Because I Can.

For several years a few of my girlfriends and I entered ourselves in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, on a float of our own design and making (mostly). Usually we had a sponsor to fork over the entry fee and we'd squeeze a little money out of him and put his business name on the float somewhere, but that was completely not the point. The point was to be on a float and wave at the people. When people asked us why we did it, we'd say "Because we can."

I am big on doing things Because I Can. I am also big on Doing It Anyway. These two philosophies cover all manner of activities in life usually reserved for the criminally insane or at least the marginally disturbed.

When I started trying to roll my own sushi (years ago - I was sushi when sushi wasn't cool) people would give me the "Why The F" look, and I'd give them the "Because I Can" and everyone would go ahead and shut up. Same for purchasing whiskey by the handle, and painting my bedroom royal purple and my bathroom bloodbath red.

I have long been a fan of leaving certain things to the experts, and cutting corners where possible. But the Because I Can part of me nags away when I say I won't bake bread because I can get a better product at Wheatfields or Great Harvest. Why CAN'T I bake good bread? Am I physically disabled? No, I am only mentally disabled, and only sometimes, and usually it is self-inflicted.

Recently I wanted a chocolate banana shake, and realized too late that the usual chocolate sauce (off brand Kroger stuff in a squeeze bottle) had long ago gone bad, and I was forced to make my own. My mother always made hot fudge, and it's divine, but I didn't have the stuff for that (one day I'll teach you all - I once had a co worker tell me she'd eat a piece of poop if I'd cover it in that hot fudge, no lie), so I needed a simpler chocolate. Now, I don't like the squeeze stuff. I prefer to make my own. BECAUSE I FREAKING CAN.

Here's the recipe (this one, I suggest you measure):

1 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 dash salt

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dump it in a saucepan, stir it together, and boil it for 3 minutes or so. You have to store it in the fridge, if you don't eat it all up.

So, this got me to thinking about all of my other favorite things that I just assume I have to buy from some manufacturer out there, and that brought me to one of my Most-Favorite, I'll-Eat-It-Off-The-Floor-or-Off-Jack-Black's-Hairy-Back-If-I-Have-To items: Nutella.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh, Nutella. Nutella, nutella, nutella. Even the name is delicious.

Nutella is somewhat expensive, and, if we can make it ourselves, and avoid processed things and artifical additives, why wouldn't we? I mean, it's even EASY.

Here it is:

2 cups chopped hazelnuts (filberts)

3/4 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

1/8 to 1/4 cup canola oil

Give the hazelnuts a few turns in your food processor until they clump together in a ball. This could take awhile (maybe 5 minutes?) so go ahead and turn Oprah waaay up tell Gail to shut the hell up while you do it.

Then add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and process again for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture turns dark. Then slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spread, which might not be as much as a quarter cup... just see how it turns out for you.

If you want a richer tasting Nutella, you can toast your hazelnuts first. I love toasted nuts.

The beauty of this is it will store for a month or more, which means nutella brownies, nutella homemade ice cream, nutella smeared on muffins, biscuits, toast, fingers, toes...


Meryl Carver 12 years, 5 months ago

Wow, I haven't ever even thought of making homemade chocolate sauce or nutella. It feels like I'm seeing the sky for the first time! :)

rikkiends 12 years, 5 months ago

I'm not comfortable with messing with a perfect recipe. Nutella rules. Spread of the goddesses. I don't believe you can reproduce it (but I'm happy to try your attempts).

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 5 months ago

Personally, Rikki, I like the homemade version better. If you can believe it. I don't have no stinkin' nut allergy!

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 5 months ago


Thank you for your comment!

I am not a big scone maker, but I have played around a little. The only recipes I've tried are from Ina Garten.

Here is a link to the classic Barefoot Contessa staple: the cranberry/orange scone. It's dreamy.

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