Category Archives: Geeking

Marshmallow Meringue Frosting

Filipino-style mocha cake with coffee buttercream and dark chocolate coffee bean candies and sprinkles

The cake I sent with Rhys for his birthday. Delicious and was devoured to rave reviews, despite its’ flaws.

So, I made a Filipino-style mocha cake for Rhys’ birthday, that he took to work. It was delicious; but because I kept getting interrupted (by external reasons, lots of phone calls, etc) it ended up a bit denser than normal. Apparently everyone got excited seeing the cake and thought it looked at tasted ‘absolutely amazing.’

However, both Rhys and I knew I could do better. So I made a devil’s food cake, (2 layers, 8 inches each) and decided that it should have a marshmallow meringue frosting, and dark chocolate drip ganache topping it, that he will take with him to work.

Devil's food cake with marshmallow meringue frosting and dark chocolate ganache

Better effort, with Rhys decorating it this time.

 

Rhys got keen on frosting the cake to be brought along, so he did the frosting on this one that I’ve taken a photo of up top. The chocolate ganache is pooled at the bottom ‘because yum.’ I love that man. ^_^

I had Vincent make a cake for practice a few days ago, to teach him the correct order in which one adds melted butter into a cake, versus accidentally cooking the egg added into a cake and it tastes awesome, but was very crumby (it’s also devil’s food cake). The leftover marshmallow meringue frosting is slathered on top like a fluffy sugar cloud. Kiddo’s learning a lot this school holidays; baking cakes, cooking dinner, assembling a whole workstation class computer from scratch with very minimal help (only putting on the liquid cooler and the thermal paste) – and it worked perfectly!

Devil's food cake with marshmallow meringue frosting

Son’s practice cake, now with frosting =9

But, as you can see, it makes a lot of frosting (that’s a 10 inch single layer cake) so it probably has enough for a 2 layer 9 inch cake.

I like using a little bit of cream of tartar to get the egg whites started on frothing before I put them in the double boiler, but other recipes don’t include it, so you may omit if you like.

Print Recipe
Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
Use as a frosting, or as a layer on top of a cake and then cover with ganache, use on top of a mousse or top and sear with a kitchen blowtorch, or pipe, or blop on for a casual, fluffy but engaging frosting style! Makes enough to frost 2 layers of a 9 inch cake, with enough to spare.
Course dessert, frosting
Servings
Ingredients
Course dessert, frosting
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Start by boiling water in a large saucepan, enough to heat the bottom of your bowl. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer.
  2. Mix together the egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla, until lightly frothy, in a bowl, using a handheld electric mixer with the whisk attachments. For ease and sanity, I tend to use the same mixing bowl that my stand mixer uses. When slightly frothy, place bowl in the water.
  3. Moving the speed of your mixer to high, mixing all the while, add the sugar, either shaking it in gradually from your bowl or 1/8 cup at a time. Make sure it is dissolved.
  4. Mix for 7 minutes, on highest speed, moving your mixer's whisks around to make the marshmallow white and silky.
  5. Immediately move the bowl to your stand mixer, tapping out the leftover meringue from your whisks into the bowl. Beat on the highest speed your stand mixer can do for 10-12 minutes.
  6. Use as desired; on your cake, sear with a kitchen blowtorch on top of your pie or mousse, etc.
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Exciting new developments in development

I’m very excited to have stumbled across this article, which talks about tests being done with extremely premature lambs transferred to artificial wombs. While the tests were done with lambs, it is quite easy to see how this could benefit human neonates – premature babies.

While (the first link) is titled about how the new technology ‘undermines abortion’ – which is something that the referred to bioethicist discusses – I’m very excited about the potentials that this technology brings, as it has great positive potentials for both medical reasons and societal reasons. (For my previous articles on my science-based observations against the ‘blob of cells’ lie, see Moral and Informed Choices and Let There Be Light, the latter of which is a scientific observation of what occurs at the moment of conception.)

First, this is fantastic potential for expectant parents who have had their children born too soon, ‘before viability’ – they now have a chance at life and being saved, and could be put on life support. Doctors wouldn’t have the excuse any more to claim that this child is not viable; and as technology progresses, this line could be moved further and further back (as I have predicted previously.) There may be a point in time where true artificial wombs will come to be, which could then benefit infertile couples and/or homosexual couples without the need for a surrogate mother (which could then eliminate the battles and troubles regarding surrogacy.) What effect this might have on the development of the baby itself (the baby does hear and develop quite a bit as an individual from things like what the mother’s voice is like, the mother’s heartbeat, what she eats, etc) could and likely will be of some concern,* but that is neither here nor now. For the moment, this new technology is a much-needed one to save the lives of wanted children, a lifeboat, so to speak, that will help the the extremely premature move to the greater viability stages of development. Protection of the extreme neonate from the external environment’s demands, which the neonate is unable to withstand by itself, has had surprising discoveries – like the ‘sandwich bag solution‘. Kangaroo care has been seen as very beneficial to the prematurely born baby, and is most famously known for reviving the stillborn son of Kate and David Ogg. (Yes, I am aware that the little boy was very likely to have only stopped breathing a very, very short time before; the procedure would not be beneficial to those babies who had passed well after the brain-death stage of time limits.)

Further, this gives a great potential option for babies who need to be born prematurely; such as c-sections required because the mother has severe pre-eclampsia or other medical issues that could threaten the health of both mother and the child, avoiding the tragedy of having to choose between one’s life and one’s child. While I do not think it would be possible, at present for this to apply to ectopic pregnancies, it certainly could apply to women whose babies can be moved to the new form of life support.

Secondly, this gives a third option for those children who are unwanted, or are wanted by the non-gestating parent – ergo, fathers. Women now have the potential to have their cake (to choose to no longer be pregnant, abort their pregnancy) without the death of the child being necessary (and metaphorically have that cake without guilt). This has a number of secondary benefits that the abortion industry is unwilling to acknowledge – that a number of women who have had abortions have mental health problems post-abortion. This has great appeal to me, not ‘just because it doesn’t kill the baby’, but Continue reading

New Game Console

So, my son Vincent decided that he was tired of playing the XBox One, XBox 360, the PS2 and the Nintendo 64 and the DreamCast,  … and he had a Christmas gift card he hadn’t used yet. He decided on a new game console, suitable for 2018 gaming.

That’s what he came home with.

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Cyborg Prosthetics Has Ongoing Development

As much as I like Ghost In The Shell, in truth, the very idea of merging organic musculature and nerves with machinery has been something I’ve been having problems conceiving. Fortunately for the rest of the world, Japan is not limited by my knowledge of biochemistry and mechanical engineering. A robotic finger uses it’s lab-grown muscles to lift an object – which might not seem like such a huge advancement to people expecting, but most people don’t really think about how complicated joint control, muscle movements and neural signals are – until they lose the ability to use their hands.  While primitive in appearance, the advancement in artificial muscular response to electrical stimuli is still a large step forward in not just partially organic prosthetics, but also potentially in purely organic repair of muscle function – at least in my view.

While full limb biohybrid mechanical prosthesises are still far off, this new development opens up the possibility of (relatively) small advancements that can be practically applied. As I’ve noted above… fingers are very complex, and you don’t miss them until you don’t have them any more.

A Visit Back To The Mother Country

Wedding couple at the San Augustin Church

The wedding had all the ceremonies observed; we did our parts too!

 

The family all visited the Philippines for the first time in 6 years; for my youngest brother’s wedding. It was a short visit, hectic – but ultimately fun and wonderful. I sadly didn’t have time to interview my Mom for stories as I would have liked (so I can start writing those family stories), but she had fun being Lola to her (currently only) grandchildren, and ‘spoiling her baby daughter’ – so I have a load of daster dresses (yay!) and having Rhys and I eat with her at her new favourite food places. I went home with the intention of being able to eat some of the foods I seriously missed while overseas, and while that ambition was partly fulfilled, I feel rather sad that I didn’t get to sample more of the smorgasbord that is Filipino food and restaurant variety.

The Tombstone Hamburger Stack challenge

We didn’t have the time (it was late at night) to try this challenge, alas.

(To our amusement, the kids simply adored Jolibee, though Vincent found the burgers ‘too small’, and Rhys could eat three Filipino-sized servings of food by himself.) I didn’t get a chance to eat fishballs, or Goldilock’s Cathedral Windows, but I did manage to have some Red Ribbon (and introduced Vincent to the joys of mamon, that fluffy Filipino angel food-sponge.)

I did bring home lots of powdered juice mixes and Mom, upon finding out that Nescafe Berry Coffee was something Rhys – the consumate tea drinker – deeply enjoyed, made it a point to ensure that her only son-in-law had a package of single-serves to bring back to Australia. Note to self: next time, bring even LESS clothes, and bigger suitcases for the children, because while I sent home two balikbayan (return to homeland) boxes full of pasalubong (‘welcoming’ gifts) we got given so much there’s a huge plastic chest of stuff we couldn’t fit on our baggage allowance (30kg per person) that Mom says she’ll send in parcels – with more food things that we liked, but didn’t get a chance to bring home more of. (Waah, I realised just now I left behind my little cookies with the little drop of hard icing on top. I wanted to nibble on those while on the plane ride home!) The pasalubong will mostly go to folks my Mom knows; as they’re mostly ‘thank you for taking care of my Mom for me’ appreciation gifts.

I will have to learn to make taho myself though. =/

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Aff’s Opinion Reviews Nier: Automata

Copyright: Square Enix; used here for illustrative purposes for a game review only.

 

Shadow’s Note: Aff wrote this for me some time back, and then shortly afterward, we got buried in being busy. I found this on my desktop and decided to go ahead and post it.


So I haven’t written anything in a while (injury, lack of free time), and Shadow suggested I review a game I blew some of that free time on.

It’s extremely rare that I buy a game for single-player content. Truth be told, that wasn’t exactly why I acquired it – NieR: Automata was added to my Steam account because the box art character looked interesting… and by interesting I mean she looked very hot. Continue reading

Life imitates Game?

Back when I was in college/early days of working, there was a little game called Pandemic. It had a quirky premise: you are a disease, and your goal was to kill everyone on the planet, before they shut down flights and ships, and before someone created a vaccine and started inoculating people against you. It was a fun little game that you could do while doing homework especially if you were doing several typos and needed a short break. Surprisingly, it was actually conducive to productivity since you had to wait a while before your mutations and evolutions took effect and while you were waiting, you could keep working. I introduced this game to several of my online friends, and since we’re of the geeky and usually rather busy sort, this was a game with plenty of appeal. We could let it run in the background while we were typing up homework or researching, and then take little breathers. If I had to come up with an equivalent, it’s like running for 15 minutes then jogging for 5.

Screenshot from Steam; this is the current version of the game.

Now, if you were playing on Normal and up, you would get a random country to start in. Pretty quickly we found out that if you started ANYWHERE but Madagascar, you couldn’t win the game, because Madagascar would shut down its ports and airport at the slightest hint of epidemics. My AIM messages over a while were variations on “Dammnit, Shadow, I hate you for introducing me into this game, it’s awesome, but FUCKING MADAGASCAR.” Yeah, it was that fun, and I laughed a lot, because I knew the other person was also getting work done.

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Books Old and New

So, my son literally (hahahahaha see what I did there?) devoured every single Matthew Reilly book I have, except for The Tournament. He barely had put down The Four Legendary Kingdoms and was already looking for more. (He was VERY upset with what happened in Scarecrow.)

So I gave him what I had of Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, scraped together the money for  Games Wizards Play and it arrived just as he got through The Wizard’s Dilemma. I read GWP first of course, but hesitated on giving it to my son initially because of the sexuality/relationships subthemes. Son has a puppy-love girlfriend, but he isn’t mature enough yet for the more complicated hormones-sexuality-etc soup; and since I’d told him to come to me and ask if he had any questions, the introduction of a couple of young openly gay characters wasn’t something I was sure I’d explain just yet. So I went to have a chat with my son about the book.

Turns out though, he already knew that ‘gay’ = people who date/fall in love with the same sex, so while he doesn’t know/care about the nuts and bolts of it, he knows about that. (How, he’s not really sure. Kids pick up stuff.) Since Games never goes into more detail than ‘he’s/I’m gay/have a boyfriend’, I changed my mind on that score. Since we were talking about it already, I explained, very simply, what asexuality was, since that crops up too. (Son knows basic biological scientific sex; e.g. what makes a baby.)

I know there are some folks out there who will scream ‘censorship’ but, quite honestly, sod off. My son might be more emotionally mature than most kids his age (the death of two siblings will do that to a child who’s old enough), or perhaps a bit smarter (reading will do that) but I am pacing what he reads based on what I observe he’s ready to handle, or understand properly, or understands so he can properly enjoy or react to the work.This is a kid whose level of relationship is that ‘you’re boyfriend and girlfriend if you like each other and kiss and hold hands.’

In much the same way I wouldn’t hand him any of Anne Bishop’s books, and I love her writing, and am waiting until he’s a bit more mature before I give him any of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series, and going by current development, the boyo might not read the Monster Hunter Memoirs books until he’s 14 or 15.

Toward that end I’m trying to get my hands on hardcover David Eddings books; and trying to find the first trilogy of Dragonlance.

It’s rather interesting that most of my book purchases of late haven’t been new release books, but trying to hunt down older ones. I prefer hardcovers now because they’re more durable and stand up to re-re-re-re-reading. I got lucky and found a Domes of Fire volume that has Larry Elmore’s art on it.

This is the reason why ultimately, my Dragon Awards nominations are rather sparse.

Best Science Fiction Novel : Star Realms: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz

Best Fantasy: Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners by John Ringo & Larry Correia (I know Larry recused himself from further Dragon Award noms, but John Ringo’s still game for it)

Best YA novel: Would have voted for: Games Wizards Play – Diane Duane (released too early to qualify; first half of 2016)

Best Horror Novel : Etched in Bone – Anne Bishop

Best Graphic Novel: Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card

Best Movie: Dr. Strange

Best video game: Would have voted for: Nier: Automata (released too early to qualify; first half of 2016)

Best Mobile Game: Would have nominated : Shadowverse by Cygames or Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag

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Bringing the past to life

I thought I’d share this link I saw on the Daily Mail, because, well, it’s rather cool.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4424682/Colourised-photos-Russia-s-female-snipers-WW2.html

And well, I’ll cheerfully admit that I like pictures of lovely ladies with weapons, especially firearms. Especially tough birds like these! (And, for those folks who don’t know, I’m female. =p )

They’re doing a really wonderful job of colorizing the old photos, really bringing to life the past. How awesome is that?

The Illusion of Memory

Recently I watched two sci-fi movies that I deeply enjoyed; Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, and the live action version of Ghost In The Shell starring Scarlett Johansson. Despite vastly differing source material, they touched on related themes. Memory – or what is perceived as memory, also played heavily in the movie The Arrival. All of these were excellent movies that I highly recommend watching, as they both entertain and, for me, are incredibly good science fiction stories, full stop. Speaking of stopping, if you haven’t seen these, you’d probably want to stop here.

(Spoilers abound, you’re forewarned.)

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Transforming Furikake Gohan

So, I finally got around to making a chicken aspic, inspired by the second episode of Shokugeki no Soma. If you haven’t seen this anime, here’s the particular segment I’m talking about.

This isn’t my recipe, but I’ve been wanting to try this ever since I saw that segment above. The recipe is included in the manga and has been posted on the Internet; and other people have tried doing it before me.

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Cake and work area

I’ve been busy RL with things; one of them is making my son Vincent a Minecraft themed cake. It’s not Pinterest worthy; but eh, he was happy with it and considering that I’ve never worked with fondant before, or done anything with fondant other than eat it, I’m okay with the way it turned out. The cake itself was yummy and fluffy and the children were greatly entertained by the fact that the sparklers were set into the TNT block’s ‘fuses’.

The other thing I did was to rearrange my workspace again. I’m rather pleased with how it looks so I took pictures.

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Elven Bread v2

 

So, over the holidays, I remembered to finally cook up some elven bread to share with my in-laws; taking advantage of the fact that my brother-in-law has a lovely wok to deep fry with. I try to cook dinner at least once or twice when we visit, and that night I commandeered the kitchen for a full dinner, and while it was cooking, whipped up dessert for that night (chocolate cake), a leche flan as a gift to my brother in law, (he also got the recipe) and a batch of elven bread to leave to rise overnight.

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Star Trek Bridge Crew and cheese eating Vulcans

I love how randomness can result in my finding out about something rather cool.
Such as Star Trek Bridge Crew.

I make no secret of the fact that I play Star Trek Online. I’ve got a toon I started I thiiiink around New Romulus arc, then I made a Delta Rising character, and an Agents of Yesterday toon. (When the next arc starts, I am likely to make another toon because of rumors that it’ll center around Section 31.) Anyway, the current event that’s ongoing is the Mirror Universe Invasion; and we finished it on most of our toons today. Continue reading