Sunday, August 22, 2010

Continuing the Clif ShotBLOKS Experiments

I'm back in business! What? You didn't know I was ever out of business?

Technically I wasn't, but my selection of ShotBLOKS was dwindling to warning levels. I was dreading the day when I would have to resort to actually purchasing mine to continue my efforts to utilize ShotBLOKs in every day living. The very thought kept me awake at night made me pause. It was like one of those "If you had to escape your home in a rush, what would you take with you?" moments. If I had to stop my efforts to become rich and famous work on inventing new uses for these, what would I create?

Thankfully, the Clif company has come to my rescue. They have never seen such a strange use of their product seen the value in my efforts. When I arrived home on Wednesday after taking my wife away for an anniversary celebration I was given a package. I eagerly opened the package and peered inside. The heavens parted and light descended upon the contents of the package. There was no note, no invoice, no collections notice, just a rectangular box. I pulled out the box to behold a fresh case of Clif Cran-Razz ShotBLOKS. My request had been answered.

A little more than a week ago, I sent off a request to Clif requesting new supplies for my creations. It was via their "contact us" form on their website, so I had no idea if a live person even saw them. Apparently the fine people at Clif got my response and have restocked me enough to continue my work.

What next? Here are some ideas on the list.

  1. Granola Bars-I attempted these ones before with limited success. I think I have figured out how to truly pull this one off.
  2. A simple waffle/pancake syrup
  3. A syrup that be added to drinks
  4. Ice cream?? Would you buy a pint of Clif Cran-Razz Recovery Ice Cream? 
I'm open to additional suggestions...feel free to post a comment.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Epic Relay Recap

Epic Relay
Van 1 prior to race start. Notice the fresh looks
on everyone's faces.
Last weekend I spent a glorious Friday and Saturday running with a group of crazies like me like-minded individuals in a 195 mile run from Logan, UT to Jackson Hole, WY. I've never participated in a relay, but all the people are doing them now so I figured why not. I missed out on Ragnar, but when I heard that a few of my fellow Saturday run group members were organizing a team for Epic, I jumped at the chance.

30 hours later with an 9:05 average pace we arrived
in Jackson, WY.
You know you're a
Redneck when....
Friday at 6:30 am Van 1 of team "Remember the Tetons" met for the 2 hour drive to Logan. We started our race at 9:55 am. We were team 34 out of 50 teams. The race was a blast, the scenery was nice, but the company was outstanding. We were pushing for the "best decorated" van, but in the end we were beat out by a van that had a giant blow up monkey attached to the back door. Our team has already started making plans for next year...picture a float traveling down the highway with the Tetons on them with an occasional runner popping out of looking van 2011...take that monkey team.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This Weekend Will Be Epic

Cache-Teton Race
Tomorrow....6:30 am I leave for my race. 2 vans, 12 people, lots of Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches and plenty of water. Tomorrow is the beginning of the Cache-Teton Epic Relay. We'll cross through several states during the relay and end in Jackson, WY. I'm sure some of you were beginning to wonder if i'd hung up the running shoes and instead was focusing solely on my ShotBlok research program. Not the case my friends. I'm teaming up with some of the people from my Saturday running group for this relay. I missed the Ragnar because of some family commitments, but this one is locked in and ready to go. We're planning on staying the night in Jackson rather than tackling the 5 hour drive back home after finishing the relay. I'm runner #5. The course map describes my three legs as very hard, mild and very hard. My ability to walk may be described as very difficult after the race, but I do have my recovery socks packed so maybe  it won't be bad.

More ShotBloks Please
My supply of ShotBloks is getting lower and lower. My kids asked what I'll do if I run out. Will I still work on creating bizarre food items new and inventive ShotBlok recipes or will I stop. The answer to that problem lies solely on the Clif company. I've sent off my request for additional samples of ShotBloks so that I may continue my journey. I'm sure the fine folks there will see the value and untapped market. If I run out, I may be forced to stand on the WalMart corner with a sign saying "Will Work For Accept ShotBlok Donations."

Upcoming ShotBlok Post
I'm know you're anxiously anticipating my next ShotBlok post. Stay tuned. Coming up...ShotBlok granola bars with a chocolate Cran-Razz ShotBlok topping. I've almost perfected the recipe and if the past two recipes didn't get your mouth watering, these will. I've been snacking on the not-so-perfect trials and i've even got the stamp of approval from a product taster one of my kids friends. This one takes my creating to a whole new level. Maybe I'll box some up and send them to the Clif people as an incentive to send me more.

Have a great weekend everyone....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Great ShotBlok Experiment: Filled Cupcakes

"Chef Blaine, tell us about your dish.." The Chairman says as my dishes are laid out before him and the panel of judges.

I respond, "My inspiration for these dishes comes from running. Runners are passionate about what they do so I wanted to bring that passion into their every day life. I call this first dish, 'Cran-Razz Filled Cupcakes.'" A collective murmur of appreciation overcomes the studio audience. The judges look appreciative at the mini cake presented before them.

"Dad, did Grandma really drop you on your head when you were a baby?" My daughter asks after I finish my intro to our latest experiment.

With my resounding success with the ShotBlok suckers have inspired me to bigger and better uses. I've had mixed reviews in my experimenting. My youngest daughter thinks I'm really weird, but is more than willing to assist me in my efforts. Those who know me well, just shake their head and remind themselves never to drop their kids on their heads. Others have told me that they "train with their Shotbloks."

My response to that. Where's the adventure in that? Training with them? But what about all those times you aren't running? If they are good enough to get you from mile 10 to mile 15 then wouldn't they also be good enough to get you through that 3:00 p.m. slump that hits? Wouldn't they be the thing that keep you awake after 12 long hours of driving?

I think a not so moist
cake mix would be better
With newfound genius passion in place, my next step is to see what happens when ShotBloks combine with other ingredients. Visions of a Top Chef Quick Fire Challenge come to my mind or maybe even an Iron Chef America episode with a tribute to all things running. The secret ingredient is "Cran-Razz Shot Bloks." With the time ticking away, I grabbed my packages of ShotBloks and headed to the kitchen.

Mmmmm...homemade GU
Todays experiment with ShotBloks is to see if I can turn them into a filling for cupcakes. I picked up a cake mix from the store the other day with some frosting. They diligently sat on my kitchen counter for almost a week with a sad little "why are you ignoring us" expression while I was busy surfing the web, running,  working. Finally, my guilt overpowered me and in a moment of downtime between projects, I tore into the box I delegated the messy work to my lovely assistant.

While she worked on the cake mix counting the seconds it said on the box while mixing the cake, I worked on the filling. I had two ideas: 1. See if a whole ShotBlock would melt into the cupcake as it cooked. Or 2. Create a thinner filling that would spread out more in the cupcake.

Creamy Chewy center
According to my assistant, I was only allowed to mess with use three cupcakes as my test and NOT the blue wrapper ones (her favorite color.) The first test was to see what a full blok would do. Unfortunately, the blok was so large that it just sank to the bottom of the cupcake while cooking.

The second batch I melted the ShotBlok with some water to create a syrup consistancy, added a little flour and then added that to the second batch of cupcake batter. The second batch turned out better. It still sank to the bottom, but it dispersed more so you do get the impression of it being a filling. The filling is lighter and less chewy than the big Blok. I'll call that a minor success.

So, I probably would have won on originality and taste for the Iron Chef competition, but lost in presentation. Makes me wonder...what would ShotBlok ice cream taste like? Hmm...a scoop of Wild Cherry sounds good right now. Wonder how you'd make that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The GreatShot Block Experiment

Remember my box of ShotBloks? I've been debating what to do with them. Some of them will go with me on my relay next week. The rest? The corner of WalMart is still an option. I was pondering on them the other day and I was struck by lightening, by a car, by a 10 year old on a bicycle inspiration. What if I used the ShotBloks as an ingredient in making something else? I ran this idea by the household committee and got mixed responses ranging from rolling eyes, shaking head, laughing hysterically or just a "you're weird" comment. I felt this was a definite go ahead response.

Thus is born The Great ShotBloks Experiment.
Here's how the
ShotBloks look like in the wild.

The Plan:
Utilizing a package of ShotBloks, I will create various creations. Currently, my ideas tend to the edible kind, but I am open to the idea of some sort of commercial use.

1. Suckers
2. Home made granola bar with cut up ShotBloks added
3. A surprise filling to cupcakes or brownies
4. Pancake syrup
5. Added to chocolate for a glaze over something.
6. Use ShotBlocks instead of Chocolate Chips
Thick goopy mess

I'm rather excited about this idea. Who knows, maybe I'll get some sponsorships out of this.

For My First Act
For those of you who haven't tried these, they are rather chewy like a gummy bear. This morning as I fixed breakfast I wondered how long it would take a ShotBlock to melt in the microwave. It takes about 7-8 seconds for it to melt and start boiling. After it had cooled a little I was able to pry it out of the bowl and taste it. The edges had gotten crisp, while the center still was chewy. This fueled the inspiration. Could I get the Shotbloks to melt and keep it in a syrup form. I used my 7th grade Home Ec knowledge to work and added a little water to my next ShotBloks. It took two 5 second bursts and a 7 second burst to completely dissolve the ShotBloks. 2 additional squares later and I had a thick syrup.

Sucker and triangle shape
I don't have any sucker molds so I dug through the cookie cutters to find something that would hold the syrup. Voila! I came across a triangle shaped object. I think it is actually part of a pumpkin carving kit. Perfect. Once I had poured it into the shape I then created a semi-round circle just on the wax paper and added a couple toothpicks.

It was so tasty my girls were
fighting over it. Who can resist a nice
chewy sucker. 
I let them cool for a period of time and then stuck them in the freezer. They are really sticky and they stuck to the wax paper. With a little work, I was able to pry them away from the wax paper.

ShotBloks have a high sugar content and melt well. I think this is a great beginning. Stay tuned.