vanilla whipped cream

When I knew I was moving, one of the only things I wanted was a window in my kitchen, preferably by my workspace. Baking is gentle, can be slow, and is made even more magical by a breeze coming in through the window brushing stray hands of hair across your neck. Right now I have that open window, 55 degree fall air coming through, a ceiling fan on, and a heart trying to be still.

I’m a methodical person. Logic was one of my favorite philosophy courses. I thrive on a schedule. I’m a planner. I feel better when I know what the next step is. I like knowing what the outcome is going to be. I read the whole recipe, I get familiar enough with it to know what should be next. But right now, I don’t know what’s next.

In the grand scheme of things I know where I’m heading. I have a great love, and mountains I want to live between. I know where I’m heading, but the between here and then is so abstract and intangible. What I don’t know is how we, or I get there. I have a month-by-month lease, but because of the timeline at work right now I don’t know where I’ll be in three months. I know where I’ll be in about five steps, but the “meanwhile” is unclear. I can barely tolerate that instability and uncertainty, and really can’t do anything other than go with it. It’s out of my hands for the moment.

But what is in my control is getting the measurement for flour right. I know when to add the liquid ingredients and when to add vanilla. I know I can chill my mixing bowl, pour heavy cream in, add  vanilla, then slowly turn the speed up and wait. I know that with patience it will start frothing and turn into whipped cream. Delicious, luscious, light whipped cream. And if I want more flexibility I can try to cook. Maybe I can make some pasta sauce and not pay much attention to measurements. But when you crave stability and some comfort, sometimes you just want to rely on mixing flour, eggs, butter, and sugar together and knowing exactly what the outcome will be. And a little vanilla. Always vanilla.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1/2 pint heavy/whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons vanilla bean paste*

1. Chill metal bowl from a mixer for 5 minutes in refrigerator.
2. Pour whipping cream in and turn mixer on low.
3. Gradually turn the speed up to medium-low, letting the cream beat for about a minute between each speed.
4. When the cream is starting to look frothy with lots of bubbles, turn mixer off while you add vanilla paste and sugar. (So it doesn’t splatter everywhere). Return speed back to medium-low slowly.
5. Continue to increase speed to medium. (6 on my Kitchen Aid mixer). Be patient and the cream will start to thicken and turn to whipped cream. When it does get thick, check readiness occasionally so as to not over-whip. Whipped cream is ready when you can remove a mixer and soft peaks stay upright.

*I’ve been using Nielson-Massey vanilla paste for the past two years now, and one bottle has actually lasted that entire time period. I swear by it and use vanilla bean paste instead of extract whenever I can, as the vanilla beans add such a rich flavor.

**Credit due to previously mentioned great love for the blog post title.

Cucumber Kolsch

Last night I slept with the windows down and a down blanket on my bed again. I curled up under a second layer of fluffy blankets and had to put on my blue fuzzy robe (with yellow duckies on them of course) in the morning to fight off the chill in the apartment. Friends, even though it was back to a high of 88 today, fall is peeking through. I’m spending every last second of sunshine on my porch in a swimsuit with my sunglasses on and a beer in my hand.

Cucumber Kolsch

All in all…
True to its name, this definitely tastes like a light beer with cucumber slices dropped in. I’m not a fan of the aroma right before you take a sip, but this has a really pleasant aftertaste. As my boyfriend stated once, cucumbers are selfish. You add cucumbers to anything and they take over any other flavors present. It’s still a nice beer, and be aware that cucumber is very much everywhere. I wonder how this would compare to taking a regular kolsch and adding cucumber slices? Also…sidenote: have you tried putting cucumber slices on your eyelids late at night? God almighty what a delicious feeling.

Recommend to a friend?
If you’re adventurous give it a try. Plus, where else have you seen a cucumber beer?

Lightweight-safe?
Yep! 5.2%

Plus one?
I’ll have another, but I wouldn’t have one more after going to another style. Stick to this and this only.

Get a six pack?
Yes please on a hot summer day.

The Hops
Flat 12 Bierworks – Indianapolis, IN
Kölsch

Cucumber Kolsch

never homemaker

Ashley from {never} homemaker is easily the most relatable blogger I’ve read in the past four years. I started reading {never} homemaker back in winter 2009 and haven’t stopped checking this page (and then Writing Chapter Three) since. I’ve continued to have {never} homemaker as one of my daily blog checks because she inspires me to use healthy ingredients (with beautiful pictures), think consciously about food choices, always inspires me to get back to running (seriously, I always want to go put on my shoes and go for a run after reading this blog). But most importantly, because she shares some of life’s imperfections with us. She talks about when a recipe doesn’t meet her expectations (happens to all of us) or when she slips on her training schedule (definitely happens to all of us). She talks about her worries, she shares the everyday imperfections, and then she shares how she recovers. We all have imperfections, we all have little setbacks, and we all have worries. A deficit I see in blogging is that most bloggers tend to hide those parts. Food bloggers make everything look easy and perfect, so when you find someone who is brave enough to share more of what life really does look like sometimes, you don’t step away from a read like that.

P.S. The posts that I go back to and read time and time again? Easy! The running section of this blog. I go through very long phases of not running, but each time I gear myself up to start again I usually spend quality time re-reading a lot of the running related posts. Getting ready to start running again? Definitely start here. 

home

Last weekend I went home for the first time since June. Last weekend I arrived at my dear friend’s insanely adorable new house, stared at the front garden, her porch swing, the dried lavender hanging from the ceiling, gawked at the gigantic spider building a web outside her kitchen window, and sat down with a Coors to catch up. We talked about how things had changed over the past year, how we had been lost, but things were slowly becoming more clear. We both have lovely homes that we are relieved to come back to at the end of the day. We aren’t trying to escape anymore. We’re stepping into lives we can call our own. Is this what it feels like to start “getting it together?”

Last weekend I slept with the windows open at my parents house with crickets as white noise, and I watched entirely too many episodes of Property Brothers with my mother. (Not really, there’s no such thing as “too many episodes of Property Brothers”) I had my favorite dish at the Indian restaurant in town, and ran into old family friends. Then ran into another friend as I was picking up Indiana beer to bring back with me. It made my heart happy to see people I knew, to catch up, to be around the familiar. Home was familiar, it was comfortable, and it was safe.

Indiana beers

This six pack project feature is brought to you by a girl in love with and missing her home state. I’ve lived in many states and countries, but I’m so proud to call Indiana home. I actually live in Missouri now, right outside St. Louis, and while St. Louis has a thriving craft beer scene I still miss the craft beer community back home. Indiana is this random pocket with an incredible variety, impeccable quality, and unbelievably affordable craft beer. The city I’m from (Muncie) is even more affordable than average, with specials found at local bars like $2 Bell’s nights, $0.50 PBR nights, and $4 Zombie Dust. That’s right. $4 Zombie Dust (prices of course may have changed since I moved). Indianapolis is teeming with new breweries like Flat 12, Fountain Square, Black Acre (please visit their website and say you’re under 21), Sun King, Cutters, Triton, I’m going to miss others if I keep going…and we can claim Three Floyds as an Indiana brewery. But that can be a familiar scene found everywhere. Craft breweries are springing up all over the place. So what is drinking craft beer like in Indiana?

Craft beer in Indiana is going to a local pub where the bartenders actually say hi (waves hi to Savage’s and The Fickle Peach), with clientele ranging from professionals going for a drink right after work, parents and grandparents getting a burger and a beer, to local university students. Of course you’ll have your lovely cast of local characters as well. Craft beer in Indiana is comfortable. It’s welcoming. It’s relaxed. It’s accessible and affordable. We just want more people to try craft beer. We’re excited about the beer we’re drinking. And we’re bursting with pride. I haven’t found it to be boastful, but more the sparkly-eyed “Have you tried this?? It’s amazing!” that you ask your friend after sipping a new beer. We want you to come join us for a beer (or a few).

United State of IndianaShirt from United State of Indiana. It’s my favorite.

My six pack review is probably going to be a little different from the others as I wasn’t able to select each beer from the store and as I don’t write typical reviews. As I’m currently living out of state, I was dependent on what my father was able to select last minute at the store before meeting me on our family weekend. While some of these do represent specific beers that you must try if you’re in Indiana, these represent breweries that make me really proud to be from Indiana and that I think are doing an amazing job to promote and carry forward the great craft beer culture in Indiana. That being said, as only six beers could be featured there are others I wasn’t able to highlight here but are doing a wonderful job. I would highly recommend that you check out Hoosier Beer Geek to explore all the amazing Indiana beers and breweries, and help plan a visit if you are traveling there soon.

Indiana beers

Flat 12 Walkabout Pale Ale

This beer is like an exclamation point. If you take the brightness of a Two Hearted, subtract a little of the bite, and drop the ABV we’re on our way to a Walkabout Pale Ale. This pale ale is so juicy and so shiny that I want to have several of them for the middle of winter when I start to forget what summer feels like. This pale ale is for an evening camping, it’s for making a bonfire, and for the smell of evergreens. It pairs well with this song.

Flat 12 is one of my favorite Indiana breweries by far. I was so impressed with this beer the first time I had it a summer or two ago, and most beers of theirs that I’ve tried have been top notch. (With the exception of a kiwi hefeweizen…that just wasn’t for me) They even have a Brazilian Coffee Chipotle Vanilla Porter that sounds deliciously rich, which I’m currently trying to use to make a concept cookie. (Wish me luck!) Plus there’s a Cucumber Kölsch in my fridge I’m stoked about trying.

Indiana beers

Fountain Square Workingman’s Pilsner

I first had a Fountain Square beer on the day of a bike race down in Fountain Square (how appropriate). I met up with a dear friend to watch the race and we walked a while to the Tomlinson Tap Room to catch up, enjoy the air conditioning, and have crepes. It was a gorgeous sunny day, we finished our beers, went back to the races, and enjoyed the summer day. That is a good day for an Indiana beer.

Pilsners are almost impossible for me to pin down. But this one was really enjoyable – after drinking some pilsners it can feel like I’m just drinking water, you know? But the Workingman’s Pilsner is heartier (not hearty like a dark ale) and smells like active dry yeast right out of the packet.

Indiana beers

Mad Anthony IPA

This smells like summer. It’s sharp and sparkly and feels like fresh cut peaches. The Mad Anthony IPA doesn’t leave you with any bitter aftertaste, and is best enjoyed after a day in the sun. Drink one when your cheeks are pink from the sun and heat and the wind has tangled your hair. Unless you’re a guy. Then you’d probably have short hair that doesn’t tangle. You should still drink this anyways. (This is legitimately one of my favorite IPA’s)

Indiana beers

Three Floyds Alpha King

Ah Alpha King. Ah Three Floyds…If you only try one beer out of this six pack, let it be Alpha King. This is the IPA for me. If I had to take one IPA with me to a desert island, I would take an Alpha King. When you’re exhausted at the end of the work day, when your Gmail Inbox “unread” count is reaching epic proportions, when you have dishes to clean, and people to call back, have an Alpha King. Then take a bubble bath. This thing has enough strength and heart to carry you through.

indiana beers

Sun King Osiris

Sun King is a big presence in the Indiana craft beer world, and the Osiris is my favorite of their flagship beers. If you love white grapefruit and love citrusy pale ales, this is the one for you. This definitely isn’t a brewery you should miss if you spend time in Indiana, and you won’t be able to miss them if you spend any time around bike races or cyclocross. Their beer truck is a familiar and welcome sight, and no matter what anyone says I’ll always like the Wee Mac because of having it for the first time on a chilly fall day at a cyclocross race traipsing around in muddy boots. Pairing a Wee Mac with a cyclocross race in the fall, boots, and cowbells is a winning combination. The one I have not been able to try but am dying to is their Popcorn Pilsner. I keep hearing amazing things about it, so if you have the opportunity to try it have one for me okay?

Indiana beersUpland Bad Elmer’s Porter

You know, I love summer beers. I love lagers. I love pale ales. But the Bad Elmer’s porter makes me miss rich, dark beers. This is boozy dessert in a cup. It is roasted coffee. It is chocolate. This is a go-to porter for me. And bonus! Only 5.0% ABV. This is a win.

Upland feels like the definition of an Indiana brewery. They’re settled in hilly and beautiful southern Indiana, sponsor camping weekends, and have their own cycling team. While I can’t say I would go to bat for every single one of the beers in their regular lineup, the Bad Elmer’s Porter and the Dragonfly IPA are not to be missed.

A big thank you for Bryan over at This is Why I’m Drunk for including me in his Six-Pack Project and letting me rave about Indiana. During the day (meaning when I get home from work at lunch and dinner) I’ll be posting links to the features for other states from this month. Hope you enjoy and find a few new beers to try in your travels!

Other six-pack projects for August:

 


six-pack project

Bad Elmer's Porter chocolate cake

This is the time when we don’t want to let go. This is when pumpkin beers start to hit the shelves and this is when I see school supplies and boots in the stores. It doesn’t feel so strange to not be in school anymore, and the humidity still feels like June, but when September starts creeping up it feels like we’re leaving something behind. We don’t have several months of sunburned days and hot nights ahead of us anymore. I usually try to hang on to any shred of summer I can, and try to will the warm weather to stay. But I’m trying to remind myself that as the months pass there are still new adventures ahead of us.

I have a life, a job, and a person firmly in the past at this point. No part of my present. I listened to a song that we played on the way to Pittsburgh, and realized how far behind that feels at this point. My whole life I’ve struggled with “looking in the rearview mirror” as my father puts it. And it’s true. I still don’t have the concept of “letting go” completely down. I’ve moved away from my hometown, and at least for now, I’m doing better this time around. The faster we try to cling on to memories of the past to keep them as part of our present, the seasons, anything that’s left, the faster they disappear like water from our cupped hands. Time moves faster than we can imagine, so we have to either let go or be dragged. Now let’s bake some cake.

To continue the adventure of baking with beer, I used a Bad Elmer’s Porter and adapted a recipe from Tartelette for a chocolate cake that is rich, but not too dark, and smooth. I used the porter and coffee to replace the water and espresso powder that her recipe calls for. Next time you have someone over for dinner (or even treat yourself to dinner) break out the coffee again and some vanilla ice cream to have with this cake. I have a stash of Indiana beers I’m trying to get through, but you can use any mild porter that is available in your area.

Porter Chocolate Cake with Bad Elmer’s Porter
Adapted from Tartelette

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup Bad Elmer’s Porter, flat and room temperature
1/2 cup warm coffee

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a medium sized bowl (you’ll have all your batter in this one at the end). Add eggs and mix until incorporated.
2. Mix dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and baking soda) in separate bowl.
3. Prepare coffee and let cool until barely warm to the touch. Mix with the beer.
4. Add half of the the coffee/porter mixture to the butter, sugar, and eggs and mix quickly until incorporated. (Yes, this will be very soupy. Just keep mixing until smooth).
5. Add half of the dry ingredients and gently mix until just incorporated.
6. Add second half of the coffee/porter mixture, and mix again.
7. Slowly add the remaining half of your dry ingredients and mix again until just incorporated.
8. Butter and flour three miniature spring-form or mini cake pans.
9. Fill 3/4 full with cake batter, and bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

Note: This cake will rise a lot, so if you want to use this recipe to make a multi-layered cake you will need to cut the tops off so that the pieces are level.

Bad Elmer's porter chocolate cake

Bad Elmer's Porter chocolate cake

You’ve probably read The Food Babe’s article titled “The Shocking Ingredients in Beer.” (I really don’t want to link to it, because I think one of the goals of that post was to direct a lot of traffic to that website. Sigh.)

The craft beer community has been quick to respond to it in articles and generally through Twitter. Most recently The Dangers of Dumbassery – bless you.

The craft beer community’s response has gone something a little like this, and I love it.