* Friday night, because it was Bitter Devil Cold outside, and because I was craving beef (having gone to Oakland and eaten mostly seafood that week), I made a stab at beef bourguignon, or technically beef cabernet-merlotignon, since that's the big bottle of dry red lying around at the moment. As I often do, I combined recipes from many sources into one, and this time I struck azoth. One recipe swore by marinating the beef, onions, and vegetables in the herbed wine-stock mixture for hours and hours ahead of time; another suggested dredging the beef in flour, salt, and pepper (64:8:1), browning it good and sticky in the bacon fat, and then removing it to a plate before tossing in the onions and beginning the stew proper. I did both -- and the beef was (and I say this solely in the interests of plainspoken honest journalism and of forwarding culinary science) spectacular. I also swapped in a parsnip for one of the carrots, as I don't much like carrots, and I sauteed the mushrooms and just tossed them in in the last five minutes rather than just stewing them. That worked real well, too. Served up with mollpeartree's unbeatable mashed potatoes, with the thickened stew goo as gravy.
* This isn't a review (that's coming in the column after next, I hope), but I should mention how utterly delighted I am by chadu's Zorcerer of Zo RPG, which he was nice enough to send me a pre-print of, and I got last Thursday. (For those just joining us, ZoZ is a game of literary fairy tale adventure using Chad's very-much-like-FUDGE PDQ system.) Chad is at his best when he's writing from a place of pure love and heart, and this book has it in spades. The very interesting thing about it is that it includes his own playtest campaign -- both his notes/scenario designs and an Actual Play recap, including "DVD commentary" boxes from the two original players. Somehow those additional voices, reminiscing about their fun, add another level of feeling and interest to the material.