Sunday, September 18, 2011

Phantasy Star

Confession time: I'm obsessed with video games. As with reading, artwork, and cooking, gaming is a form of delightful escapism. I especially have a love for retro video games, although I will drink the Halo kool-aid, too (because, let's face it, Halo is awesome).

Anyway, a little backstory: 1989 was a memorable year in particular because of the discovery of Sega's epic video game -- and my favorite video game of all time -- Phantasy Star. I clearly remember my first encounter with it: I was nine years old, wandering around in a toy store that was located at the local outlet mall. I turned an aisle, and then I saw it on a display shelf: a video game with a woman on the cover, battling alongside a wizard, a male warrior, and a creature that resembled a cat. I was immediately intrigued, and I begged asked my mother to buy me the game. She relented, and an obsession was born. (Actually, at the risk of sounding dramatically cliché, the game changed my life.)

Game cover of Phantasy Star. Photo from Wikipedia.

Played on the classic Sega Master System, the game proved to be revolutionary. It wasn't like After Burner or Hang On; it was unlike any other game. A blend of Greek Mythology, sci-fi, and fantasy, the story is set within the fictional solar system Algo, located in the Andromeda galaxy. A young woman, Alis, discovers that her brother Nero was murdered by Lassic, the evil reigning tyrant. Together with her companions (Odin, Lutz, and the super-intelligent Musk Cat, Myau), Alis sets out to avenge her brother's murder and overthrow the corrupt government. ('Sounds like heavy stuff for a kid, doesn't it!?) The game proved to be remarkable and inspirational for future RPGs, but Alis Landale was the original female video game protagonist who set the bar for the subsequent RPGs that followed.

The game had several sequels: Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star III (which is sort of a departure from the series), and Phantasy Star IV. My personal favorites within the series are Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star IV; the latter really concluding the series with a satisfying ending. Sega released a remake of the first two games known as Phantasy Star Generation 1 and Phantasy Star Generation 2, but the games were released only in Japan (unfortunately). The remake of the music, however, is incredible; they're not changed and true to the original soundtrack, but enhanced.

While growing up as a bit of a tomboy, I became a gamer and still am to this day, but I've never had love for a game like I do for Phantasy Star. So, here's to Alis Landale, the original female video game protagonist, and to the video game which will forever remain my favorite.

Fan Art done by me, Phantasy Star and its characters (c) SEGA.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gluten-free Huckleberry Pie


*Freaking out over excitement here*

To my absolute delight, I scored a large quantity of Huckleberries!

Of the Vaccinium species, some of the more common varieties are found in the West. Historically and presently, the berries are a sacred food staple of Northwest Native Americans, and are celebrated by the Warm Springs Tribe. Needless to say, Huckleberries are my favorite wild berry, as they're juicy and delicious. While they make a prize jam, few things smell better in life than Huckleberry pie baking in the oven!


6 cups huckleberries
1 1/2 cups pure cane sugar
1 tbs. Oregon wildflower honey
4 tbs. cornstarch

Note: I froze the huckleberries after washing them, so the addition of water isn't needed. If they're fresh, add about 1/4 cup of water.

Use an 8" gluten-free pie crust obtained from Whole Foods, or make your own with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pie crust recipe.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thaw frozen berries, and then mash when ready. Add the sugar, honey, and cornstarch to the mixture. Heat in a saucepan to a boil until mixture thickens. When it cools, add to pie crust. Add the top crust and pinch the sides to seal. Add a little milk to pie crust to aid browning of the crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

(Recipe adapted from "Huckeberry Pie" receipe with my own modifications, from Wild Berries of the West by Betty C. Derig and Margaret C. Fuller.)

Partially consumed slice of the Huckleberry pie with ice cream.
I couldn't help myself and wait for a photo. Could you? ;)