May 21, 2016

Historic Foam Aztec Chocolate Drink

Last spring, I found myself cursing at Google. I search and searched for a recipe for making authentic Aztec chocolate. I found stuff that foamed...with milk in it. I found stuff with only pre-Columbian ingredients...that didn't foam.

So I began experimenting. My chocoholic husband did not seem to mind. After a good bit of trial and error, we came up with something I'm very proud of -- a drink made from just cacao and water that actually produces a thick, delicious foam.



My husband pointed out that we'd done something cool, and I needed to actually write it up and share it. I thought about posting it on just my blog, but figured more people could find it more easily if I wrote this up as an Instructables. Behold, the chocolate recipe!

There are a couple modern shortcuts -- like using pre-ground cacao (or chocolate liquor, available in most supermarkets as unsweetened baking chocolate). But I'm very pleased with it.

March 31, 2016

Guest Post: Josh Vogt and Cutthroat Caverns





If you missed it, last year Josh was here talking about Scotland Yard. He's got a new book out, The Maid of Wrath, and he's back with a new boardgame to talk up. Here's Josh!

The Enemy of My Enemy is A Dirty Bastard

At different times, I enjoy competitive games and cooperative games. Quite different dynamic in either. So imagine my joy when I discovered a game that combined the two! Back at the 2015 Origins Game Fair, I was in the author alley, selling books and enjoying time talking with other authors. After hours, many of us got together to break out different games and have some fun. One night, a small group of us were introduced to a game called Cutthroat Caverns.

Now, Cutthroat Caverns, at first, looks like a boardgame version of a dungeon crawl. You have different classes, different abilities, and go through a series of monster encounters, trying to survive. The player with the most prestige at the end of 9 encounters wins. The twist is that only the player who lands the “killing blow” on an encounter actually gets the associated prestige. Yet without teamwork, encounters are basically impossible to overcome.

So, at the same time, you’re working together to defeat a big nasty...but also looking for the best way to ensure no one else gets that precious final blow, so you get all the prestige. Betrayal is inevitable, but oh-so-fun. You have cards that deal damage, block other people’s attacks, and can even heal one another (if you get the other player’s permission to do so, since it often gives the healer a nice little bonus). And there’s always the possibility that if there’s too much in-fighting, no one will survive and everyone loses.

Of course, on coming home, I had to immediately order the game, plus several expansion packs. It’s a fast-paced game that only takes an hour or two, isn’t too hard to learn, but can require some really twisted strategies to survive. Even if you aren’t into RPGs or fantasy-style games, I highly recommend this one for its unique mechanic and pure fun.

Just be ready to discover exactly how sly or underhanded your friends can be in the process.

About Josh:Author and editor Josh Vogt’s work covers fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel is Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes, published alongside his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor and The Maids of Wrath. He’s an editor at Paizo, a Scribe Award finalist, and a member of both SFWA and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt.



March 19, 2016

Salt Lake Comic Con FanX!

Panels!

On Friday, March 25, at 12:00-1:00, I'll be moderating on one of my favorite topics:


And on Saturday, March 26, at 11:00-12:00, you can find me here:


March 9, 2016

"Genie from the Gym" at Far Fetched Fables

My short story "Genie from the Gym" has been reprinted by the podcast Far Fetched Fables! So if you like to listen to your fiction, this link is for you.

February 15, 2016

I'm over at Bookshop Talk, talking about The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea, translated by JaHyun Kim Haboush. Go read about it! Or don't -- and just go read the book!

November 17, 2015

Boardgame Review: Dino Hunt Dice

At Salt Lake ComicCon, my kids discovered Zombie Dice. They loved it, but there's something really unnerving about hearing a five-year-old cheer, "Yes! More brains!"

So I was really happy to discover Dino Hunt Dice. It's also made by Steve Jackson Games and has almost-identical rules. Instead of brains, you collect dinosaurs.

Usually I'm a big fan of games with a fair amount of strategy and choice-making. This isn't that game. Dino Hunt Dice only has one choice to make -- whether or not you want to keep what you have or roll again and chance losing it all (here's the complete rules). There's a certain amount of calculated risk and probability involved, but this is no Euro game. So...why pick this game up?

You need something short. The game plays in about ten minutes, so it's perfect for moments when you really just don't have time to break out an hour-long game but want to be able to play something with your kids. It would work as a quick filler game for gaming groups, too -- or as a way to determine who gets to pick the next, heavier board game for the group to play. 

You need something simple. This is the kind of game one can literally play one-handed. The rules are easy peasy. It would be an easy game to get non-gamers to play. A great game for people who want to chat more than strategize. I don't have any very young novice board game players right now, but this would be a great game to introduce to a three-year-old. The luck element is heavy enough that they have a good chance of winning, but the game is still ten thousand times more interesting than Candyland. I'm excited to have a game that I'd willingly play with other adults that can also be accessed by kiddos still learning how to roll dice. And unlike a lot of dice games where there's some real score keeping involved, here you just have to be able to keep a running tally to twenty.

You need something portable. The whole game comes in a cup that would fit in most purses. It wouldn't be a bad game to just keep stashed in the car, and it's almost certainly going to be traveling with us. No need to worry about busted corners on boxes or finding space for it.

This game is no Settlers of Catan. It's not amazing or revolutionary. But I'm grateful to own it for those moments when we need short and simple and pulling out an absolutely brilliant game just isn't feasible. The kids have played it with me and by themselves I-don't-know-how-many-times. It seems easily worth the ten dollars we paid for it.