Thursday, July 4, 2013

French Toast - an excuse to have dessert first thing in the morning

I love french toast. It's hard to make really bad french toast, but it's also hard to make really, really great french toast. I like to cook when I have a bit more time, and over the past couple of years I've experimented with a few different ways to make one of my favorite breakfast foods. This morning I declared victory.

Here's the step by step:

1/2 pint of strawberries
1 lemon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cut up the strawberries. Juice the lemon. Put the lemon juice, sugar, and strawberries in a bowl and let them sit for an hour or two. They're fine if they sit longer, even overnight in the fridge.

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, but I think it's better with the salt)

Put sugar and water in a sauce pan over low to medium heat until the sugar has fully disolved into the water. Bring the heat up to medium and wait - don't stir - just wait. After 5-10 minutes the solution will begin to boil and later caramelize. There are at least a thousand articles out there on how to make the perfect caramel sauce, so I won't say much more other than once the solution turns amber in color, pull it off the heat immediately. I add the salt and vanilla to the cream, and then add the cream carefully to the pan - the whole pan will be going nuts for a bit, but that's to be expected. The caramel will clump and solidify. Don't worry. This is also to be expected. Put the pan back over low heat until the caramel is fully disolved and you have a smooth and consistent sauce. The sauce will thicken as it cools. You can now set this aside and start on the good stuff.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

I know... I'm putting this here for me as I always forget how much sugar to add.

The Ultimate French Toast

1 loaf Kneader's Chunky Cinnamon Bread (I want to try this same recipe with brioche, but this is the best option I've found this far)
6 large eggs (3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 275 degrees

Whisk the eggs and the egg yolks in a bowl and set to the side. Combine milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt in sauce pan (if you're using something other than cinnamon bread, add cinnamon here as well). Stir occasionally over medium heat until the mixture is warm but not simmering or really hot. It shouldn't burn you if you quickly dip a finger. Remove from the heat and very slowly add the mixture to the eggs whisking the whole time. If you add the cream too quickly, you'll get lumps in the custard, or worse, scrambled eggs, so really, add the cream slowly.

Heat griddle to 350-400 degrees

First, cut off the ends of the loaf. Then, slice the bread into 1 1/2 inch thick slices - maybe a little thicker. Pour custard into something like a deep 9x13 pan. Submerge each slice of bread flipping as needed to make sure both sides absorbe as much custard as possible. Let each slice soak for at least 2 minutes and up to 5. Put a generous amount of butter on the griddle. The butter should sizzle, but not smoke. Cook each slice for 1-3 minutes per side (I'm really not sure on the timing here - just cook to desired browness and flip). Take the nearly finished french toast off the griddle and place on a baking sheet in the oven for 10-15 minutes. If done right, the french toast should have a golden brown crust with a soft moist (but not gooey) middle. It's somewhere between normal french toast and bread pudding and it's amazing.

Top french toast with strawberries, whipped cream, and warm caramel sauce. Enjoy.

Back to Blogging

It's been almost 2 years since I've posted anything to this blog, and about four years since I've put anything up with any sort of regularity. Do I care? No, not really. But for whatever reason I've been thinking lately that I should make a few more regular entries. So I will - maybe.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

LOTOJA 2011 - What could have been

According to my Garmin, my moving time this year was 9h54m40s. I can also tell you that I only spent 9 minutes stopped at the feed zones, and 1 minute stopped for a "natural break". If you're quick with math you might already be assuming that I finished the race in 10 hours and 5 minutes. Unfortunately that doesn't account for one other important factor.

The short story is that while I felt a strong as ever on the bike, spent most of the race in 3rd or 4th place, was on track for a sub-10, and generally had a great day, it all went wrong at mile 143. That's where I got my first flat... yes, first. In my panic it took me over 5 minutes to change the flat, and I lost more time and energy fighting a headwind solo trying to get back to my group.

After leap-frogging a few times, I found a group that was moving at a good pace - in fact, faster than my original group. I felt like we were making up time, and I was starting to think I might still be able to fight my way back onto the podium. At mile 175 I felt the same rear wheel starting to go soft, and seconds later I had to pull over to change another flat. In my frustration, I had failed to grab another tube and CO2 cartridge in Alpine, so this time the change took much, much longer - almost 15 minutes. After waiting helplessly for over 10 minutes someone kindly stopped and gave me a tube and CO2. Brett and Mark (also riding for Adobe) passed me just a minute or two before I was back on the bike. I hammered for several miles and caught them at the last feed zone.

At that point I was just riding to finish with the two guys on my team. Any goals of a top finish or a good time were gone. We covered the last 30 miles pretty easily. Unfortunately I didn't realize I was still in 7th place, nor did I realize that in the last 5 miles two other riders in my category had found me and were sitting on my wheel. When we got inside 500m, I sat up and looked back to make sure my teammates and I could all finish together. The two other riders went around me and took 7th and 8th. Brett took 9th, I took 10th, and Mark finished 11th.

When I got the first flat, I had a teammate with me. He kept racing and went on to take 3rd. In some ways I'm happy he didn't stop, because it gave me a way of knowing where I would have finished. On the other hand, knowing that two flat tires were the only thing that kept me off the podium was pretty disappointing.

At the end of the day, I'm still really happy with the overall results. I managed to sneak inside the top 10 even with 20 minutes of delay, and I felt great on the bike. I'm already looking forward to next year.

I also have to say thank you to my wonderful wife for supporting me before, during, and after the race this year. It made the whole event so much better. Thank you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wasatch Crest - Mid Mountain Loop

This is one of the best mountain rides around. The total ride is just under 30 miles, but you get over 4,000 ft of climbing and some amazing singletrack along the way. It had been more than 5 years since I had done this loop, so I didn't quite know what to expect. Unfortunately some of the best parts of the trail have recently been re-cut. Hopefully a bit of rain and enough people on the trail will get it back in shape.

I felt pretty good for the first hour or so. Probably because it's mostly downhill once you get up on the Crest trail. The next couple of hours were pretty painful. Rico was nice enough to wait for me at the top of each big climb, but I was cooked by the end of the ride.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

From Sandy to Park City

I've done this ride before, and it's a beast. 98 miles, and about 7,500 ft of climbing. Last time I finished, I wanted to cry and I couldn't speak in full sentences for the rest of the day. I told myself this time would be different. The high temperature was only supposed to be 65 degrees in Park City, and I had company this year (last year I did this on my own). I pushed out of my mind the fact that I hadn't been riding much this year, and I completely ignored my legs as they reminded me of Thursday and Friday's time trials to the top of the Alpine Loop.

It's hard to say if this year was harder or easier than last. The weatherman was certainly wrong. It felt like it was about 80 degrees by the time we hit Coalville. My decision to skip the sunscreen turned out to be not such a great idea. I was certainly exhausted, but at the end of the day I still felt pretty good.

In any case, it was an amazing ride. Difficult yes, but that's what makes it so worth while. After three days of incredible riding, my legs are a bit tired, but I'm definitely back. The sport that I love so much has hooked me once again.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Return to Cycling

OK, the title of this post implies a couple things that are not true:

1) That I ever really stopped riding my bike
2) That I ride at a level that justifies such a title

That said, the phrase has been rolling around in the back of my head this weekend, and here's why:

Last year, I rode a lot. I covered 5,000+ miles, spent over 300 hours in the saddle, and burned over 300,000 calories. I went to France and climbed some of the most famous cols in the history of the Tour. I followed the world of cycling religiously. I trained for and raced in LOTOJA. I had planned to carry that through to 2010, and add to it.

When the snow started melting and I should have been back on the bike, I just didn't feel like riding much. I still got in a few rides here and there, but I just wasn't as excited about it as I normally am. I didn't bother signing up for any of the major 2010 races, and by April, I had almost stopped riding completely. My only time on the bike was during a vacation that was originally supposed to be centered around biking.

By the end of May, I had ridden about 1/4th the miles as the same period in the previous year, and most of those were out of some sense of obligation. I just wasn't having fun anymore. I think at some point I started to take cycling a bit too seriously, and I forgot why I was doing it in the first place.

Enter the Alpine Loop TT. It started as a simple "who wants to ride the Alpine Loop" email thread, but it quickly became clear, this was going to be a race. Call it what you want - everyone would be riding at their limit or beyond for 10.5 miles. Given my state of mind, I had no interest in participating in such a sufferfest. That said, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to ride to the top of the Alpine Loop with a few friends. It really is one of the best rides in the world. So I set off a good 10 minutes ahead of the pack, and hoped that I could get most of the way up before they caught me. But about half way up something happened. My competitive side finally showed up and the voice in the back of my head started tempting me with the thought that maybe, just maybe I could make it to the top without getting caught.

It worked. As the rest of the group made it to the summit and started announcing their times, I realized that while I was certainly the slowest guy in the group, I wasn't as slow as I had thought I would be. More importantly, I remembered why I ride my bike. It was the most fun I've had in a long time and I couldn't wait to get up early the next morning and do it again.

Friday morning came, and while I hadn't planned on going all out, something clicked again around Tibble Fork. I decided to keep my heart rate at 180 and see what happened. I didn't really think I'd improve over Thursday's time, but as the miles passed I started doing the math. 2.5 miles to go, 44 minutes into the ride, 6 minute miles - if I could hold my pace I'd finish in under an hour. With a little help from Rick (he caught me with about a quarter mile to go, gave me the international sign for "it's time to sprint", and put the hammer down), I finished with a time of 59:33. I was so excited I let out an involuntary cheer as I crossed the finish line.

My time isn't that impressive. I'm still the slowest guy in the pack. I will probably never beat Rick in any competition that involves two wheels. But I love trying. I love competing and pushing myself to do better.

And I love riding my bike.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The vacation begins

It's been a while, but I figured it would be good to make a few blog entries during this vacation. With that in mind, here's the first.

The trip has gotten off to a good start. You know things are going well when you're waiting in line with Pauly Shore. At least for a while. His B-list celebrity status still managed to get him through security without waiting in that line. Oh well. It gave us something to talk about while us normal folk waited there for an hour.

But now we're on the flight. In fact we'll be landing in less than two hours, which means we've been on the plane for more than ten hours. I have to say, it hasn't been bad at all for coach. Plenty of legroom and when we checked in, I talked the desk agent into moving 62B to another seat (we booked 62A and 62C hoping for this scenario). Having the whole row makes quite a difference. 1 movie, 1 mediocre dinner, 1 Ambien, 1 breakfast, and we're pretty much there. I think I slept for about 6 or 7 hours. That's a record for me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


So I was just looking over some stats from my training this year, and I was surprised to see that I've burned 158,990 calories since Jan 1st. Of course, that's just an estimate, but still... that's a lot of calories. To put it in perspective, that's the equivalent of 118 Big Mac meals with large fries and a large soda.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

LOTOJA Training

Well, the Tour de France is over, but LOTOJA is just around the corner, and I'm far from ready. I figured I needed to get in some good miles today so I planned a ride from my house in Sandy up to my in-laws house in Park City. Check out the route here.

It turned out to be a pretty good ride, but plenty challenging. The ride ended up taking a little over six hours, in part due to the fact that the wind was in my face for almost the entire ride. I don't know how that's possible, but it's true. The 96 miles weren't so bad, but thinking that I would be less than half way done if it were LOTOJA made me cringe a bit. I've still got a long way to go in my training and not much time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mont Ventoux

I rode to the top of Ventoux this morning. The grade is pretty relentless, but more than that, the wind is like nothing I've experienced before. I would guess gusts well in excess of 50mph. That
said, we took it pretty slowly so the ride wasn't that challenging. At race pace, it would be a killer.

And the people... hundreds of thousands, easily. It was unbelievable. I've never seen so many people anywhere in my life. There were thousands of other cyclists trying to make it to the top before they completely shut down the road. Coming down Ventoux wasn't much fun. Cold, super windy, with crazy fans running all over the road. I'm now about half way down waiting for the peleton. If we're lucky we should see some attacks near here. The truth of the matter is I'll be
watching the TV more than the road. It's hard to beleive the Tour is almost over.