Friday, June 26, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Fandom Guilty Pleasures.

I think there's a notion that's commonly accepted that once you're a grown-up, you shouldn't get too excited about things that "don't matter".  Grown-ups are allowed to get excited, to an appropriate degree, over things like toilet paper being on sale (I still remember the first time I got excited over that), but we're supposed to leave behind the things of our childhood.  After all, we have responsibilities now.

Bullshit crap (sorry, Mom).

I bought into that for a little while.  Or at least, I kept my excitement curbed to more "appropriate" levels, because I didn't have anyone around me who geeked out about the things I loved.  I think it's even harder as a mom--when your kids take up as much time and attention as they do, there's very little time for you to be your own person; other moms often reinforce the expectation that your mom-ness needs to utterly define you, at least for this stage of life.  But you know what?  It isn't true.

I am me.  What matters to me, matters.

Yes, being an adult and wife and mother means that I need to make time for my responsibilities, and, consequently, I have less time for myself.  But I think finding the freedom to be myself, within the context of those responsibilities, is important not just for myself, but for my kids.  Like it says in my sidebar-bio, I want my kids to passionately pursue whatever it is they love, and I want them to have the courage to speak up about and fight for what matters to them.  I want them to know that they are okay being who they are, no matter what others think.  And I think that message starts with me leading by example.

So I quit being afraid to embrace my geekiness.  Of course, there are a still a few things that I'm almost-but-not-really ashamed to admit, per this week's 5 Fandom Friday prompt, here are my top five "Fandom Guilty Pleasures":

1. "Lord of the Rings" & "The Hobbit" LEGO

I don't care what it says on the box--29 is not too old for LEGO.  There's no such thing.

LEGO Middle-Earth: my choice of home decor.

The first shot up there is of the top of our dining room game cabinet (because that's what dining room tables are for--games, right?), and Smaug is on a shelving unit in the corner of our dining room.  Weathertop and the Helm's Deep wall overflowed into our living room, on our desk hutch.  Much better than your average candles and knickknacks, right?  (If you disagree, Smaug will eat you--can your decor do that?)

So far, I've only splurged on LOTR and Hobbit sets, but, really, I want all the LEGO.  In fact, just the other day, I shamelessly used my four-year-old to get this free promo set at a build event at our local Toys'R'Us:

She loved it!

But it looks rather out-of-place alongside all my Middle-Earth sets.  I think I really need would like some raptors to go with it...

2. Geeky tees

This much of my closet is geeky tees:

I didn't actually realize how many I own until I got them out to take photos for this post...

Row 1: Firefly, Firefly, Firefly, Harry Potter, Doctor Who/Sherlock
Row 2: Buffy/Firefly/Dr. Horrible, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Wars, Doctor Who
Row 3: Iron Man, Sherlock, Firefly, Firefly, mash-up
Row 4: Doctor Who, LOTR, Hunger Games, The Guild, Star Trek

And this one didn't fit on the bed with the final round:

Firefly/Jurassic Park mash-up.

I really like my geeky tees.  Also, we moved to Atlanta two years ago, and I've found that wearing your fandom is a great way to find fellow geeks out in public.  We even became friends with an awesome family at our church that way--I wore a "Doctor Who" shirt and my TARDIS purse one Sunday, and they invited us over to watch the Christmas special. :-)

3. Twilight

So, I own these:

Twilight...hardcovers, no less.

I'm not quite a "Twi-hard", but I did read the series twice and even went to a marathon-midnight-showing at a local theater when the third movie came out.  I enjoyed the books.  They're not the greatest literature, but I liked the world Meyer created and the supernatural system of her vampires and werewolves.  And say what you will about her skill as a writer, but both times I read the second book, I found myself struggling with feeling depressed even while I wasn't actively reading.  So, yeah, this one's a guilty pleasure.

4. Movie prop replicas

plan on decorating our basement family room with movie-and-TV-themed paraphernalia, but it hasn't happened yet.  But it needs order to justify all the movie prop replicas I already have, and all the ones I still intend to buy!

Strider's sword, William Wallace's claymore, Evenstar pendant, Eowyn's necklace, Ten's sonic screwdriver, Hermione's wand, and Katniss' mockingjay pin.

I also have a crapload of movie posters that I bought back when I lived in a college dorm.  I'm going to pick out my favorites, frame them, and line the basement walls with them.  I'm hoping to find shadowboxes for the replicas pictured above--the swords will need to be hung somewhere, but I haven't quite figured out how to fit it all yet.  Also, all the props need to be displayed non-permanently, because I totally still play with them.

5. Buying stuff "for my kids"

If we're defining "guilty pleasure" as something that we're "supposed" to feel somewhat ashamed about, but don't (or do it anyway), I guess I should feel bad that I try to indoctrinate my kids with my own fandoms.  I mean, I'm all for getting excited along with them over what they love (mostly "Toy Story" these days), but if I can get them excited about my stuff sometimes--score!

Like what I bought for my son's birthday last weekend:

Playskool Heroes Jurassic World sets.

He loves Rex from "Toy Story"--he runs around the house, RAAWRRing with it--so I figured he'd go for these dinos, too (he LOVES them). I loved "Jurassic Park" as a kid, so I'm psyched about introducing it to my kids in several years.  For now, them getting into dinosaurs in general is fun!

My daughter loves the TARDIS and has helped me build one out of DUPLO (toddler version of LEGO--both of which are the greatest toys ever), and we've made "Star Wars" cookies a few times.  We also have regular lightsaber fights.

DUPLO TARDIS.  And Kaylie is also trained to call that thing in front of her a "Dalek".

There are a lot of fantastic geeky kids' books, too.  I've picked up a few:

Because toddlers only want to read one book, a thousand times a day.

Because nothing is worse than having to read "The Foot Book" four hundred and sixty-two times in a row.  Geeky books are great, because if your kid latches onto one for the day, you can point out all your favorite characters and tell stories from the original.  There's only so much you can say about feet.

(You can find the Star Wars ABC & 123 books, and Pride & Prejudice counting primer (and other BabyLit books), at most major book retailers.  "Counting with the Doctor!" can be found here, and the other three ("Cybermen's Picnic", "Leaf", and "If You Give a Hobbit a Ring") here.)

Of course, I don't just buy things I secretly want my kids to like: I also make things for them.  I made Wil some geeky onesies for his first Dragon Con, along with a "Firefly"-themed ribbon tag blanket.  Later, I made him a "Firefly"-themed stuffed dinosaur, too.  After I started making more geeky tag blankets for friends, I opened my own shop on Etsy, and it's given me a wonderful opportunity to connect with other geeky parents who share my guilty pleasure fandom interests!

Shameless plug...but really, you totally want these for your kid.  (More fandoms also available!)

Those are my fandom guilty pleasures--though, really, I've gotten past the guilt part. ;-)

So what are your fandom guilty pleasures?

Friday, June 19, 2015

5 Fandom Friday: Characters with my Favorite Fictional Fashion.

I'm not very fashion-conscious.  For the most part, I don't really notice what other people wear, or what looks are "in".  My wardrobe consists almost entirely of jeans and geeky t-shirts, and I'm good with that.  But every once in a while, I'll see someone in something and think, "I wonder if I could pull that off..."  For this week's "5 Fandom Friday", here are five characters with looks I'd like to pull off:

1. Michonne (The Walking Dead)

Michonne is my kind of badass.  I'd like to think that if I found myself alone in the midst of a zombie apocolypse, I'd pick up a sword and learn how to survive with it.  I think I'd probably go for a look much like hers, too--largely practical, but with a flair for the dramatic (can you get any more dramatic than her first appearance in the season two finale?)

I love the leather and the laces--I would wear things that lace like that all the time if I thought I could pull off that look (I totally want her brown leather side-laced vest, in particular).  Permanently add a samurai sword to the look?  Perfect.  Though I'd more likely go for a claymore or a cutlass myself, since that's what I happen to have on hand...

For a while, I wondered how she'd come into the wardrobe I so often found myself admiring--were those her clothes from before, or had she somehow accumulated numerous pieces that fit her badass warrior look?  Then we see her in season five with her new sheriff's uniform:

Clearly, she's been altering what she finds to fit her tastes, if it doesn't to start with.  Which only makes her more awesome in my book.  I mean, it's the zombie apocalypse; why not go for whatever look you want?

2. Fiona Glenanne (Burn Notice)

I kind of want to be Fi when I grow up.  In some ways, she's basically me if I had no inhibitions.  Her solution to most problems is to shoot someone or blow something up (I often wish that were an option), she's an illegal arms dealer (just think of all that weaponry she gets to play with!), and she's very vocal about her opinions (I'm pretty opinionated once I know you well enough that I know I won't hurt your feelings).  Though if I ever tried to model my wardrobe after hers, I'd be wearing bikinis far less and bras far more (inhibitions!)....But she rocks every look she goes for, from bikini to evening gown, sundress to jeans and a tee--all paired, of course, with killer heels and a gun or two.

But my favorite piece of her attire is definitely her hip bag:

Hands-free is really the way to go if you never know when you'll need your hands to draw a gun or throw together a bomb, and keeping your bag close to the body keeps it out of the way should you need to make a quick exit out a window, making the hip bag idea altogether very practical.  Personally, I consider hands-free to be a necessity (I have two hands and two kids--I can't afford to give up a hand to keep adjusting a purse!), so I exclusively use cross-body purses (like the ones I made), but I'd consider branching out to a hip bag like Fi's if I ever found the right one.

3. Echo (Dollhouse)

Because who wouldn't want to wear yoga pants and a tank top all day?

"I try to be my best."

Sign me up.  Just...maybe don't sign me up for all the other stuff that goes with being an Active...

4. Gracie Hart, aka "Gracie Lou Freebush" (Miss Congeniality)

"I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven't slept all night, I'm starved, and I'm armed.  Don't *mess* with me!"

Mostly, I love the idea of starting out like this:

And having someone else tell me how to end up like this:

"And I really do want world peace!"

Because, really, there are some of us that just plain need a Victor Melling (Michael Caine) to take over, and tell us how to do the clothes and the hair and the makeup.  We're just not going to get there on our own.

"Hey!  I'm gliding here!"

But even with a Victor Melling at my side, I think I'd still end up pulling one of these:

Just remember: "Smilers wear a crown, losers wear a frown."

5. Eowyn (Lord of the Rings)

If I could be dress as any character, it would definitely be Eowyn, shield-maiden of Rohan.  I love everything about the Rohirrim--the horses, the culture, the art, the clothes, all of it.  If I could move to Middle-Earth, there's no doubt I would belong in the Riddermark.

Eowyn happens to be my favorite character in all of literature.  While she's great in the films, she's even better in the books, and when I first read the trilogy as an awkward teenager who felt out of place in my love-bordering-on-obsession for horses and swords, I connected with her character--first because she was good at the things I was interested in, but then because I could relate to her longing for a place in the world where she could be herself, and make a difference in the world by doing so.

But this post is about fashion.  Let's just say that there isn't a single thing that Eowyn wears in the films that I wouldn't love to come into style:

The sleeves!  I am a complete sucker for flowy sleeves.  Most of the shirts that I have bought in my life that weren't t-shirts, I bought because they had interesting sleeves (usually loose and flowing).  But I really love Eowyn's whole look, and if I could find a way to bring it "in", I would slay the Nazgul to make that happen.

But hey, if I can't always dress like her, at least I can cook like her:

I've got that down. :-)

*I didn't even realize this until I'd finalized my five picks, but there's one thing they ALL have in common: they're all armed (with the possible exception of Echo, that is--but she's often armed in her Active state, and later on as Echo herself reaches self actualization).  So, um, I guess my favorite accessories are guns and swords?  Sounds about right.*

So who are your favorite fictional fashion icons?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My take on "Jurassic World".

New life goal: Become a raptor whisperer.

Running with the raptors.

SPOILERS AHEAD.  You've been warned.

Like everyone else who grew up on Jurassic Park and its sequels, I rushed to the theater (a few days with kids) to see the latest installment in the Jurassic world.

Yes, I do have a "Firefly" shirt for every occasion.

Jurassic Park was the first movie I ever bought for myself.  I still remember buying the VHS with my own money--I must have been eight or nine years old at the time.  I don't remember how old I was when I first picked up a copy of the book at a local Goodwill, but I do remember that the entire middle school era of my life was defined by reading and rereading, watching and rewatching, Jurassic Park and The Lost World.  I knew every dinosaur featured in the series, from the little compies (Procompsognathus Triassicus, I do believe) to the gigantic T-rex to the sly Carnotaurus.  The Jurassic world was my world.

Well-read Goodwill finds during my middle school years.

Though I read both books multiple times during those years, it's been at least a decade since I've picked them up, and to be honest, all I remember about The Lost World is that the movie was not much like the book and the Carnotaurus was freaking awesome because it could camouflage like a chameleon.  I was always disappointed that neither movie sequel ever had a dinosaur as interesting as the Carnotaurus of the second book.

I was excited to see the first trailer for Jurassic World.  It meant the continuation of a world I've loved most of my life, whether or not the movie turned out to be any good.  Then came the next trailer, and holy crap is he hunting WITH RAPTORS?!?  Hope grew, and I literally cannot remember the last time I was this excited about an upcoming movie (in fact, the closest excitement level I've reached in recent years was for the theatrical 3-D release of Jurassic Park).

Fortunately, it lived up to every expectation--and more than that, to every high hope I had that it would redeem some of what the previous sequels had crapped on.

There's a moment early on in Jurassic World, when the two boys, Zach and Gray, reach Isla Nublar and are settling into their room in the resort.  Gray swings open the balcony doors, and we're treated to a sweeping view of the new park as we hear John Williams' familiar Jurassic Park theme begin to play.  As the music swells and we seem to soar over the island, let me tell you: it felt like coming home.

It doesn't take long before we're introduced to the new dinosaur, the genetically engineered Indominus Rex, though we don't get a good look at her until later.  But in that first conversation at her enclosure, Masrani, trying to catch a glimpse of her through the trees, asks Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) "Is it white?", and right then, I had my first inkling that this could be it--THIS could be the time they finally make my chameleon dinosaur.  That's confirmed a little later, when Indominus comes out of seemingly nowhere to take out most of the SWAT-like "asset containment team", and the first casualty shouts "It can camouflage!" just before he's snapped up by those giant jaws.  FINALLY.  But the writers have stepped it up a notch, and as the movie progresses, Indominus continues to impress with a growing list of genetic traits that make it the most formidable dinosaur we've ever seen.

But the raptors--more specifically, their relationship with Owen (Chris Pratt)--are, in my opinion, the most interesting element of this movie.  I grew up on the notion that raptors are far to intelligent to be worth the risk of letting them live (Muldoon--"Clever girl"--seemed to be the only character in the original movie who fully grasped the danger they posed).  I was excited, but apprehensive, at the idea of some sort of raptor whisperer, afraid that they'd illogically tamed these terrifyingly intelligent beasts and made them less of what they were.  But I was impressed by the believability of Owen's relationship with the raptors--he knew just how tenuous it was, and never lost sight of the reality that his raptors were dangerous, instinctual animals.  Using them, and his bond with them, to hunt the Indominus becomes a necessary risk, but Owen's trust in the raptors is well-tempered by a firm grasp on the precariousness of his position as the pack's alpha.

My husband, Casey, faces off with a raptor.

I was also nervous to see how Claire would be portrayed in the movie--the trailer made her out to be an uptight control freak in impractical heels who would be little more than the subject of Owen's innuendos.  Jurassic Park featured strong, intelligent, useful female characters in Ellie and Lex--both had their moments to save the day in the original movie.  But while I started off disliking Claire's corporate pragmatism and poor taste in shoes, she turns out to be surprisingly badass, slamming a raptor into a tree with her getaway vehicle (and NOT crashing when one smashed its head through the driver's-side window and practically onto her lap--thank you, writers, for letting a woman be a competent driver for once), knocking a pterosaur off of Owen and shooting it like it's not her first time handling a gun, and she's the one with the brilliant idea to unleash the T-rex on Indominus--and the one to draw it out to the fight.  In the end, she's just as vital to the group's survival as Owen is, and I don't mind that she saves the day without ever kicking her heels off.

But what makes me really love this movie is the little moments that bring me back to the Jurassic world of my childhood: a glimpse of Mr. DNA (voiced by director Colin Trevorrow this time) talking "dino DNA!", Lowery's vintage "Jurassic Park" t-shirt, Zach brushing his hand along the painted raptors on the wall of the old park building, views of the familiar electric fence and the island approach by helicopter, shots of various dinosaurs in rearview mirrors throughout the movie, and the eerily similar way Indominus stalks its prey like the raptors did in the first movie.  Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) is the only returning member of the original cast, engineering dinosaurs by the nestful, as usual.  Even the very plot--that man, ever over-confident, has, once again, "made" an all-too-dangerous monster that gets on the loose and is going to kill everyone--is a modern take on the original storyline, but with enough new elements that it feels consistent with the original without being guilty of rehashing it.  (The movie also brought to mind other fandoms I've come to love, as well--Lowery's herd of toy dinosaurs on his console are reminiscent of Wash's similar arrangement in "Firefly", and the saddled triceratops are so very Dinotopian.)  But the most evocative moments for me were in the end, when the raptors herd our band of survivors out into the open and corral them on all sides, exactly as they did with Grant, Ellie, and the kids; when Claire uses a flare to draw out the T-rex, just like Malcolm drew the T-rex away from the kids in Jurassic Park; and the final showdown between the biggest baddies of the park--last time it was a T-rex and a pair of raptors who faced off, this time the T-rex and "Blue" team up to take on Indominus.  And that fight was epic--it had me quite literally on the edge of my seat for the last ten minutes of the movie.  That whole sequence stirred so many memories and brought all the tension, anxiety, and excitement that I'd felt the first time watching Jurassic Park flooding back, but managed to top beautifully it with new twists and amazing CG.

I left Jurassic World as excited about it as when I entered the theater.  It was an all-around fun movie on its own, but also a fantastic homage to the original.  Jurassic World brought back my Jurassic world, and it did it excellently.

(There's just one question left: What does InGen intend to do with the embryos Wu escaped the island with?)

Monday, June 15, 2015

District 4: Seaweed Soft Pretzels.

(Want to start with District 1?)

Forget fishing, District 4 brought us FINNICK.

Finnick Odair, District 4 tribute.

'Nuff said.

It also brings us the bread that had me the most nervous to make in this series: a salty fish-shaped bread containing seaweed and tinted green, as described by Suzanne Collins in Catching Fire.  But to my great surprise, I actually like this one!

District 4: Seaweed Soft Pretzels.

After scouring the internet for breads containing seaweed--none of which looked particularly appetizing--I ultimately decided to try adapting my go-to soft pretzel recipe instead.  That was the right choice.  I added seaweed to the dough, twisted them into a fish shape (well, sort of...we'll get to that), and used sea salt instead of rock salt, and they taste delicious.

You'll need:
  • Dough:
    • 1 sheet nori seaweed
    • 1/4 cup filtered water
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • 1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1 cup bread flour
    • 3+ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 sheet nori seaweed
    • Green food coloring (optional)
  • Soda bath:
    • 2 cups warm water
    • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • Topping:
    • 3 Tbsp butter
    • Fresh-ground sea salt, to taste


I've never cooked with seaweed.  I had no idea what kind to get, especially since I was pretty much winging it with my own recipe, so I let my husband pick up whatever he could find while he was at a local Vietnamese market (I love Atlanta).

Nori seaweed.

He came home with a package of sheets of nori, so I Googled nori--and still wasn't really sure what to do with it....After reading about how to rehydrate seaweed (though apparently nori doesn't usually need to be rehydrated, since it's made for making sushi), I decided the best course was to crumple up one of the sheets...

...into little pieces...

...and add 1/4 cup filtered water:

I let it sit for about half an hour while I mixed the other ingredients for the dough and chased my kids around the house.

While the seaweed rehydrates, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, in your mixing bowl:

Add the salt and brown sugar:

First tablespoon of brown sugar already sank out of sight.

Stir to dissolve:

Add the flours (1 cup bread, 3 cups all-purpose):

While your mixer does the work, check on your seaweed--I'd taken enough breaks with my kids by this point that my seaweed had soaked up most of the water:

Fish it out of the bowl and put it on a paper-towel-covered plate to drain the excess water:

By now, your dough should be well-mixed; add additional flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic, and no longer too sticky to handle:

Since this was an experiment to find the best way to make a bread closely resembling Collins' description, but I wasn't keen on wasting the whole batch of soft pretzels (which are ordinarily scrumptious) if I didn't like the taste of seaweed, I split my dough in half:

I decided to play around with green food coloring to go for that green tint Collins' described:

In the end, I added five drops of green food coloring gel--but if you want to add the tint, start with just a little of the food coloring, and see how far it goes.  You can always add more, but you don't want it too green!  Ultimately, I actually preferred the look of the bread that didn't have any food coloring.  I figure even if the seaweed doesn't change the color of the dough, seeing enough green specks can make one think it has a greenish tint, too--maybe Katniss was just seeing the green from the seaweed...I think I'll go with that theory. :-)

I mixed the food coloring in with my mixer at first, but ended up kneading it by hand the rest of the way to get it to spread more evenly (though I decided not to mix it in too evenly):

I set that dough aside in a clean bowl:

Next up was the half with seaweed--I put the dough in the mixing bowl and added a small handful of nori:

I didn't measure it--just eyeballed it.  Start with a little, and you can add more to your liking as you go.

Again, I found that kneading it by hand mixed the seaweed in much more evenly than using my mixer's dough hook:

Once I was happy with the amount of seaweed in my dough (I didn't add any after that first handful--which was maybe a third of the sheet), I split in half again for more experimentation:

I added three drops of food coloring to one of them (and left the other untinted):

Here are all three portions:

Cover the dough with a clean towel:

Let the dough rise 30-60 minutes.  I usually set a timer for 30 minutes, and start on the soda bath when it goes, my kids usually interrupt the process enough that it's risen for closer to 60 minutes by the time I'm ready to handle it! ;-)

For the soda bath, combine the warm water and baking soda in a bowl, stirring often:

(The baking soda has already mostly dissolved.)

Your dough should have risen by now:

Pinch of a chunk at a time and roll it into a rope:

Twist it into a simple fish shape:

Dunk it in the soda bath:

Place on a parchment-paper-covered (or greased) cookie sheet:

Fish!  Ish.

Repeat for the remainder of your dough:

If you've read my original soft pretzel post, you'll recall how awkwardly horrible I am at making pretzel shapes...even my stick shapes are pretty bad (you'll find photographic evidence in that post).  Turns out, I'm not much better at making fish.  But here's my rationale: just because District 4 bread is notably fish-shaped does NOT mean that every single person in the whole district is good at making a perfect fish shape, right?  I mean, these could totally be made by the one mom in the neighborhood whose fish come out as awkward twisty lumps.  Her kids' friends snicker a little bit when they eat lunch at school, because, dude, Finnick's mom just can't quite get the shape right.  Meanwhile, Chimaera's mom packed her a lunch of perfectly shaped bass, marlin, and friggin' swordfish bread...screw her.


Let the shaped dough rise 15-20 minutes, then bake at 450*F for 8-10 minutes (until golden brown):


Melt your butter and brush your fish-shaped pretzels liberally with it:

Sprinkle with salt:

As you can see, I used my seaweed-less bread to experiment with the salt topping.  I felt like fresh-ground sea salt was the most authentic option for District 4...

...but if that didn't taste right, I wanted to have the usual rock salt option as a back-up:

Fortunately, the sea salt looked and tasted great, so that's what I went with for the seaweed bread:

If you already KNOW it's a fish, you can totally see it, right?  ...Right?

Even though I love soft pretzels, I was quite nervous to actually try the seaweed ones.  I'm super picky (there's something wrong with my tongue), I'd never tried seaweed before, and there is no way to "hide" tastes I don't like in food, so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to stomach these.  But they're actually pretty good!  The seaweed taste is subtle, and not bad at all--for the most part, they taste just like my soft pretzels usually do.  I made my brother try one, too, to get his opinion, and after the first bite, he eagerly took a plateful--though he did wonder about the shape until I told him they were fish... :-P

And for your cut-and-paste convenience:

Seaweed Soft Pretzels
  • Dough:
    • 1 sheet nori seaweed
    • 1/4 cup filtered water
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • 1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
    • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1 cup bread flour
    • 3+ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 sheet nori seaweed
    • Green food coloring (optional)
  • Soda bath:
    • 2 cups warm water
    • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • Topping:
    • 3 Tbsp butter
    • Fresh-ground sea salt, to taste

  1. Crumple nori into small pieces in bowl; add 1/4 cup filtered water.  Rehydrate 20-30 minutes; remove from bowl and place on paper towels to drain excess water.
  2. In mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; stir.  Add brown sugar and salt; stir to dissolve.
  3. Add flours (1 cup bread flour, 3 cups all-purpose flour).  Add additional flour in 1/4 cup increments as need until dough is smooth and elastic and no longer too sticky to handle.
  4. Add seaweed, to taste, kneading by hand.  Optional: add food coloring and knead by hand.
  5. Cover dough and let rise 30-60 minutes.
  6. For soda bath, combine warm water and baking soda in bowl, stirring often.
  7. Pinch off a chunk of dough at a time, roll it into a rope, shape into a simple fish, and dunk into the soda bath.  Place on parchment-paper-covered (or greased) cookie sheet.  Let shaped fishes rise 15-20 minutes.
  8. Bake at 450*F for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt, to taste.

Easter Eggs

As usual, this week's main photo contains Easter eggs--references to other fandoms within the photo.  Can you find them?

Can you find the Easter eggs?

There are two this time, but I'm going to give you another hint...though I've been sticking with currently popular fandoms up to this point, you're going to have to think a little old school for these ones!

(Also, FISH ARE GROSS.  I had to touch it.  EWWW.)

How'd you do last time?  Ready for the reveal?

That's Sam and Dean Winchester's car from Supernatural in the foreground!  Well, it's not exactly their car...I couldn't get a hold of a Matchbox 1967 Chevy Impala, so I bought the closest match I could find from that era, painted it black, and printed off a tiny graphic of their license plate to glue on (there's one in the front, too).

Let me know in the comments if you think you've found this week's Easter eggs!  May the odds be ever in your favor! :-)

(Ready for District 5?)