Sunday, July 12, 2020

Not Duke's mayonnaise

This blog has no corporate sponsorship. All the money spent comes right out of pocket, or through private donations (ahem). So, if I mention a brand name, it's because it's something I actually use, e.g. Heinz Ketchup.

In that same vein, for the purposes of this blog I tend to eschew regional brands, including but not limited to Lift Bridge Beer or Dunn Brothers Coffee. I occasionally drink those, too, but I don't expect someone from North Carolina to have even heard of them.

But, we do live in the digital age, so regional brands don't necessarily stay regional, per se.

I guess what I'm stumbling towards is, have you tried Duke's mayonnaise yet? I sure haven't. Supposedly it's really good, as mayo goes. It uses no sugar, a little paprika, and apple cider vinegar.

It's also a standard condiment in the South. Legend has it if someone has Hellman's in their refrigerator they're not allowed to that year's cotillion. At least, that's the story I just totally made up.

Michelle Obama is actually from Chicago.
Look, you...

So, let's make our own!

For our hardware we will need:
  1. A whisk
  2. A mixing bowl
  3. Measuring cups and spoons
  4. A storage container
  5. A moist dish towel

Edibles needed include:
  • One large egg
  • One Tablespoon plus One Teaspoon of white vinegar
  • Two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt (I use kosher)
  • a pinch of paprika (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
  • One cup plus one tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Now, if you already know how to make mayo by hand, then you can tune right out now and get cracking.

My grandmother used to say that you can only make mayonnaise when the sun is out. This, of course, is not true, but she was being serious. To this day I have no idea what the sun has to do with anything. But, for Gramma, her mayo never came out right unless the sun was shining. Or so, at least, she said.


Begin by wrapping your moist dish towel around the base of your mixing bowl. This is to anchor it down and give you a stable receptacle for your work.
An important consideration when you're about to have no free hands.

Into your mixing bowl combine your egg, vinegars, paprika and salt. Thoroughly whisk together.

Once you get to this point I advise stretching your wrist and forearm a bit.

Now is the tricky bit. We'll be adding the oil, and we're whisking it in by hand. This will be actual work, so stretch your whisking hand and arm out before we get started. Seriously, this is going to take about five to eight minutes of constant, vigorous whisk work.

In an exquisitely careful and tightly controlled manner, pour your oil into the bowl with one hand, furiously whisking with the other. When you start, keep your rate of pour down to mere drops. The beginning of this process is where you'll have the most trouble and the most opportunities to screw it up. Go slow. Once you have about one quarter of a cup whisked in, you can speed up the pace to a thin stream, but you still mustn't go too fast or your emulsion won't, well, emulsify.

If it doesn't work, and you put too much oil in too fast, then congratulations! You're in the exclusive company of everyone else. Spoon as much oil out of the mixing bowl as possible and into your measuring cup and do it again. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, cat, practice.

A word on technique. I recommend you whisk in a back and forth lateral motion. This employs something called shear force. As your whisk travels in one direction, the liquids follow it. When it comes the other way it hits the liquids head on, which will break the oil drops and blobs into smaller drops and blobs that will hold the vinegar in place while not actually causing any separation.

You got that?

Put it another way - whisk it hard back and forth and it'll mix better and won't break as quickly.

Like this. Do it like this.

You could absolutely use a hand mixer, stick blender, food processor or a host of other electric items for this, and they'll do just fine. Shouldn't have any effect on flavor, and it won't be as much work. I would like you to use the whisk for one simple reason - easier cleanup. You can't put a stick blender into the dishwasher, mixers can get separated from their beaters, and the food processor's blade should be washed by hand. The bowl and whisk, on the other hand, can just be popped right into the dishwasher.

As an added benefit, doing this by hand will help strengthen your whisking arm, wrist, and hand, and hone your motor skills. Also, it can be kinda fun. It's part of what the French call la vaillance.

There we have it. Don't confuse it with vanilla pudding.

Put your finished product into an airtight container and stow it in the fridge for up to one week. There are no preservatives in this, so I wouldn't trust it for any longer than that.
So, now that you have your faux Duke's mayo, what do you do with it? Everything you can do with not Dukes. You finished product will taste a little brighter, a little saltier, and not as sweet.

A couple parting thoughts for today. Yes, this is my second piece about mayonnaise. The first one was a more, let's say, traditional recipe and made with a stick blender. It's important to know more than one technique for some stuff. Also, there were whisks before there were food processors, and most folks did just fine. I advise against getting too hung up on appliances when a simple hand tool will do just fine.
OXO Good Grips 9" whisk. Available for $9.99 through OXO's website.
This is the one I use the most.

By the way, this stuff makes really good potato salad, tell you that for nothing.

Vaillance, my friends! Vaillance et courage! Et le miracle de Google Translate!

Go in peace, cook good food.

Epilogue - Yes, that's a picture of FNC talking head Tucker Carlson up there. And yes, even further up is Michelle Obama. I am not attempting to make any kind of statement at all by using those pics of those people. I did a Google image search on "blank stare" and "look, you" and those were the best I could find.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Short snort - Beer cheese sauce

You've been invited to a work potluck, the theme is Ariba De Mexico, which straight translates to Up Of Mexico. That's fine though, because most Mexican food in the US is about as Mexican as my Irish grandfather.
The Stove, in all it's glory.
Appropos of absolutely nothing, I just needed some filler here.

So, you're going to bring nachos. That means you're going to pick up a couple bags of tortilla chips on the way home and completely forget about the potluck until the evening before when you get an IM from someone asking if you like spicy.

You rush to your refrigerator and find beer, cream cheese, and shredded nacho cheese. Which means you have the makings for beer cheese sauce.
Two of the three major food groups.

We begin.

Take your cream cheese out of the fridge and leave it on the counter for a couple hours to warm to room temperature. While you're doing that, pour out a cup of beer. Keep in mind that the beer you use is the beer your sauce will taste like. I'm using Grain Belt, a simple lager. You can use whatever you like, of course. If you like something strongly flavored, use that. If you like milkshake IPAs, stay home and rethink all of your life choices.
What do you do with the extra beer?
You're joking, right?

Cream cheese goes into the pan. Whisk in about a quarter of your cup of beer. You will get a cheese club. That's fine. Gently beat the cheese until the beer is combined. It'll be a little lumpy at first. That's fine. Combine your beer and cheese as thoroughly as you can, then add another third of your beer. Beat a little more vigorously this time. Pour in the last of you beer and whisk it all together until it's nice and smooth.
Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3, and this stuff is pretty good on its own right now.

Now put your pan of goo on the burner, turn said burner up to medium, and heat up your stuff. This is some thick stuff, so it will take a couple minutes. Resist the urge to wander out of the kitchen, though. I suggest giving your sauce base a stir every minute or so. You don't want this stuff to scorch on the bottom.
Your finished product.

Now it's cheese time. Add your shredded cheese, a handful at a time, to your hot sauce. Whisk it in until it melts completely, then add another handful. Keep going until your two cup bag is empty.

Congratulations! You now have beer cheese sauce, the keystone of the Wisconsin diet. Warm it up in the work microwave when it's time to serve, and sit back and enjoy the half hour of coworkers who don't all like each other very much awkwardly mingling.
You wish you could drink at work. I sure do.

Embellishments could include using pepper jack cheese, or throwing in some diced jalapeno peppers to your final product. Recommended storage: put it in a sealable container and store it in the fridge for up to a week.

Or, if you don't want a chip topper, pour it over macaroni. Some of the best mac and cheese ever.

Go in peace, made good food.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sourdough Rolls; a Failure That I'm Tired of Sitting On

I know, I know. Back in December I announced that my next entry would be sourdough bread. It took forever to get here because I couldn't get it right.

Triggered an existential crisis of a sort.
So, let's discuss the great teacher.
Not quite, but I do like her philosophy.
Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.
Just, please, clean up as you go.
I'm calling it a failure, although my end result was edible and my family liked it just fine. So, what happened? I'm not sure. Let's dive in.

The recipe I used was:
2 1/2 cups of AP Flour
2 cups of ripe (that means fed) starter
1/2 cup of room temp water
1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of instant yeast.

So, as you can see, what I'm trying to make with this is little more than a sour flavored white loaf. I figured I'd try it and see what happened.

I put it all together as per normal. When it was time for forming it into a boule (French for ball) it wouldn't hold its shape. So I kneaded it some more. Still wouldn't hold its shape.

This was my fourth attempt at making a decent loaf of sourdough. By now I had completely lost interest in this project, but decided to push on because my daughter saw what I was doing and she loves sourdough bread.

And push on I did. After deciding I didn't want a loaf, I weighed out my dough and started making rolls. The original plan was to make twelve, but apparently I can't do math.

I'm not really a numbers person. Usually not this bad, though.
375 degrees until they registered 195 on my instant read thermometer.

I got this.

This is where you should be imagining that little stinger from The Price Is Right when the contestant loses the game.

Where's the failure here? The didn't have the right color. Their texture was wrong. The dough never held its shape.

If I had presented these for grading in baking school, I'd have gotten a bad score. If I tried to pass these off as viable at the bakery, I might be fired.

They tasted ok. My kids loved them, and my wife was very polite about them. I ate a couple myself.

But I wouldn't put them on the table for Thanksgiving dinner.

Simply being edible doesn't necessarily mean they're good.

So, what's the takeaway here? Maybe I need to use bread flour for this instead of AP? Or use a brand with a slightly higher protein amount, like Gold Medal or King Arthur?

Maybe I need to throw a little vital gluten into the recipe. That might do the trick.

Or, I could throw in the towel completely and admit defeat.

Naw, that's not going to happen. The kitchen is a laboratory, where a great many fields of science overlap. You got physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and in today's case, psychology.

So, I haven't been successful yet. Bill Gates said, "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."

Well, I'm pretty smart, and I have more losses than a lot of people have had attempts. The sourdough experiments will not close until I have a worthy specimen. I'll share it once it happens.
While I don't care for absolutes, it helps to remember that it's just bread, and that it's all practice.

Until then, love people and cook them good food.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Easter dinner. Not pictured, the gravy.

Like a fast side dish? Me, too. This is one of my favorites. Like, I can eat about half of it out of the pan. It'll take you less than thirty minutes, front to back. The making of the mashed potatoes, not the eating out of the pan.

Wash and peel yourself about two pounds of russet potatoes and dispose of the skins in the garbage. Don't put them down the disposal in the sink. They won't grind up and you'll have to get under there and take the drain apart to clear the clog.

Ask me how I know.

Cut your peeled potatoes into one inch cubes. Try to cut them the same size, as that will help ensure that they all cook at the same time. Put them into a one gallon stock pot, cover completely with water, and keep filling until there's about an extra inch of water on top. Season with about two teaspoons of your preferred salt. I like kosher, but good ol' table salt will work just fine.

Get out two or three cloves of garlic, nip off the dry stem end with your knife, then turn your knife sideways and crush the garlic with the flat side. Take off the rest of the peel and throw your garlic into the potato pot.
Darn tootin' I weigh them.

Turn the heat up to medium high and simmer until a paring knife slides into the potatoes with no resistance.


Wash and don't peel about two pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes.

Or get what's on sale. That's good, too.

Using a mandoline, slice your potatoes directly into your pot. Cover with water, dump the water out, and cover with water again. Fill to an inch over your sliced potatoes and season with two teaspoons of salt.

This is a mandolin. This particular specimen is made by Ibanez and has a fairly high Google user rating.
It can be purchased through for $169.99.

This is a mandoline. This one is made by Kyocera - yes, THAT Kyocera - and is the very one I use.
It's available at Walmart for $18.75.
Mine is red, too.
See? Told you.
Add your garlic, same way as last time.
Remember when I said three? I meant as much as you want.

Put them on medium-high heat until the paring knife does that thing I talked about with the cubes.

Drain them, put them back in the pan, and put them back on the heat for about 30 seconds. This will take some of the water out of the equation.

Take a wire whisk or potato masher and give your potatoes a rough mash. Just enough to kinda break up your cubes or slices.

Set the pan back on your hot burner and allow to sit for thirty seconds to a minute. This is to dry some of the excess water out of your spuds.

Add one stick (1/2 cup of unsalted butter, 1/4 cup of sour crea, and 1/4 cup of milk. Furiously beat with your whisk. It's going to look loose. That's fine. The potatoes will absorb the moisture as it sits. When you have your desired constancy, salt and pepper and, if you like, nutmeg to taste.

Lumps are fine, and in some cases, desirable.
So good. So easy.

So, what's the big, fat, hairy deal about cubing with a knife vs. slicing with a mandoline?

If you use a mandoline it'll cook faster. The slices have more surface area for the amount of potato. The cubes will cook slower. The trade-off between the two is that the slices from the mandoline will overcook way faster than the cubes, and sometimes poking them with the paring knife will cause them to disintegrate. The cubes will hold their shape better, but will take longer to cook.

Speaking only for myself, I prefer to slice on the mandoline. It helps to assure uniform cutting throughout the entire pan, which means uniform cooking times as well.

What about whole garlic cloves? Can you use minced garlic from the jar?

Of course you can. Put in a scant tablespoon of the minced stuff after you've drained the cooked potatoes but before you start mashing. Mix it in well, and put the taters on to dry. Minced garlic does not take long to cook. One minute in the hot, hot potatoes should do the trick. Boiling it in the water will knock out the flavor in no time. Minced after cooking, cloves during.

As always, you do you.

Be peaceful, cook good food.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

So, here's the thing.

It's been a little better than three months since I posted anything, and there multiple reasons for that. The main one is my own hang ups.

You ever take too long to answer an email or return a phone call? You know you should, but you're just too damned humiliated to do it. The humiliation turns into shame, and then our old friend self-loathing sets in and the cycles of anxiety start turning and you go beating yourself up for every decision you've made that wasn't responding to that stupid chain email your Mom's sister sent you and all your cousins.

This is how I talk to myself.
My last entry was in December when I went on about sourdough starter, florid food blogs, and panther sputum, a phrase of which I am entirely too enamored. In my epilogue I mentioned that I was trying to write the blog I wanted to read, which is still true. Here's the thing...

I feel that I have metaphorically painted myself into a corner. I promised that my next post would be about sourdough bread. Then I realized that making a loaf of sourdough bread is, for most people, kind of a pain in the ass. I made three loaves in an attempt to provide content and screwed up all three. The last one didn't even make it into the oven. Instead of trying to figure out why I was having so much trouble, I got mad at myself for not writing what I said I was going to write. Then I started questioning if I even had any business writing anything for informative and/or entertainment purposes. If I can't do something FREAKIN' FANTASTIC should I even be trying.

Last week I bought a new used laptop for the intended purpose of blogging, and possibly starting a podcast and/or a YouTube channel. I have the hardware to do a, shall we say, rustic version of all three.

But what would I talk about? Cooking? There are better podcasts than mine for that. What kind of videos would I make that aren't already well-represented on all manner of digital media?

Let's pick up the pace, Wordsy Owl, the eyelids are a-droopin'.

I talked to my wife about this earlier today and she said, as is her wont, something amazing.

"You are the Fat Guy in a Little Kitchen, but that kitchen does have windows."

Which means I'm not going to concentrate so much on recipes. This will still be a food blog, but that doesn't necessarily mean we cook food. Maybe we discuss holidays, experiences, kitchen failures, the possibilities are endless.

So, your Fat Guy is still around. He's going to get to that sourdough sooner or later, but not until I can give you a either a decent specimen or a thrilling failure.

I tend to shy away from political commentary. Having your gears ground
 when you're trying to read about cookies isn't fun.

And yes, you did read the words podcast and YouTube channel up there. This is not to be taken as a promise of anything, but I have started recording...something. Not sure how good it is, but it's there.

It's not happening today, and it won't happen tomorrow. Next week isn't looking good and I wouldn't count on next month, either.

There's no timeline, just know that something is coming. Just not sure what that something is.

Be peaceful, cook delicious food.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sourdough Starter, and the value of keeping it relevant.

It was on a spring day, much like this one. The clouds overhead were the color of tightly strung panther sputum that day in autumn when I discovered my grandfather's vast collection of vintage Tijuana Bibles. It was on that day I knew. I knew that I had to pursue the perfect recipe for sourdough bread.
Wake me up when we get to the point.

Does anyone else just loathe blog entries like that? They make you slog through a novelette's worth of florid prose when all you're looking for is a recipe.

We're keeping this one short, sweet, and to the point.

Ok, not so much sweet. Short, sour, and to the point.

And, as it happens, not all that short.

There will, however, be florid.

Lactobacillus, the hero of our story.

Why do you want to make and maybe maintain a sour starter? The main reason is to make sourdough bread.

You're still thinking about the panther sputum, aren't you?

A secondary reason is that this starter does not use commercial yeast. We will be gathering, maintaining, and harvesting naturally occurring wild yeast.

See, commercial yeast will all be the same strain, which produces the same flavor. The wild yeasts we're trying to cultivate here will provide a deeper, sharper flavor profile, and will eventually supplant the commercially inspired culture you started with. So, don't bother putting yeast from the store in the starter. There will be plenty coming on all by itself.

There's also a school of thought that suggests that bread leavened with only starter has more healthful benefits than bread made with commercial yeast.

I don't know about that one way or the other. I do know that sometimes you want to make sourdough, and that means you need a starter.

Tightly strung panther sputum? Someone's tying that stuff up?

Google starter recipes. Did your phone explode? There are a plethora, a myriad, if you will, of starter recipes.

Here's the thing. Most of those recipes are convoluted beyond what's called for. They may call for two or more kinds of flour, water and/or milk, yeast, sugar/honey/maple syrup, salt, and Papal intervention.

Again with the bread prayers? I'm busy here!

All you really need are equal parts, by weight, of flour and water. And a container with a tight lid.

I prefer unbleached all purpose (AP) flour and water from my Brita pitcher.

Why unbleached AP flour? Because AP is the easiest to find, and unbleached has more protein and makes a chewier product.

Why water from the Brita? Because it removes most of the chemicals in city tap water that would inhibit the growth of the yeast you're trying to cultivate.

Place them in your container, combine using a spoon or a fork, then cover with a moist towel and leave it on your counter for 24 hours.

Be sure to wash your stirring implement right away. Left to dry the starter gets incredibly hard and hard to wash off. Like, four times through the dishwasher and it still isn't clean. Hand wash it right away.

Twenty-four hours are up. Feed your starter with 50 grams of water and 50 grams of flour. Stir it in, then cover with a freshly moistened towel, and let it sit.

Doesn't even look like a word anymore, does it?
Day three, do it again, only don't cover it with the towel. Put the lid on.

Day four, take out 100 grams of the starter and we'll get back to this in a minute. Feed your starter just like the last three times, and cover.

Day five your starter will be ready to use. It should smell kinda sharp, and taste kinda sour. It won't be full strength yet. That comes later, after care and feeding for no small amount of time.

Should oughta look like this. Bubbly and alive.

Now comes a decision. Do you want to make bread now or later?

If you want to do it later, take out the 100 grams and feed the starter, then put your container of lively goo on the coldest part of your refrigerator.

I'd you want to make bread, that's great! Next entry in this blog is going to be sourdough bread, by an amazing coincidence.

What do you do with the discarded starter? You can cook with it. Go look up Alton Brown's recipe for cheese crackers or maybe sourdough waffles.

If you choose to dispose of it, be aware that it draws fruit flies. They like to rut in that stuff. Take it out right away.

By the way, my grandfather never collected Tijuana Bibles.

Here's an option - you can feed the starter first, then take out the 100 grams and give it to a friend. That's a great thing to do.

Or you can not discard any and leave it in the container. Which you can absolutely do. Be warned, though. Unless you make a whole lot of bread with this, you're going to find you have The Starter That Ate Duluth and Outlying Areas.

You get to choose.

I'd keep it in the coldest part of the fridge (bottom shelf in the rear usually) remember to feed it no less frequently than once a month. That's at a minimum. Every two weeks would be better.

Ok, next step, baking bread. We'll do that next time.

This is the good stuff.

A few possibly disjointed thoughts at the end of the year.

I know the first paragraph seems like it came out of nowhere, and the bits about panther sputum and Tijuana Bibles were distracting, and possibly a little gross. I did that for a reason.

I got really tired of looking for a recipe and finding a blog that promised a recipe but delivered a long-winded, pointless screed on the charming hamlet in Spain's Basque country and the brasserie the author found that offered the most delightful little nuggets of something or other that I wasn't interested in reading about and ultimately just gave up and looked up Alton Brown's recipe and called it a day.

I had been noodling around writing for mostly my own entertainment for a few years. Eventually I realized (which is Aaronspeak for my wife and mother finally convinced me) that my writing isn't half bad, and maybe I should try something that might appeal to a somewhat broader audience.

Basically I decided to write the blog I wanted to read.

This blog was originally supposed to be called One-Butt Kitchen Adventures. No one but me knows that, by the way. Well, until now. It occurred to me that a title like that might be, let's say, misleading. So it was launched as Fat Guy in a Little Kitchen, to reflect the fact that I was cooking in a small apartment kitchen while being fat.

We bought a house at the end of Spring of this year. The kitchen we're using now is actually smaller than the one in the apartment.

And I'm still none too enamored of the tendency to burn up bandwidth prattling on instead of getting to the point. Less blabby, more foody, m'kay?

But that doesn't mean getting to business can't be fun. Because if you're not enjoying yourself, what are you doing?

So, look for a little expansion of the so-called brand coming up in the new year. By which I mean I'm exploring taking this bad boy to Instagram and Twitter as well as Facebook.

There has been talk in my small circle about a podcast and a YouTube channel as well. Which is a possibility. I have the hardware for both.

As I write this, it's Eleven PM on a Sunday, two days before New Year's and I'm getting ready to turn in, so let's wrap this up.

If you're reading this blog in all of its irregularly updated glory, I thank you.

If you've shared something you read with a friend, I thank you.

If you've donated a little money to my Ko-Fi (hint, hint), I thank you.

If you've printed an entry and tried to use it, I thank you and congratulate you on your ambition.

If I've inspired you to try something, or expanded your knowledge base a little, it was my pleasure.

OK, that is more than enough of that. Go make a starter. In a couple weeks we're going to explore what to do with it.

The Fat Guy abides.
A friend and me after a Willie Nelson concert. We didn't indulge in any you know what, but enough people around us were that it didn't really matter.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Breakfast - It's What's For Breakfast

You have his attention. Don't disappoint him.

Consider, if you will, not what the first meal of the day is, so much as what it means. For some it's a cup of coffee to be slurped out of a travel mug on the way to work. For others it's a bowl of cold cereal to be absentmindedly poured down the throat while reading the morning news. And for most folks, that's just how it is. You need something to eat, and a bowl of raisin bran and a hot cup of joe is what you get.

But does it have to be like this every morning?


Let's play a little make-believe. You have, oh, let's say, a guest. A guest who stayed overnight. An overnight guest you'd like to stay overnight again, and sooner than later. An overnight guest you'd like to stay overnight again, sooner than later, and maybe bring their toothbrush along, that you realize that in order to make that happen, you need to wow them.

Assuming you didn't wow them a couple times the previous I'm getting off track here.


Bacon, hashbrowns, and fried eggs. Solid meal right there.

Let's start cooking.

First, the bacon, because that takes the longest.

You'll need a half sheet pan (think a cookie sheet with a lip around the edge) and some parchment paper.

And an oven.

And bacon. That's important here.

Line your pan with parchment. Is it lifting itself up and curling into a tube? Easy fix for that. Just crumple it into a ball and smooth it out on the pan. It'll stay put now. Place your strips (aka rashers) of bacon on the pan side by side.
The overlaps are fine. And that pan isn't dirty, it's well seasoned. That is a thing you want.
Put your pan of bacon into a cold oven, set the temp to 400F, and turn it on. Leave it be for ten minutes, then turn the pan around to ensure even baking. Let it go for another ten to fifteen minutes, until it's done the way you like it.

While that's going we're going to get into our hash brown. You can buy the preformed squares if you like, and they'll do alright, but aren't you trying to impress someone? Shred up a couple of potatoes with a food processor or one of those older style cowbell graters, being careful to not involve your knuckle flesh. You can peel them or not, either is fine.

Once the shredding is done, grab a handful and squeeze. You want to get the water out of the potatoes, as much as possible. Also, for our purposes, a generous handful is good for one serving.
Seriously, we're trying to cook here. Focus.
Now for the weird bit. You're not frying the potatoes in a pan or on a griddle.

You'll be using a waffle iron.

And it'll be awesome off the waffle iron.

If you don't have one, get one. This is a startlingly versatile tool.

Also, waffles are awesome.

Plug in your waffle iron, set it to maximum, and let it warm up. Once the green light comes on (or whatever your particular unit's readiness indicator is) lube it up with a little pan spray.
Just a little will do.
Spread your shredded potatoes over the bottom plate, sprinkle a scant pinch of salt on top, lower the top plate, and let the iron go through two cycles. On my waffle iron that means you start with the green light that indicates that the iron is hot enough to add the waffle batter. Let it turn red while it's cooking. Then it'll turn green. Then red again. On the second green you hash browns are ready. I recommend two servings, unless you want to share a plate. Your call.
Couldn't be simpler.

Check your bacon. If it's done, don an oven mitt, pull the pan out of the oven, and with a pair of tongs pull the bacon off the pan and onto a plate which you've prelined with a couple paper towels.

Properly done bacon is truly one of the finer things in life.

Now come the age old question, what to do with the bacon grease? 

Do we pour it down the drain? No, that's a bad idea. The fat will cool and congeal in the pipes and clog up the works. 

Do we throw it in the trash? Well, you can after its cooled, but that's kind of wasteful.

Big honkin' coffee cup I picked up a long time ago when big honkin' coffee cups were all popular.
Do we pour it into a receptacle and keep it in the refrigerator? Yes! That's a fantastic idea! Bacon grease is great for sauteing, it can be used in some recipes in place of lard, and it's great for frying eggs. Which, funny thing...

Let's fry a couple eggs!

Throw a generous wad of bacon grease in a frying pan. There's no need to really measure, just put in enough to keep the bottom of the pan covered.
That's actually way too much. About half of that will be perfect.
Heat the pan to about medium and crack a couple eggs into your hot grease. Into that same grease you're going to put about a teaspoon of water. Don't be scared, as long as your grease isn't nuclear hot it won't splatter all over you. Put a lid on top of the pan. The water will evaporate and the steam will cook the tops of the eggs. This is a technique called basting, and it's great if you have trouble flipping an egg without breaking the yolk.

At the beginning.
Frying it up.
After about 45 seconds, go ahead and lift the lid. You should see the albumin, or egg white, clouding up over the yolk. That means it's cooking. Give it another ten to fifteen seconds. Once the entire albumin has gone cloudy, you will have a perfectly basted egg, over easy.

Now for the plating. Un-panning an egg can be a little tricky, but don't get scared. Use a spatula or pancake flipper or whatever you like, and gently work it in between the egg and the pan. It won't take much to free it up. Then just slide it out of the pan and onto the plate.

Or, you can do what I like to do and put the eggs on top of the potatoes and top it with cheese. Bacon goes on the side of the plate.
Who loves ya, baby?
Maybe a slice or two of toast, made from bread that you made yourself, sliced diagonally. Perhaps a couple slices of honey wheat bread, topped with butter or jam?

Or, if you really feel like gilding the lily, top your eggs with a nice scoop of Hollandaise sauce.

We'll cover making that one another day, though.

I going to assume you've already made coffee by now. Serve your guest at the table and be sure to let them have the last slice of bacon.

You're welcome.

Clean up after they've left, or, better yet, clean up while they sit at the table and sip their coffee and watch you continue to take care of your business while chatting amicably.

You never know, you might get a chance to entertain your guest again some time.

My advice, let them awaken to the smells of your home cooking wafting them into consciousness. It's an indication that you are attentive, and not afraid to put a little work in. Besides, it's a nice surprise. You don't have to tell them that this whole thing took half an hour, front to back, and a good hunk of it was just panning up the bacon. Let them simply appreciate you for the wonderful person you are.

One word of caution - when you pull the bacon out of the oven, there may be a little grease spatter. The stuff will be super hot, so it's a good idea to be wearing pants. And probably a shirt.

Enjoy, and don't put your knife (that you didn't actually use this time) in the dishwasher.