Progress Report – January 2014

Progress Report – January 2014

January 2014 had kind of a theme going on.

Posted Works

This month was all about Porthos, Wesley Crusher, and Eriecho, it seemed.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | January 2014

First of all, I finished spinning out The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Future Cat on Fanfiction.net, and also added the story to Fictionpad. For the In Between Days Collection, I added The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Future Cat, In Memory of Kelsey Haber, and Confidence. For Hall of Mirrors context, I added Ceremonial. I finished posting Crackerjack on Wattpad and finished posting Crackerjack on the G & T Show’s forums.

Progress Report – January 2014

In keeping with the Wesley Crusher theme, I added Imprecision, Overture, The Adventures of Porthos, The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment and the beginning of The Continuing Adventures of Porthos – The Future Cat to Wattpad, and to G & T Show’s forums, as a single topic, Imprecision/Overture, plus The Adventures of Porthos, The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment and The Continuing Adventures of Porthos – The Future Cat.

I began adding Flight of the Bluebird to Fanfiction.net. For Valentines’ Day, I combined The Best Things Come in Pairs and Complications into one story on Wattpad, and called it Loving the Alien.

Progress Report – January 2014

In response to my own monthly prompt about YOLO (You Only Live Once), I posted the Eriecho/Sybok story, Across the Universe.

I added a Stats page to capture all read and review data.

Milestones

The Stats page has all significant read counts. No new milestones were attained this month.

WIP Corner

I continued to work on Time Out, and on the wholly original story, The Obolonk Murders.

Prep Work

I overhauled the website and the blog considerably, adding all of the casting information here on the blog. This did not just bring more information directly to where I am getting the most views and feedback. It also served to help declutter the index for the site. I added a little to the Star Trek Expanded Universes Wiki, too.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Apart from working on the jespah website, I also worked on my own professional website and did some social media blogging. It was a snowy January, and snow shoveling tends to give me wrist pain, thereby making it difficult to type. Furthermore, I started social media classes at Quinnipiac University.

Review – Escape

Escape Background

Escape has irony on its side.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Hall of Mirrors | Escape
Hall of Mirrors

For a weekly prompt about escapes, I chose what would be, to some, the only way out of the mirror.

Suicide.

For Andrew Miller, who has become the Empress‘s toy, and has been so for years, life is too much of a burden, and he wants it all to end, and end soon.

And so he goes about figuring out how to end it all.

Plot

Sick of everything, and sick of the Empress, Andy sets about putting together the means and opportunity to kill himself. He obtains a tricoulamine capsule but the later investigation shows it’s from Crossman Pharmaceuticals and is of an older design, so it was possibly from the earlier doctor, Cyril Morgan.

English: Catherine Bell, star of television's ...

It’s all because of the death of Melissa Madden, a fact disclosed in Fortune. After Andy and Melissa meet (during The Play at the Plate), a sexual relationship develops between them. When Melissa becomes pregnant, Andrew will have to get her off the ship without the Empress finding out, as Hoshi will kill both of them. Because he can never see his child, he at least wants to try to support the baby, who they have agreed to name Tommy.

Andrew asks his friend, Josh Rosen, to help set up a dummy fund to help support Tommy and Melissa. Josh agrees to launder the funds and make it appear as if it’s an account comprised of the payment of old gambling debts from Game Night. Melissa’s death, in a shuttle crash, moots all of that work.

Several years later, Andrew has the nerve, the means, and the privacy. He write a short note and takes the drug, thereby finally getting away from Hoshi.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like this neat and tidy little story, and reprised it in The Point is Probably Moot, where I cover the aftermath.

Portrait of a Character – Kittris (Kit)

Portrait of a Character – Kittris (Kit)

Origins

In Hold Your Dominion, a somewhat earlier Star Trek fanfiction piece, Gina and Gabrielle Nolan experience immeasurable loss when Gina’s husband, Michael, loses his life in a senseless Breen attack before Gabrielle is even born.

But life goes on, and eventually it’s five years since the attack. Gabby and Gina go to Gabby’s school, where there is a presentation of artwork commemorating the attack. Gabrielle’s artwork is a little disturbing, but there is a much better piece done by a little Klingon girl, Freela, who has lost her mother. When Gina finds a Klingon man who seems to be looking for something or someone, he turns out to be Kittris, Freela’s father. Gina immediately starts calling him Kit.

Portrayal

I like wrestler Chris Jericho for Kittris.

Portrait of a Character – Kittris (Kit)
Chris Jericho

The actor is affable and intelligent and seems a better mate for Gina than a lot of the more standard Klingons would be. He seems to be a guy with a sense of humor and timing and grace, and not just a grappler with brawn.

Personality

Kit is a butcher by trade, but he does his best to assure that the animals he has to slaughter don’t suffer. When he and Gina first talk, he’s tentative (he doesn’t speak English very well yet). They make conversation as well as they can, and Gina can see how Kit interacts with Freela. He doesn’t belittle her when she’s afraid, with some notion of insisting that a little girl somehow behave like a Klingon warrior. Instead, he’s kind and patient.

After they have married, he takes in Gabrielle and treats her as if she were his second daughter. He insists that the two Nolans be a part of any family events or activities (including the wedding of Lannis’s younger sister, Lukara), and Freela and Gabrielle even share a bedroom. When the girls are older, and Gabby has to act opposite a Breen, Kit is supportive, and checks to make sure that Gabby is being treated all right, even by a former enemy.

Relationships

Lannis

Just like Michael Nolan, Lannis is killed in the Breen attack. However, Lannis was no civilian. Instead, she was a bombardier on a two-person Daranaean ship, and was shot down during a fire fight over San Francisco. When Kittris and Gina first meet, he intimates to her that he did not always get along with his first wife’s family, but he was dependent upon them to help with Freela, who was an infant at the time of her mother’s death.

Gina Nolan

With Gina, Kit finds a willing and equal partner in life. They blend their families in such a way that I often refer to them as the Klingon Brady Bunch. The union is respectful and as equal as it can be.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Kittris (Kit)
Mirror Kittris (Chris Jericho)

In Smash Your Dominion, the meeting in the Mirror Universe between the Mirror versions of Kit and Gina goes far differently as Gina, a Captain’s Woman, has to get her rambunctious daughter out of trouble before the Captain Keller (who is not Gabby’s father) finds out.

In exchange for a little something fun, Kit keeps quiet about Gabrielle getting into a small scrape. But Kit knows that it’s a bad idea to get involved with a Captain’s Woman. Unless one is a captain, of course.

Quote

“We realize that you must rehearse. But, well, everything about that boy disturbs me.”

Upshot

I haven’t really thought about what else to do with this family, at least, not for a while. The situation may present itself, but right now Kit is on hold with the remainder of his blended clan.

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation

Background

The prompt was about IDIC, infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation
Luke Macfarlane as Frank Todd

That is, the urging was to write something featuring a pairing that was not traditional male-female.

I had my two favorite gay men on the NX-01 already created – Frank and Dave, who had been introduced in There’s Something About Hoshi and expanded upon in The Three of Us.

There are two other gay men on board, Preston Jennings and Lucas Donnelly, plus Christian Harris is asexual and Kelsey Haber is possibly bi (main character Melissa Madden definitely is) and is definitely a cross-dresser (I’m still kind of on the fence about Kelsey these days). Plus Diana Jones is a lesbian, as are the Starfleet Rabbi, Leah Benson and main character Leonora Digiorno.

But it was Dave and Frank’s relationship that I wanted to show at its absolute beginning, in the prime timeline.

Plot

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation
Jason Patric as Dave Constantine

The premise is that E2 has just concluded in the prime timeline.

Of course, people are talking about what happened, who was chosen, etc. Dave and Frank realize that they were together. But they only know about the second of two kicks back in time, so they just think it was some sort of a mutual decision. However, the reality of the first kick back is that Dave approached Frank after Frank rather loudly and angrily came out.

Be that as it may, things are a little different. The ship is not generational and they are not desperate. But that’s all right. There is still an attraction there.

Review – Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation

And, as the title says, there was some mental meandering that went on, on both sides, as to who was available and who was interested. For a minority sexuality, not only are there questions of attraction and availability, there are also questions of wiring and preference. After all, even if Dave had the biggest-ever crush on Frank, if Frank was only interested in women, it would not have happened. Hence, the moves are cautious and a little tentative.

But they happen all the same.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

I have read slash online, and I have to say that so much of it is either out and out PWP (porn without plot) or angst-filled hurt/comfort or unfulfilled adolescent-style longing that it makes me wonder about genuine romance between either two men or two women.

Who writes gentle slash? I suppose I do. I love this story, love how it came out (wordplay intended) and am very pleased that it’s in my own personal fanfiction, and it’s even got a sequel. Viva Dave and Frank!

Portrait of a Character – Empress Hoshi Sato

Portrait of a Character – Empress Hoshi Sato

The Empress Hoshi Sato is a linchpin character.

Origins

The character, of course, is Star Trek: Enterprise canon, and is the Mirror Universe counterpart to Hoshi Sato.

Portrait of a Character – Empress Hoshi Sato
Declaring power

However, the Enterprise series only showed her declaring her power, and never actually consolidating or wielding it, as the show was cancelled far too soon. I have tried to rectify that, and I recognize that the official books have done so as well. But I think Star Trek is a big tent, and there’s room for all sorts of fanfiction interpretations of what happens next.

Portrayal

As in the series, the Empress Hoshi Sato is played by Linda Park.

Personality

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Empress Hoshi Sato on the Bridge
Empress Hoshi Sato on the Bridge

Suspicious, nasty and ruthless, Hoshi makes a perfect Mirror Universe Empress and all-around villain because she will stop at nothing.

She’s just a bit campy in canon, but I make her truly dangerous. In Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses, she violently takes charge, beginning a bloody reign by first killing off Phlox and Ian (Malcolm‘s counterpart), and then moving onto the Emperor Philip IV (counterpart to Colonel Philip Green) and, eventually, T’Pol.

Machiavellian

As a true Machiavellian, she eliminates the Emperor’s entire family, in order to prevent the people from perhaps, in the future, rallying around a successor. This includes the Emperor’s infant daughter, Anastasia, a reference to Princess Anastasia of Russia, killed when the Bolsheviks came to power. This also establishes Hoshi’s reign as having the potential to become totalitarian, which is confirmed with later stories. But that’s nothing new. In The High Cost of Dissidence, her predecessor has proven to be just as immoral.

Characters Cyril MorganAndrew Miller, José Torres, and Brian Delacroix join her current followers, who include Doug Hayes, Chip Masterson and Aidan MacKenzie, along with her lover, Travis Mayweather.

Doug Gets Out

In Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions, Hoshi pits Doug, Aidan and Chip against each other, in order to get someone new to run Tactical, as she has had Ian killed. However, rather than eliminate or emasculate his rivals, the victorious Doug decides to have them work under him, in a more cooperative type of venture. This continues to the time of Reversal. Aidan repays Doug’s kindness by cuckolding him and trying to take his girl, Jenn Crossman.

By the time of First Born, Hoshi has decided that she wants an heir. When Rick Daniels goes to the Defiant on a mission, they hook up, and she becomes pregnant. She proves to be a horrible mother, having Beth Cutler care for her son with Rick. By the time of Coveted Commodity, her childbearing years are coming to an end.

And by the time of Shake Your Body, Milton Walker seizes an opportunity and comes calling.

Relationships

Maximilian Forrest

This canon relationship is shown in the two ENT Mirror Universe episodes.

Portrait of a Character – Empress Hoshi Sato
Forrest’s Captain’s Woman

Both actors have said they believe she loved him. However, he may or may not have loved her. I go with this, that his love for her is ambiguous, if it exists at all.

Further, she is ambitious. Even if Forrest had survived, it would not have been enough. She would have left him, at some point, unless he could go a lot further, a lot faster, in their careers.

Even then, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have stayed for long.

Jonathan Archer

Another canon relationship, Hoshi cheats on Forrest with Archer. But when Archer proves to be too slow to get ahead, she offs him.

Travis Mayweather

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | MU Hoshi and Travis | Empress Hoshi Sato
MU Hoshi and Travis

The final canon relationship, Hoshi turns to Travis for help in dispatching Archer.

The way I write them, they stay together, but she is dominant in every single way. In Coveted Commodity, this becomes all-too clear, as he reminisces about how, every time she’s had a child from someone else, she’s told him that it’s for her security.

Travis is mainly interested in his own security, so he goes along with it. And, in Commodity, he comes to understand that he’s better off where he is, rather than to try to usurp her.

Richard Daniels

In January of 2156, Rick goes on a temporal mission to the Mirror, to fix the Defiant. With poor cash flow and no money to pay him, plus an urge to make it with a time traveler (he foolishly reveals that detail about himself to her), they hook up. Nine months later, Jun is born, and the Temporal Integrity Commission has to scramble. Because Rick wants his temporally paradoxical son to live, Jun has to be sterilized, and Rick is forbidden from returning to the Mirror at any time during Jun or Hoshi’s lives, not even long before conception or after her menopause or even after her death.

Rick’s boss, Carmen Calavicci, fakes Rick’s death by arranging for wreckage to be left on Daranaea. She also applies delta radiation in utero and Jun is thereby sterilized.

Aidan MacKenzie

Aidan, her second baby daddy, is seduced at the end of Reversal, an act that Doug wisely resisted. Hoshi makes it very clear that she does not care at all for Aidan, but he’s got good genes. By the time of the alternate timelines in Temper, Aidan is the designated babysitter for the royal brats.

José Torres

By the time of Brown, José is already trying to make time with the Empress, following up some small flirtation during Throwing Rocks.

Francisco Ramirez

At the same time that she is involved with Torres, Hoshi is also involved with Ramirez.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Perks of Being in the Inner Circle | Empress Hoshi Sato
The Perks of Being in the Inner Circle

Chandler Masterson

Chip is next in the passing parade, and is thrown over when Hoshi has his children.

Andrew Miller

After Travis’s death, Hoshi goes after Andrew, who is stuck with her until he leaves via suicide. He is, in this instance, cheating on her, with Melissa Madden, who dies, pregnant by him, in a shuttle crash. When he refers to MM in his suicide note, Hoshi changes the note in order to favor herself and gratify her ego.

Milton Walker

After Andrew’s death, Milton shows up, as he is on the run from the authorities. This former Eligian Order monk hasn’t been with a woman in decades, but Hoshi is older and less attractive, so she grabs onto him anyway.

Theme Music

Offspring

Jun Daniels Sato

The first born ends up running the Empire, with Kira, after Hoshi’s death, in Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown? Prior to that, Jun runs Communications on the Defiant.

Kira (Kirin) MacKenzie Sato

Kira (sometimes called Kirin, which means giraffe) is the tallest of the children and, by rights, was supposed to be the eldest. He runs the Tactical station before becoming co-Emperor with Jun, but predeceases his elder brother.

Arashi Sato

With a head for business, Arashi is the only of the children of the Empress Hoshi Sato who is born without the Y Chromosome Skew. His parentage is allegedly unknown, but Torres does not have the skew, whereas Ramirez does. Therefore, it’s a lead pipe cinch that the head of the treasury is Torres’s son.

Takara Masterson Sato

Takara, the only girl, is the elder of a pair of twins, and eventually becomes the forebear of the successor to Jun and Kira – Charles Tucker VI, AKA the Emperor Charles I. She is removed from the Empress’s influence at an early age.

Takeo Masterson Sato

The younger twin, Takeo is a gay man, and is rescued from a life with the Empress by his father, Chip, and Chip’s wife, Lucy Stone, taking him away at a young age.

Izo Mayweather Sato

The youngest, son of Travis Mayweather, almost dies in utero, as Izo has a hole in his heart. Travis’s sacrifice suffers Izo to live; he grows up to run the Empress’s (and, later, his brothers’) Secret Police.

Quote

“Get me my ships! Get me my legions!”

Upshot

Empress Hoshi Sato is just the character that goes on and on, the gift that keeps on giving. I love writing her, putting her into difficult and easy circumstances, and generally giving her evil some buffoonish tendencies as she inevitably misses the mark in some areas as she all too accurately hits it in many others. I guarantee her return.

Review – Consider the Lilies of the Field

Review – Consider the Lilies of the Field

Background

Lilies and Lili! For a prompt about sweetness, I gave two answers.

Review – Consider the Lilies of the Field
Lilies

This was the second one. I wanted to get across the sweetness of relationships, both the long-term and the fairly new.

In addition, in Fortune, one of the family photographs was of Joss and Jia at their prom. I wanted to fill in the blanks, the missing details, of that.

Plot

Joss, a little jumpy in a tuxedo, is cooling his heels before Jia and her parents arrive to take him to the prom at their little school on Lafa II. Marie Patrice is, as she often is, a little snarky. Declan even jokes a bit.  Lili is of course more supportive. Malcolm is mentioned very briefly.

There is a little bustling as Doug arrives with groceries. The kids go out to help (after Lili tells them to), but she holds back Joss so that he won’t get dirty. There is a mysterious blue bag that no one is allowed to touch.

Review – Consider the Lilies of the Field

Once the food is put away, Doug opens up the bag, revealing a carnation boutonniere for Joss and a corsage for Jia. Jia’s parents, Mai and Geming arrive with their daughter. Savvy readers will recognize Geming’s counterpart as being Doug’s final deliberate kill in the Mirror Universe.

After they depart, and the other two children return to their homework, Lili laments that Doug never had a prom. He confirms that, at the time, he was finishing up at West Point and about to go into Basic Training. But he’s got one more surprise for her.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I enjoyed bringing this story together, and I think it works rather well. Doug and Lili’s love is obvious, and Jia and Joss’s relationship is on the cusp of becoming something great, too.

Spotlight on a Meme – Pumpkin Pie #49

Background

Pumpkin pie was originally almost random. The creation of the #49 pie meme was a fit of amused inspiration by kes7 and me.

Radiation Bands

Way back in Temper, I established that each universe vibrates on a particular radiation band. We would be 21 centimeters, and the Mirror would be 20. This is rather close to canon. In the TNG episodes Parallels and Galaxy’s Child, it is noted that various universes have differing characteristics, and it is possible to match a person or entity to a universe, using a quantum signature (in Parallels) and all of the matter in the universe vibrates on a 21 centimeter radiation band (Galaxy’s Child), I put the two together, deciding that the radiation band would be the identifier. This is known as the Hydrogen Line.

Pumpkin Pie?

Why pumpkin pie? Well, why not? Levi Cavendish notes that pie slices are smaller than sehlats, and make for a better demonstration. And he likes pie.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Pumpkin Pie #49
Pumpkin Pie #49

Beyond 20 and 21 cm

In Multiverse II, with characters from all sorts of fan universes and alternate and expanded universes, it made sense to expand the radiation bands. Further, as established in Temper, the 22 cm radiation band is where the dinosaurs did not die out on Earth. There would be a myriad of other universes, and they would not be confined to perfectly rounded-off centimeters, of course. The band is genetic, and can be passed down.

But there would be more.

The Experiment

As Levi attempts to fix the problem and find a way out of the current mess, he begins experimenting with finding a way into the other universes.

Pie, Pie, Me oh My, I love Pie!
Pie, Pie, Me oh My, I love Pie! (Photo credit: AlyssssylA)

After all, since the current universe is one being taken over by Chilo, his reasoning is that they might be able to exit through another universe.

Being a devotee of pumpkin pie, he hits upon the idea of throwing a replicator into catering mode and seeing how many different kinds of pumpkin pie he can create. Being the wacky guy that he is, he tastes most of his creations, except for #81, which is obviously dangerous (it pokes holes in space-time; his theory is that the Big Bang did not go off correctly there).

When Maren O’Connor is called over to fix the replicators, and that they can’t stop replicating pumpkin pie, Levi shows her a ton of specimens from various universes. #49 is described as being particularly good. It even ended up on Pike’s Enterprise.

Upshot

It ended up turning into a bit of a meme, and I confess I contributed to that. But we’ve had fun with it, and now I suppose I need to learn how to make pumpkin pie, for real.

Recipe for Pie Crust

The New York Times came to my rescue with a great recipe for pie crust.

All-Butter Pie Crust (With Variations)

Published: November 15, 2006

Time: 15 minutes plus one hour’s chilling

The Basics of Perfect Pie Crust

1¼cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably a high-fat, European-style butter like Plugra, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 to 5 tablespoons ice water.

  1. In a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 one-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture is just moist enough to hold together.
  2. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking.

Yield: One 9-inch single pie crust. Recipe can be doubled for a double crust; divide dough into two balls and form two disks before chilling.

Variations

You can experiment with textures and flavors by substituting 3 to 4 tablespoons shortening, lard, beef suet, duck fat or an unsweetened nut butter, such as hazelnut butter, almond butter or mixed nut butter, for 3 to 4 tablespoons regular butter. All should be well chilled before using.

Cheddar Crust: This crispy crust pairs nicely with apple pie or savory pie fillings. Pulse together 1¼ cups flour with ¾ teaspoon salt. Add ¾ cup grated sharp cheddar; pulse until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add 8 tablespoons chilled, cubed butter and proceed according to the directions for All-Butter Pie Crust.

Prebaked Crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie crust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork. If you have time, freeze crust for 15 to 30 minutes; otherwise skip this step. Cover pie with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can use pennies, rice or dried beans for this). Bake for 15 minutes; remove foil and weights and bake until pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool on rack until needed.

Recipe for Pumpkin Pie Filling

Here’s a likely candidate.

Directions for Making Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

Yield: It depends on the size of the pumpkin and the size of the pie plate. If you use a 6″ pie pumpkin and a full deep dish 9″ pie plate, then it should fill that pie to the brim and maybe have enough extra for either a small (4 inch) shallow pumpkin pie (or a crustless pumpkin pie – see step  11). 
Some people manage to make 2 full pies, especially if they use shallow pie plates and/or 8 inch pie plates.

Ingredients and Equipment

Equipment

  • A sharp, large serrated knife
  • an ice cream scoop
  • a large microwaveable bowl or large pot
  • 1 large (10 inch) deep-dish pie plate and pie crust – or two small pie plates (9 inch) and crusts (Metric:  a 10 inch pie plate is a pie plate with a diameter of 25 cm, and a depth of almost 5 cm)

Ingredients

  • a pie pumpkin (see step 1; you can use different types of pumpkin or even a butternut squash)
  • 1 cup sugar (see step 9 for alternatives, such as Stevia, honey or Splenda) (metric: 200 grams)
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon (metric: 3.8 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves (metric: 2 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice (metric: 2 grams. Other names for allspice are: Piment de la Jamaïque, Maustepippuri, Kryddpeppar, Piment, Korzennik lekarski, Ienibahar, Pimentovník pravý)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (metric: 1.25 grams)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon mace (which you’ll find in the very old pumpkin pie recipes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional) (metric: 20 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, I don’t use any)
  • 4 large eggs – to reduce fat and cholesterol, you may use egg whites (like Egg Beaters) instead, and vegans may want to use  Ener-G (see this page for more information about egg substitutes)
  • 3 cups sieved, cooked pumpkin (metric: 0.7 litre)
  • 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (I use the nonfat version) for best results. (metric: each can is about .35 liter, or about a half liter total))

Note for the UK and Europe: Nestle Carnation has two sizes of cans in England: 170g and 410g – the large 410g can is 14 fl. oz. and the small 170g can is 5 fl. oz. (the same as the small can in the US). Use  one of each (19 fl. oz. total) in your pie.

Other notes:

  • If you can’t get canned evaporated milk, make your own from nonfat dried milk. Make it twice as concentrated as the directions on the box call for
  • If you can’t get nonfat dried milk, just use milk.
  • If you are lactose-intolerant, use lactose-free milk or soy milk.
  • One visitor tried fresh whipping cream (unwhipped) and reported  the pie “turned out wonderful!”
  • Another suggests using coconut milk, if you are allergic to dairy.

Note: if you do not have cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger, you can substitute 3 teaspoons of “pumpkin pie spice”.  It’s not exactly the same, but it will do.

Note: If you can’t get evaporated milk, you can substitute nonfat dried milk – make it twice as concentrated as the directions on the box say to reconstitute it. It won’t be the same as evaporated milk, but it ought to come close.

Recipe and Directions

Yield: One 9-inch deep dish pie or two 8-inch shallow pies

Step 1 – Get your pie pumpkin

“Pie pumpkins” are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types.  Grocery stores usually carry them in late September through December in the U.S. In some parts of the country, they are also called sugar pumpkins or even “cheese pumpkins”.  Note: the Libby’s can of cooked pumpkin is just there for reference – it is the small can, so that gives you an idea of the size of a typical pie pumpkin.

pumpkin
pumpkin

IF you must use canned pumpkin, try organic.

They’re only about 6 to 8 inches in diameter (about 20 to 24 inches in circumference).  TIP: If you’re in a pinch and can’t find a pie pumpkin, butternut squash taste almost the same! And many farmers will tell you that “Neck Squash”, Jarradale Blue Hubbard, Cinderella and Long Island Cheese winter squashes are all considered to make a better tasting pumpkin pie.  Commercial canned pumpkin is from a variety of butternut, not true pumpkins! If you insist on using a regular Jack O’ Lantern type pumpkin, you may need to add about 25% more sugar and run the cooked pumpkin through a blender or food processor to help smooth it out.

Selecting squash

Just like selecting any squash, look for one that is firm, no bruises or soft spots, and a good orange color. One 6″ pie pumpkin usually makes one 10 inch deep dish pie and a bit extra; or two 9 inch shallow pies! If you have extra goop, you can always pour it into greased baking pans and make a crustless mini pie with the excess (and the cooked pies do freeze well!)

If you live in the Far East (Thailand, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, etc.) and cannot get a pumpkin or a butternut squash, I’m told that Japanese pumpkins make a great substitute. Just cube the meat into small cubes and steam them for 35 minutes. The rest of the preparation is the same and I’m told the taste is great.

Step 2 – Prepare the pumpkin for cooking

Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or warm water, no soap.

cooked squash
cooked squash

Cut the pumpkin in half.  A serrated knife and a sawing motion works best – a smooth knife is more likely to slip and hurt you! A visitor suggests using a hand saw.

Step 3 – Scoop out the seeds…

And scrape the insides.  You want to get out that stringy, dangly stuff that coats the inside surface.  I find a heavy ice cream scoop works great for this.

Note: save the seeds.

The seeds can be used either to plant pumpkins next year, or roasted to eat this year! Place them in a bowl of water and rub them between your hands.  then pick out the orange buts (throw that away) and drain off the water. Spread them out on a clean towel or paper towel to dry and they’re ready to save for next year’s planting or roast.  Click here for roasting instructions!

Step 4 – Cooking the pumpkin

There are several ways to cook the pumpkin;  just choose use your preferred method.  Most people have microwaves and a stove, so I’ll describe both of those methods here. But others make good arguments in favor of using a pressure cooker or baking in the oven. At the end of this document, I’ve included alternative instructions to replace step 4, if you’d rather use a different method.

Method 1 – Bake in the oven

You can also bake the prepared pumpkin in the oven, just like a butternut squash.  This method takes the longest. Basically, you cut and scoop out the pumpkin as for the other methods, place it cut side down into a covered oven container. Cover the ovenproof container (with a lid), and pop it in an 350 F (165 C) oven. It normally takes about 45 minutes to 90 minutes (it can vary a lot); test it periodically by sticking it with a fork to see if it is soft.

pumpkin baked in the oven, scooping
pumpkin baked in the oven, scooping
pumpkin baked in the oven
pumpkin baked in the oven

Method 2 – Steam on the stovetop

You can also cook it on the stovetop; it takes about the same length of time in a steamer (20 to 30 minutes).  I use a double pot steamer, but you could use an ordinary large pot with a steamer basket inside it:

pumpkin_steamingpumpkin_cooking_in_the_steamersteamer to cook pumpkins

Method 3 – Put it in a microwaveable bowl

pumpkin in a microwavable bowl
pumpkin in a microwavable bowl

Remove the stem, and put the pumpkin into a microwaveable dish.

pumpkin in a microwave
pumpkin in a microwave

You may need to cut the pumpkin further to make it fit.  The fewer the number of pieces, the easier it will to scoop out the cooked pumpkin afterwards.

Put a couple of inches of water in the bowl, cover it, and put in the microwave.  Cook it on high until it is soft.  That may take 20 minutes or more, so like anything else, try 15 minutes, see how much it is softened, then do 5 minute increments until it is soft

Cook the pumpkin until it is soft

Whichever method you use, cook the pumpkin until it is soft and will separate from the skin.

Step 5 – Scoop out the cooked pumpkin

Whether you cook the pumpkin on the stove, microwave, or even the oven, once it is cooked until it is soft, it is easy to scoop out the guts with a broad, smooth spoon, (such as a tablespoon).  Use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin.  It should separate easily an in fairly large chucks, if the pumpkin is cooked enough.

Many times the skin or rind will simply lift off with your fingers.

pumpkin cooked, pickling off the skin
pumpkin cooked, pickling off the skin

Note: there are many varieties of pumpkin and some make better pies that other (due to sugar content, flavor, texture and water content.  Drier, sweeter, fine-grained pies; the small (8″ across) ones called “pie pumpkins” are best.

Watery pumpkin?

If your pumpkin puree has standing, free water, you may want to let it sit for 30 minutes and then pour off any free water.  That will help prevent you pie from being too watery. Beyond, that, I have not found that the water makes a difference. The recipe accounts for the liquid.

Tips

Tip on using the liquid: Comments from a visitor on November 26, 2009: “Any suggestions or use for the pumpkin juice left over after draining the cooked pumpkin? I keep thinking there must be some good use – maybe soup or in cookies or something?”

Yes! !  You can use it as a replacement for water, and in some cases, milk, in recipes, like soups, cookies, breads, muffins and even pancakes and waffles, where it adds a very nice flavor.

Tip from a visitor: “I make my own pumkin pies from scratch all the time. To eliminate watery pumpkin I strain my pureed pumpkin through a cloth overnight. If I use frozen pumpkin I do the same again as it thaws out. It works great and my pies cook beautifully.”

Another visitor reported success using coffee filters in a sieve to drain out excess water.

Again, don’t go to great lengths to remove water; the recipe accounts for the fact that fresh pumpkin is more watery than canned.

Step 6 – Puree the pumpkin

To get a nice, smooth consistency, I use a hand blender.  By blending it, you give the pie a smooth, satiny texture; rather than the rough graininess that is typical of cooked squashes.

A regular blender works, too. Or a food processor or even just a hand mixer with time and patience.

With the hand blender, it just takes 2 or 3 minutes!

Another visitor says using a food mill, like a Foley Food Mill, with a fine screen, accomplishes the blending/pureeing very well, too!

Step 7 – Done with the pumpkin!

The pumpkin is now cooked and ready for the pie recipe.  Get the frozen daiquiris out from step 6 and take a break! 🙂

Note: You may freeze the puree or pie filling to use it later! Just use a freezer bag or other container to exclude as much air as possible.  It should last a year or more in a deep freezer On the other hand, you may NOT “can” it:  See this page for the safety reasons why you shouldn’t can it.)

Step 8 – Make the pie crust

Yes, I know there are ready-made pie crusts in the frozen section at the store, but they really are bland and doughy.  A flaky crust is easy to make! Again, note that unless you use large, deep dish pie plates, you may have enough for 2 pies.

It is also time to start preheating the oven.  Turn it on and set it to 425 F (210 C, for those in Europe)

Step 9 – Mix the pie contents

All the hard work is behind you! Here’s where it gets really easy. If you start with a fresh 8″ pie pumpkin, you will get about 3 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. The right amount of ingredients for this is as follows:

  • 1 cup sugar  (metric: 300 grams). Instead of sugar, you could use
    honey (use 1.25 cups),
    natural sugar (1 cup),
    agave (1 cup),
    brown sugar (1 cup),
    Stevia (1/3 cup) or
    Splenda (1.25 cups).
    If you are using artificial sweeteners (Splenda or Stevia) you’ll find that they taste pretty good, but you’ll get better results when you do a 50-50 mix with sugar or honey. And diabetics, you can use Stevia or Splenda alone, in place of sugar and get pretty decent results.
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • one half teaspoon ground ginger
  • one half teaspoon salt (optional, I don’t use any)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups pumpkin sieved, cooked pumpkin
  • 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk (I use the nonfat version) (note for those in France: evaporated milk in France is called lait concentré; lait evaporé is powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional) (metric: 20 grams)

Mix well using a hand blender or mixer.

Notes

Note: You may substitute 4 teaspoons of “pumpkin pie spice” instead of the cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger.  But I think you get better results with the separate spices.

Note: The vast majority of people tell me this is the best pumpkin pie they’ve ever had. It’s light and fluffy – however… if you want a heavy, more dense pie, use 3 eggs instead of 4 and 1 can of evaporated milk instead of 1.5)

Step 10 – Pour into the pie crust

Some people like to bake the pie crust in the oven for 3 minutes before filling it.  I don’t and the pies turn out great!
I like a deep, full pie, so I fill it right up to about one quarter to one half inch from the very top.

Don’t be surprised if the mixture is very runny!  It may start as a soupy liquid, but it will firm up nicely in the oven!

Note: the pie crust is brown because I used whole wheat flour! Tastes the same, but is healthier.

TIP: If you put the empty pie crust on your oven rack, with the rack slid partially out, you can fill it there and avoid making a mess while carrying the pie to the oven!

Extra filling

TIP: What do you do if you end up with more filling than will fit in your pie crust(s)?  Easy!  Of course, you can make another, smaller pie crust and fill a small pie pan… or just grease any baking dish, of a size that the extra filling will fill to a depth of about 2 inches (see the photo at right), and pour the extra filling in.. then bake it.  It will be a crustless pumpkin pie that kids especially love! You can also use it in making pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread!

TIP: You may want to cover the exposed edges of the crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. Some people make their own crust cover by cutting the rim off of a disposable aluminum pie pan.

Step 11 – Bake the pie

Bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F  ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Here is the finished pie, right out of the oven:

I use a blunt table knife to test the pie.  The one at left has already been stuck in the pie, and you see it comes out pretty clean, when the pie is done.

Step 12 – Cool the pie

… And enjoy! Warm or chilled, with whipped cream , ice cream or nothing at all – it’s great!

You can even freeze the pie after cooking it.  I just lay a piece of plastic wrap (cling film) tight on the pie, after it cools down, then pop it in the freezer.

Later, take the frozen pie out of the freezer, put it in the fridge for about 24 hours, and then either heat it in the oven (350 F for about 15 minutes; just to warm it up) or the microwave for a few minutes.


Alternative Cooking methods for step 4

If you don’t have a microwave, or prefer another method, try these:

Stovetop steaming

Place your steaming basket or grid in the bottom of a large pot.  Put enough water so it won’t boil dry in 20 minutes, and yet is not so high that the pumpkin is touching the water level. You may need to add more water during the cooking. Add the pumpkin prepared in step 3, and get the steamer going. The cooking time is only between 8 and 12 minutes, depending on the range (gas or electric), and the pumpkin literally falls off the skin.

Pressure cooker

Place your grid in the bottom of the pressure cooker.  If your pressure cooker came with directions, follow those for pumpkin and/or winter squash, like butternut squash.  If, like most people, you’ve long since lost the directions, try this: Add enough  water to just touch the bottom of the grid or shelf that you will place the pumpkin on. Add the pumpkin prepared in step 3, put the lid with the gasket, the weight and anything else your cooker requires in place, and turn the heat on  high. Once it starts hissing, turn it to medium or medium high.   The cooking time should only be about 10 minutes,  and the pumpkin should literally fall out of its skin.

Crockpot

Clean and slice the pumpkin and set the temperature to either high or low (depending on how soon you are able to get back to the kitchen). The crockpot is forgiving enough that the pumpkin can be left in it for a time even after it is tender, at least on the low setting. Turn off the crockpot and let the pumpkin sit in it awhile. A lot of liquid will be released as the pumpkin cools. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh, place in a wire strainer, and mash with a spoon to release additional liquid. Leave the pumpkin in the strainer and place in the refrigerator for several hours to drain off any remaining liquid.


Will it turn out wonderful, like #49? I don’t know.
Stay tuned.

Portrait of a Character – Azar Hamidi

Portrait of a Character – Azar Hamidi

Azar Hamidi does more than just make a point.

Origins

Azar was created as a small statement in The Light. That Star Trek fanfiction story is dominated by Jewish characters, so I wanted there to be a Muslim character as well, who would be friends with them. Azar was to be a quick mentioning but it would be obvious that differences would have ended aside long ago, and replaced with understanding.

Portrayal

Azar is portrayed by Arnold Vosloo.

Portrait of a Character – Azar Hamidi
Arnold Vosloo as Azar Hamidi

This Afrikaans actor has played a number of Middle Eastern characters and so I thought of him immediately to play this Iranian crewman.

While writing Reflections Down a Corridor, he came into even sharper focus.

Personality

Smart and pleasant, Azar is respectful and polite with his peers, and is a lot of people like him. As a Security Crewman, he gets a promotion to the rank of Ensign. In the E2 timeline, he starts off in Engineering, but is still gets a promotion to Ensign and ends up in Security at some point.

Relationships

Maryam Haroun

Starting in Reflections, he and Ramih Azar compete for Maryam, who is afraid that she’ll choose the wrong man. Since she is expecting an arranged marriage, she works with Phlox to try to determine who will be the one. She chooses Azar not so much for his looks (although Maryam does think he’s better-looking than Ramih), but for his answer to the question of what he would do if she did not choose him to be her husband. Their marriage is a good one, and they have a son, Ali, in both kicks back in time.

In the prime timeline, in A Hazy Shade, it is implied that they may have wed then, too. I haven’t decided yet.

Mirror Universe

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Mirror Azar Hamidi (image of Arnold Vosloo is for educational purposes only)
Mirror Azar Hamidi (image of Arnold Vosloo is for educational purposes only)

While I have not specifically written a Mirror Universe version of Azar, there are no impediments to his existence.

I can see him as being less disciplined and kind (like most denizens of the Mirror), and probably not as religious. In Bread, I establish that practicing faith in the Mirror is not something you want to do at all openly. Hence, much like Leah Benson, he might be a secretly religious person.

This could make him vulnerable in many ways, possibly to blackmail or the like.

Quote

“‘I would do nothing. At least, not to start, for it would hurt so much. I cannot predict the future. If marriage were to be a possibility at a later date, I feel I would take it, for I do not wish to be alone forever. But I would not seek it, at least not to start. And I would wish Maryam and her new husband well, for marriage is so difficult, and all I want is for her to be happy.’”

Upshot

For a character who I created to make a point, I like how he ended up, particularly with Maryam.

In Character – Kevin O’Connor

English: HG Wells
English: HG Wells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, now, Darlin’, my name is Kevin O’Connor and I have no idea why I’m here, but I’m a-gonna try to do this right, even though there’s a buncha stories in the Times of the HG Wells collection that I am not in. So you might see a story and I’m not there, but that’s all right ’cause other characters, they need to get their due, too.

And before I say anything, the blog owner really should mark the 2013 Blog Year in Review.

Now that that’s outta the way, uh, where were we? Yeah. I’m takin’ over this blog, even though God knows I’m not much of a writer. That’s a soft skill, yanno, like public speakin’ or sales. But gimme a time ship any day, or even a replicator.

New coffee maker
New coffee maker (Photo credit: scriptingnews)

The Commission sent me to pre-Warp a few times – I had to keep long sleeves and long pants on, and a high collar, all on account o’ my scales – you know my Mama was a Gorn, right? And I swear it was like them old coffee makers was speakin’ to me.

So in case you’re unsure, I am an engineer.

Anyway, damn your eyes, or maybe damn mine, but there are questions to answer, and here I am, wastin’ time even though time is my business, Darlin’.

It’s all, uh, here.

Transitions

How do you handle them?

So I’ll tell you about my biggest transition, which was when Josie went from bein’ her beautiful, vibrant, funny, sweet self to, well, you don’t wanna know. Damn Piaris Syndrome. Dammit all to hell. It just takes ever’thin’. It rips it out and it stomps on it and all it does it hurt ya.

But lemme start from the beginnin’, see? I met her, it was at this party, it was, uh, it’s all in a story called The Point is Probably Moot. And she was, well, here’s a pitcher of her.

Jhasi Tantharis (Josie O'Connor)

Ashley Olsen at Luna Park, Sydney
Ashley Olsen at Luna Park, Sydney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wasn’t she a peach?

She was Aenar, yanno. Blind as a bat. And I took her to a ballgame for our first date, and I messed up and I called her Josie even though her real name was Jhasi. But she laughed at that but she did grab a cap from the wrong team. I think that was a joke on her part, way back when. It’s all in The Honky Tonk Angel. That is, if you wanna look. I don’t mind waitin’, Darlin’.

But it all went bad, when she got sick. It was, see, in your time period, it looks kinda like lupus to start, and then it gets a lot like Lou Gehrig’s disease and then it just eats away ever’thin’. And then in the end, y’see, you lose your thoughts and your mind and your memories. Hardest part was when she didn’t know me.

‘Scuse me, I gotta take a break, okay?

=/\=

Okay, I’m okay now. It’s, see, there’s a story called Candy and it’s about when we renewed our vows. We did that on account that, well, she was a few months from, man, it was a few months before she died.

So how did I handle that? Rick Daniels says I was brave. I guess; I dunno. I like to think that bravery is runnin’ and dodgin’ phasers or stuff like that. I just did what, you know, any husband would do, I think. I have to think that.

Do they frighten you? Inspire you? Sicken you? Amuse you?

So what did this transition do? Well, it scared the crap outta me to start, of course. I mean, you fall in love, you marry, and you make plans, yanno? And we wasn’t gonna have kids, but we still figured it would be, like my family motto says, it would be forever.

Whatever forever means, when there’s cruel mortality, I suppose.

"Forever"
“Forever” (Photo credit: seanmcgrath)

It’s a joke, or at least that’s how I saw it at the time. It just hurt like you wouldn’t believe. It was as if I’d been stabbed with a sword.

It was terrible until I met Yilta. She’s a Calafan, see? And they’re really open and kind, and they seem to, in some ways, it’s like they love us better than we love ourselves. I dunno how else I can describe it. But they do. I, uh, I should get a pitcher; I don’t have one right now. She’ll give me a playful punch on the arm when she learns I don’t have a pitcher to show you. But she’s a silver one, so she’s from our universe. She’s got hair and pretty well-developed calloo – that’s the pattern on their arms ‘n legs – so she’s, yanno, she’s been around the block a few times. She’s from Lafa V and her accent, it sounds like an Irish brogue. Very understanding about Josie, and very cute, she is, see. She’s made that transition so much easier.

And it gets me to wond’rin’, even though it’s not one o’ the questions, but I wonder what I’d’a done if I knew Yilta while me and Josie was married. Yilta, I know, she wouldn’t be a home-wrecker, but what happens when it’s all falling apart, anyway? Anyway, you didn’t ask that so I’m left to just wonder.

Tell us about a memorable transition. Maybe one that went well.

Anyway, so that’s the biggest ole transition in my life, or maybe it’s a buncha ’em. It’s going from lonely bachelor to husband to caregiver to widower to, now, heh, boyfriend.

I am over seventy years old in human years and I am a boyfriend.

Yeah, it makes me laugh, too.

Or, if you dare, one that didn’t go so well.

But it’s also, at the same time, it’s the transition that didn’t go so well. ‘Course poor Josie never asked for none o’ that. She was, I mean, she was a kindergarten teacher. She was unselfish and lovely and, man oh man they say God takes people like that young because he needs ’em but I still can’t help but wonder why sometimes.

Bonus Questions!

Let’s say you meet a character. It could be a canon person, or not. They might be from your universe, or not. What would you tell them about a transition that they might be going through? How could you help them with it? Would you help them?

I think ever’body goes through transitions, ’cause otherwise they’re not really characters, see? They’re just flat on a page. If they’re gonna live, they gotta have changes.

So I’ll look at somebody outside my time frame. See, I’m a time guy, so’s I can do that. And I’ll spin the big wheel and will ya look at that? I came up with Eriecho. This is my lucky day; I should play the Ferengi lottery next, I think.

See, Eriecho really had a big transition when she was let outta jail. She had never, ever been free before, and it was strange to her. I think it even kinda scared her, even at the same time as it thrilled her. So she was, you see, she was at a loss as to what to do. And I think she still is. Sure, she loves Sollastek and they’ll get married. And hey, maybe I’ll refurbish one o’ them ole coffee makers and send ’em one but I bet Yilta would tell me we should send somethin’ nicer, too. But she’ll pick out the doilies or whatever. You know how women like to do that.

I think I’d let Eriecho know that it’s not so scary, bein’ free. And you gotta fill up yer time, otherwise you just get bored. But it doesn’t have to be structured, and it doesn’t have to be other people’s ideas of what ya should do. See, we know the alternatives, and Otra sees ’em, and she tells me that that other timeline, you know the one you all call nuTrek or JJ Abrams Trek or whatever? She tells me it’ll resolve itself, and it’ll be better. And it won’t send Eriecho back to jail or anythin’ like that, so that’s good.

So all’s Eriecho’s gotta do – all any of us has gotta do – is just hang in there. And do what we think is right and best. What we feel is honorable or lovin’ or kind or artistic or well-engineered or even just interestin’. We can ride out the transitions, and let ’em wash off our backs.

And lemme tell ya, I weigh nearly a quarter of a metric ton and I got a pretty damn broad back, Darlin’. But Eriecho, see, and anyone else readin’ this? Just roll with them changes, and do whatever it is that you’re doin’ that feels right. ‘Cause I bet it is. You prolly know better ‘n you think.

Hey, mebbe I do, too.

Nice talkin’ to ya, Darlin’. Okay, I’ll give the blog back, now. Thanks for the soap box.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Review – Before the Fall

Review – Before the Fall

Before the Fall references pride.

Background

For an early Lili story, I got the idea as I was given a prompt for a story about the seven deadly sins. I chose pride.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Jonathan Frakes as Chef Will Slocum (image is for educational purposes only) | Before the Fall
Jonathan Frakes as Chef Will Slocum (image is for educational purposes only)

For quite a while, I had had the idea of pitting Will and Lili against each other in an Iron Chef-style competition.

Putting together the prequel idea, pride and the competition brought me directly to this story.

Plot

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Naomi Watts as Lili O'Day (image is for educational purposes)
Naomi Watts as Lili O’Day (image is for educational purposes)

Lili is a new employee on the NX-01, recently hired by Will and so this is after both Voracious and Harvest.

It’s the middle of the Xindi War, and the crew needs a break. Apart from an extra Movie Night, what do you do for entertainment? Hence the idea for a competition was thought up.

I decided the judges would be Jonathan, Malcolm and Jay, thereby prefiguring Lili’s relationship with Malcolm and her connection to Jay, plus her failed connection, during the first E2 alternate timeline, with Jonathan. The food, too, would prefigure some things, including the smoky cumin which is referenced in Temper.

Review – Before the Fall

Preston Jennings makes an appearance, thereby tying the story to More, More, More! He is Chef’s assistant between Daniels and Lili. Lili selects Brian Delacroix as her assistant, thereby neatly prefiguring his becoming a chef (hinted at in Reversal, and then fully realized in Together and Fortune).

Hoshi and Chip host the event, which is broadcast throughout the ship. The secret ingredient, almonds, must be incorporated into all of the dishes that Lili and Will make. Then the judges anonymously taste and decide, giving points for flavor, originality and presentation. Lili and Brian work well as a team, and poor Preston has a bit of a meltdown. As for Will, well, you know what pride goeth before, right?

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like the frenzied nature of the competition and the details about the work that goes into it. I have watched these kinds of shows more than once, and they continue to amaze me with people’s creativity and risk-taking. Plus, truth be told, it’s a bit of a slam at the Frakes character, given my annoyance with These Are the Voyages. I think it worked out pretty well.