Tuesday, June 24, 2014

28mm Tavern build WIP

I warn you now... this post will be picture heavy....  Be warned!  

I've got a lot done on my tavern!  I showed the work on the kitchen a few posts ago, and I was going to update progress on the rest of the tavern sooner, but then I got distracted by doing things in the real kitchen hahaha.

 Here is the continuation of the kitchen itself.  Last time I showed the flooring being placed, and a rough 'sketch' of where things were going to go.  Well, the floor was painted a dark brown, then dry brushed a lighter brown to bring out the details of the Hirst Arts floor pieces.  I then decided exactly where the main kitchen fireplace would go, and chopped out an opening for it from the cork walls.
I had a piece of foam sitting around (it was one of the 'place holders' that came in my Bigger Blacker Box from Cards Against Humanity (Best Game EVER) and I was no longer using it, so it became part of my craft supplies!) and I carved out a fireplace from it.  I will tell you now... this foam was the hardest thing to EVER cut anything out of!  Holy Camoly.... it took me forever to get anything out of this thing, and even then it looked like crap.  
 When I finally got it all dug out deep enough where I was satisfied with it, I used the cork piece that was cut out to form the fireplace opening and covered it with a brickwork design made from egg carton.  When it was dry, I experimented with using a dark colored grout to cover the gaps in the brick and then started painting it red.  Bricks!  Turned out decent, I think!

Next thing I did was attach the fireplace to the side of the kitchen, built the brickwork out into the kitchen, and made a simple mantle around it.  I'm currently debating on whether or not to make a spit roasting aparatus for this fireplace, or for the other one.  You'll see.

Ok... enough of the kitchen for the moment!  Now on to the actual tavern!  I made a template on graph paper designing how it should probably look.  It ended up being about 10"x8" with an additional 5"x2" area added to it for the keg area.

 I wanted the tavern to be elevated compared to the kitchen, with stairs leading down into the kitchen from behind the bar.  So, I measured out how high I wanted it to be compared to the kitchen, and then built a foundation out of strips of cork.  Most people would just use foam, or other things that are probably much easier to use, but I don't have any of that stuff, so I made due with what I had!

 The kitchen will butt up against the back of the tavern.  The area on the right of the tavern has a selection of the hirst arts floor mold pieces to make a platform where the kegs will sit.

From this point, I added the back wall that connects the kitchen and tavern, so I could start building the second fireplace.  Now, I got this idea in a dream... yes... I was dreaming about making this tavern....  shush!  I don't know if anyone else has done anything like this before, but I thought it sounded really cool in my dream, so I figured out how to make it work!
 Its a double sided fireplace!  Just think.... when you are sitting in the tavern after a long day adventuring, the delicious smells of stew and roast pig are not blocked by any doors at all... you can smell them as if they are right there... because they are!  The fireplace is built up with cork 'bricks' on both sides of the wall.  The hearth is basically floor level on the tavern side, and elevated in the kitchen.  I'm thinking under the 'slate' that extends from the kitchen side, will have extra wood sitting underneath.  Or something!

 Both sides have wood mantles build from balsa wood, and then the 'brickwork' was base coated in black.  I then built the colors up using grays to make them look like stone bricks.

Oh yeah... the walls were all covered in a mixture of pre-sanded grout, pva white glue, and a mixture of paints (which included multiple shades of brown and a little white, until I got the color I liked....)

So, about a week and a half later (I was working quite a bit because my boss and co-worker (boss's mom) were out of town for two weeks so I was working a lot....) I finally got to work on the tavern again.  I spent quite a while trying to figure out how I wanted to do the flooring.  I didn't have enough of the hirst arts tiles for the kitchen and the tavern, so I was trying to figure out something else.  I was thinking of maybe using craft sticks (aka popsicle sticks), but those are a pain to cut up and get the rounded edge off of.  I know they can just be cut with scissors, but I don't have the hand strength to do that for more than a few at a time.
 So I went with the time consuming practice laying out the flooring with coffee stirrers.  It took forever.  But, I must say, I think it looks awesome!  The only thing that I should have done was paint the base any color other than the white that it is.  Bleh...  oh well, too late now.
 Here is a view of the flooring all put down with a 'dry fit' of some of the walls.  I realized at this point that the floor had warped a little.  Thus the reason why people probably use foam for the base.  >.<  Well, you live and learn!  I have a few plans in place to make up for the bending.  It will look good!  It better.....
After all but the front wall were connected to the floor, I started to play around with the outside.  I needed a break from all that floor work!  Using the egg carton brick/stone techniques, I covered the keg area with it.  The kitchen will be covered in a matching stonework, to make things more cohesive.  The stonework will also be around the whole base of the tavern, covering the cork, all the way up to the bordering 'beam' that I added to the outside of the walls.  You'll see better pictures of what I mean later in the post.

 I don't know why I added a window to the alcove.  Really, I don't.  Especially since it will mostly be covered by a keg.  Bleh.

So, once I was a little tired of doing walls and painting the stonework that was there (all I've done so far on that is base coating it black.  I will finish painting it when I finish getting all the stonework done, that way it is all done with the same exact paint mixtures), I painted the floor!  I basically made a wash out of a dark burnt umbar brown paint. a hint of cinnamon paint and a lot of water, and I am pretty happy with the end result!
 The pseudo wash (because I'm not sure that is what it should be called....) let the differences in color come out for the different wood pieces, and let me make the floor look old and warn out.  All in all, I think it turned out well!  Oh, and I added a 'stage' in one corner of the tavern!  See, one of the things that came with my newest acquisitions was a whole sprue set of instruments!  I have a harp, and some moraccas, and a really cool horn, and an ocarina!  I'm so painting that so it looks like Link's.  Yup, that is the plan XD

And of course the band that is being created... they need a stage!

The next few pictures are a mock-up of how and where things will be going.  I don't have all my bar pieces (they are on their way now!) so I kinda fibbed it around hahah.  A little 'railing' area around part of the stage, leaving a 'step' area in the front.  I know that I have extra corner bar pieces, so I put one in the corner of the stage to hold an instrument.  Probably the harp.  I'll be adding a shelf or two to hold other instruments as well.

At one end of the bar area I'll probably put in a desk, so I can place things like an open book or a little chest of drawers, or maybe even a pile of treasure underneath it.  Who knows!  Plus a little gate, and some wine bottles...  And kegs!
 See.... why I put in the window, I have no clue...  Derp a derp moment.....  Maybe I'll figure out some sort of stained glass type of thing for it.  Who knows!

 And then I got all the stone work done on the tavern!  And I used balsa wood pieces to make a topper on the walls.  Those worked as a dual purpose.  I wanted to cover the edges, and it makes a good border on the inside as well as the outside.  I think it works!  Now I need to paint them.  In fact, I need to do a lot of painting.  Maybe I'll work on it tomorrow.  Then again, maybe I need a little break from it!  Oh, and things went much faster once I broke out the hot glue gun.  Especially since it took me about three hours to notice that the new thing of glue that I got was school glue, not glue all.  No wonder everything was taking SO LONG to dry, and it wasn't drying very well!

As you can see, today has been a very busy crafting day!  I even got started on the second floor.  This was very much inspired by the Tavern Build on the TerrainNoob youtube channel (which he hasn't updated in over a year....  but I still recommend watching the 17 videos he has on his tavern build!  And his dragon nest build... and tuscan house build....  Just go watch his videos!)
 The flooring that I have cut out is just the flooring for the rooms themselves.  There will be an inner area that will be the walkway.  I just haven't decided how it should go, since I have no CLUE how I'm going to put in a staircase...  The fireplace ended up bigger than I had originally intended so it messed up how I was going to do the staircase.  It will be a challenge that I have to figure out soon.  Hmmm....
 Here is kinda a configuration of how the rooms will be.  Seeing that I only have two beds at the moment, use your imagination!  There will be six rooms, the two on the closest side will be a little smaller than the other four, but I may make them for smaller races (aka gnomes).

And there you have it!  An update!  Woooo buddy, that was a lot of work that I've done.  And now my hands are complaining because I've been typing so long.

I will leave you with a......


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rhubarb Crunch

 Wow, two food posts in a row!  I'm proud of myself.... and I actually took pictures this time!  Today is my sister's mother-in-law's birthday, so I thought I would make something yummy to go with us to our picnic at the beach.  See, yesterday I was given two beautiful stocks of rhubarb, and I was itching to make something with it!  Last night I was just too tired to clean my kitchen and then bake something after a long day shift, so I got up early and got it done!  And does my apartment smell good or what!
 The recipe I used was from my family's cookbook, "Jeanne's Favorite Recipes."  There are so many good things in that book!  My family is from Minnesota, so there are a lot of casseroles and other yummy things, including about 10 different rhubarb recipes, so I picked one that I had all the ingredients for and voila!  Delicious smells wafting through the apartment!

Of course... I thought I had all the ingredients.  After getting only a cup and a half of brown sugar out of the bag I had.... I realized that I didn't have enough!  Needed two cups!  And then I double checked my actual sugar... and couldn't find it.  Then I remembered I gave the bag to my sister since she was out.  Well crap!  A trip to the store later, now with both sugars, coffee creamer (which I used the rest of this morning) and ice cream (because, I think the rhubarb would be really good with vanilla ice cream when we get back from the beach), I was finally able to actual start it.
 I mixed up all the dries together, eventually using my hands since the spoon wasn't cutting it.  Brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom (which wasn't actually in the recipe, but cardamom and rhubarb to me go so well together!).  Then I mixed in a cup of butter.  Well, the recipe called for margarine, but I didn't have any, so I used butter!  The recipe didn't say whether to melt the butter or not, but since I didn't take it out of the fridge the night before, I nuked the sticks for thirty seconds, and then mixed it in to the dries.
 Once fully mixed up, also using my hands.... Why dirty more dishes when you have two perfectly useful tools attached to the end of your arms?  Half of this mixture is then smooshed into the bottom of a 9 inch baking dish.
 Then the rhubarb gets chopped up into little pieces... the recipe says 'finely chop' but with my wrists being touchy (some things like chopping, carrying grocery bags for more than three minutes, etc makes the inflammation flare up.... but oh well!  It happens) this is as 'finely' chopped that the rhubarb is gonna get!  And, I actually only had about three and a half cups of rhubarb when the recipe called for four, but I think it worked out!  Use what you have!
 Next up was making the sugar mixture.  Sugar, water, corn starch and vanilla.  Hey hey hey! Lookie there!  Home made vanilla for the win!  Heat the mixture until it gets nice and thick...  and it seemed to go slow until wham!  All of a sudden it was thick and boiling and splattering on me....  so I promptly took it away from the heat and poured it over the rhubarb.
 Nice and shiny!  Yeah... I stuck it on a foil covered baking sheet... I had a feeling there would be some spillage in my near future, and I really didn't feel like cleaning the oven afterwards.
 The rest of the butter brown sugar mixture gets dumped on top.  Well, 'sprinkled'.  Then into the oven for an hour at 350*.  Which, of course, the oven should have been preheated to already.  I actually did preheat this time, you should be proud of me!
And here it is!  Yummy yummy goodness!  And yes it did spill over a little, so the whole foil covered baking pan... great idea!  Now I can't wait to eat it, with the ice cream!  Or without!  Or whatever... it all sounds delicious.

If interested, I'll share the actual recipe later!  Right now, I have to go get ready to go to my sister's house.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Baked Potato with Chicken soup

I made soup this morning.  Yup, got up early to do it and everything!  See, I was gonna make this last night, but then I fell asleep, and napped throughout a good portion of the evening, and then I didn't want to make it super late... and then of course because I napped like a goofball that I am, I had trouble sleeping and got up way too early this morning.

So... I made the soup!

And, let me tell you, it has turned out delicious!


And being the complete goofball that I can be, I didn't even think of taking pictures until the final shot of the soup in the pot.

So, here is the recipe that I kinda made up as I went.  It is based off of a healthier version of baked potato soup, but then I deviated... like I tend to do with most recipes!

Without further ado... here is the recipe!

Baked Potato with Chicken

2 russet potatoes, cleaned
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into pieces
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth, plus 2 more cups, set aside.
2 cups reduced fat milk (I used 2% cause thats what I had)
~2 cups chicken
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

First, I poked holes all through the potatoes, and then nuked them according to the potato button on my microwave (set to two potatoes, for obvious reasons.)  It took about 8.5 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the microwave and set aside to cool. While the potatoes were cooking, I preheated my oven to 400* and put the cauliflower on a foil lined baking sheet.  I drizzled a little bit of olive oil, and then roasted the cauliflower for about 15 minutes.  I didn't really time them, but once you start smelling them and see a lovely caramelization going, then they are pretty much done!

So, while these are all cooking up nice and wonderfully, I broke out a skillet and added the onion with some butter, and put them on a medium-low heat.  Caramelized onions are the best things ever, and this is saying a lot since I do not like onions usually.

As the onions caramelized, I peeled the potatoes (and honestly, I could have let them sit a little longer, those buggers are hot!) and chopped them up.  Into a soup pot they went, along with the cauliflower.  Once the onions were a beautiful color, I added the garlic and let them cook about a minute longer.  Then into the pot they went as well.

2 cups each of the broth and milk were added, as well as a pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like a little more kick) and the whole thing was brought up to a boil.

In a skillet (I used the same on as for the onions... why get more dirty then what is needed?) I added the chicken with a little bit of olive oil and some garlic powder, and slowly started to heat it up.  The chicken was from a deli whole chicken that I needed to use up, so it was about 2 cups worth that I managed to pick off of the bones.  I kept the heat on medium, because I did not want to dry the chicken out with cooking it super fast.

By the time the chicken was picked off the bones and started to heat up, the soup was beginning to boil.  I took it off the heat and broke out the nifty immersion blender.  (Which actually belongs to my sister... I keep 'forgetting' to give it back.... Shhhhh)

Immersion blending is fun.... my kitchen loves me for it.... it means the kitchen usually gets a bath afterwards.... heheheh.  I admit, I am not the best immersion blender person... I tend to splash it... Don't do what I do... keep it in the pot and take your finger off the 'on' button when you lift it out completely.

To my defense... I was making this soup rather early in the morning.... on just my first cup of coffee!

So, immersion blend.  I left quite a bit of chunkies in there, because I like chunkies in my potato soup.  I then plopped the chicken into the soup, and mixed it all up!  Now, you would think that it would be done... but no......

See... while I like chunkies in my potato soup, I am not a fan of the soup itself being the consistancy of mashed potatoes (the instant kind....).  It was super thick!  So thick that I could turn my tasting spoon over and it would take a moment before plopping back into the pot.

This is where the rest of that chicken stock comes in!  I added it in and it became the perfect consistency!  Also, this is when I added in some salt and no pepper.  I am completely against pepper.  I don't like it.  Not a bit!  So, I use an alternative.... Grains of Paradise!  Love that stuff!  So, I added in some salt and GoP, and about a quarter cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  But, I listed pepper for you freaks who like it....

Additionally, other things could be added!  Bacon (I am bummed, I was gonna add bacon to at least the topping, but it turns out that I am out of bacon.... its a travesty), sour cream, chives, more cheese, or anything else that would traditionally go on top of a loaded potato soup.  I just added chicken, cause I think its delicious!

And here is the final soup!  also... the only picture I took.... I'll be more diligent next time!  I think the next recipe I am gonna make will have something to do with venison, bacon, possibly beef, and all in a pie.  Yum... meat pies....