Merry Kitchmas!

First, I would like to riff on last week’s post with a video of Alton Brown reviewing some ridiculous single-purpose kitchen accessories. Shining above the rest in how much it it makes us shout, “Whyyyy?” is rollie, because someone actually thought, “You know what would make my life better? If all my food came in tubular form.”

This year I’m baking a cheesecake, a recipe my mother modified to use dark chocolate making it a hundred times more flavorful than anything I’ve had at the Cheesecake Cafe. (I’ll add the recipe to this post along with pictures later.) The last cheesecake I baked was one of my best, due to the pizza stone I shoved in my crappy old oven to help regulate the temperature, as well as the crust I made from scratch.

I used to use Oreo crumbs, as everyone else does, but when I dug the box out of the back of my cupboard I noticed its best-before date was sometime in 2012. Good thing I tasted before using them, because they no longer tasted like food at all. The desiccated crumbs tasted of nothing but bitter chemicals that made my lips slightly numb. I was damned well not going back to the store, nor giving Nabisco anymore money for that crap, so I spend over a couple hours trying to find a substitute recipe online.

It was ridiculous. Almost every recipe out there calls for pre-made cookie crumbs. I wasn’t about to spend a bunch of time making chocolate wafers only to crumble them up then add extra butter and sugar to bind them together in another form. As I said, it took a couple hours, but finally I found this recipe. It turned out better than any cookie crust I’ve ever made. It’s funny how it’s called a “mock” cookie crust, seeing as cookie crusts probably started out as mock crumbles. But, as I said, cookie crusts are now so ubiquitous it’s difficult to find a recipe for making them from scratch.

As a final note, the complete antithesis to what I’m doing has to be this miniature hamburger kit from Glorious Nippon. It’s another video that makes me go,“Whyyy?” It probably takes twenty minutes to assemble, in meticulous detail, this tiny abomination they dare to call food. I can see a kid enjoying it exactly once and, after tasting the first flavored playdoh hamburger, letting the rest dry out to become proper play food instead of trying to pass it off as something edible.

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Pier 1’s Tasting Spoons are an Abomination

I’ve had this misshapen lump of inert matter shoved in the back of my cupboards for a few years, after receiving it from people I didn’t know who were hosting a Christmas dinner and felt they had to give everyone something. It would have been better if they’d given us nothing – they’d already served a nice dinner after all. Why spoil it by foisting junk on people? I admit I didn’t receive it well, with a quiet exclamation of, “Tasting spoons? What the hell?” It was an obvious regift, bought by the kind of idiots who buy idiot junk for other people thinking, “I’m sure they won’t have this!” Yes, I’m sure no one would have set of “tasting spoons” because it’s possibly the dumbest fucking idea ever conceived out of a brain-diseased foodie’s asshole.

I’m going to sound like a total ingrate, because we’re all supposed to receive gifts gracefully no matter how ill thought out they are. No matter how much of a burden they’re inevitable to be, cluttering our cabinets while serving no function other to annoy us with their existence. My hatred for this shit can’t be measured in magnitudes of any scale. There is no hyperbole large enough to contain it. If you share with me the idea that all things should be either beautiful, useful, or otherwise consigned to the scrap heap, join me on my joyful rant as the yule tide floods us all with more crap we never knew we didn’t want until it lands in our laps with a shiny bow and dares us to confront the void of brain-dead consumer spending and the society that pisses away people’s lives to make literal garbage. Fa la la la la la…

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Wastefulness: the Eighth Deadly Sin

The movie Bedazzled (the original with Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore) had a scene where the devil complained of his lack of creativity since the old days in coming up with new sins, listing advertising as the only one he’s come up with after the last seven. I can think of one more, and find the absence of wastefulness among the originals disturbing. Besides greed its one of the greatest sins destroying us today.

Wastefulness is so commonly chided, it’s surprising not to see it listed in any religious texts (so far as I know). It’s related to greed or gluttony, but it’s not quite the same thing. Greed means accumulating more due to excessive want, but wastefulness is the lack of want. It’s not giving a shit about the things you have. Gluttony is closer, when it means over-consumption, but again it seems to assume you actually consume all you take rather than acquiring it only to throw it away.

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Bad Game Design: Limiting Play

There’s nothing I hate more, when playing a video game, than being railroaded. When a game tries to force me along a set path at a set rate, I only go kicking and screaming. Being cattle prodded is not fun to me, and what else would I be playing for? (Well, besides pain management, because gaming is something I only do when I feel like utter crap – it’s an easy way to crank up the endorphins.) The worst form of railroading is setting a ticking clock to artificially create a sense of urgency. It’s fine for casual games like Bejeweled, because there’s nothing to focus on but a few shiny tiles, but in a game where the devs built an interesting world to explore, rushing the player through it is bullshit.

The only thing I bought from the Steam Sale this year is a package of all the old Fallout games for less than ten bucks. I was feeling nostalgic, but one thing I wasn’t nostalgic for was the time limit on the first game in the series. My brother bought it back around its time of release, and I wouldn’t touch it for that reason. I played the second, which didn’t have a time limit, and enjoyed the hell out of it. I only went back and played the first after they removed the time limit in the patch, because by then the game developers realized how much it was a bad idea.

For you see they added all this cool crap you could get as you gained levels, but the original game wouldn’t let you get much past level 12 before the entire game world went up in flames due to a hidden timer that destroyed one town after another as you wasted time, you know, having fun playing the damned thing. They originally designed the game for the type of player who burns through the main quest and doesn’t give a crap about anything else. Then they realized, after tons of people complained, that there was a whole other type of player who likes building a character, exploring, and generally dicking around. These were the people who enjoyed it as a game rather than an interactive movie where you get to shoot things on the screen until the credits roll.

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