Friday, December 28, 2007

Axis and Allies Gamenight #1

This is the first of a series of entries that have virtually no value to anyone other than myself. I and a small group of men play a board game titled Axis and Allies. Each night we meet for dinner, then play until after midnight. It's effectively a man's answer to Creative Memories Crop Nights. I've played in these game nights for nearly five years. The original crew that invited me included Kraig Smith, Brent York, Matt Cook, and Scott Stringer. They've all moved away, I'm left holding the torch (which is now about the size of a match stick).

This first game night of the 2007-2008 season (these are almost always played over the wintertime) occurred tonight. Most players were busy/out of town due to the holiday season. Allen Acker backed out due to a sinus infection. In the end two played, Rob VanFosson and myself. Here's the game summary:

Host: Darden

The Players:
Darden: USA, UK, Russia **WINNNER**
VanFosson: Germany, Japan

Special Rules:
Salvage (Russia), U-Boat Interdiction (Germany), Enigma (UK), Banzai (Japan), Superfortresses (USA)

Round One Summary:
Russia: Bought mix of infantry and artillery, typical first move, nothing special.
Germany: Rolled two dice for weapons development, winning Jet Fighters. Bought 1 U-boat, 2 Fighters, and tanks. Typical counter-attack to Russia. Took out UK's Mediterranean battleship.
UK: Bought Indian factory, consolidated African tank and Mediterranean Destroyer to India. Forgot to move transport/sub around Australia.
Japan: Did not buy Asian factory. Rolled two dice in attempted weapons development (long range bombers) but failed. Took Pearl. Moved southern fleet against UK's Indian fleet and lost. Japan failed to hold serve.
USA: Bought two bombers and an aircraft carrier. Lept for West Africa due to Germany's land move east, thereby bottling up German battleship in the Med. Otherwise laid low.

Middle Rounds Summary:
Russia: Typical game exchanging blows with Germany. Slowly gained upper hand because Germany's penchant for Jet Fighters failed to replenish ground troops.
Germany: Bought one U-Boat and 1-2 Jet Fighters for first three rounds due to special rules. Slowly lost momentum in ground war against Russia. Lost tank in Africa, failed to dominate the continent.
UK: Cranked tanks into Asia, taking upper hand due to Japan's lack of production capacity on the mainland. Got luck rolls and had two Australian troops island hop from East Indies to Borneo to the Philippines, thereby strangling Japan's IPC's while gaining at one time a 56 IPC production count. Used growing production capacity to build transports, moved first to Norway (Germany left it open), then to Karelia, then to Eastern Europe, then to Western Europe. Germany was left counter-attacking the UK. UK shifted focus from Asia to Europe after Round Three in attempt to deliver knock-out blow to Germany. This starved India (1-2 tanks per round). Late in game Japan began moving troops to Asian mainland using up to four transports, thereby threatening India. Because Germany was weakened, Russia switched to tank production in Rounds 4-5 and helped recover India via counter-attack.
Japan: Eliminated initial US fleets, but failed to remove UK fleet from Indian Ocean until Round Three. Was starved of IPC's due to losses of south pacific islands to UK. Failed to fight for Asian mainland until late.
USA: Bought two bombers per round every round. Moved them all to UK for strategic raids against Germany. Slowly began strangling Germany's production. Never wiped out Japanese fleet, and never significantly pressed Japan. This would have been regrettable if the Allies' concerted effort to focus on Germany failed.

It Was Over When... Japan failed to buy an Asian factory and missed on weapons development. This opened the door for the Allies to focus on Germany.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cream of Crab Soup

Got this recipe from Richie Stevens, brother-in-law of our former neighbor Amanda Adams. Good stuff!

1lb backfin crab meat
1/2 stick butter
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 cup half and half

Melt butter in pan. Blend in flour and stir. Stir in broth and simmer 2 minutes. Add milk and half and half, stirring constantly until thickened (DO NOT BOIL). Add crab meat and salt and pepper to taste. We also add old bay seasoning to taste as well. It takes a while to get it thickened but once it gets hot enough without boiling it will thicken.

Blue Ribbon Googled-Last-Night Red Bean Chili

This October our church celebrated it's 25th anniversary with a huge fall picnic. The Men's Ministry held a chili cook-off challenge. Over 20 men across the church were talking it up. Some pulled their family's secret recipe out of retirement. One commented on how he had been soaking (Barb calls it marinating) his beef for two days to get the right zing. I had decided to cook a pot to help feed the masses (a male's version of a pot luck dinner). I enjoy chili, but my couple attempts at cooking it was average at best. So I did the next logical thing - I googled for a new recipe. At 6pm the night before the cook-off.

I shopped at Giant that night, threw everything the recipe called for into a crock pot. And slept. The next day was showdown at the OK Corral. There was some jockeying, some jabbing, some posturing (all in fun) by most. I stayed out of it lest I be found for the poser that I was. There was some good chili that day, and mine didn't hold water against some of them. But what mattered was the judge's results, and in the end this Google recipe (which I can't even trace now) was the near unanimous choice for Best of Show. Three of four judges voted this #1 out of 22, the fourth judge tallied it #2. I've made it four times since, and it continues to receive rave reviews. Head and shoulders above the rest, I now gladly share with you the Blue Ribbon Googled-Last-Night Red Bean Chili recipe.

3 lbs. ground beef
1 (really) lg. yellow onion
1 (really) lg. green pepper
2 (28 oz.) cans Furmano’s chunky crushed tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
2 (10 oz.) cans Rotel tomatoes (Original flavor)
2 (16 oz.) cans Goya red kidney beans
2 (15 oz.) cans Hormel Chili Hot with Beans (yes, Hormel)
Diced jalapeƱo peppers to taste (I use about 1 Tbsp)
Chili powder to taste (I use about 1.5 Tbsp.)
Adobo seasoning to taste (I use about 1 Tbsp.)
Black pepper to taste (I use about 1.5 Tbsp.)
Raw sugar to taste (I use about 1 Tbsp.)

Brown beef. Chop then saute onion and green pepper. Throw everything into large crock pot. Cook 8-10 hrs on Low. Best if refrigerated and warmed the next day. Makes 6 quarts.

"I'm watching everything you do Daddy!"

Life has two speeds these days - hectic and chaotic. But you know that already. Then Fantasy Football season rolled in and elbowed into my computer time, so I've set aside using the blog to capture some of the memorable family moments in recent months. And there's been some good ones.

One that I want to remember in 10 years is the night I was driving the boys home one night without Barb when I realized I had been deep in thought for some time. And the boys were quiet (I figured asleep). I glimpsed Cameron leaning sideways in his back seat, so I asked him what he was thinking. "Nothing" was the reply. "Com'on son, you have to be thinking something". "No" was the repeated reply. "So you're just sitting there and your mind's just going buzzzzzzz...." Without hesitation Cameron interrupted me to say "I'm learning how to drive, daddy". Gulp. "Whaddya mean?" was my nervous reply. Then blammo - "I'm watching everything you do daddy!".

I won't capture into words the look of "I told you so" that came from Barb later that night. How'd my boys get this old this fast???? :)