About Jason Patz

I'm trained as an industrial designer, but I like doing lots of different things. I use my blog to discuss stuff I've made and stuff I like.

Disney Buys Lucasfilm Ltd.

If you are a fan of this blog, you might have already heard the news from places like this.  If not, you should be aware that Disney bought Lucasfilm Ltd, giving them control of the Star Wars franchise.  I thought this might just be rights to the movies, current and future, with Lucas retaining ownership of merchandise and his support companies like ILM and Skywalker Sound, but according to this press release from Disney, they are getting everything.  Lucas will be retained as a creative consultant with his second in command elevated to president of Lucasfilm and reporting to Disney upper management.

People are wondering what the motivations are.  To me, it is simple.  Lucas was offered a lot of money (~$4 billion of which ~$2 billion will be cash) and it relieved him of the headaches of his franchises.  He basically has been able to do no right since Empire in the eyes of the world and now he is completely free of that burden.  He got to do what he wanted and now it is someone else’s problem.  This is obvious to me because he didn’t just sell SW.  He sold Lucasfilm outright.  This includes Indiana Jones which, the article I linked to above points out, Disney doesn’t care about at all.  Besides the nice simplicity, why give it all away unless you don’t want the responsibility anymore?

None of this is completely surprising news but it is interesting to think about what might happen now.  The future of SW could go two ways in my book:

Option #1
Disney says, “There is so much backstory and, whew, are we lucky to have people whose job it is to keep all this stuff straight.  People who are experts in the minutia of the products, the universe, and all things Star Wars.  We’ll do new stories in this existing universe.  Maybe occasionally we’ll have to tweak the movie cannon and almost certainly there will be movement in the expanded universe, but the core stuff will remain the same and mostly we will just have glancing references in our new stuff.  We have a huge interesting universe that still inspires people to this day.  Let’s go see other parts of it and meet new characters!”

How cool would it be to have a TV miniseries show us what it is like to be selected as a padawan and then take us through to Jedi knighthood?  What about live-action movies based on the Republic Commando novels?  Maybe we focus on the empire vs. rebel struggle from the perspective of a group of pro-empire people and why they think the empire is so great and how it will improve humanity.

Option #2
Disney says, “What a nightmare of backstory!  There is so much infrastructure just to keep track of it all – entire departments, wikis, forums, etc.  Not all of the fans mutinied when they streamlined and altered some key elements in the Star Trek reboot.  It made a lot of money and received favorable reviews.  Let’s wipe the slate clean and try that here.  Now we can get rid of Luke’s incestuous thoughts and anything else we deem problematic.”

While I’m all in favor of a nice cohesive story, major changes to the SW universe will really screw it up.  While you can get away with this in Star Trek, I don’t think it will work well in SW.  Trek is a very character driven show, but in SW the setting is probably its strongest attribute.  As an example, the Han didn’t shoot first change really bothered me but it didn’t fundamentally alter things the way midi-chlorians did.  Disney option #2 has the opportunity to change things much more drastically than how the Force works and that is probably a very bad thing.

My hope is that they leave the existing SW stories alone and that they also realize they have two avenues to approach new SW stories.  The kid-oriented cartoons can be simple straightforward stories of heroism and pure evil.  The movies and live-action TV shows can appeal to teens and adults.  New characters can be more ambiguous.  Storylines can be more complex.  They can run the gamut of Smallville-esque young hero soap operas to Avengers-style popcorn chompers all the way to Saving Private Ryan-ish war movies.  The SW universe is huge and stories can be tailored to all age groups and tastes without being paradoxical or wiping the slate clean first.  If SW is big enough for custom cookie cutters, then it is big enough for multiple sagas.

Also, don’t let that announcement of a new SW movie in 2015 slip by.  Just when it seems things are at an end, there is another.

The Best Women’s Underwear

So let’s take a sharp left turn and talk about women’s underwear for a moment.  Wait.  Hear me out.  This site is all about sharing good information with as many people as I can – especially about products that can change your life.

As long as I’ve known about my wife’s relationship with her underwear I’ve known it is a bad one.  She complains that it doesn’t fit right or, more frequently, that it is bunching up in places that it should not.  A couple of years ago she noticed that I’d buy a pair of socks, test them for a while, and if I liked them, I’d buy more (see more on my current favorite socks here).  She started doing the same thing with underwear.  It is a relatively cheap expense but it is something that literally affects your life every day.  You should have an underwear solution that works well for you.

People would rave about this brand or that style, but just like everyone who tells you that beets are good (you just haven’t had them cooked the RIGHT way), they were wrong.  She even checked around online Googling various incriminating search phrases and perusing the forums.  In her latest attempt she found two contenders and surprisingly both of them worked out.

First we have an offering from Maidenform, the Signature Micro Hipster Panty (alternative Amazon link here), which can be purchased at JCPenny’s and other places.  It is made from microfiber (like exercise clothes) with a cotton middle part.  The combo of fabric and cut make these comfortable and relatively stay-in-place undies.  They are cheap, come in several colors, and can be washed normally.

The real winners, and the ones Melanie can’t stop talking about, are called Vanishing Edge Microfiber from Soma – especially the hipster and bikini cuts.  Soma is a specialty shop that you might have at a local shopping center, but if not, they can be purchased directly from the corporate website.  The magic of these panties is that they have a thin strip of silicone around the leg holes.  If you are not familiar with silicone, think of a rubber band or swim cap and you are pretty close.  Some women have said they would not like the rubbery feel against their skin and that it would probably feel cold or be hard to put on.  Melanie says she never notices it at all and putting them on is no different than any other underwear.  She says they stay in place and they do not leave panty lines at all.  She has run half marathons in them and they didn’t budge.

The only trick with the Vanishing Edge is that they shouldn’t be put in the dryer.  I’m sure you wouldn’t destroy them like a pair of wool dry-clean-only pants, but to maximize their life it makes sense that you’d air dry them.  Melanie’s easy system for handling this is to put her dirties in a mesh bag that we keep by the clothes hamper.  They get washed with the other dark colored clothes and then put on our drying rack.  Because they are microfiber they are almost dry when they come out of the washer and are ready to put away in a very short time (an hour?).  As the sales lady told her, “You can practically just blow on them and they are ready to wear again.”

Sorry I’m not providing any images with this post, but as many of you know, I try very hard to use only my images on the site, even if it advertising for someone else, to avoid any hint of copyright infringement.  I even make a point of making many of my images look homemade so there is no question that I didn’t steal them.  So as you can see, I’d have to take pictures of my wife’s undies and I think that is probably not the best idea.  Follow the links and you’ll see every size, color, etc.

PS  I didn’t say “crotch” one time in this article.

Adidas Men’s Sport Low Cut Performance Sock and My Best Childhood Christmas

One of my fondest memories of my Uncle Jack occurred the Christmas when I was about 10 years old.  We had driven out to Arizona to visit family and that in and of itself was memorable enough.  I can remember going outside with my brother and my uncle to throw the Frisbee back and forth down the perfectly flat and straight street before everyone else was up and ready to open presents.  Not only was it not snowing, it wasn’t even cold.  Not only was it not even cold, it was hot.  We were wearing shorts.  But that isn’t best part.

At our house we always take turns opening gifts.  The youngest goes first and everyone sits impatiently waiting for them to finish so they can tear into their own gift watches them, delighted to take in the appreciation of the opener.  Eventually my Uncle Jack’s turn came.  It may have been his last present – let’s say it was.  He unwrapped a smallish floppy package.  I was thinking to myself “tie” when out came a pair of oversized socks.  My Uncle looked a little confused.  “Wow, a single pair of socks.”  He didn’t mind joking around because he knew they were from my grandmother and she was a good sport.  “No,” she said, “they are for when you travel.  You put your shoes in them so they don’t get your clothes all dirty in your suitcase.”  My uncle, the great comedian, noticed that my brother and I could barely sit up straight because we were straining not to laugh out loud and make my grandmother feel bad, muttered “G-g-r-r-e-e-a-a-t,” in the long drawn out way that was his signature move, “shoe warmers.”  My brother and I lost it.  We couldn’t seem to catch our breath.  “I think that’s enough,” said my mom.  But it wasn’t.  We kept laughing until my brother’s face was red and only stopped when corporal punishment was imminent.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned to appreciate good socks.  They really are a good gift (as long as your heart isn’t set on a go-kart or the Death Star Playset).  They are practical.  They feel good.  You can get enjoyment from them every single day.  If you are a runner or a hiker then there is the added appeal of not causing damage – no hot spots, no blisters, no funny marks where the back edge of the sock rubs against the top of the shoe.

So you can understand my excitement when a couple of months ago I tried yet another type of running sock that I had purchased from Costco and it was like a dream (You can also see them at Amazon here).  They were silky and cushy feeling in the store and, best of all, they sold them in an oversized model.  You see most athletic socks seem to be designed for shoe size small-12-if-you-really-stretch-them.  So if you have a size 13 foot this means every sock is pulling on the end of your toes.  No biggie if you are just wearing them to the gym or around the house but if you go out for a long run, it can actually get a little painful.

I’ve bought other running socks before that seemed good for the first few wears but then the luxury seems to get washed right out.  So far, after several times through the washer, these seem to be retaining their fluffiness.

They are not very expensive, so I’d recommend giving them a try the next time you are sock shopping.

PS  Even better than the shoe warmer incident, this was the Christmas that I got my BB rifle.  It had a scope and everything.  It was the single best Christmas present of my materialistic childhood.  We had a great time that holiday season.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Melanie and I are not fans of horror.  Why does someone want to be scared on purpose?  I don’t get it.  We are becoming bigger fans of Stephen King though.  Growing up I loved Stand by Me which was based on King’s The BodyRita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was excellent.  The most helpful book I’ve ever read about how to write is King’s (see my list of recommended books in the sidebar).

We just finished listening to 11/22/63 on audiobook and both of us really loved it.  The basic plot is so well known that I won’t spoil anything by saying that this is a book about time travel and trying to stop the assassination of JFK.  Those of you who just said, “Ooooh!  That sounds good!” are in for a treat.  Those who are about to click away from this article, just wait.

King really knows how to write compelling characters.  Within the first thirty minutes of listening, we were hooked and had to know what happened to these people next.  It is easy to identify with these folks and you care about what is happening to them.  There are no action heroes or brilliant detectives.  You experience the story of mostly normal people having normal lives with the monkey wrench that one of them is from the future.  Don’t be confused though there is action, danger, and romance – just not of the supernatural monster-y sort.

The biggest surprise to me was how compelling the background stories of a 2011 man just getting through life in the 50’s and 60’s were.  This book is very long and it takes its sweet time getting to the main story, but you will not care.  That part is almost secondary.  Maybe it is secondary.  The coolest thing King achieves with this book is putting present-day you in the 50’s with a little bit of cash, some knowledge, and a goal several years down the road.  Where would you live?  What would you eat?  How would you talk?  What would you do with your time?  Who would you seek out?  Who would you avoid?

It is clear that King either spent a lot of time researching the assassination or had an army of helpers.  All of this detail really helps flesh out the setting of this book.  I can’t overstate it.  My favorite character in this book is the time period.  The abundance of these inside, and sometimes personal, facts really anchors the main character in the true-life storyline of Lee Harvey Oswald.  King has so much good info in fact, that the afterward by the author detailing more of the history surrounding the assassination is one of the best parts of the book.  Be sure to read it.

If you are looking to settle down with a good fiction book for a while, I invite you to give this one try.

Oh, and I know at least one person is going to be thinking it so I’ll just answer now.  No, the ending does not suck.  :)

How to Make an Instant Cup of Cake

Have you ever wanted just a little cake right now?  Well, a friend of mine explained a super simple way to make cake that is actually healthier than regular cake, tastes pretty good, and goes from cup to mouth in about one minute.  I know it sounds impossible but it really works.  The secret is using angel food cake mix because it already has the egg whites in it.

It is so simple that rather than give you a recipe, I thought I’d just show you pictorially.

STEP ONE – Buy Angel Food Cake Mix

STEP TWO – Buy Any Other Cake Mix

STEP THREE – Blend Cake Mixes Together in a Large Sealable Container (Shaking Then Stirring with a Fork Works Well)

STEP FOUR – Measure out Three Tablespoons of the Mix

STEP FIVE – Measure out Two Tablespoons of Water

STEP SIX – Combine Mix and Water in Coffee Cup and Stir (Double Recipe Pictured)

STEP SEVEN – Microwave for One Minute

STEP EIGHT – Turn Cake out onto Plate (Double Recipe Pictured)

While cooking and cooling, the cake will have a moderately farty smell (I assume from the egg whites).  I expected the cake to be really tough or hard but it is actually more delicate than a normal cake.  It can be frosted though.  It isn’t nearly as good as “real” cake but overall is a nice substitute when a small cake emergency arises.

For you calorie counters here is nutritional info using the two cake mixes I selected:

If you end up giving this recipe a try, let me know what variations you tried and how well they worked in the comments below.

How I Kicked Cable TV and cut the Cord in 2012: Part Three – Testing – Three Months In

You can see the plan we made to legally watch time-shifted TV without cable in this post.

We are about three months in to the new TV experience at our house and I thought I’d give you an update.  I can’t call it a final solution because there are still some rough edges to this plan but it is working for the most part.

Is this system as effortless, pleasurable, and reliable as cable + Tivo?  Nope.  I always liked Tivo before but in dealing with this new system I really see some stark contrasts.  Is the savings worth the hassle?  For us, I think it is.  I don’t see us going back to cable ever again.

Using the chart I made for the previous article, I’ll comment on each service:
We have stuck with Comcast for our internet service and we continue to rent the modem from them.

Hulu Plus Haven’t used it. Haven’t wanted to.  We get Hulu through PlayOn which provides more content than Hulu Plus for no additional cost.

Roku 2 XS Use it all the time to watch TV shows.  A good little device for the price.  The remote works well.  The player does a good job.  About the only times we don’t use this are when we are playing a DVD or watching something directly on our computer.

Plex  Never could get it working.

PlayOn/PlayLater  Use it for 95+% of all TV shows we watch.  Unfortunately, this is the biggest glitch in the system.  We have access to TONS of content through the Roku but the stuff we *want* to watch is almost always only found through PlayOn.  The glitch is that this is the worst user experience on the Roku.  Some of it may be PlayOn’s fault but it is obvious that most/all of it is on the media providers end.  How can I tell?  Because any content that you pay extra for to directly access (such as Amazon on Demand for movies) works flawlessly.  It proves to me that it isn’t the hardware or my internet connection.  Also, any commercials that play during a show viewed through PlayOn look great and play without problems.  It is only the content itself that will sometimes stutter, show artifacting, fail to play, etc.  There is a noticeable picture quality difference between networks with CBS being the worst offender.  I have read that the media companies don’t make it easy for software like PlayOn because they don’t like their media being streamed.  I don’t understand this.  They now have people like me watching their commercials where before I never watched any.  They also get “free” views of old content that would have just been collecting dust or stuck on some obscure channel late at night.  Case in point:  More than once I’ve found Melanie watching an old Brady Bunch episode.  Overall, the software works and it seems to be getting better all the time (slowly) and without it our TV-watching solution would fall apart.

Redbox  Surprisingly (to me) we still use this option.  It only happens when they have something we want to see and we are going to be driving near a RB anyway.

Amazon Instant Video  This has been the most pleasant surprise of the entire process.  Anytime we watched videos through the Tivo, we always downloaded them and then watched.  With the Roku player we just pick a movie we want to see, press start, and within a few seconds the movie begins.  The picture quality is as good (probably much better) as our old CRT TV can provide.  Pausing, rewinding and even fast forwarding work well.  You are able to see what is going on in the movie while you do all this with a little thumbnail image so accuracy isn’t lost.  We even had a brief power outage once and the movie resumed exactly where we left off once it came back on.

Netflix Streaming  Never tried it.  The biggest problem is that none of their content is new enough for us.  We also don’t watch enough movies to make it cost effective.  Amazon Instant Video and Redbox  meet all of our needs and do so closer to the movie’s release date.

How has our day to day viewing changed?
With Tivo
  You pop on the TV and look at the menu of all the stuff Tivo has recorded for you (both things you tell it to record and things it thinks you’ll like) and pick what you want to watch.  You can pause rewind, FF very accurately so all commercials can quickly and easily be skipped.  There are almost never any problems and you don’t have to remember to record anything.  You will only have issues if you want to record more than two things at once (at least with our Tivo).

With Roku and PlayOn You pop on the TV and select PlayOn.  Then you hop through a series of menus to get to the show you want to watch.  It is up to you to find out when new episodes are posted.  Press play and wait from a few seconds to a minute for the show to start.  Occasionally it will fail to play in which case you can either watch it from a computer or select something else to watch.  The choices of shows are pretty overwhelming so you probably won’t browse stuff.  Rather you’ll know what you want to see before you sit down.  Fast forwarding and rewinding is a pain because you are doing it blind so you just end up watching the commercials instead.  This can be maddening as anyone who has watch TV online will tell you because commercial blocks online must be sold differently.  It is not uncommon to see the exact same commercial for every commercial break of a show.  Also, because all of the different network formats have to be transcoded through PlayOn the download rate is slowed enough that it is very easy to outrun the download if you do choose to fast forward.  Pause works just fine.  You will find that when you pause a show that it tends to lock up at whatever point it was downloading when you pressed the button.  This is easily remedied by going up one menu and selecting the show again and resuming right where you left off.  It only takes a second so it really isn’t even an annoyance, just a weird quirk.

Directly Through Roku (not PlayOn)  You pop on the TV and scroll through a series of menus to find what you want.  There is a lot of stuff, but most of it is junk or you have to pay extra to watch it.  However, most stuff that you watch directly through Roku’s service loads very quickly, has very good picture and audio fidelity and has little thumbnails when you fast forward and rewind.  Fast forwarding works well with some items that allow you to fast forward past the point that you have downloaded (like Amazon Instant Video).  I’ve even noticed with some channels like Crackle and Amazon it will remember exactly where you stopped watching a video even a month or more after you last watched it.

Summary  The Roku hardware is ready for primetime but the content providers are dragging their feet making this an imperfect solution.  With native Roku channels like Crackle and streaming services like Amazon On Demand, it is easy to see the potential of this system.  It just doesn’t live up to that potential yet.  For us, it is close enough for now.  Our estimated spending on TV and movies has dropped from about $95/mo to $85/mo and that includes a lifetime subscription to both PlayOn and PlayLater amortized over this year.  After this year it will drop to $74/mo.

If someone was looking for a way to ease into a video on demand set up and didn’t care as much about money or they just watched a lot of movies, I think the Roku player is a nice solution.  They could keep cable for current shows and use the Roku player to access VOD or a large catalog of old programming.

We have more content with our new set up at a lower price.  Paradoxically, we watch much less TV now.  When the content isn’t being pushed to us we’ve found that we are not willing to go seek it out.  I made a list of the shows we watched before we switched and now we are at exactly half as many.  We also are finding that we read a lot more, which is a very good thing.

We Delve into Puzzles

In an effort to find more things to do together, Melanie suggested we try putting together a puzzle.  She remembered fun times working on various puzzles with her grandmother whenever she’d visit.  I haven’t put together too many myself but it sounded like something worth trying.  I poked around online looking for a good one when I happened upon the Ravensburger 1665 World Map puzzle.  I love maps.  I really love old maps.  It was 3000 pieces so I knew it would be a challenge.  Too much of a challenge?  I didn’t really know, but I’d rather have it be too hard than too easy.

Jump forward a little more than a month and the puzzle is now complete.  We had fun putting it together but there were times when I had to drag Melanie along to maintain any forward progress. When the last piece was placed, Melanie was really glad we had done it but she also said, “I don’t think we should do another puzzle.”

Overall I was really impressed with the quality of this puzzle.  It is easily the nicest one I’ve assembled.  Pieces are cut very precisely so there is a certain feel when the right two pieces are interlocked.  This is important because the dastardly folks as Ravensburger have made many many pieces that are extremely similar in shape.  The image itself is vibrant, clean, and sharp.  You can read the tiny text, see the “island” of California, observe blue elephants in Africa, and spy frolicking sea monsters.

A word of warning though.  This puzzle is huge!  At 48″ x 32″, it required us to put the extra leaf in our dining room table to have enough room for assembly and piece sorting.

Not a Small Puzzle

Animated Time-Lapse Image

If you like puzzles or maps of the world, why not run over to Amazon and grab a copy for yourself?

Stargate Universe

I can count the number of people I know that have watched Stargate Universe on one hand and I don’t even need to use my thumb.  Just last night I finished re-watching the series with my wife and it reminded me how good that show was (she liked it too and she isn’t a huge sci-fi fan).  It is easily one of the five best shows I’ve ever watched and even as I write this review I am thinking back on key moments in the series.

Most conversations about SGU are quick and go one of two ways:  1.  “I’ve never heard of it.  I don’t like sci-fi.  No thanks.”  2.  “It has Stargate in the title.  That means a corny concept at least and a silly show most likely.”  If this describes you, I urge you to give SGU a try.  The entire tone of the show is very different from the movies and other TV series.  If you have never seen the movie Stargate or need a refresher on its basic premise, watch this little video and you’ll enjoy SGU more.

I’m sure I’m going to get negative feedback for saying it but the original movie was more than a little goofy.  It was well made and entertaining but it was hard to take seriously.  That tone followed into the TV shows SG-1 and Atlantis from what I’ve observed.  Admittedly, I’ve only seen an episode or two of each.  I couldn’t stand them.  Because of this I came to SGU late in the game.  The series had almost finished up and I had to catch late night reruns on Tivo.  As a matter of fact, I think it was Tivo that suggested that I give the show a try in the first place.  Thanks Tivo.

Anyway, SGU seems more grounded in reality to me.  Decisions have consequences and looming danger is effectively conveyed.  It reminds me of Battlestar Galactica (the newer series) in these ways.  Its focus is much more on the people and their relationships to one another and the act of surviving in a very desperate situation.  If you like Robinson Crusoe, you owe it to yourself to give this show a try.  Few and far between are the giant battles and crazy aliens that this franchise seems to be best known for.

I loved the overall story (which is always the most important thing to me).  It is full of surprises and cleverness.  Who is good and who is bad?  What is the “good” or “bad” decision? Can this person be trusted?  The dialog and character interactions are superb.  I have a feeling as the episodes started filming, the writers saw this strength and began to use the characters to drive the story. The acting is wonderful and you really believe that these actors are the people they are portraying.  The production values are high (which I imagine had to play heavily into the decision to cut the series). Even the soundtrack is great with songs from folks like Alexi Murdoch, Flogging Molly, and Mumford & Sons.

It only ran for two seasons on the then-named Sci Fi Network so it wouldn’t take you long to get through the entire series.  Now that it is summer break for most TV shows, this is the perfect time to give it a try.  I think if you watch the first two or three episodes you’ll be hooked.

You can find the most recent episodes on SyFy’s website but don’t watch them first.  This is one continuous story that would be easy to ruin by watching the series out of order.

You can buy the DVD’s or download episodes from Amazon, check them out from your local library, and many other ways.  Just give them a watch and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Fun or Fart?

If you are a child of the 80’s, if you are a nerd, or if you like videogames, you owe it to yourself to read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  As usual, I don’t like to spoil anything about the story when I talk about books here on the blog.  I will tell you that it is set in the future and focuses on 80′s pop culture.  There is a mystery to solve and an adventure takes place.  There are thrilling moments and plenty of action to keep the plot moving, but by far the most interesting part of the book is the universe that the author creates.  This book is destined to be a movie and it has so many opportunities to be visually spectacular.  It reminds me very much of Star Wars in that I like the original trilogy but I love the universe that these movies inhabit.

Is it the best book I’ve read?  No.  The writing style is not my favorite or maybe it needs to be refined a little more.  This book relies heavily on nostalgia but I wish it could have done so a little more subtly with fewer lengthy lists of books, movies, and songs.

Overall, both Melanie and I enjoyed it very much and I recommend it highly.  If you choose to listen to it on audiobook then you get the added bonus of having it read to you by Wil Wheaton.

Using the rating system from waaaay back in this post, I give this book a “fun.”

Best Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Feeling hot hot hot?  Well, then it’s time for homemade ice cream.  I’ve given you some of the very best homemade ice cream recipes I know of already – Vanilla, Oreo Mint, Peanut Butter Cup, and Peach.  You can get a printable version of all four here.  We worked on them until each was the tastiest we’d ever had.  The only complaint we got was that there was no chocolate recipe.  As you can see below, that situation has been rectified.

This recipe was easy to finalize since we had already tested different chocolate combos for the best brownies in the world.  All we had to do was modify the winner to pack that flavor into ice cream.  Just like the brownies, the challenge of chocolate ice cream is making it really chocolaty.  It is easy to turn the white cream brown but getting a strong flavor to match that dark color requires several kinds of concentrated chocolate and a little espresso. Both Melanie and I agree that it is the best chocolate ice cream we’ve ever eaten.

I think this ice cream could be a real winner with chocolate Oreos broken up in it.  If it didn’t melt so fast, it might be nice to add some cinnamon chocolate pudding right at the end of the mixing.  Of course duplicating Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk is never a bad idea.  You’d just need to mix in white and dark chocolate fudge pieces, pecans, walnuts, and chocolate-covered almonds.

Maximum Chocolate Ice Cream (Printable PDF version)
Makes about 5 cups

1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso
1-1/2 teaspoons boiling water
2 oz Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream

1.  Freeze freezer bowl according to manufacturer’s instructions (probably overnight).
2.  Bring water to a boil in a medium bowl.  Stir in espresso powder dissolving completely.
3.  Stir in chocolate chips dissolving completely.
4.  Heat milk until hot but not boiling then add to chocolate mixture.
5.  Stir in cocoa powder dissolving completely.
6.  Cool mixture in fridge until very cold.
7.  Add sugar and mix on low speed for about two minutes until all sugar is dissolved.
8.  Add cream and mix about one minute until evenly incorporated.
9. Pour immediately into ice cream maker and operate according to manufacturer’s instructions until ice cream is thick and frozen (probably 30 minutes).
10. Eat immediately for soft serve.  Transfer to container and place in freezer for about two hours for firmer ice cream.

After you give it a try, let us know how you like it.  If you send me a picture of you enjoying your batch of ice cream (in a G-rated way), I’ll be sure to append it to this post.  Let me know if you want me to include your name or not.