Thursday, 20 December 2012

Revenge of the staypuffed marshmallow man

I have said before on this blog that i am a hobbyist, i am also a father, fiancee and employee.

Now assuming the world does not indeed end in fire and brimstone tomorrow, we all know xmas will be around the corner. For me this means the imminent arrival of my kids. I only get to have them every other xmas as it's a 'gentlemans agreement' between me and the ex. Alas as some of the UK readers will remember, 2 years ago the country was in white out and pretty much crippled. In the end that meant a heart breaking call to my kids to let them know i wouldn't be able to get them for xmas.

Well fast forward back to this year and in 48 hours that little hoard will be here.
As a parent I'm always looking for a little something different to do my kids at xmas and this year is no different.
So with a wry grin i headed into the kitchen to make some home made marshmallows. Oh you can imagine the chaos.

First off i will share the simple recipe.

Winter Spiced Marshmallows

Sunflower oil for greasing the tin.
Greaseproof paper
3 Tablespoons of Icing Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Corn Flower
24grams Powdered Gelatin (dr.oetker do a pack of 6 sachets and each is 12 grams)
1 Teaspoon of ground ginger
1 Teaspoon of ground cinnamon
350 grams of granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons Of golden syrup
2 Tablespoons of Black treacle.

Line a cake tin with greaseproof paper and then grease with sunflower oil.
In a bowl mix together the icing sugar and corn flower. Use about 3/4 of this to dust the inside of the greased paper tin.
Into a saucepan add the Granulated sugar, golden syrup, treacle and about 150ml of water. Stir and bring to the boil. Once boiling reduce the temperature and simmer for about 20 minutes. If you are high tech you can use a sugar thermometer to test the temp and your looking for 113 degrees cel.
In another bowl mix the gelatin powder, cinnamon and ginger with 100ml of water, mix and leave to one side.

Once you have allowed the sugar mix to simmer for about 15-20 minutes your ready to start getting messy.
Use an electric mixer...a hand whisk will not work unless you have the muscles of Arnie and stamina of a long distance runner.

Put your gelatin mix into the mixing bowl and set your mixer going on its lowest speed. Take the saucepan of sugar mix and slowly pour it into the mixing bowl with the gelatin mix. Leave this whisking for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has tripled in volume. (if your anything like me you will find the 'marshmallow monster that climbs the whisk rather entertaining)

After about 10 minutes its time to get really messy. That gloop in the bowl, yeah the stuff that is more adhesive than 'no more nails'. Well you have to persuade it to leave the mixing bowl and get into the cake tin you have prepared. Good luck as it will stick to the whisk blades and anything you use to pry it out.

Want a tip?

After much trial and error, a lot of mess and on occasion 2 pairs of hands. I discovered that water was the best 'anti adhesive'. Use a large spoon, dip it into water and use it to coax the mixture into the cake tin. To spread the mixture out more evenly simply dampen your hands and use them to spread the mixture out.
Cover the cake tin with some greaseproof paper and leave to set in a cool dry place (not a fridge...or freezer) for about 2 hours.
Then dust a work surface with the remaining corn flower/icing sugar mix  (you did keep it didn't you?). Empty the marshmallow from the cake tin onto the dusted surface and cut into pieces...or eat whole if you so desire little piggywiggy.

For a giggle, have a go at prying the mixture out without using water...the stuff is like...well like no sticky stuff i have ever known.

If the 'winter spiced' idea doesn't seem your thing, then simply replace the ginger/cinnamon with a flavouring of your choice..say lemon, orange, vanilla etc (you can usually get little pots of flavouring) and don't add the black treacle to the sugar mix.

I hope any of you who give this a try, enjoy the fun, mess and yummy results!.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

An expected unexpected journey.

The Hobbit an unexpected journey.

A film that has come to the cinema with high expectations,
Could Peter Jackson and co deliver another series of masterpiece works?
Would it be a poor mans Lord of the rings.

Yesterday like many of us 'geeks' I headed off to the cinema with mixed feelings, but a deep hope Mr.Jackson would deliver again.

At 12:30 i entered the cinema armed with enough popcorn and pepsi to last the 3 hours of geekgasm heaven....or that's what i hoped.

I had read a few comments, some positive, some not so, some pointing out the 'added in bit' (which was added in as there was no female roles), hence my mixed feelings, but overall i was excited.

Its hard to believe its been 9 years almost to the day since we stormed the cinemas for 'Return of the king'. I am one of the people who was blessed to see all 3 Lotr films at the cinema, including seeing 'The Two Towers' with my fellow staffers at GW Milton Keynes.

I firmly believe that as wargamers and fantasy realm fans we owe a lot of our visions and ideas to the words of Tolkien. No matter which one of the films i see, i always have this unhealthy urge to grab some high elves and head off to the warhammer battlefield. But i am trying to temper that urge as I'm working on a dwarf army.

Anyway back on track.

I will not give any spoilers as i don't want to ruin the film for anyone who hasn't seen it.
Did it live upto my expectations. YES
Did the added in 'extra bit' fit the film. YES, and it blended in seamlessly.
Has Peter Jackson delivered another epic. ABSOLUTELY.

My only gripe was that 1 or 2 of the dwarves appeared 'too' human and not dwarvish enough, now that said my own view of dwarves is more Gimli, hairy, bearded axe wielding victor meldrews with a fetish for head removal.
But in truth even with my own personal little gripe i would happily give 'The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey' full marks out of 10. Peter Jackson has delivered another beautiful film and the 12 month wait for the next one seems far too long to this haggard old wardog. I want it now. Guess i may have to watch the hobbit again, purely for a more informed view of course ;)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Yes, i am ever so slightly behind the times.
But i have just discovered 'Warhammer Invasion' by Fantasy Flight Games.

Now my previous experience of card games was rummy, black jack and Magic the Gathering.
I have always loved games like Mtg, but to be honest the sheer outlay in cash for it these days is just stupid. I know not everyone will agree, but the idea of laying out hundreds if not thousands of pounds on cards which are for want of a better word 'invalid' after 18 months is a bit of a dampener. None the less i did flirt with mtg during 7th and 12th edition.

So with that background you can imagine my intrigue when i stumbled on the warhammer invasion core box in a toy store in Norwich,
Before buying it i did a bit of research. The reviews were positive, the idea of all the cards being usable was also a big positive. So it was with a little trepidation i jumped in and got the core box for myself and my fiancee Carol.

And what a great decision it was.
The game play is simple in the basics, whilst allowing lots of fun shenanigans. The resource system works nicely and the game itself seems well balanced.

We have both tried all 4 decks in the box and played a good 20 games which have all been highly enjoyable, with no guaranteed winner in any game.

The cards and wonderfully illustrated, the capital boards and card pieces all have a good quality feel to them.

Overall i have to say i have been highly impressed and delighted by this offering from FFG even if i am a couple of years behind the times. Now the quest begins to get the expansion decks as quickly as possible. Gotta catch em all eh...oh ooops wrong game!

If your an old hat to Trading card/living card games then give this a spin, if your new to the system then this game could be a good starting point as it's not overly complex in the mechanics and easy to learn.
I really cant recommend 'Warhammer Invasion' enough.

So what are you waiting for, cry havoc and let loose the paper cuts of war.