So what will I be talking about here? A lot of different stuff. I have the lucky job of going out on the road and playing the game with some really cool people and having pretty surreal adventures across that states, so there will be that. I'll also, like today, probably talk a lot about food (more on that later). You shouldn't really expect to see a whole bunch of crazy updates on the game or big reveals in my blog. I'll use the announcements section of the forums for that. This here? This is just for a little narrative on what it is like to work at Harmonix and occasionally even be allowed to have a life outside.
To summarize I'll probably write about food and also road life when I am out on the road. There might be some other stuff from time to time to, but you shouldn't count on it.
Here's a story- back when I was a QA tester on Karaoke Revolution we had a pretty intense crunch in the testing department. At Harmonix it means you work into the night but dinner is brought in by local restaurants willing to deliver for up to 30 or 40 people. That roughly translated into about two and half months solid of takeout food. Before this I had never been too terribly into cooking, I could make a few things but mostly didn't put too much effort into it. After this crunch, though, I couldn't bear to even look at takeout food. The concept was pretty gross to me, so I started to make my own dinners at home and bring in leftovers for lunch. I started pretty small, as I didn't have too much experience, but really started to get into it. Now one of my favorite hobbies in the whole world is cooking all sorts of crazy stuff. I very rarely use a cookbook for anything, I just think of various ingredients I imagine would taste good together and experiment. Most of the time this turns out pretty decent (Web of Fries), other times this turns out pretty bad (my still unrealized recipe for Beef Beefington) and needs some adjustments.
What this has also done is heighten my appreciation of eating at restaurants that our really good at what they do. On special occasions my girlfriend and I will go to someplace expensive and amazing (after we've saved up), other times we'll just had to some local cool place that is really affordable and is known for a couple incredible meals.
Most of the time I just buy up some good stuff at the store near our offices and then cook it up at home. Lately the thing I've been trying to perfect is potatoes. So far I am really good at making chips, fries, and mashed. What I really have wanted to master, though, is making a baked potato so good that it is like eating candy. I think I may have even pulled it off. What I was going for is a baked potato with a salty, hard outer shell with a crispy skin and firm flesh right under the skin. The inside of the potato should be cooked well enough that it breaks apart easily with a fork so you melt some butter in it and eat it like mashed potatoes. The end result is a potato that you is fluffy and delicious inside, and when you are done with that you can pick up the outer shell and eat it like a tasty, crunchy potato pie. Yes, I think about this stuff a lot. But I'm about to give you the recipe so you can startle friends with your mad tuber skillz.
2 large baking potatoes (russets work fine but feel free to experiment.)
Extra virgin olive oil (or if you are breaking your diet two dollops of bacon grease)
The first thing you'll want to do is preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. My oven has two racks, so what I do is in the center of the lower rack I put my toaster oven tray covered in foil, this will catch any stray potato drippings later. This will probably take some time unless your oven is way better than mine, which is probably likely. Next run the potatoes under cold water making sure to get all the dirt off and rubbing off any eyes that may be growing out of it.
Dry the potatoes off with a paper towel, and go grab a fork, this next part is fun. Being very careful not to stab yourself and shoot blood all over your kitchen, stab each potato 20 or so times making sure you get all the sides including the ends. This part will let out some of the outside moisture out while it cooks making the skin nice and crispy.
What I like to do next is lay out a bit of aluminum foil and then put the potatoes on top of it. I then drizzle some olive oil on them and rub it around with my hands so that the whole potato is covered (but not dripping, if it drips it will be a mess to clean up later in your oven). As I stated earlier you can substitute bacon grease for olive oil. This also makes for a tasty outer shell but, obviously, isn't too terribly healthy.
Speaking of unhealthy we come to our next step. Pour some coarse salt on the potatoes and then rub it around the skins. This will also draw moisture and be wicked good later. I try not to go too overboard with it, but I often fail. If you've done this right so far you should have two glistening potatoes with glints of coarse salt visible on the outer surface.
Hopefully your oven is now preheated. Take the two potatoes and place them on the upper rack above the toaster oven tray on the rack below. Set your timer for about an hour, and using a device like a knife or, toothpick, check the potato and see if it is done. I generally let it cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Now that the potatoes are done pull them out, carefully, and put them each on their own plate. Cut open with a trusty sharp knife (a butter knife won't do it), break up the innards with a fork and put a pat or two of unsalted butter inside. Now enjoy!
Another thing I sometimes do if I am pan-cooking a steak to go with the potatoes is take the steak out of the pan, pour a little red wine and butter into the pan, mix it up with the steak juices, give the red wine a little time to cook the alcohol off, and then pour a little of the resulting gravy into each opened potato.
Hope this is useful. If so let me know how it goes.