Let's face it. If you don't make your own whipped cream at some point in the next several weeks, you're never going to do it.
Doing it yourself really does make a difference. There is simply no comparison in taste. Once you've whipped your own cream, you'll never look at that stuff that comes out of a can the same way again. And that non-dairy goop in a plastic container? You'll shudder in horror.
If you whip it yourself by hand, you can even get the extra fun of telling everyone, "I whipped this myself by hand." They'll be impressed, though they may look at you funny.
If you have never whipped your own cream, Smith's dairy in Orrville, Ohio, has a bunch of easy tips to do it perfectly every time:
• Use a deep metal bowl, and never use more than two cups of cream at a time.
• It's better when it's colder. Put the bowl and beaters or whisk in the freezer for 15 minutes, or rinse them in ice water (and dry them) immediately before using to whip the cream. The cream should be fresh out of the fridge, too.
• Whip the cream to soft peaks for a topping or a garnish, stiff peaks for other purposes. At soft peaks, when you pull the beaters or whisk out of the cream, the cream will stand up and the tip will bend over. At stiff peaks, the cream will stand up straight. The cream changes from soft to stiff quickly, so keep a close eye on it. You can correct soft peaks that have been beaten too stiffly by thoroughly stirring in a little more whipping cream. Overbeating past stiff peaks will turn the cream to butter.
• Add sugar, vanilla, or other flavorings after it has reached the soft peak stage. If using sugar, confectioners' sugar dissolves best.
If you have need of an easy chocolate fluff frosting, the kind folks at Smith's have one to try:
Easy Chocolate Fluff Frosting
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
Whip the cream until it is almost to the soft peak stage. In a separate bowl, sift together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add to whipped cream using a rubber spatula. Continue beating cream until it is at soft peak stage. Frost cake immediately. For the quickest dessert, try frosting with a purchased angel food cake or pound cake. Store frosted cake in refrigerator.
Main Street Cookbooks
Looking for that perfect gift for the food-lover you love?
Well, does that food-lover happen to love Mainstreet Ventures' restaurants, including Real Seafood Company, Zia, and Ciao! Ristorante?
If so, here is an irresistible gift: a cookbook of seafood, Italian, steak, and dessert recipes compiled from its group of restaurants (which also includes the Chop House, Gratzi, and Palio in Ann Arbor and several other locations across the country).
Ordinarily, Distinctive Recipes from Distinctive Eateries costs $35. But Central City Ministry of Toledo is now selling them for $20 — and half of that goes to provide tuition assistance for students at Queen of Apostles and Rosary Cathedral schools.
The books may be ordered at 419-244-6711, ext. 155, and may be picked up at the Catholic Center, 1933 Spielbusch Ave., or can be mailed to you for an extra $5.
Wine. Beer. Taste.
In this town, you can attend a beer or wine tasting (assuming you are older than 21) pretty much any Thursday, Friday, or Saturday — and probably other days, too. Here is a (no-doubt partial) listing for December:
Thursday: Italian wines or porters and stouts. Middle Ground Market, 27 Broadway (Oliver House). 5:30-7:30 p.m. $10 for six beers, $15 for six wines.
Friday: Italian wines, Middle Ground Market. 5:30-7:30 p.m. $15.
Saturday: World-class Syrah wines, Walt Churchill's Market, 3320 Briarfield Blvd., Springfield Township. Noon-5 p.m. More than $15.
Dec. 13: Port, featuring Norm Heineman of Bowling Green Beverage, or lambic beers. Middle Ground Market, 27 Broadway (Oliver House). 5:30-7:30 p.m. $10 for six beers, $15 for six wines.
Dec. 14: Port. Middle Ground Market, 27 Broadway (Oliver House). 5:30-7:30 p.m. $15.
Dec. 15: Elite wines from Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and beyond, Walt Churchill's Market, 3320 Briarfield Blvd., Springfield Township. Noon-5 p.m. More than $15.
Dec. 20: Holiday-friendly wines, Hoppin' Frog beers, featuring Bobby DeSeyn of Cavalier Distributing. Middle Ground Market, 27 Broadway (Oliver House). 5:30-7:30 p.m. $10 for six beers, $15 for six wines.
Dec. 21: Holiday-friendly wines. Middle Ground Market, 27 Broadway (Oliver House). 5:30-7:30 p.m. $15.
Dec. 22: Wines to pair with Christmas dinner, Walt Churchill's Market, 3320 Briarfield Blvd., Springfield Township. Noon-5 p.m. $15 or less.
Dec. 27: Bubbly wines, Michigan beers, Middle Ground Market, 27 Broadway (Oliver House). 5:30-7:30 p.m. $10 for six beers, $15 for six wines.
Dec. 28: Bubbly wines, Middle Ground Market, 27 Broadway (Oliver House). $15.
Dec. 29: Champagne, Walt Churchill's Market, 3320 Briarfield Blvd., Springfield Township. Noon-5 p.m. More than $15.
You can go to the Historic Westmoreland Neighborhood's host a Holiday Home Tour and Food Drive Dec. 9 to see eight older homes in the lovely neighborhood, all decked out for the holiday. You can go for the sake of giving a little money to help feed the needy.
Or you can go for the cookies.
This year, the homeowners of each of the eight houses on the tour are making their favorite cookies and selling them at a hospitality tent. In addition, the recipes have been compiled in a mini-cookbook, which will also be for sale. Each of the recipes is said to have a sentimental value to the homeowners.
At the reasonable price of 50 cents for two cookies, the choices will be: spritz cookies, peanut blossom cookies (peanut-butter kiss cookies), white velvet cutouts, hopscotch crunchies, peppermint meringues, tea-time tassies, lemon cookies, and ginger crinkles.
The tour is $15 and will be from 3-6:30 p.m. A free shuttle bus is available from the Gesu Roman Catholic Parish parking lot, 2049 Parkside Blvd., on the corner of Bancroft Ave.