March 30, 2015

Root beer float cake

To try something different, I made root beer float cake. This recipe came from the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

I used root beer I found in the fridge instead of my favorite root beer. That was probably a mistake. If I make this again, I'll use Stewart's root beer. I couldn't taste the root beer, but there was definitely something different about this chocolate cake. It was also moist, and the icing was tasty. I think overall, it was okay. I wasn't thrilled with how it turned out. However, my family went nuts for it, so what do I know?

March 22, 2015

Doctor Who: The Daleks' Master Plan

This story is loooooong. Twelve parts! It's too long. It drags in parts. Most of the episodes are missing, so I had to watch reconstructions with the existing audio. The TARDIS crew lands on Kembel, that planet from "Mission to the Unknown."

Katerina and the Doctor
None of them know yet that the Daleks are there. Who else is there? The Brigadier!! Well, he's not the Brigadier yet. He's Bret Vyon. But the actor is the same- Nicholas Courtney.

The Brig!
So the Brigadier, I mean Bret Vyon, is a Space Security agent who is trying to warn Earth that the Daleks are planning to invade. The Daleks have amassed some interesting allies from across the universe in order to pursue their plan. Chen is a traitor from Earth, and Leaf Hands represents the largest galaxy.

Leaf Hands. Not his real name.

The plan involves a time destructor, whatever that is. It's at the point where it only needs the terranium core to be functional. The Doctor steals the core and runs off with it. Along the way, he finds time to fight with Bret, Steven finds time to be annoying, and Katerina (yes, she is still around) finds time to be useless.

"You shut up!" "No, you shut up!"

They steal a spaceship and head to Earth to warn them. The Daleks aren't thrilled and give chase. They land on a prison planet. The only point of this side-journey seems to be Katerina's demise. Oh, that's right- Katerina dies. They're taking off from the prison planet and discover a stowaway in the airlock. The prisoner grabs Katerina and pulls her into the airlock. He demands to return to Kembel. Katerina pushes the button to eject them into space.

They get to Earth and some dumb idiot following the traitor Chen's orders kills Bret! BOOOOOO. We find out later that the dumb idiot is Bret's sister Sara. Ouch. I liked Bret. I imagined him as a future Brigadier. The Daleks were kind of missing for a bit in the story. Where are you, Daleks?

We're here!
The story really started to drag after they left Kembel. So slow. It seemed odd to me that the Doctor would just leave the TARDIS behind and take a spaceship to Earth.

Steven and the Doctor
Anyway, the Doctor, Steven, and Sara get transported to another planet by accident, and the Daleks find them there. They steal the Dalek ship by putting mud on the eyestalk of the Dalek guarding the ramp to the ship. Yep. Most feared beings in the universe. This is right up there with the time that the 4th Doctor throws his hat over a Dalek eyestalk.

Oh, noes! Mud!
I kid. I like the Daleks as villains. But stupid stuff like this does happen to them. They take off and the Doctor makes a copy of the time destructor core. The ship is pulled by an energy beam and ends up back on Kembel. The Daleks say that their invasion force is in place. The ship lands, and the Doctor tells the Daleks he will give them the core in front of the TARDIS. The Doctor has Steven give them the fake core, and they escape in the TARDIS.

Sara, Steven, and the Doctor

At this point, I've watched six episodes. That's only halfway through the story. I still don't know what the time destructor is.

The next episode is a completely unnecessary diversion to modern-day (for this episode) Earth. And in the only instance I know of in the history of Doctor Who, the Doctor breaks the fourth wall and wishes the audience a Happy Christmas.

"Happy Christmas to all of you at home!"

Incidentally, episode seven did nothing to advance the plot. I could have skipped it. But look! Now the Daleks are back and ready to test the time destructor. I really wish I knew what that did.

The allies are discussing things...

Lumpy Man is lumpy. Not his real name.

The time destructor fails, of course. They figure that the Doctor swapped the real core for a fake one. The Daleks call Skaro and request a time machine so they can hunt down the Doctor. I still don't know what the time destructor does. The TARDIS lands next to a volcano. Wait, who is that?

the Meddling Monk
It's the Meddling Monk! What's he doing here? He was marooned in England in 1066 but escaped. He was following the TARDIS, and he sabotaged it while they were out exploring this planet. The Doctor does a quick fix and off they go to ancient Egypt so the Doctor can work on better repairing the damage done by the Meddling Monk. The Daleks and the Meddling Monk soon show up. The Daleks capture the Monk, Steven, and Sara, forcing the Doctor to give them the terranium core in exchange for their lives.

The Doctor decided to wear a sun hat. The man in white is Chen.

Now the Doctor, Steven, and Sara return to Kembel to attempt to thwart the Daleks' plan. Shockingly, the Daleks turn on their allies and lock them all up. The Doctor gets to the time destructor and activates it before the Daleks can take it away on one of their ships and implement their plan. AHA! Now I know what the time destructor does. It ages people and things. It ages Sara to death, and she turns to dust before she can get back in the TARDIS. With the Doctor and Steven safe in the TARDIS, the pursuing Daleks are all aged to death, and the time destructor ages everything until it runs out of fuel in its core. The Doctor and Steven lament the deaths of Bret, Katarina, and Sara as they leave.

"What a waste. What a terrible waste."

The story ends on a somber note. There were some serious deaths in this one. I may have said that it dragged in the middle, but I liked this story aside from that. I usually do like the Dalek episodes. It's unfortunate that the Meddling Monk never appears again after this. He was a fun character. I watched almost all of this in one sitting. That was probably a mistake. I should've spread it out more. At twelve episodes, this is the longest Doctor Who story.


Doctor: First
Companions: Steven, Katarina
Episode: #21, "The Daleks' Master Plan," twelve parts- 'The Nightmare Begins,' 'Day of Armageddon,' 'Devil's Planet,' 'The Traitors,' 'Counter Plot,' 'Coronas of the Sun,' 'The Feast of Steven,' 'Volcano,' 'Golden Death,' 'Escape Switch,' 'The Abandoned Planet,' 'Destruction of Time'
Adversary: the Daleks
Classic Lines: the Doctor: "I am a citizen of the universe, and a gentleman to boot!"
Tuck This Away to Impress Your Friends: This is the first story in which a regular companion dies (Katerina). This is also the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney, who played Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart throughout Doctor Who's run. He portrayed Bret Vyon here.
Next Up: "The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve"

March 16, 2015

Salted pumpkin caramel thumbprints

I recently delved into new territory. I made my first caramel! This was to fill the pumpkin caramel thumbprints my cousin and I have been curious to try ever since we saw them in a magazine. They came from the same article that had the recipe for the dark chocolate and pumpkin swirl cake.

The night I made them, I couldn't decide how I felt about these cookies. They were good, but I was disappointed. The caramel was an interesting consistency. Was that because this was my first caramel or because there was a half cup of pumpkin puree in it? It tasted good. The cookie part alone tasted okay, but really it's just a vehicle for delivering caramel to your mouth.

The next day was a different story. I let them sit in the fridge overnight. They were very tasty the next day. Even the cookie part tasted better. It was a big improvement over the night before. They tasted like mini pumpkin pies with shortbread crusts.

I'm still not sure if I'll bake these again. Thumbprints are great, but they're a pain to make. If I'm going to go to the effort, they better be delicious, like the chocolate mint thumbprints. Those are some of my favorite things to eat. Even though these didn't live up to my expectations, I'm glad I gave them a try.

March 8, 2015

The 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show

My mom and I made our annual trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Saturday. This years' theme was "Celebrate the Movies," featuring Disney films. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this theme. But it was great! The displays were beautiful and creative. The exhibitors did a great job executing the theme. 

This was my second favorite flower show year, behind the Paris-themed show in 2011. 

We got there when the show opened in the morning. This was a smart move, because as we were leaving, people were flooding in. The one problem with the Philly Flower Show is that it's always incredibly crowded. Arriving when it opens helps with that a bit. 

The crappy iPhone photos here don't do it justice. It was a fun outing, followed by a trip to the Reading Terminal Market across the street for some delicious food. 
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