Friday, January 15, 2010

Merry Xmas Card

Merry Xmas Card

Dammit! I really meant to post this on Christmas Eve, but I totally forgot. This is a photocopy of a Christmas card I drew in art class when I was in first year at secondary school (back in 1998). As far as I can recall it was an entry to some competition back then. I really love how it says "Merry Xmas", despite depicting a Nativity scene, almost as much as love how the hills that appear to be made of Christmas pudding.

Feel free to print it out, colour it in and give to loved ones next Christmas. :D

Steam Holiday Sale 2009: The Aftermath

Never Forget

It only comes but once a year and when it does it brings a great need need to drop cash on cut price PC games you'll probably never even download. Yes, the Steam Holiday Sale was in full effect from December 23 to January 3 much to the delight of gamers everywhere. Wallets, on the other hand were less pleased. So what did I pick up? Well I'm glad you asked...

Lucasarts Adventure Pack €2.50
Even though I already bought Fate of Atlantis for €4 when it came out (and still haven't played it), this bundle crazy cheap, especially considering what these games were going for on the likes of eBay a year ago.

Space Quest Collection, King's Quest Collection €2.50 Each
From what I've head these two series seem a lot less accessible than LucasArts back catalogue, but I figured they were well worth a shot at that price. I hear the collections don't agree with 64-bit versions Windows though, although a few of the games do work in SCUMM VM. Luckily, I'm still running 32-bit Windows XP though.

Indigo Prophecy €2.99
I always wanted to check this out but I must have missed it coming to Steam (I wasn't about to take a chance on whatever third party DRM it has on Direct2Drive). It seems pretty interesting so far, although the camera control's a bit iffy. It's also pretty easy to unlock the virtual orgasmic sex scenes in this version. Yay boobs!

RIP Trilogy €0.99
I passed up on this in last year's sale when it was €2.50, but for a euro, I thought I'd be worth a look, so I installed the demo of RIP 3. For some reason, I thought these were strategy games, but I quickly found out that RIP 3 was, in fact, a dual stick shooter and a pretty fun at that.
Disappointingly though, the original RIP has you in control of a fixed turret only. You can't move your character around at all which makes for a more shallow and less enjoyable game. I've yet to try out the second game, but €0.99 for the third one alone was a good deal nonetheless.

Zombie Bowl-O-Rama €0.99
I'd never even heard of this, but with a concept like that and a €0.99 price point how could you go wrong? From what I've played, it's quite fun. Killing zombies in an unconventional manner will never get old.

Red Faction €2.49
I seem to remember the Penny Arcade guys disliking this back in the day, but it got pretty decent reviews and I was certainly up for trying it out at that price.It seems to be a pretty competent Half-Life homage so far, but I'm finding it extremely easy to get lost wandering around the early areas.

More rampant consumerism after the jump.

Christmas Cooking: Christmas Pudding

My ability to make food look disgusting in photos is unrivalled.:D

So, this year I decided to try my hand at making a Christmas pudding. With a 13 minute cook time in a microwave, this recipe had "bad idea" written all over it, which only made it all the more intriguing to me. I made a few minor changes to the recipe, swapping apricots for dates and using golden syrup instead of treacle. I put it all in a microwavable bowl, covered it with cling film and cooked it as instructed.

While I was sure the cling film on top of the bowl was going to explode at one point, thankfully it didn't and the only problem in the end was that the centre of the pudding turned out kind of gooey. I remedied that by putting it back in the microwave for two minute spurts, checking it after each one. I think it took about three to get the middle of the pudding nice and firm.

The resulting pudding definitely had the consistency and texture of a Christmas pudding, but the taste was quite different to what I was used to; It was much more fruity, with the booze and spices taking a back seat to the citrus flavours. It was quite nice though and I'd certainly consider making this pudding again for next Christmas.

Christmas Cooking: Christmas Cake

Serving Suggestion

It may be mid-January, but the Christmas spirit lives on here in the form of some stuff I meant to post over Christmas, but didn't. To kick off, here's there recipe I use every year to whip up a Christmas cake. To be more precise, it's actually just a porter cake with icing, but damn it, that's close enough.


8oz Sugar
8oz Butter
1lb Self Raising Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Mixed Spice
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
3 Eggs
1/2 Pint Porter
2lb Dried Fruit
2oz Ground Almonds

For Icing:
Strawberry Jam
1 Bag of Icing Sugar*
1 Pack Marzipan

*Plus whatever ingredients the icing recipe on the bag of icing sugar requires.

  1. Cream the butter and sugar (I'm sure there's a YouTube video on this :D)
  2. Mix the spices together with the flour.
  3. Beat the eggs.
  4. Start adding the eggs alternatively with the flour to the mixture, once the eggs run out start adding the porter instead.
  5. When all the eggs, flour and porter are added to the mix, add the ground almonds and fruit. I usually add a small carton of mixed peel, a small carton of glance cherries and make up the rest of the 2lb with a combination of raisins, sultanas, currants and dried cranberries.
  6. Preheat your oven to 150C and transfer the mix to a 9 inch cake tin. I usually line the cake tin with cardboard (from a cardboard box) wrapped in greaseproof paper - a round disc of cardboard at the bottom and a strip along the side (a few inches higher than the tin). That may well be a fire hazard (Do it at your own risk!), but I find it makes it easier to remove the cake once it's done.
  7. Start checking the cake once it's been cooking for 1 1/2 hours.
  8. When it's done, the top of the cake should be brown and a knife/fork handle/knitting needle inserted into the centre should come out reasonably clean and not covered in wet cake.
  9. Once the cake is done, leave it cool before taking it out of the tin. I usually leave it overnight. Wrap it in tin foil to keep it from going hard.
  1. Put a few desert spoons of jam into a mug and melt in a microwave. It should only take a minute or so at full power.
  2. Brush the melted jam onto the outside of the cake with a pastry brush.
  3. Roll out the marzipan with a rolling pin until it's big enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Use some of the icing sugar to stop it from sticking to the rolling pin or the surface underneath.
  4. Cover the cake with the marzipan, smoothing it down with your hands.
  5. Make the icing as per the instructions on the pack of icing sugar.
  6. Cover the marzipan coating with icing. I find a kitchen scraper works well for this.
  7. After a few days drying, the icing should be solid enough to decorate or alternatively, to re-wrap in tin foil.