Somehow I hit the jackpot and I get to occasionally travel to the home of my alma mater, Indiana University. If you’ve never been, Bloomington is a magical place that no matter how much time passes, it will instantly transport you back to being a college kid.
My parents both met at IU (McNutt – they were much cooler than me) and they did not want me to go to school there. They thought Hanover or DePauw would be a better, aka safer, option. As soon as I got my acceptance letter to IU, I was in full on Hoosier mode. I cannot imagine going anywhere else and now my parents agree – I was born to be an IU kid. It’s a school with 40,000 students, yet it feels small enough to make it your own. I could not have had nearly as many opportunities if I had gone somewhere else. I could go on and on about IU, but I’ll get to the re-cap of my visit this past Friday.
I had the opportunity to meet with several businesses and organizations that were not there when I graduated seven years ago. Hopscotch Coffee was the location of our first meeting and we stayed awhile until the monsoon calmed down. It is a fun, hipster coffee shop located along the B-Line (Bloomington’s version of the Monon) and I loved the hand painted mural on the back wall.
Our next stop was Esan Thai, located next to the library on Kirkwood. Bloomington is known for their international restaurant scene and this was one of the best Thai meals that I’ve had. There are more than 80 international restaurants around the 4th Street area and the Dalai Llama’s brother calls Bloomington home. I had the Tom Yum, which is a lemongrass broth soup with chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, and a bit of spice. I got the two-and-a-half spice level and it cleared out my sinuses.
Our next stop was NoCo, or No Coast, located along the Courthouse Square downtown and the Talbot’s next door is now The Tap. Not surprising since I am probably the only college kid that went to Talbot’s for the occasional cashmere sweater or pleated pants. NoCo is a fancy alternative to always taking your parents to Malibu Grill. The menu is locally sourced and seasonal. The chef was kind enough to let us sample an ice cream sandwich, which is the inspiration for this post’s recipe. He took two giant homemade ginger snap cookies and put an ample amount of homemade vanilla ice cream in the middle. The cookie was soft and full of chunks of ginger.
One of the most popular items at Trader Joe’s is their ginger snaps and while I will always prefer homemade to store bought, I can no longer buy the ginger snaps because I have no self control. Add a cup of chai tea and it’s the perfect after dinner treat. I have finally found a ginger snap recipe that passes the test. Ginger snaps are also great with peaches in the summertime.
Our last culinary stop of the day was Cardinal Spirits, which is only about two years old. They distill their own brand of vodka, gin, and rum. The drinks were delicious and I got the Cha Cha, which was flora, hibiscus, and grapefruit. It was refreshing and light enough that I did not feel uncomfortably ‘happy’ while taking notes about the company. They have a photo of Bill Murray in the back and I loved everything about the place. The patio, the bikes, the collection of tiki glasses, the Mike Pence sign in the women’s bathroom for certain reasons….
B-town Visitors Center
The cute little row of colorful houses on the B-Line, across from Cardinal Spirits
The Cha cha
Now onto the dating epiphanies part. I babysat two adorable kids yesterday and I realized something as the two year old girl slept on my lap: I have yet to seriously date someone that I could see myself raising kids with. This may seem obvious, but for some reason it took a day of blowing bubbles, Legos, and chicken nuggets to realize I need to actually consider this. Is the guy patient? Would he pretend to read the directions with me when we have to figure out how to put child locks on the cabinets? Also, those things are tricky. They may as well be adult proof too.
I have great memories with my parents and now that I am older, I realize that my mom let me do a lot with my dad. She let us do our own thing and as a result, I am the little lady that I am today. I also think being with someone that has a little Jesus in their life will help. I have only dated guys that were atheists or apathetic when it came to religion and while they didn’t mind my beliefs, it’s hard to be with someone longterm when they don’t have a higher power guiding them. I don’t have all the answers, but my life has never gotten worse from taking a moment to say a little prayer to the man upstairs.
I go back and forth deleting the dating app because while I could maybe find husband material on there, I have had just enough dating experiences to realize that I am happy being alone for the time being or at least until someone comes along that values me. For those that have asked, the dating app of choice has been Bumble. The girl has to talk to the guy first, which is great until you talk to a guy that seems normal and then he asks if you’re into meth. Wait, what? DELETE. Or the guy that is in town for the weekend, but lives in Minnesota…….and no, you cannot walk Winston. I’ll keep you posted, friends. In the meantime, Winston and I are pretty content.
THE BEST, SOFTEST, CHEWIEST GINGER SNAP YOU WILL EVER HAVE
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (the original recipe called for shortening, but I am a butter only baker)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger (or a little less since I added the crystalized ginger)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Crystalized ginger – found at Trader Joe’s
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for decoration
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy and blended. Beat in the egg and molasses.
- In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir with a whisk. Slowly stir the dry mixture into the molasses mixture just until dough forms. Add the crystalized ginger. Cover and chill the dough for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough into balls, roll the balls into the sugar, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet or on a Silpat. Bake for 9-10 minutes.
Spraying your measuring cup with Pam first is crucial.
Have a great week, friends! Xx, Libby