Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recipe - sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon and bacon

Just made this this morning. Good stuff. Enjoy.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated orange rind (optional)
4 strips of bacon
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron
Special equipment: waffle iron

Directions

Put cubed sweet potatoes on one half of a baking sheet and the bacon strips on the other half. Place the sheet in a 400 degree pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet, place the bacon on a paper-towel-lined plate, and place the sweet potato in a food processor. Process the sweet potatoes until chopped well (20 to 30 seconds). When bacon is cooled, cut into somewhat thick pieces (1/4 inch maybe). Set potatoes and bacon aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.
In another bowl combine the sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, butter, bacon pieces, and grated orange rind. Stir the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture and thoroughly combine. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold egg whites into batter 1/3 at a time. The batter will be thick. Using a No. 20 disher (scoop), place 2 scoops of batter onto a preheated, oiled waffle iron, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spaccanapoli Video

Wow, we've been terrible about posting the last while. We haven't even posted our Italy vacation pics. Well, those will follow, but we'll start things out with a video. It's us traversing Scappanapoli (a street) in Naples, Italy. Enjoy.


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Saturday, September 5, 2009

BYU v. Oklahoma

BYU, locked in an epic struggle with OU,
who lives in their Big 12 bubble,
and squashes them into, as it were, a mud puddle

Bad poetry, great game. Go Cougars!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Maple Ice Cream Topped with Bacon

I know, I know. It sounds strange to put bacon on ice cream. It's not, really. Think about a big breakfast in which you have pancakes and bacon on the same plate. You always end up getting some maple syrup on your bacon, and it tastes good. This is the same dang tasty concept.

Ingredients

1 cup Grade A or B maple syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Pinch salt
4 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
4 to 6 strips bacon

Directions

In a small saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a simmer and cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, reduced maple syrup, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, to the hot cream. Return to medium-low heat and cook, whisking, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Whisk in the maple extract. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

About 15 minutes before serving, fry 4 to 6 strips of bacon (or however many you desire really). When crispy, remove bacon from pan and let rest on a paper towel for 3 to 4 minutes. Cut or crumble bacon into small pieces.

Place ice cream in bowl and top with as much bacon as you wish. Enjoy.

(Attribution: The ice cream recipe is from Emeril Lagassi. The idea to combine bacon with it is all mine.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Easy Homemade Nutella

Nutella is one of Italy's crown culinary jewels. Well, it's not really a jewel. In fact, it's more like crack than anything. Once you have nutella, you want more, more, more. Unfortunately, the American industrial version is akin to crack-lite: passable, but nothing you would sell your mother for. Because of this, I set out to make a good, easy homemade nutella. The following is what I came up with. It's not perfect, but it certainly satisfies me and the fam for now. Enjoy, and comments are welcome.

The thing you have to keep in mind with this recipe is it’s going to taste different than Nutella from Italy. For example, the first ingredient in Italian Nutellas is zucchero (sugar), and the second is olio vegetale (vegetable oil). Hazelnuts don’t come in until number 3, and cacao is number 4, right above lowfat powdered milk. By contrast, this recipe has equal parts hazelnuts and powdered sugar, and milk is used as a thinning agent more so than vegetable oil. The result: a much more hazelnutty tasty. Keep in mind, however, you’ll never quite get that smooth absolutely consistency you get with industrial machines. But that’s okay, a little mouth feel is good.

Ingredients

1 cup of raw hazelnuts
5 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil (or some other neutral oil)
5 tablespoons whole milk, more as needed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let the hazelnuts cool down for about five minutes, and then place the hazelnuts between two kitchen towels and rub until the skins come off (you may have to do this with your hands if they don’t cooperate). (Note: if you don't want to roast and peel the hazelnuts, just buy a bag of chopped hazelnuts at the store and blend those. They have some skin on them, but that's okay.)

Place nuts in a food processor and blend in 45 second intervals, stopping to wipe down the bowl after every interval. You should get a pretty smooth mixture after about 5 cycles, but keep in mind it won’t be as smooth as peanut butter or the Nutella you buy in the supermarket. Add the cocoa, sugar, oil, and milk, and salt and mix for another 45 seconds. If the mixture is too firm (you want it to spread easily), add another tablespoon or two of either vegetable oil or milk — your choice.

Now, enjoy. I would try to use your nutella within a week, which shouldn’t be difficult ;)

How I met Demaree

How did you meet your significant other (note the nomenclature significant other and not spouse. Dang Bohemians)? Answer all the questions HONESTLY and re post as "How I met Demaree"

1.) Where did you meet? At a friend’s party

2.) Who introduced you? No one. I just started talking to her (making the rounds through the women there).

3.) What was the first thought that went through your head when you met? Cute. Smart. RM.

4.) Do you remember what he/she was wearing? Not the first foggiest clue, although she remembers exactly what I was wearing.

5.) Where was the first place you kissed this person? On the couch in her apartment. (I know, finally someone who didn’t get their first action in the Clayson house.)

6.) How long did you know this person before you became a couple? About ten days.

7.) How did he/she ask you out? She asked me out first. She came with a friend to our ward prayer (i.e., the meat market) and we started talking. Eventually, I walked her home. When at her apartment, she asked whether I like opera. I responded yes. She invited me to see “The Magic Flute.” It was a good production.

8.) Do you have kids with this person? One: the greatest little stud on the planet, a.k.a. Elliot.

9.) Have you ever broken the law with this person? There are so many laws, who knows anymore.

10.) When was the first time you realized that you really liked this person? When we talked until 2.30 a.m. the night of our first date and I realized I loved every minute of it.

11.) Do you get along with his/her family? Great.

12.) Do you trust this person? With my life and the life of my children.

13.) Do you see her/him as your partner in the future? Nope, sure can’t. That’s why I married her.

14.) What is the best gift she/he gave you? An eternal family.

15.) How long have you been with this person? Since October 2000.

16.) How well do you know your man or woman? Pretty well, although not as well as I should I’m sure.

17.) What features attracted you to them first? Cute, skinny, blond, smart, funny.

18.) Hair color? Blonde-ish

19.) Does he/she let you wear the pants? We’re pretty egalitarian. I try to make her as happy as possible, and we both sacrifice so the other can develop their talents.

20.) Do you have a shirt of hers/his that you sleep in? Goodness no. If I did, it would look like I lived on Castro Street.

21.) Does she/he make you happy? Sure does.

22.) Does she/he have any piercings? Ear lobes.

23.) Does she/he have any scars that you know of? Some from falling as a kid.

24.) Is she/he Outgoing or Shy? Depends on the situation. Has no problem performing in front of hundreds of people. Doesn’t like to call strangers on the phone.

25.) Does she/he sing? Like a freakin’ dream.

26.) Do you like her/his friends? Haven’t met one I don’t like.

27.) Does she/he have any tattoos? Thankfully, no.

28.) Does she/he look like their mom? Um, sort of, I guess.

29.) Do you like her/his sisters/brothers? Yes.

30.) What is the most romantic date you have ever gone on? You’ll have to ask her. They’re all romantic to me.

31.) Do you have any nicknames for each other? Dem. Sweety. Sweet cheeks.

32.) Do you live with this person?Isn’t it sad they ask this question.

33.) Do you have any pets together? No, never have. Elliot loves dogs though, so we’ll get one eventually.

34.) Where is this person? Taking a shower.

35.) When will you guys do something next? After we get ready. Dem has to clean up her room at school, so Elliot and I will accompany and help.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

McDonald's, Italy, and Language Barriers

We just got back from our vacation to Italy, and since we haven't upload pictures onto the computer, I thought I would share an experience I had at McDonald's. (Yes, we ate a McDonald's once -- okay twice. I know, I know. Really though, it was the only good option at the time.)

In America one often experiences trouble communicating with some McDonald's employees because (1) they're foreigners who don't speak English well, or (2) they're American citizens who don't speak English well (or are entirely without the capacity for abstract thought). Turns out this is not an exclusive McDonald's-in-America phenomena. No, in fact, it turns out McDonald's employees have trouble speaking the dominant language of whichever nation they happen to work in. For example, I had the following conversation with an Asian girl in Bologna.

Me: How large is a medium drink?
She: Two euros.
Me: No, how large is the cup in which the medium drink is served?
She: Medium drink costs one euro seventy.
Me: Yeah, how large is the cup? Can you show me the cup, please?
She: (She shows me a cup).
Me: Is that the medium cup?
She: No, large.
Me: Okay. Can you show me the medium?
She: The medium's here (pointing to the mediums instead of actually taking one out and showing it to me).
Me: Fine, I'll take the large.
She: Two euros.
Me: I got that, thanks.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Elliot & Dem Update

Dem and Elliot are well. Demaree's first performance is this Wednesday in San Marino (a very small independent nation, much like Luxemburg, near the east coast of Italy). She's excited to finally get out and sing. Elliot has discovered the goodness of real mozzarella cheese. Demaree was making him some lunch when she pulled out a ball of mozzarella (for those who don't know, in Italy mozzarella comes in ball form and is stored in water). Elliot decided to forego the rest of lunch and just eat the mozz ball like an apple. That's my boy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

The 4th is upon us. Today is the day we celebrate America's independence, an independence bought with the best blood the 18th century. It was the blood of young men, slaves and free blacks, women, and children: patriots all. They fought an oppressive regime that they might secure liberty and economic prosperity. July 4th was the beginning of the grandest political experiment in the history of the world -- an experiment that has proven successful and made this world a better place. And while America is far from perfect, it is the shining beacon on the hill. It is exceptional.

May we take this time to reflect on our individual freedoms, realize those freedoms are what makes America (and, by extension, us) great, and work to expand those freedoms among our citizenry and the citizenry of the whole earth. God bless America.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Videos

Elliot at the Gateway water park, shopping center, thing, in Salt Lake. Man I miss my boy.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Dancing

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Dem & Elliot Update

For those who don't know, Demaree and Elliot are in Italy for a couple months this summer. Demaree is performing Suzuki in "Madama Butterfly" and we thought it wise that Elliot accompany her (you know, new experiences, expanding the mind, and whatnot.) They've been there about ten days and all is well. In the beginning, Elliot wasn't a big fan of the transcontinental flight and the drastic time change (eight hours), but he's fine now. Demaree hit the ground running, and performs in two weeks. Apparently, Elliot has made a number of fans in Italy. One elderly Italian woman dubbed him "a little piece of chocolate," which I will assure you is actually pretty racially sensitive for Italians. I'll keep you informed as time goes on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Veggie Update

Well, I'm almost two weeks into my vegetarian-for-a-month experiment and all is well. I have intaken no meat. It's not really as hard as I thought. All I do is take what I ate before and add a protein substitute. This means I eat more eggs and tofu. It's good.

One aspect of vegetarian eating deserves special mention at this point: boca products. These are faux meat products made of vegetable pieces and parts. They taste, oh, how shall I say, like a cardboard steak rolled in dog crap. They are amalgams of fiber and proteins so lifeless and devoid of flavor Amnesty International considers their forced consumption state-sponsored torture. But like any other food not worth the calories expended eating it (celery anyone?), boca products can be made edible by adding other stuff. In the case of boca chicken patties, I suggest the following:

Ingredients

1 boca chicken patty

1 bun

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onion sliced
1/4 anaheim chile sliced
1/8 fennel bulb sliced
4 slices tomato

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
horseradish (to taste)
2 squirts worcestershire sauce
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Directions

Place mayonnaise horseradish, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper into small bowl and combine. Let stand while you prepare everything else.

Place olive oil in sautee pan over medium high heat. Add onion, anaheim chile, and fennel and sautee for 5-7 minutes.

In another small sautee pan, place boca chicken patty over medium high heat. Turn ever two minutes until cooked through and there is some browning on the oustide. The patty should finish approximately the same time the vegetables finish.

Slather mayonnaise mixutre onto both sides of bun, and assemble in the following ingredients on the bun from bottom to topy in this order: (1) two tomato slices, (2) the boca chicken patty, (3) vegetables, (4) last two tomato slices.

The result is actually pretty good. It would be tastier with a real deep fried paillard of veal or chicken, but we'll leave that for next month ;)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Journey Begins

Demaree, Elliot, and my mother left for Italy yesterday. Well, they left for Denver, actually. Today, they hopped a plane from Denver to Toronto, then Toronto to Dublin. They'll stay there a night before heading to Venice, and finally taking a train to Novafeltria, located in the Marche region of Italy.

Saying goodbye was tough -- I almost cried. I'll miss my little guy (and wife), but it's a great opportunity for him to experience new things. The reunion will be sweet.

I'll keep you posted as reports come in.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 1: First Day Without

Okay, so this is actually my second day without meat, but whatever. Today was the first day I felt I actually missed meat. At lunch I ate at a Cafe Rio knockoff called Costa Vida. Since my junior year of college, I've order the pork salad, and only the pork salad. I dig it so much I developed a copy-cat recipe. Anyway, today I had the vegetarian salad. Must admit, not quite the same. Without the sweet pork, there was no real flavor contrast and the dish was less delectable than normal. It's okay though, some things take getting used to.

Another thing I noticed today is without the protein in meat, I get hungry more often. I'll have to find a way to increase protein and fiber intake to make up the difference.

And here was dinner: yam and carrot risotto. Didn't miss the meat all all with this dish.

Ingredients

1.5 pounds yam, diced (about 2 yams)
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions, yams, and carrots on medium heat for 7 to 9 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add Parmesan. Mix well and serve.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Going Vegetarian - For a Month

So, I've decided to not eat meat for a month. (Stop laughing; I'm serious.) A number of factors converged to facilitate this experiment, to wit: (1) Demaree and Elliot leaving for Italy; (2) desire for a new challenge; (3) Shelley Denison, whom I tease incessantly for her quasi-militaristic vegetarianism (see, I just did it again; I can't help myself); and (4) desire to explore a new culinary paradigm. I'll blog about the experience, recipes included, throughout.

Let's lay some simple ground rules:

(1) no meat, including seafood; and
(2) foodstuffs derived from animals -- e.g., dairy, lipids, eggs, etc. -- are okay (This means if I want to render bacon, I can drink the fat but not eat the meat. Hey, I didn't say this was a principled experiment).

This experiment will end 12.00 a.m. July 10, 2009. Wish me luck.

P.S.: Don't worry. This does not somehow signal a change in worldview or political persuasion. I'll still be the same loveable, sardonic conservative on July 10 that I am now.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Water Weekend

We couldn't go anywhere this weekend because Dem and Elliot are leaving for Utah Tuesday, so we hung at home. One of Elliot's favorite activities is to splash around at a public, local water park (a very small one). Last time we went, he soaked through all his clothes, so, being the learners we are, we stripped him down to his skivvies this time.

Here are some other pics depicting his other water park exploits. As you can tell, water slapping occurred.
As did water stomping.

And then he found a random ball, which he threw at the water, ostensibly for getting him wet.
And that was our Saturday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wow, It's Been a Long Time

Sorry about the time off. We lost our camera on a trip to Utah, and then had many other things happen. But enough excuses; here are two videos of Elliot to assuage your anger.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Elliot's New Words

Last week, Elliot added the following words and phrases to his ever expanding vocabulary: Yes, Chupa (finally), and Love You.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Internal Revenue Service and Tchaikovsky

I know the tax man hath come and gone for this calendar year, but I had to share a little of our tax experience. Thanks to tax software, we finished our taxes and thought everything was good to e-file. Unfortunately, the IRS didn't have Elliot's information on file so the system rejected our electronic return. In an attempt to rectify the situation, I spent three hours on the phone with the Social Security Administration and the IRS. As you can imagine, much of this time was spent on hold listening to hold music. The hold music was, get this, looped selections from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker." What more need be said: "Nutcracker." Amazing.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spanish Fork Weekend

Demaree had a voice lesson with Ariel Bybee last weekend, so we spent a couple days in Utah. Specifically, we stayed with some old friend from Provo: Randy and Natalie. Dem and Natalie roomed together when Dem and I were dating. Eventually, Natalie and Randy started dating, and we all ended up getting married within a few months of one another. We stayed in touch until Dem and I moved to Vegas, and then all was lost. Well, all was lost until the great goodness of Facebook brought us back together again (I really rather like Facebook, just for this reason).

The moment we walked in their house, it was like we had stayed in touch over all these years. Turns out Randy and I went to law school about the same time, and now we're both civil litigators. Their kids are great, and were wonderful with Elliot. It was a great time.

Before going to Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon, we had a picnic with Denis and Lisa. We ate and watched Elliot play on the grass. What could be better?

Dem's lessons are always fun. She sings and we are relegated to Ariel and Jim's study for an hour and a half. Actually, it's nice. Elliot and I watch TV, and I read while he looks outside the window or plays with whatever he can find.

And then there was dinner at the Bombay House: our favorite restaurant. The food was excellent, like always. At the end of dinner, we put Elliot on the floor. He ran to the waiting area, and in the five seconds it took us to catch up to him, he identified the cutest blonde women in the area, climbed up in between them on their bench, and smiled away. They, of course, thought he was adorable. As I approached, I looked at him, then at the ladies, and said: "As you can tell, my son likes blondes." Needless to say, prying him from the bench was a chore.

The next day, we went to Sacrament meeting with Randy and Natalie, where we heard Natalie's talk regarding the law of tithing. (Good talk, by the way). In the talk following Natalie, the sister told us how after much prayer, she and he husband felt guided to stop paying their mortgage because it had become too much of a strain. (Yeah, I'm not buying that one either.)

Then, reluctantly, we drove home. Good weekend.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hoecakes

We have recently discovered the goodness of hoecakes — not to be confused with hocakes, which is another thing entirely. Hoecakes are small cornmeal pancakes, but being made with corn instead of flour, have a very different texture. They're versatile, and a bit healthier than flour pancakes, and can be tweeked for sweet and savory applications. The following is a recipe for breakfast hoecakes.

Ingredients
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 large egg
3/4 cup water
1/2 fresh or thawed frozen corn
vegetable oil

Directions
Place the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, egg, and water into a bowl and stir to combine. Once mixed, stir in the corn. The mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter. Place a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Pour enough batter onto the skillet or griddle to form a 4-inch round, approximately 2 tablespoons. Depending on the size of your griddle or skillet, you can cook more than 1 cake at a time. Cook until brown on both sides, 2 ½ minutes per side. Serve immediately or transfer to a warm (200 degrees F) oven until all of the cakes are done.

To finish, top with whatever you like. I'm partial to butter, bananas, and syrup.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mornings with Elliot

We've previously chronicled Elliot's bedtime routine, so we though it only appropriate to chronicle his morning routine.

Mornings begins around 5.30 a.m. Elliot wakes up famished. We feed him a bottle and he usually sleeps until around 6.30, at which time he lets us know he wants out of the crib. Most often, we transfer Elliot to our bed and try to catch some more Zs with Elliot sleeping between us. This is when what I like to call the "ballet of power" begins.

Around 7, I invariably feel a little hand outlining the contours of my face until it reaches me ear. When found, the ear is latched onto — hard. It stays latched until the little hand ventures across the bed to find Demaree's ear. After ear manipulation has outlasted its usefulness, Elliot props himself up. He examines our faces to determine whether we're awake (at this point, we're faking sleep so he'll leave us alone), then either grabs and pulls Demaree's hair or lays his cheek on Demaree's cheek. (If he's really tired, his head will descend too quickly, causing quite a loud head-butt.) If Demaree doesn't react, Elliot abandons her and crawls across my face in an effort to reach my wallet, keys, and bic pen sitting on my night stand. It's about now I just can't take it anymore, so I remove Elliot from my face, put him on the leather recliner, turn the TV on Noggin, and attempt further repose. Lazy Town pacifies the child for ten to fifteen minutes, at which time he disembarks the recliner, approaches me, and slaps me (lovingly, I'm sure) on the face. Realizing the ballet has entered its ultimate crescendo and power has inexorably shifted to Elliot, I acquiesce and arise.

And somehow, we can't wait for the next one to come along.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Elliot the Kissing Machine

An interesting item we've recently learned about Elliot is his propensity to kiss girls about his same age. Invariably, these "lipscapades" happen in church. Elliot's last lipscapade was Sunday. During sacrament meeting, he approach a little blonde girl and planted one dead center on her lips. He then, like a seasoned kisser, moved away and let her make the next move. Evidently, she liked it because she puckered up and came searching for more. Elliot was having none of it. He was finished. When she got close, he turned his head and walked away. What a beautiful, beautiful little man.

What not to Wear

There's a funny, intriguing show on TLC called What not to Wear. Two highly humorous and rather hoity-toity New Yorkers who make fun of people who dress, well, badly. It's one of our favorite shows, and not because of the fashion so much as the hosts' pervasive snarkiness. (E.g., "That outfit makes you look like your trying to find a date at a women's prison.") Well, we would like to nominate someone as a What not to Wear participant. Our nominee is a 5'10", partially balding, heavy-set, goateed, latino man, who we saw in public with his pregnant wife and child wearing the following shirt:

That's right folks, "Free Chorizo." Now I've seen a lot of trashy clothing choices in my day (mordibly obese women in thong bikinis, for example), but this definitely takes the cake, or the chorizo as it were. Only heaven knows what possesses people, especially fat and inordinately ugly people, to wear this stuff. So here's the moral of this story kids: the next time you think to yourself, "Hmm, I think today would be a good day to wear my vulgar, sexually suggestive t-shirt in public," don't. No one wants to see it (and yes, I'm talking both about "it" and the shirt).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recipe - Pesto and Pancetta Pizza

Here's another pizza recipe I thought up a couple days ago.

Pesto & Pancetta Pizza

Ingredients
1 pizza crust

1/4 cup pesto genovese (recipe to follow)
1/3 cup pancetta, cubed
Handful pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions for Pizza
Preheat oven to 550, making sure your pizza stone is in the middle rack of the oven. Place pizza crust on pizza peel with just enough flour underneath the crust to allow it to slide on the peel. Spread pesto on pizza crust. Sprinkle on cubed pancetta. Sprinkle on pine nuts, making sure they're well distributed. Cover pizza crust with parm. Place on stone and cook until edge of pizza begins to brown and cheese appears melted. Enjoy.

Pesto Genovese Recipe

Ingredients
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic peeled
1 pinch sea sea (kosher will do as well)
5 ounces olive oil

Directions
In a large stone mortar, place the pine nuts, basil, garlic, and salt and grind with a pestle until it forms a paste. Drizzle in the olive oil, beating the mixture all the while with a wooden spoon. If you don’t have a large stone mortar, and you probably don’t, place pine nuts, basil, garlic, into a food processor and briefly chop, then slowly add olive oil.

You'll have extra pesto after making the pizza. Use on pasta or place over boiled potatos.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Recipe - Tomato Pesto & Fontina Pizza

I can't sleep right now (read: 12:15 a.m.), so I came up with an original pizza recipe. And without further ado, the recipe.

Tomato Pesto & Fontina Pizza

Ingredients

1 pizza crust

Sun dried tomato pesto
4 ounces sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely diced
½ cup packed basil leaves
¼ cup parmigiano cheese
1 ½ teaspoons honey
Salt & pepper to taste
Sprinkle of red pepper flake

1 cup fontina cheese

¼ cup candied bacon (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 550, making sure your pizza stone (FYI: If you don't have a pizza stone, stop reading and go buy one) is in the middle rack of the oven. Place pizza crust on pizza peel (again, if no havey, go buyee) with just enough flour underneath the crust to allow it to slide on the peel. Add tomato pesto ingredients in a food processor and process until thoroughly combined. Spread pesto on pizza crust. Sprinkle on candied bacon, if you dare. Cover pizza crust with fontina. Place on stone and cook until edge of pizza begins to brown well and cheese the melted and bubbly (five to six minutes). Enjoy.

Bedtime Ritual

Neither Dem nor I are terribly schedule oriented. For example, we haven't developed many family traditions yet. The one major exception to this is Elliot's nightly bedtime ritual. It consists of:

1. Changing his diaper and putting on his PJs.
2. Reading one column from the Libro di Mormon.
3. Family prayer.
4. Demaree reciting the Bedtime Book from memory. (Thank you Melanie).
5. Turning on the CD A Child's Prayer while putting Elliot in the crib.

Puts the little stud out like a light.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Quick and Easy Marinara

I had a friend ask for a quick and easy marinara sacue she could use for dinner. I gave her mine, and thought I would share it with all you as well. This sauce, coupled with 1/2 pound of pasta, will feed two to three people.

Ingredients

1/2 large onion diced
1 can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil
salt to tastepepper to taste

Directions

Dice onion. Put sautee pan over medium high heat, then add one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and sautee until onion is translucent, stirring often (4-6 minutes). Add tomato sauce, cover with lid but leave space for steam to escape, drop heat to medium and cook 9-11 minutes, stirring often. Take off heat and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil and basil. (Add olive oil after the sauce has come off the heat because raw olive oil has a different taste than cook olive oil.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add ins

You can dress this up with protein in any number of ways. My favorite is to add about 1/4 pound of browned ground beef. Another option is to add three strips of cooked (but not browned) bacon. Tuna is another suggestion. Enjoy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Facebook's 25 Random Facts -- Marco

On Facebook the new craze is to write twenty-five random facts about yourself, share them with twenty-five friends, and then ask them to do the same. It's like a get-to-know-you exercise on virtual steroids. Anyway, a couple friends tagged me, and here were my facts:

1. I’ve broken six bones (right leg, left ankle, both wrists, clavicle, and right middle finger). After breaking my ankle last October, I walked on it for a week before seeing a doctor.

2. By contrast, I’ve only had stitches once. I was playing racquetball and my opponent hit me in the mouth, tearing open my upper lip. Demaree and I were dating at the time. When I told her of the injury, her first reaction was, “So, when are we going to be able to kiss?”

3. I’ve seen Pope John Paul II holding a guitar.

4. There are many cute kids in this world. Mine happens to be the cutest. Get over it.

5. I never finished high school. Got my GED instead.

6. I grew up in a village on the Aleutian Peninsula called Cold Bay. Average wintertime high: 32 degrees. Average summertime high: 45 degrees. Highest temperature ever recorded: 77 degrees (I remember because I got a sunburn from so much sun). Population: 85. I blame all my social problems on Cold Bay.

7. I’ve seen a bear eat a whale, and one of my dogs.

8. I didn’t like King of The Hill until I went to Texas and saw that people actually stand in their alleys drinking beer talking about football. Now I love King of The Hill.

9. I used to weigh 250 pounds. I now weigh 175. It’s as if I lost a whole cheerleader.

10. I’m married to an incredibly wonderful, talented woman. Why she condescended to marry me is a mystery.

11. My favorite book The Trial by Franz Kafka. I read it instead of studying for a psychology final one semester.

12. I’ve visited almost as many European nations as I have American states.

13. Demaree and I got the name Elliot from Law & Order SVU (one of the detectives is named Elliot Stabler). I’m going to name my first daughter Tristan, which was the name of my first dog. I loved that dog.

14. My favorite sport to play is squash. Yes, I’m a yuppie.

15. I skydive. Demaree is okay with this activity; however, she has informed me if I were to ever run with the bulls on Pamplona, she will divorce me. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

16. I’m a lawyer, which mean I work directly for the devil. Oddly, he takes less of my paycheck than the federal government.

17. My favorite food is pizza (Italian pizza that is). If they don’t have pizza in heaven, I won’t be attending.

18. Grizzly bears used to walk into my yard often. I would shoot them in the butt with a shotgun and watch them run away. Bears jiggle like Homer Simpson when they run.

19. When I was young, my brother Conrad and I would have contests to see who could vacuum the floor best. He let me win so mom would pick vacuuming as my permanent chore. Damn you, Conrad.

20. I speak Italian to my son. I have said maybe five English words to him since his birth.

21. I can see a food I’ve never tried before being made (yet never smell it) and know exactly how it will taste.

22. I have better friends than I have ever deserved.

23. While working with mentally retarded sex offenders, I was on the crisis team. This meant I was called when things really went south, bad. During my time as a crisis staff, I was spit on, peed on, sworn at, punched, kicked, gouged, and had to get in a tub with a naked, very slippery, very fat individual, and push him out by his buttocks, all in order to them restrain him while he lay naked on the carpet for thirty minutes screaming about what he would do to me when he got me alone. I can honestly say I enjoyed that job more than any other I’ve ever had.

24. I cry every time I speak with my mission president.

25. My favorite American is Teddy Roosevelt. No one else has ever lived a life that large.

Hope you enjoyed that little soiree in my soul. We'll post Demaree's when she gets around to putting pen to paper, as it were.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Monument Valley

Our friend Charmaine Kearl came to visit us (read: Elliot) this week. In celebration, we trekked over to Monument Valley, Utah for the day. Monument Valley is essentially a collection of red rock buttes. While not as awesome as the Grand Canyon, it was undeniably beautiful in its own way. We couldn't find a horse guide, so we drove the tour. It lasted about an hour and a half, and made the 3.5 hour drive (each way, mind you) worth it. So, without further ado, here are some photos.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Finally, a Hike

We've been traveling so much lately we haven't gone on a hike in almost two months. We rectified that today by first driving to Durango and walking the city. We found a couple used book stores (By the way, has anyone else noticed the only people who own used book stores are strung out old hippies. Just an observation.) and didn't find anything interesting. After picking up lunch, we drove to a trail head toward Silverton. Not sure how long we hiked, but it was enough to satisfy us and recharge our batteries for the week. We can't wait for spring. Oh, how nice that will be. Oh, here are some photos.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Old Photos

I've been scanning my old pre-mission and mission pictures and posting them on Facebook, so I thought I would post a few on the blog as well.

I love this one. It shows me at my absolute fattest (I'm second from the left).
And here's one when I entered the MTC. The girl standing next to me was my then girlfriend, Chrstine Pratt. I look super stoked, don't I?

Ah, the memories. By the way, Christine and I dated after the mission, then she broke up with me. Subsequently, she married a guy named Marcus from Fairbanks, Alaska. Mere coincidence? Maybe. (The last bit was a joke. Christine's was a great girl. She now has a couple beautiful kids and lives in Juneau.)
Anyway, more photos will follow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Problem with Pacifism

The problem with pacifism as an enduring ideology is succintly stated as follows:

Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight
But Roaring Bull (who killed him) thought it right.

Hilaire Belloc, The Pacifist (1938). That is all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas with the Whirling Dervish

We spent the holidays with Dem's family. Since the Claysons are more numerous than the Yankee's farm teams, each person is assigned one family member for which they are to buy a present. This year, Erick was assigned Elliot. Much to Elliot's (and our) satisfaction, Erick bought Elliot a drum and clothes in Afghanistan. Elliot digs the drum (well, he actually digs anything he can hit, thereby causing it to make noise), and the clothes make him look like a little Whirling Dervish.

Now, all he needs is a pomegranate, a conversion to Islam, and a beard, and he could pass for a native Afghan.