December 17, 2014

Dark chocolate and pumpkin swirl cake

My cousin got a free copy of Better Homes & Gardens. Since we both love everything pumpkin, she passed it on to me with the instructions to bake us some pumpkin goodness. First up was the cover, dark chocolate and pumpkin swirl cake.

I'd say this was more of a quick bread than a cake. It called for an orange glaze, which I didn't make. This was incredibly easy - and that's the only reason this recipe is going to stick around. My family went nuts for this. My cousin went so far as to say this was one of her favorite things. So, I guess I'll keep making it for them. But it's not great. It's okay. I found that neither the pumpkin flavor nor the chocolate flavor was particularly strong.

It was just okay. There are other pumpkin recipes in the magazine, and I'm going to try at least one more.

December 11, 2014

Doctor Who: The Time Meddler

The Whoathon is back after a bit of a lull. This episode starts off with the Doctor and Vicki discovering that Steven has stowed away aboard the TARDIS. Steven immediately irritates the Doctor. Considering being on the TARDIS saved his life and he is trespassing, you'd think he wouldn't act like such an ass to the Doctor and Vicki.

Steven, the Doctor, and Vicki

They land on Earth in 1066, and Steven continues to be irritating, to the Doctor and to me. The Doctor leaves Steven and Vicki to go exploring. He ends up at the monastery, and the Meddling Monk, who overheard the TARDIS crew talking about the TARDIS, captures the Doctor and locks him in a cell. Why does a monastery have jail cells? I don't know.

The Meddling Monk talks to Vicki and Steven.

Vicki and Steven figure out that the Meddling Monk is not all he seems. They know he is lying to them when they first meet him, but wandering around the monastery, they find a record player playing monks chanting. He also has a toaster and a first aid kit with penicillin. But this is 1066. Hm....

We find out that the Meddling Monk is another Time Lord. The Doctor acknowledges that they come from the same place, and we see inside the Meddling Monk's TARDIS, which is disguised as a Saxon sarcophagus. They never mention the planet Gallifrey, and they don't even say they are Time Lords. Gallifrey isn't named until the 3rd Doctor. So what's his deal? He travels through time meddling. Yep. He thinks it's fun. He wants to advance civilization. He says he helped build Stonehenge with his antigravity lift. Now he wants to make sure King Harold beats William the Conqueror. Then there won't be hundreds of years of war over claims to France. The best part of this is that he rolls down a parchment attached to the wall with the eight steps of his plan on it. Then he checks off the next number! I enjoyed this immensely.

He has an evil checklist. This is something the Master would do.

The Doctor is appalled because they aren't supposed to interfere with the natural order of history. The Doctor thwarts his plan and also traps him on Earth in 1066. The Doctor removes the dimensional control of the Meddling Monk's TARDIS, so the inside is tiny- the Meddling Monk can't get in. However, I don't think this means we've seen the last of him.


Doctor: First
Companions: Vicki, Steven
Episode: #17, "The Time Meddler," four parts- 'The Watcher,' 'The Meddling Monk,' 'A Battle of Wits,' 'Checkmate'
Adversary: the Meddling Monk
Classic Lines: the Doctor, to Steven: "That is the dematerializing control, and that over yonder is the horizontal hold. Up there is the scanner. Those are the doors. That is a chair with a panda on it. Sheer poetry, my boy! Now please stop bothering me."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: This is the first appearance of someone from Gallifrey other than the Doctor and Susan.
Next Up: "Galaxy 4"

November 24, 2014

Vanilla ice cream, Philadelphia-style

This vanilla from The Perfect Scoop is Philadelphia-style. No eggs. No cooking. Super easy.

The recipe called for either all heavy cream or a combination of heavy cream and milk. I went with all heavy cream. I think next time I might try the combination. It was good. It had what I can only describe as a pure vanilla flavor. I liked it a lot, but I liked the first vanilla better. I'll definitely make them both again.

November 18, 2014

Vanilla ice cream

This is a French-style vanilla ice cream from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. It was delicious.

Those black specks are vanilla seeds.

Yum. YUM. YUM! I normally don't get that excited about vanilla ice cream. I like it, but it's not something I'd rave over. This was amazing. It was creamy, it was smooth, and the flavor was outstanding. Yes, it had a yellow tint- that's from the eggs. You know it's going to be good when you see all those little black specks of vanilla. I'm looking forward to trying the Philadelphia-style vanilla from the same book.

November 10, 2014

Chocolate ice cream

I recently picked up David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop. I went for the chocolate ice cream first. He gives two variations of basic chocolate- French-style and Philadelphia-style. This one is the French-style. The batter is a cooked custard with eggs. Philadelphia-style is not cooked and has no eggs.

This was good, but given the book's reputation, I expected this to be the greatest chocolate ice cream of all time. It wasn't. I'm not even sure I like it better than the homemade Ben & Jerry's chocolate ice cream. This chocolate was creamy like the other one. It had a big mouthfeel, unlike the other one. I do think I like the other chocolate ice cream better. That one might have had a stronger chocolate flavor. Hm. I'll have to make them again and have a side-by-side taste test. 

November 2, 2014

Pumpkin ice cream

This is another ice cream recipe from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. I usually like anything and everything pumpkin. Not this.

I've had other pumpkin ice cream, and it was good. This was blah. The texture was icy and a little off, too. It wasn't smooth like the chocolate ice cream. I could deal with that if the flavor was good, but it didn't have much flavor. Hopefully I'll find a better pumpkin ice cream recipe in the future.

October 29, 2014

Doctor Who: The Chase

In the previous episode, the Doctor conveniently picked up a space-time visualizer from the museum on Xeros. It works like a tv and allows one to see anything that has happened in time and space. Barbara goes to turn it off and stumbles upon a scene with the Daleks. She discovers that they developed their own time machine in order to hunt the crew of the TARDIS and exterminate them.

the Daleks in their time machine

The space-time visualizer only shows things that have happened in the past, so the Daleks are already on their way. Oh no! (What is the past to the crew of the TARDIS? They can travel in time. Let's forget that bit.) The Doctor and Barbara go looking for Ian and Vicki, who have gone out exploring the sand planet on which they landed. To make a long story short, the inhabitants of the planet capture our heros and are going to turn them over to the Daleks. But then, blobby squid things attack, and they get away.

The TARDIS happens to have an instrument that shows that another ship is traveling along the same time track. The Doctor says they have to keep moving until they are ready to stand and fight the Daleks. He surmises they have a twelve minute lead on them, but that lead will diminish every time they land. And so, several times they land, check out the area, and take off again. The Daleks do the same. This leads to events such as the Mary Celeste being abandoned because the Daleks terrorize the crew.

One of the places they land is inhabited by Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, ghosts, bats, and all manner of scary things. The Doctor thinks they have landed in a realm created by the collective human mind. They take off before they learn that it's a house of horrors in a carnival. They also take off before making sure that everyone is aboard. Vicki is left behind! She ends up hitching a ride with the Daleks. The Daleks run into a little trouble in the house of horrors, but they quickly continue the chase. Now we find out that the Daleks have created a Doctor robot.

robot Doctor

Here's the thing about the robot- as you can see in the screenshot above, it's obvious that the robot isn't William Hartnell, the actor who plays the First Doctor. When the robot talks, it's William Hartnell talking. When they cut to close shots, it's William Hartnell. Why not use William Hartnell the whole time?? When the Doctor fights the robot Doctor, it's mostly William Hartnell vs. William Hartnell, so that the audience doesn't know who is the robot. Anyway, the robot Doctor is supposed to infiltrate and kill, but the Doctor defeats him. Next, the group gets captured by the Mechonoids.

Yep, this is a Mechonoid.

Now they meet Steven, another prisoner. He's an astronaut from Earth. He isn't in this much, so you'd think he isn't important. Nope. We'll find out in the next episode that he stowed away on the TARDIS and is a new companion. They all escape, and the Daleks fight the Mechonoids. There is utter chaos, and the plants start attacking the Daleks, too.


All of the Daleks are destroyed, leaving an empty time machine...

Barbara and Ian want to use the Dalek time machine to go home. The Doctor freaks out, saying it's too dangerous. He won't show them how to use it. Really, I think he just doesn't want them to leave. Vicki convinces him to let them go.

And they make it home, albeit two years off. They blow up the Dalek time machine and think about how they're going to explain their absence to the Coal Hill School, where they teach. Vicki and the Doctor use the space-time visualizer to see that Ian and Barbara are home safe.

Our last view of Ian and Barbara is the two of them on a bus together, laughing. I'm sorry to see them go.


Doctor: First
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Episode: #16, "The Chase," six parts- 'The Executioners,' 'The Death of Time,' 'Flight Through Eternity,' 'Journey into Terror,' 'The Death of Doctor Who,' 'The Planet of Decision'
Adversary: the Daleks
Classic Lines: the Doctor, to Ian: "We're trying to beat the Daleks, not start a jumble sale!"
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The Mary Celeste was found adrift with no crew because they jumped overboard to escape the Daleks.
Next Up: "The Time Meddler"

October 26, 2014

Devil's food cake with mint chocolate ganache

This recipe is from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I had high hopes for this one. I was disappointed.

The flavor was okay. The texture was okay. If the icing didn't have mint in it, it would have been just okay. I'm not making this again.

It took too much chocolate and too much effort for a meh cake, especially when those ingredients are Ghirardelli chocolate and Valrhona cocoa powder.

October 13, 2014

Ben's chocolate ice cream

Homemade ice cream! It's easy. It's delicious.

This recipe came from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. YUM. Mix up the batter/liquid. Churn it for 20 minutes in the ice cream maker. Freeze it for a few hours so it firms up a bit. (It's the consistancy of soft serve when it's done in the ice cream maker.) It's rich and creamy and amazing. This isn't the first time I've made homemade ice cream, but I'm going to start making it more often now.

October 6, 2014

Spicy pumpkin bundt cake

Time for another Martha Stewart recipe- spicy pumpkin bundt cake. It's not called "spicy" because it's hot. It's just that there are a lot of spices in it. It's a spice cake.

I usually like anything pumpkin. I don't limit pumpkin to the fall because I like it so much. This cake was kind of a bust. It was meh.

I didn't think it had that much flavor. I like the pumpkin spice cake I make from an Everyday Food recipe a lot more.

I'm not going to make this again. I'd rather make the other pumpkin spice cake. That one is not only tastier, but I don't even need my stand mixer to make it. Oh, well. When you like to try new things, you run into things that you don't like or that don't work for you. I'm okay with that.

October 1, 2014

Doctor Who: The Space Museum

I find this serial to be a little creepy, but also interesting. The TARDIS crew get a glimpse of their future and spend the entire episode trying to avoid a terrible fate.

When the TARDIS materializes, weird things immediately start happening. They aren't wearing the same clothes they were seconds before. They don't leave footprints in the dust outside. They walk into a museum, and the other people there don't see them or hear them. They discover that the TARDIS jumped a time track, and they are slightly in the future. One problem. They find themselves as frozen exhibits in the museum.

This is the creepy part.

They reason that when the cases disappear, they will have arrived, others will be able to see them, and the countdown to them ending up in the cases will begin. It turns out that the museum is run by Moroks. They enslaved the native population of the planet Xeros and made a museum dedicated to Morok conquests.

The sight of the TARDIS crew in the cases is pretty disturbing, and they are all rightly horrified by the thought of ending up like this. It comes up again and again in the episode. Is this the right choice to change the future? What if doing this is how we ended up in those cases? It's interesting. Of course they all eventually get captured, but Vicki made friends with the rebels in the meantime. She not only befriended them, but she broke into the Morok armory and got weapons for them. This leads Ian to postulate that maybe they don't need to change their own future themselves - that it could be changed for them.

This episode isn't great, but it has a cool ending. The familiar Dalek music plays, and it cuts to a Dalek saying that their enemies have left the planet...and that the Daleks' time machine will allow the Daleks to hunt them down.


Doctor: First
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Episode: #15, "The Space Museum," four parts- 'The Space Museum,' 'The Dimensions of Time,' 'The Search,' 'The Final Phase'
Adversary: the Moroks
Classic Lines: Vicki: "Time, like space, although a dimension in itself, also has dimensions of its own."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The Doctor says he was with James Watt when Watt was experimenting with steam power.
Next Up: "The Chase"

September 24, 2014

Ultimate streusel cake

This streusel bundt cake is a Martha Stewart recipe. I've been on a Martha kick lately.

This cake has an obscene amount of streusel. I like streusel, so that wasn't a problem for me. It does make the cake very crumbly when you cut it. It was falling apart around the bottom (which had streusel) and at edges of the middle, where the streusel was exposed to the pan and not inside the batter.

The cake was okay but not great. I was expecting it to be much better than it was. I wasn't going to make this again, but my family loved it. I guess I should consider keeping this one around. I think I'd put more streusel in the middle rather than on the bottom next time.

It sure does look pretty.

September 18, 2014

Doctor Who: The Crusade

"The Crusade" is one of the Doctor Who serials that is missing episodes because of the BBC purge of their archives. Episodes one and three exist. Episodes two and four are lost. I watched reconstructions of the two missing episodes. These included still photos on screen, with the audio from the show as well as narration if there was important action not covered by the photos.

This is an enjoyable serial. The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki arrive outside the town of Jaffa during the Crusades. Saracens kidnap Barbara, and the others befriend Richard the Lionheart, the king of England.

Ian wants to go get Barbara immediately. (Of course he does! Again, I'm on record as thinking that Ian and Barbara have a thing for each other.) The TARDIS crew ask Richard for help, and one of his knights helps convince him to send Ian to the sultan's camp. King Richard knights Ian, and off he goes. Meanwhile, El Akir, the obvious baddie among the Saracens, is doing some serious plotting. He doesn't like Barbara at all. The Doctor and Vicki hang out with the king and his sister, Princess Joanna. Joanna finds out that Vicki is really a woman and stops her from continuing to pretend to be a boy.

The Doctor and Vicki always have a good time together. He's much nicer to Vicki than he was to Susan. I'm not sure if that's his character evolving or if it's a deliberate choice. Vicki is sweet and smart and not afraid of her own shadow, but the Doctor also continues to be nicer to everyone in general.

Back to the story...More plotting. The king wants to marry his sister to the sultan's brother and forge a peace. She's having none of that. There is intrigue upon intrigue.


Eventually, Ian finds Barbara and everyone makes their way back to the TARDIS. There's a funny bit at the end. The knights see the TARDIS leave, and they think that "Sir Ian" has been whisked off by fiends- poor Sir Ian! Heh.

When I looked at the episode list, I realized that I'm almost to the end of the Barbara and Ian era. I hate to see them go!


Doctor: First
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Episode: #14, "The Crusade," four parts- 'The Lion,' 'The Knight of Jaffa,' 'The Wheel of Fortune,' 'The Warlords'
Adversary: El Akir, the Saracens
Classic Lines: the Doctor: "I almost wish I'd been knighted, too." Vicki, in reply: "That'll be the day!"; Princess Joanna, to the Doctor: "There's something new in you, yet something older than the sky itself."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: Julian Glover, who plays the part of Richard the Lionheart, later plays the character Scaroth in the 4th Doctor story "City of Death."
Next Up: "The Space Museum"

September 15, 2014

Cheddar bits

I made homemade Cheez-Its!

This is another Martha Stewart recipe. I saw this on Martha Bakes and thought I'd try it. YUM. These are some tasty cheddar crackers. The secret ingredient? Cayenne pepper. I never would have guessed.

I made these according to how Martha did on Martha Bakes rather than exactly how the recipe said to make them. The recipe says to chill the dough and then roll it out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness, then chill it again. On Martha Bakes, she rolled each of the four sections of dough into a four inch by five inch rectangle. She rolled them between plastic wrap, and then chilled them to firmness before cutting them into one-inch squares. That worked well. The rectangles were thicker than 1/4 inch, and I had to bake the crackers a lot longer than the recipe said, but they turned out great. This recipe is a keeper.

September 9, 2014

Butterscotch pudding

The chocolate pudding from Flour was outstanding, so I didn't expect anything less from the butterscotch. It was fantastic.

Those black specks are from a vanilla bean.

It was thicker and not as rich as the chocolate pudding. The process for making it was a little different. The flavor was amazing. There isn't much else to say. It was great! 

September 3, 2014

Doctor Who: The Web Planet

This story is unbearably boring. Skip it. It's boring, and it's six episodes long! It does have ant people as bad guys, though.

The Zarbi. And a cockroach with fringe?

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki are all stuck on this planet, as usual. They run into ant people, bee people, and something else entirely.

Really, this is terrible. The only reason to watch is the weird creatures and bad costumes. In investigating this episode, I see that the Menoptra are referred to as butterfly-like. I think they look like bees.


I had a very hard time sticking with this one to the end. I can't even give a summary of what it's about because the plot is so boring.

Is that a brain or a spider?

This episode was especially disappointing since the previous one was so good. On to "The Crusade!"


Doctor: First
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Episode: #13, "The Web Planet," six parts- 'The Web Planet,' 'The Zarbi,' 'Escape to Danger,' 'Crater of Needles,' 'Invasion,' 'The Centre'
Adversary: the Zarbi, the Animus
Classic Lines: the Doctor, on communicating with the Zarbi: "Apart from rubbing our legs together like some sort of grasshopper, I doubt if we can get on speaking terms with them."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: Vicki is from Earth in the future, but has never heard of aspirin.
Next Up: "The Crusade"

August 28, 2014

Iced oatmeal applesauce cookies

This is another Martha Stewart recipe. I have a binder full of recipes I thought looked good but haven't tried yet. This came from the binder.

I have a hard time determining when to take oatmeal cookies out of the oven, but this time I baked these the correct length of time. They were okay. The maple glaze was good, but it overpowered the cookie and was very sweet. I don't think the flavor of the cookie was strong enough to hold up to it.

These cookies also suffered from the comparison to those I made from Flour. Even though I baked those other cookies too long, the flavor was amazing. They were way better than these. I won't make these again.

August 21, 2014

Doctor Who: The Romans

This is a fun episode. I think it's one of the better 1st Doctor stories. This one never takes itself seriously, and it just feels like everyone is having a good time (even when bad things are happening). I swear William Hartnell seemed drunk in some parts. He was goofy and laughing, and he flubbed his lines more than usual. (In the very old episodes, they couldn't always waste time and money to reshoot, so sometimes they'd leave in when they messed up. Hartnell would say the wrong thing and immediately say the correct line, and the scene would move on.)

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki are squatting in a villa in ancient Rome. The owner is away, so they're making themselves comfortable. The running joke of the Doctor calling Ian by the wrong last name continues. The Doctor and Vicki decide to take a trip to the city of Rome and leave Ian and Barbara behind. 

Ah, Ian. Let me comb your hair.

Barbara takes this opportunity to comb Ian's hair to make him look more Roman. This is just the first time in this serial that screams Ian and Barbara really do have a thing for each other. Alas! Ian and Barbara are captured by slavers. Barbara gets sent to Rome, and Ian gets put on a ship. The ship gets wrecked, and he heads to Rome. 

the Doctor and Vicki

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Vicki have made it to Rome, where the Doctor is pretending to be a famous lyre player who has been called to play for Nero. Unfortunately, people keep trying to kill this famous lyre player. The 1st Doctor gets into a fight! He doesn't take it seriously. He's laughing the entire time he's beating up the assassin. 

Nero is kind of nutty.

Barbara ends up in Nero's palace, but never runs into the Doctor or Vicki. That's something very interesting about this serial. Barbara and Ian's story runs parallel to the Doctor and Vicki's. They don't intersect except at the villa. The Doctor and Vicki return to the villa thinking that Barbara and Ian never left. 

Oh, no! Ian!

Nero has a thing for Barbara, and he makes her watch a gladiator fight. One of the fighters happens to be Ian. Of course it is. To make a long story short, everyone escapes. Barbara and Ian get back to the villa before the Doctor and Vicki, and as I mentioned above, the other two never know that Barbara and Ian left. This leaves them just enough time to flirt more. 

Oh, Ian. Oh, Barbara. Happy sigh.

The Doctor accidentally gives Nero the idea to burn down Rome before heading back to the villa with Vicki. 

Excellent special effects! That's Rome burning.

Once they're all together again, they head back to the TARDIS, which is still sitting where it landed after falling off a cliff at the end of the previous serial. The Doctor reassured them earlier that the TARDIS could take off from any angle.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable episode. I like it a lot. Watching it for the Whoathon wasn't the first time I'd seen it, and I'll watch it again. I think it would be a good episode for someone who hasn't seen any 1st Doctor episodes. 


Doctor: First
Companions: Ian, Barbara, Vicki
Episode: #12, "The Romans," four parts- 'The Slave Traders,' 'All Roads Lead to Rome,' 'Conspiracy,' 'Inferno'
Adversary: Slave traders, Nero (sometimes)
Classic Lines: Vicki: "Well, it's alright living here, but it's boring. No wonder he gets irritable." Ian: "Heh! That's got nothing to do with living here, believe me."; the Doctor, to Ian: "I don't know that I was under any obligation to report my movements to you, Chesterfield." Barbara: "ChesterTON." the Doctor, to Ian: "Oh, Barbara is calling you."
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: The Doctor accidentally gives Nero the idea to burn Rome.
Next Up: "The Web Planet"

August 14, 2014

Chocolate bundt cake

When I bought my bundt pan, I thought to myself, "Yep, I'm an old lady." I've had it for a little while but never used it. I picked a recipe for a chocolate bundt cake and went with it.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe I saved years ago in case I ever got a bundt pan. I was out of sour cream but happened to have creme fraiche, so I used that instead. 

The cake came out of the pan easily, which is something that concerned me going into making my first bundt cake. 

The cake was moist and dense, but I think it could have used more chocolate flavor. I liked it okay. The glaze was delicious. I can't decide if I'll make this again. I think I might look for other bundt cake recipes and try those instead. 
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