Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fish Feasts, Cauldrons, and the Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

Sometimes, there are serious benefits to guild achievements and ranks.

Tempest has had the policy for a while now that during progression runs, food and flasks were provided by the guild.  In Wrath, feasts were generally provided by volunteers who considered their efforts a donation to the guild.  Flasks, however, were a little more difficult to come by.  In addition, it was cumbersome to pass out flasks to everyone at the start of progression content.

In Cataclysm, this has become somewhat easier.

With the fishing guild achievement, we managed to earn the Seafood Magnifique recipe, about which I've already written.  I fish for feasts to bring to raids, but other people may donate fish to the cause.  The volunteer basis seems to work out for this.

With the guild leveling, we managed to require fewer cauldrons, and the cauldron flasks last longer, which caused much rejoicing in my heart when it happened.  It caused so much general rejoicing that the guild decided to drop cauldrons not only for progression raids, but for all raids.  To accomplish this, we've asked people to donate flasks to the guild bank which are then used for cauldrons.  Our raid leader usually drops them, but sometimes I drop ones I've gathered for and made myself, which is my contribution.  :)

I've heard arguments against guilds supplying food and flasks for raiders.  Some say that supplying these things for raiders fosters attitudes of dependance and demanding.  I can understand this, having heard people ask for these things, even before it became standard to supply them normally, rather than bringing a personal supply, just in case a feast wasn't dropped or flasks weren't provided.  But in the case of our cauldrons, it's something a bit different.  Instead of the guild buying all the materials for the cauldrons, it's sort of a sharing system with mutual benefit.  If everyone contributes to the cauldrons, then each individual person is required to provide fewer flasks overall, as the cauldrons magically add a few and they are required to flask less frequently.  Win-win.

So what does the perfect cup of hot chocolate have to do with this?  Absolutely nothing at all, unless you are interested in the Starfire Espresso recipe in-game, which ends up being hot chocolate. (Look at the ingredients.) But in case you are interested in the recipe of the homemade hot chocolate I was drinking as I started this entry, here it is:

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

1 cup Nido whole powdered milk (If you're lucky enough to find it.  It's not made for the American market, so I usually find it in the Hispanic foods section.  If you can't find it, non-fat dry milk should work, but it won't taste as good.)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips, chopped very fine.  (I use one of those chopper gizmos, but a good food processor or blender may work.  My old blender didn't . . . Some brands of chocolate chips don't chop as well as others.  Nestle seems to work reasonably well.)

Mix the mix together and put in a container with a lid.  (Mine is actually an old Nido container, lol . . .)  You might want to make a double or triple batch at a time, to save yourself the mess later of chopping more chocolate chips.

When you're ready to make hot chocolate, put about 6 ounces of water in a mug, and heat for about 1:20 in the microwave.  Put in about three heaping tablespoons of mix (more or less to taste--you'll figure it out), and stir.  Put the mug back in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, and you're done!  If you want it more frothy, take a smallish wisk and with the wisk end in the mug, roll the handle rapidly between your hands to spin the wisk.  Hot chocolate will be hot at the start, so be careful.  (You'd think it would be obvious, with the name "hot chocolate", but you'd be surprised how many people think it should be "warm chocolate" when it's first made.  Seriously, though, if you're trying to melt fine bits of chocolate chip, you need more heat than that packaged instant hot cocoa stuff needs.)

If you happen to have a hot chocolate maker, such as the one my family has, you can toss all the ingredients in there without chopping the chocolate chips, and the heat generated by the appliance will be enough to take care of it all.  That's how I make hot chocolate for the entire family (and have for several years now . . . I'm dreading the day it finally dies, because I know I won't be able to get another one for $15).  The above recipe is enough to make up a full pot, with 4 cups of water.

Yes, it's even good in the summertime, especially when it's time for raid break.

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