because Rowena is having a tough time, as apparently the codex is also coded. He calls in Castiel to help keep the peace between the two, while he goes back to help Dean on a case and pretend like they aren't doing all of that in secret.

The case they're working on this week brings back the Styne family from some episodes back, who are in search of the book. In performing a ritual, one of the sons, Eldon, kills a girl and leaves the body along with video of him jumping from three stories and landing perfectly fine. You know, not weird and suspicious at all. The brothers catch wind of this, but the Stynes are on the lookout for them as well, and try to corner Dean while he's out getting pizza. Dean kills one of them, but captures Eldon.

Meanwhile, back at the mysterious wherever-it-is place where the other three are working on the book, Charlie is getting rattled by Rowena's many comments about her. And it all started to become clear here that they were heading in the direction of killing her, even though I didn't want it to happen. While Castiel takes Rowena into another room to giver her some space, Charlie decides to be an idiot and bolts to go to a motel for true alone time. Seriously?

Recap/review of Supernatural 10x21 'Dark Dynasty' by freshfromjen
Because back with the brothers, Dean is getting some information out of Eldon that seems rather hokey, but whatever. Apparently Styne is actually short for Frankenstein, and the family has been around for centuries causing mayhem for their own profit. He also lets slip to Dean that the book can't be burned. So, Dean leans into Sam about it all and finds out the truth - that he's been secretly working on a way to get rid of the curse. Dean is rightly pissed, especially after Eldon escapes. After, you know, just tearing off his arm.

He tracks down Charlie to the motel she is holed up in just as she is able to crack the code. Though she manages to get the Winchesters on the phone, and they tell her to just give the dude what he wants, she instead uploads the code somewhere and then destroys the computer. She holds out a knife to defend herself against Eldon, but the dude is all Frankenstein-y, so when the brothers show up to save her, they're too late. And time for another sigh.

Meanwhile, Crowley is a bit bored and talking to the woman Rowena transformed into a hamster some episodes back. The hamster tells Crowley about some person who is involved in something or other, and sends one of his minions off to find said person. At this point I still have no idea what Crowley's end game is here, and this didn't really help things.

Random Thoughts:

- Well, is anyone else as disappointed as I am that Charlie died? She was one of the few lighter characters in this dark Supernatural world, and I'm kind of pissed they killed her off.

- What exactly happens if they do manage to get the Mark off of Dean, anyway? Aren't there some kind of consequences? You know, a price or something? They were hinting at always needing a balance for things in life, so what would the balance be here?

- I don't really know what Castiel or Crowley's goals are at this point. Rowena just kind of wants to cause havoc and get rid of the Mark and Crowley himself, but the other two guys? Yeah.

- If this family has been around so long, causing so much havoc, how have they remained under the radar from hunters and the like? Sure, the Men of Letters had stuff on the Stynes, but they didn't connect them to Frankenstein or anything. Seems like something they would have connected.

- Two more episodes to go. I'm not even sure what I'm hoping for.

Quotes:

Sam: So now we need to break a code... to break a code?

Dean: They helped Hitler get started, and God knows what else. Probably disco.

Charlie: Of course, he doesn't know. Jeez, the two of you.

Rowena: Hell's Bells. More distractions. Which are you, witch or nerd?
Castiel: Angel.

Castiel: When I was human, I grew very fond of these pork rinds.

Crowley: Fail on pain of infinite pain.

Previous Episode -- Next Episode

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jumbo Blueberry Streusel Muffins

 Jumbo Blueberry Streusel Muffins by freshfromthe.com

Berry season is upon us, friends. Ripe and plump and lovely berries are popping up in groceries, and I had to pick up some blueberries this weekend. I've made some blueberry baked goods in the past with the Summer Berry Bundt Cake, the Blueberry Crumb Bars, and the Raspberry-Blueberry Muffins, to name a few. This time I went for something more traditional with a straight up bakery-style jumbo blueberry muffin. I included some streusel topping here too, as I think everyone loves a streusel topping, but you can of course make these without. I did one without the topping so you can see what that looks like too.

Jumbo Blueberry Streusel Muffins by freshfromthe.com

The nice thing about baking with blueberries is that you can always take some that are not quite ripe yet, not really great for eating straight from container to mouth, bake them up, and voila! They are transformed in the baked good into sweet and tart deliciousness. I went for the jumbo variety here, because I have a nicer jumbo muffin pan than a regular-sized one, and because, duh, you get to feel like you went to a fancy bakery and got yourself a nice big muffin. Only you can make this super easily at home. You probably have all of the ingredients already waiting to be used in your kitchen.

Oh also - I didn't do it this time around, but a fun thing to do with streusel is to fill up your muffin tin halfway, stick some streusel in there, then fill up the rest, then stick some streusel on top for a double dose of streusel goodness in your muffins. Totally up to you! This recipe is pretty dang versatile. You can substitute other berries and get great results too. And, yes, if you want to make regular-sized muffins, that works too. You just have to adjust your baking times to be a bit less and take out that initial five minutes at a higher temperature.

Jumbo Blueberry Muffins by freshfromthe.com


So what are you waiting for? If you're a fan of blueberry muffins, you should definitely give these a try at home rather than buying one of those jiffy box mixes. You can use frozen blueberries here, too, so it's easy to do any time of the year!




Jumbo Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Ingredients
  • FOR THE STREUSEL
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, semi-melted
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • FOR THE MUFFINS:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (can substitute regular milk if needed)
  • 1/2 cup oil (canola, vegetable, or melted coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine your streusel ingredients with a fork until coarse and almost sandy. Set aside for now.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together your flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon for about 20 seconds.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar until combined well. Whisk in the oil, milk and vanilla. Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix carefully by hand, making sure not to overmix. Just make sure you don't have any big bits of flour. It'll be nice and thick and slightly lumpy. Then, fold in your blueberries.
  5. Pour your batter into your prepared muffin tin, filling all the way to the top. Then, sprinkle the streusel generously on top. Bake at 425F for five minutes. Turn the oven down to 375F and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden and the centers are set. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before enjoying!
Recipe slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Jumbo Blueberry Streusel Muffins by freshfromthe.com