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.


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


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.


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


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.