Sunday, May 13, 2012

Chris’ Birthday Weekend

It’s Chris’ birthday tomorrow, so we’ve been celebrating this weekend. Yesterday, I hosted a BBQ party at our house. I spent a couple weeks thinking about what food we’d have, picking up some party supplies, and then Friday and Saturday setting up and cooking before the party started. We had gorgeous weather and it was a fun day. We had a great group come out for the afternoon, most of them Chris’ friends from work.
Chris was surprised over a couple things. The first was when I gave him a pack of craft beer and a galvanized steel beverage tub from my parents to kick off the party. Then, friends started trickling in, each armed with a pack of craft or microbrew beer. I had hatched the plan to cook up all of the food but to see if everyone would be willing to bring a pack of craft beer and set the party up as sort of a beer tasting. To my surprise, there weren’t even any duplicate choices, which was awesome. We had a whole variety of different beers and everyone was opening drinks to share and trying different ones. Finally, Chris was ecstatic to find that the main dish on the menu was Dreamland BBQ that his parents and I had gone in on together and I had shipped up from Dreamland BBQ in Alabama (and that I successfully hid in the back of the fridge) for the event.

Aside from those surprises, I set up the basement with different food tables, pulled out all of my platters and serving dishes, and had picked up fun red dinner plates and cute little dessert plates with a cookout design. I spruced up the basement with painted daisies and a couple vases of bright yellow bursting sunflowers. Chris pulled out the extra chairs and set up the “redneck golf” or “ladder toss” to play.

Of course we had other dishes to go along with the Dreamland pulled pork, homestyle bread, and extra sauce. I picked up Wegman’s coleslaw, Bush’s baked beans, chips and French onion dip, and ranch dip and selections for a veggie tray. I sliced up a lemon, orange, and a cucumber to perk up a pitcher of water. Then, most of Friday and Saturday morning were spent making the following menu:
  • Crockpot macaroni and cheese
  • Deviled eggs
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Strawberry-rhubarb hand pies
  • Homemade vanilla ice cream

Everything turned out really well, but I think my favorite experiment was the choice to make the homemade vanilla ice cream. That was because I served it to make chocolate stout beer floats. I will definitely make them again. A Rogue chocolate stout was recommended to me at Total Wine beverage store, and sure enough, a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped by a pour of the chocolate stout was great. It bubbled all up like the coke in a coke float, had the unique, rich, chocolately undertones of the stout but took on the creaminess of the melting ice cream.

Want this treat for yourself? Check out Rogue chocolate stout from the Oregon brewery and churn up the vanilla ice cream below.

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Blend together the milk, sugar, and salt with a whisk or mixer until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the vanilla and cream. Let the mixture steep for at least 2-3 hours or overnight. Mix according to your ice cream maker’s directions. In my Cuisinart maker, once I had turned on the ice cream maker and poured in the cream base, it took about 20 minutes to thicken. Then I left it to freeze up for a few hours into the hard ice cream texture that I wanted.

You can most certainly use the vanilla ice cream for any treat you wish – top it with hot fudge, make milkshakes, serve it with cobbler… or select a brew such as a chocolate, milk, or vanilla stout and pour it over the ice cream for floats. However you serve it, enjoy!

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