Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Well people, it's that time of the year. Or rather, it's been that time of the year for a month now. We have a sort of love/hate relationship with Christmas too. It can actually require some effort to get through your standard Christmas holidays, both for adults and kids. For us grown ups, it's a time when work (or school) is intensified, lots of projects has to be finished. Then there's the expectations others have from us. For many it's the only time they see the extended family, and that's usually a good thing - both to see people you're related to, and that it's an entire year until next time. For kids, it's just a massive surge of emotions - combined with a lack of restraint. If I base my knowledge of how kids behave on Christmas on my nephew, I'd say this is very accurate. But then again he's a very good kid who rarely exhibits unnecessary greed you often assume kids have during the holidays.

In the past, Christmas has always been about two things: Good food, and cool toys. Hey, what did you expect? I doubt I get any toys for Christmas this year, and I haven't treated myself to any either. But I got home my collection of G.I. Joe collection from the museum, toys I haven't really seen for two years. So I guess that's almost filling the "toy" part of my expected Christmas. I also took the liberty of giving nisseluer (santa hats) to Jetfire and Snake Eyes.

Food wise, I can expect something that follows tradition. I will celebrate with my family, and we have usually always had reindeer steak on Christmas eve, with lemon fromage for dessert. Pork ribs on Christmas day, most likely with chocolate mousse for dessert. The picture to the right is from an earlier year.
I've continued to make confect, with varying degree of success. I will post something about this at a later point.

To all who read this, I hope you are able to relax, and be with good people during the holidays. I honestly believe that the most important aspect of the holidays is to recharge for the next year, and the second most important thing is to be with people you like. Anything else like great food and drink, entertaining presents should be considered a bonus.

I will probably not be posting until January 2nd, as I'm going to visit friends, and hopefully find a mountain to descend. I may see if I post some pictures of varying holiday meals, but I'm not sure how interesting it will be without any related recipes.

Have a good holiday, people! Be safe, relax, enjoy your time family and friends.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bread Rolls

Like with the bread, making bread rolls is very easy. They take less time to make, and come in natural portions. You can for instance freeze them, and thaw 1-2 for breakfast every day for the entire week. Or if you're getting company, they come in handy as a side dish to dinner.

Read on for recipe and pictures!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs are (is?) really easy to make, and takes less time than to boil the eggs... or does it?

Read on for.. well not necessarily a recipe, because I assume you know it already, but read on for a few pictures.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Figure Friday: Lego + Tolkien

Well, it's been all over the net today, and even though I don't feel the need to spread news like this, I'd like to make a few comments. When ever a the big companies make a movie or game they know will be popular, they shop around for companies to make spin-offs. For my part, I instantly think about toys and action figures as the most important spin offs, but it's easy to forget that for ever popular movie there's just a pile of random stuff with the movie name written on it. Anything from napkins and pens to cups and jewelery will be made with the logo of The Hobbit. And everything is to a certain degree collectible.

I say to a certain degree for a reason.

I have a friend, who of course will remain anonymous, who has a complete collection of Lord of the Rings action figures. These figures were examples of toys that for some reason fell between two chairs. They were obviously aimed towards collectors, as they were of the 6" scale, sporting both extreme details and a fairly high price tag in expense of play features and the stuff kids want. But they were produced in such a massive quantity, and all the die-hard collectors bought five of each figure. So, since these weren't exactly kid friendly, there will always be a massive amount of pristine LOTR figures standing around on shelves, or even better, lying around in unopened, mint condition.  
At the time they were released, they were something like $10-30 a piece, depending on where you lived. Today, you can get them for a dollar or two.
Action figures are tricky. In order for them to become really popular and - more importantly in this case - a valuable collectible, the companies making them need to either produce a limited quantity, or make something that the kids want as well.

But that's not the case of Lego. I believed I have mentioned this before, but even Lego based on movies that are bad, tend to be great. I mean, it's Lego after all, you can never go wrong with Lego. If the set is uninteresting, the parts can still be used for anything you can imagine.

When it comes to Lord of the Rings, we know the movies are good, and we can expect some pretty epic stuff from the upcoming Hobbit movie as well. And has there ever been a world that's better suited to be built in bricks than Middle Earth?
I'm more exited for this than Marvel Lego... And that's actually saying a lot.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fish with spices

Boring title?
Well, dinner can be boring. Dinner is more often than not something you just need to make out of necessity and not because you're feeling creative. Even if you're making your best to keep the mindset to experiment every time you cook, you can still have those days where it's just food. It's just fuel for the engine. And those days, you might just as well just grind all the ingredients into something liquid and gulp it down.

Here's the result from such a day. Fish (it's really inconsequential what kind, but it's pollock) with three different spices. This is me trying to force myself to do something different. Coriander is a common spice to use for fish, and I guess I'm not taking big risks with the other two either: Oregano and chili.
There's not really a lot more to say about this particular meal, but I can say how I would improve it if I had been in the more creative mind state.
First of all, I should have made a sauce. A mild sauce (bechamel is a good choice here) since the fish is naturally salt, and the spices are on the more tasteful side. Secondly, instead of having them in the frying pan, I could have baked them. And finally, I would have added some nuts or pine cores, either in with the fish or in the salad. Potatoes? Rice? Sure, why not, if I was making food for more than myself, this would have been obvious.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I have never made soft caramel, or fudge. In fact, I'm a bit scared to even try. You're dealing with melted sugar, which is extremely hot, and sticks to everything. In addition, the home-made caramel I've tried in the past is just not nearly as good as the one you can buy in any store for cheap. So why make it yourself?
Naturally, my mind set is different these days. I can answer the above question very easily. I'm trying to make things myself, because I honestly believe that nothing is good to the point where it cannot be improved. Even Toffifee.

By accident (or at least that's what she claims), my sister made caramel that she was satisfied with. She brought some over, and I have to agree. Not bad at all. It doesn't have that unnecessarily strong taste that home-made caramel has, and it was soft, yet not too sticky.
She says the recipe was: Brown sugar, butter (or margarine), low fat cream, maple syrup. And I'm probably forgetting something... But I'll try this myself in the near future, because this is excellent to use in confect.

I used to believe this was not possible to improve, but who knows?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Figure Friday: Starman

An excellent comic - in fact, one of the truly great modern comic books, with a fairly unique take on the superhero genre. With a main character that shares characteristics with myself, it's no surprise that I like it.
But again... an action figure that bears the marks of something made in the late 90s.

Read on for Jack Knight, Starman. The protector of Opal City.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Marzipan Confection

As Christmas closes in, you start thinking about cookies, candy, cakes... and confect? The odd one out, it seems. I rarely hear about other people making them. But maybe it's not that strange. Dark chocolate paired with cognac is usually something kids don't like, and Christmas is all about the kids, right?
What follows today is actually not that difficult, but it takes a little while to make properly, and it can get really messy. But the end result is oh so delicious, and will impress most people.

Read on for marzipan confect.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Collecting and cooking

I can attest to having more than one hobby. I can attest to having more hobbies than I write about in this blog. But it never crossed my mind that I approach my hobbies in similar ways. I think I do. And I think most people do. Something a bit different, a bit more meta. Lots of pictures on Wednesday, but today is text only.

This isn't necessarily a comparison of the choice of hobbies, because you can be interested in two completely different things. This is something I expect anyone with more than one hobby to understand. I think it's healthy to be interested in more than one thing.
This article is rather about how two hobbies are being treated in similar fashion.

Those of you who know me personally are fully aware that I like to collect stuff. Not just toys. I don't want to go into all the various things I collect, but I'm susceptible to start collecting pretty much anything I find interesting.  Among other things, I guess that makes me a materialist, but it's not that simple. When ever I get into something new, I usually start by acquiring knowledge, and usually end up with sharing the knowledge. This should be no news to anyone who has read this blog, as something like 30% of the articles are toy history.

But I know I differ from many other collectors in a few ways.
First of all, I love to show off my collections. This is apparent, right? But it goes further than to just show pictures of my stuff. I want to tell the stories about behind the items. Both my own stories and those that follow the item no matter who owns it. I see far too many people who are satisfied boxing up their collections for people to never see them. Or people who are not interested in sharing their passion with anyone. Sure, it doesn't work to constantly talk about it, but to hide it completely from others is to deny people seeing you for who you truly are. What we're interested in is part of what defines us.

Be proud of having a passion. Be proud of having something you're interested in. Be it sports, fishing, baking, listening to music, writing poems, anything.
I very much think that a collection - an affection for anything really - is something that can, and in some cases should be shared. I guess this is the first point where I treat both collecting and cooking in similar fashion, since I write about both these hobbies right here.

Another way I think I'm different from a few other collectors is that I don't feel the need to complete a collection. I don't feel my collection is less worth to me if it's missing certain pieces.

Case in point 1: I have a collection of Transformers robots. It counts something like 40-50 robots, and is by that number alone a rather small collection. But I'm satisfied with it. It consists of some of my favorites, as well as those I have just liked the look of. I pick up additional pieces if I feel like it (which for some weird reason is during summer), but for the most part, I don't feel like my collection of robots needs to be bigger.

Case in point 2: Since the start of Masters of the Universe Classics, I've subscribed to the toy line from Mattel, and for that reason I have most of the figures. But not all of them. Even though I was there when the line began, and I had the full possibility of having a complete collection, I just don't feel I need to.
This leads me to believe the concept of collecting is of less importance to me than the actual items and the stories behind them.

Make no mistake about it, I absolutely love to see others with dedication and economy to mass up complete collections. I have friends who can boast of having every single G.I. Joe figure ever released. And I honestly find that impressive. But I'm not there myself. I'd rather have a small collection with a certain theme and idea behind it, than everything. Is it an economy thing? Maybe. Is it a space thing? Probably. But even if I had a bottomless wallet and garages to fill, I don't think it would change a thing.
Maybe if I had a museum to fill, but then the point would be to share a collection with others - something I'm obviously interested in doing. 

Can this, the lacking need to have complete collections, in any way be compared to how I approach cooking? Well, some of you have seen how inaccurate my recipes are. And that's how I cook. Following a recipe is good to a certain degree, but I'm more likely to just wing it.
But that's not saying I don't care about what I make. I take great pride in being very precise when I cook. Not with following the recipe, but rather how I treat the meal I prepare, how I treat the ingredients, how I present the meal.

Case in point 1: I barely gave a second thought to the distribution of ingredients when I last made a bread, I just filled the bowl with a suitable amount of various things I know works in a bread. But I used a long time doing it the proper way - with kneading, leavening, and I had a certain focus in every step of the process. I also took a great pride in the finished result.

I also tend to not focus on one specific type of food. You have seen everything from bread, breakfast and tea to soup, bbq, meat and fish. This is probably why I'll never be a great chef - I get too distracted with trying new things for me to learn specifics properly.
And I guess you can say the same about my collections. I'm too distracted with my latest affections to ever assemble one of those truly epic collections.

Is this diversity a bad thing?

I don't mind at least.
Hope you don't mind either. Because on Wednesday it's time for something that I've never written about before: Marzipan confection.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Figure Friday: Spy Monkey Creations

I'm picky when it comes to my toys, but I'm not a purist - I don't need to have things just the way the factory made them, if I feel it can improve a toy, I have no problem taking a paintbrush to it. That goes for the accessories that come with the toys too. I display my toys with what ever accessory looks best on them, even if they come from a completely different toy line.
Last week, I presented you with the first of several topics on bootleg toys. Today I'm not highlighting a bootleg or fake toy, but a small and awesome company that makes completely original accessories for toys.

Read on for more on Spy Monkey Creations!