Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Name Is Darren, And I'm A Milkshakeaholic

Every time I want something, my mind instantly says, 'Why not make/build it yourself?"  Mostly I've learned that's not a good thing.  Like the plywood trampoline I now own, or the blu-ray player made entirely out of old hoop skirts.

But sometimes it works so easily and wonderfully that I wonder why I never thought of it before.  I've discovered that last sentence applies to 95% of what I eat.  I'm a bachelor and the very idea that I can eat like a King without the 'Burger' in front of it is one of those life changing moments that only hit me 3 or 4 times a day.

Alright, it's not life altering.  But it is lifestyle altering.  And it's fun!  Anyone who knows me, knows the 'fun' part sealed the deal.  I won't even go to my own funeral unless someone can guarantee me it'll be fun.  One last poignant lesson?  Thanks I'll pass.  Aunt Sophie slips on a banana peel and knocks my casket over?  I'm there!!!

So, what's my point?  Doing something new is fun, but it also leads to a bunch of other new ideas, projects and thoughts.  THAT'S the best part!

For example, a while back I wanted a milkshake but I wasn't going to get dressed, hitch up the horses to the buggy, notify NASA it was a go, do my hair and choreograph a Drew Carey-like crowd dance routine all the way up to the fast food joint just for a milkshake.  For a burger and shake?  Well, sure, but all I wanted was the shake and that's just too much hassle.

Suddenly, Geraldo Rivera turned to me and said, "Hey!  Why not google online how to make a milkshake?"  I looked him right in the eye and said, "Sir, you may be famous and in EVERYONE'S living room, but that hardly gives you the right to break in to my house, read my mind and come up with a rather good idea.  Get out!"

So as I'm escorting Geraldo to the door, I'm getting more and more enthused at making my own milkshakes.  But I'm nervous too, will it be difficult?  Will it taste awful?  Will it give me pimples?

Anyhoo, it's sooooo easy, it's embarrassing.  For the best Vanilla Milkshake you'll ever have, here's what you'll need.

- A hand mixer or immersible mixer
- Really good ice-cream (don't be cheap you cheap bastards!): about 4 big scoops
- sugar: 3 to 4 teaspoons
- vanilla: 2-3 Tablespoons (generally match to amount of milk and your taste buds)
- milk: 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup (this dilutes taste [thus the vanilla] but reduces thickness)

THAT IS IT!  Blend it all together for about a minute on high speed and USE A DEEP BOWL!  Ice cream tends to fly around at the beginning.

It takes 4 minutes to make 2 large size milkshakes with this, and my milkshakes were delicious the first go!  But remember, it's YOUR taste that matters so be brave and experiment with different quantities.

By the way, I LOVE vanilla shakes, so that's all I've made.  I have no idea what amount of chocolate syrup, or strawberries or different flavored ice-cream you'd need for different flavors but google it and I'm sure you'll have an answer in 1 minute.

So go on, enjoy.  Don't say I never give you anything.

Anyway, that's not actually the point of this blog.  The actual point is, I have gone through more Vanilla Extract in the last month than I've ever used in my life (1 whole bottle).  So, I google, 'How to make Vanilla Extract'.  What else would you expect from me?  My hair is still not done, what could I do?

Any bakers out there know that Vanilla Extract is expensive so I thought, 'Hey, I'll make my own!'.  It's mind-boggling easy!  Still expensive but here's what's needed.

5 ounce bottle with cap
1 vanilla bean
1 bottle 80 proof vodka

Now all you do is, you... 80 PROOF VODKA?!?!?!?!  I know!  That caught me off guard too!  It also explains why I've been missing my 12 step programs in lieu of my crazed nights of wanton vanilla milkshake rampages.

You cut the bean from tip to tip (but not completely - leave the ends attached), put it in the bottle, fill the bottle to cover the bean (but leave room for air) with said Vodka.  Cap the bottle and shake.  In fact, shake the bottle vigorously once a day for 6 months.  At that point you have home made vanilla extract!  Every time you use some, replace with vodka, always keeping the bean covered.  You have an endless supply of Vanilla Extract until it's no longer endless (you'll have to replace the bean every 2 or 3 years but otherwise, pretty endless).  Apparently it's great, not only for personal use but as a gift (in a fancy, schmancy bottle of course) that is sure to be unique.  No panic over hearing THIS at Christmas, "Oh John, look, Darren gave us a homemade bottle of Vanilla Extract!  Put it over there with the others."

But who knew Vanilla Extract was a shooter?  I didn't.  I DO know it's all incredibly easy except for one thing.  Where the hell do I buy a Vanilla Bean?!?!?!  I'm sorry, I'm not a kicky, trendy shop guy.  If it's not beside the bananas at Safeway, I'm screwed.  But maybe one of my trendy friends can tell me where to find that.  The Vodka I'm PRETTY sure I can find.

I know this was a long and windy blog about nothing but I wanted to inform you about 2 things.  Save money and make food at home.  It's fun, easy, and saves a fortune. And secondly, if you or anyone you know has a Vanilla Milkshake in their hand right now, there's help out there.


  1. Very interesting blog, but I should point out one VERY important thing. The Vanilla recipe you've given is PURE Vanilla and you only need the teensiest little bit. (Sorry if I'm talking over people's heads.) Seriously, one or two little drops is often enough. My Mother buys Vanilla from Mexico, you can't buy it in Canada to my knowledge. But don't worry, she only drinks it out of the bottle when she runs out of Aqua Velva. The Vanilla Bean shouldn't be too hard to find. My Mom used to buy them when she made homemade Kahlua. (Of course she'd only make that when she ran out of Aqua Velva and Vanilla.)

  2. Well, that's a relief! Here I thought I was gonna have to give up my vanilla milkshakes for the monastery!