Writing the wrongs.

Esoteric ramblings from the abyss.

A – Z American States Cuisine: Alaska

Part 2 of my USA food trip and we travel up to the cold, cold oil rich foresty tundra wonderness that is Alaska.

I also would like to go into a bit of what these posts are all about. Basically, my beautiful wife has done a lot of experimental cooking in the home and although I hold my own, I must admit I tend to make the same food over and over again. I was inspired to look to American for some new recipes because a lot of my internet friends are from the States and I always envy a lot of what they’re eating. I tend to cook these dishes on a Saturday for my wife, but other people will get to taste them. This weekend, our board game group (rock and roll) will be trying Arizona. Check out my twitter  for some live time photos and comments etc.

So anyway, back on topic. Alaska. After much research I discovered that the majority of Alaskan cuisine involves fish and the odd seal which of course is out, because everything I’m making will be vegetarian. Did I mention that? Whoops.

For the main I plumped for a “Moose Borsch”, a traditional soupy broth normally infused with moose meat. For my dish I replaced the moose with quorn steak strips, which went in the recipe a lot later. I stuck to simmering the beetroots and carrots in water for  a while, then removed these, adding potato, cabbage and beans. The strips and shredded carrot and beet go back in with tomato puree and bay leaf to taste. Served with sour cream and bread. Original Recipe.

This was definitely a success and we had it the next day as well. It is certainly VERY filling and very much for the winter. Which is useful as the UK, especially Manchester, is cold. Most of the time.

 

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Tongass Forest Cookies

Tongass Nationa Forest is situated in Southern Alaska and this recipe is inspired from this blog post. The recipe was originally found from a traditional recipe on a baking tour of America. I omitted the coconut flakes and used rice krispies instead of cocoa pops. This is HIGHLY recommended, I absolutely love these cookies, they are big, brash and very filling. I said to my wife I could imagine you pocketing several of these and heading out into the Alaskan wilderness and surviving purely on the sugar alone.

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Next week: Arizona. 

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A – Z American States Cuisine: Alabama

Ahoy there!

First up, we are heading to the deep South for some dishes from Alabama. The Southern Alabama Pecan Pie was definitely the star performer. Look at all the sugar in it; how could it possibly fail? It had a lovely deep flavour and you are safe in the knowledge that should diabetic coma be induced you at least had a fantastic last dessert.

The Deep Fried Tomatoes (which in hindsight sound like a terrible folk band) were nice. I used red beef tomatoes as I couldn’t find any green ones and all the ones in our plot have ripened. They worked well in the fryer, considering all the reviews said that red tomatoes fall apart. That being said, the batter I made was not convincing and ended up being pretty thin; although flavoursome.

SOUTHERN ALABAMA PECAN PIE

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100g Brown Sugar

100g Granulated Sugar

2 eggs

200ml Golden Syrup

3 tablespoons butter

100g Pecan nuts

9′ Shortcrust Sweet Pastry.

 

Deep Fried Tomatoes (with Sour Cream and Chive Dip)

 

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World Chess Candidates 2014: Aftermath

So the results are in… Vishy Anand is the winner! Written off by many, including me, the veteran former world champion earns a rematch against the World Number 1, Magnus Carlsen.

Karjakin got a very handy second and Andreikin overperformed, but perhaps the other main story from this candidates, apart from Anand, is that the rest of the cast where somewhat disappointing. Kramnik lost three games and Topalov just didn’t show up at all. 

As for my predictions, as with many others I put too much credence on Lev Aronian’s recent form and not enough on his preponderancy to somehow lose form at the candidates. I also failed to predict Anand’s stellar performance… but who did?

 

Final results of the 2014 Candidates Tournament[8]

Rank Player Rating
March 2014[9]
1
(VA)
2
(SK)
3
(VK)
4
(SM)
5
(DA)
6
(LA)
7
(PS)
8
(VT)
Points Tiebreaks[10]
H2H Wins SB
  W B W B W B W B W B W B W B W B  
1 India Viswanathan Anand 2770   ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3 57.25
2 Russia Sergey Karjakin 2766 ½ ½   1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 3 51.75
3 Russia Vladimir Kramnik 2787 ½ ½ 1 0   1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 7 3 49.25
4 Azerbaijan Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2757 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0   1 ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 7 2 3 48.00
5 Russia Dmitry Andreikin 2709 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0   1 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 7 2 48.50
6 Armenia Levon Aronian 2830 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 0   1 ½ ½ ½ 3 45.00
7 Russia Peter Svidler 2758 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0   1 0 ½ 3 46.00
8 Bulgaria Veselin Topalov 2785 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0   6 2 42.25

World Chess Candidates Tournament 2014: Predictions Part 2

4. Peter Svidler

– Many will be critical of Peter Svidler’s inclusion in the tournament at the behest of the Russian sponsors. However, to be fair to Svidler he over-performed at the last candidates coming third and has shown an uncanny knack of upsetting higher rated players in tournaments. Note that unlike most other wildcard options, Svidler has actually defeated Magnus Carlsen in a recent classical game. I think he will have a good tournament but that’s all. Prediction: 7.5/14, 4th

3. Vladimir Kramnik

– The legend returns for yet another bite at the cherry. Everyone knows how powerful Kramnik is and like two of the other candidates he has won the world championships before. The only things I see preventing victory for Kramnik are ring rust, he hasn’t played competitavely in 2014, and a certain Armenian who seems unstoppable.
Prediction: 8.5/14, 3rd

2. Sergey Karjakin

– This will be my most controversial prediction. I think Karjakin will rock this Candidates. He seems to have been forgotten or written off by the pundits, despite qualifying on ELO alone. That means consistency. Ok, he had an average Tal Memorial, but he won the Norwegian Tournament, not to mention a string of other good performances. What else is in his favour? He is young, this is his best chance to get at the world championship and he is on home turf. He was born in the Crimea so the only thing that could prevent a good show is if his mind is elsewhere, but I can’t see it. Only issue is, there is one other super GM who I think will sneak ahead of Sergey when the dust settles… Prediction: 8.5/14, 2nd

1. Levon Aronian

– Has been in the form of his life and recently reached his highest ELO rating, the third highest in history. If it wasn’t for Magnus Carlsen Lev would be the poster-boy of chess. Call it written in the stars but I can’t see Lev bottling it this time, unlike at Candidates 2013. Prediction: 9.5/14, 1st

 

So there they are, my mystical predictions. Lev Aronian to win!

World Chess Candidates Tournament 2014: Predictions Part 1.

The tournament to decide who will play Magnus Carlsen for the World Chess Championship kicks off next week in the Russian town of Khanty Mansiysk, on March 11th.

http://www.chessdom.com/candidates-chess-2014/

The participants are:

1. Viswanathan Anand (IND, former World Champion)
2. Vladimir Kramnik (RUS, World Cup 2013 winner)
3. Dmitry Andreikin (RUS, World Cup 2013 finalist)
4. Veselin Topalov (BUL, Grand-Prix 2012-13 winner)
5. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, Grand-Prix 2012-13 runner-up)
6. Levon Aronian (ARM, rating list 2012-13)
7. Sergey Karjakin (RUS, rating list 2012-13)
8. Peter Svidler (RUS, host nominee)

 

Here are my untrained predictions in reverse order, part 1:

8. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov; 4/14

– A chess player who seems to have flown under the radar to qualify for the candidates; qualifying only because of the best three results out of four rule from the Grand Prix over Fabiano Caruana. Nothing suggests to me anything other than pain for Shaka, his preference for mad positions just won’t fly at the Candidates. Prediction: 4/14, 8th position

7. Veselin Topalov; 5.5/14

– Love him or hate him, Topalov has been there and done it before. Some impressive Grand Prix displays got him the qualification. The only problem is his form has been patchy at best, Grand Prix’s aside, and I get the feeling he may just do a Chucky here, win a couple spectacularly, but completely lose it elsewhere. Prediction: 5.5/14, 7th

6. Viswanathan Anand; 6/14

 

– Never really showed up in his world title defeat to Magnus Carlsen and has been lacklustre ever since, especially at the Zurich Chess Challenge where he struggled to 2/5. However, his rating still stands him in good stead and he still has the ability to crush his opponents with a technical masterpiece. But unless Vishy has had some kind of divine intervention in recent weeks it’s hard to see him overcome some of the more hungry opponents and will end up nearer the bottom of the table. Prediction: 6/14, 6th

5. Dmitry Andreikin; 6.5/14

– Qualifies courtesy of a world cup final apperance. Although the lowest rated GM here, he certainly has pedigree, being World Junior Champion and Russian Champion in 2012. The only problem is, Andreikin has a bit of a habit of playing it safe and drawing more often than not. That’s fine, but not good enough to win a Candidates. Expect a Grischuk style performance with few fireworks. Prediction: 6.5/14, 5th

 

That’s it for part 1, part 2 will be posted later in the week. Please comment below your predictions