Half Liter BBQ

There’s a new hip BBQ joint in town! Half Liter Food and Beer Hall opened in Broad Ripple a few months ago; one side of the establishment is German food and the other Texas style BBQ.

The seating is open, so walk in, find a spot and start figuring out what you want to order. During the summer, the patio doors are up and if you sit outside or on the upper level, which overlooks the Monon Trail, you will have to wait in a line to order your food.

We went on a Saturday night and the place was hoppin’! Not only can you get brisket, but ribs, pulled pork, fish, sausage and chicken are all on the menu. There’s great selection of sides and some vegetarian options as well, although no meatless options for vegans.

They also have house made beer, whisky and plenty of other cocktails on the menu if you enjoy an adult beverage with your BBQ.

We both got the pulled pork platter with sides of fries, fresh fruit and macaroni and cheese. The portions were big and everything was delicious! I especially liked a few extra smoked burnt ends in my pork – that just gives it an extra kick in my opinion.

There are three different sauces to choose from – a Texas pit sauce, Bourbon and cola and the Carolina BBQ, which is mustard based. We both liked the Bourbon and cola the best – slather it on that gorgeous pulled pork!

And once you finish your meal, hang out in the game area and play some washers or corn hole with friends and family.

Five Books Set in Indiana You HAVE to Read

When you think about the Hoosier state, you probably don’t think about books – after all we’re generally known for the Indianapolis 500, basketball and corn. But there have been some great stories set here and many are by Hoosiers themselves!

Here are five titles set in Indiana that everyone should read.

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Last Words by Michael Koryta

Ten years ago, Sarah Martin, a teenage girl from Garrison, Indiana disappeared inside a rural Indiana cave. Her boyfriend swore she was right behind him, but can’t recall what happened in the inky darkness and ultimately, only one teen emerged that day. No one is able to find her except for Ridley Barnes, a seasoned explorer who surfaced with her lifeless body a few days after the incident.  Barnes has no memory of where or how he found her and everyone in the small town believes he’s responsible for her death. But with no evidence to prove his involvement, the Garrison police department has no choice but to release Barnes.

Markus Novak, a private investigator from Florida, is sent to re-open the case and see if he can solve the ten-year-old mystery of Sarah Martin’s death. He’s not particularly interested in a case that’s gone cold, but his job is on the line and if he can’t prove to his boss that he can work on something other than his own wife’s death, he’ll likely lose his job. But the people of Garrison seem to distrust Novak even more than Barnes and it’s not until Novak himself gets trapped in the cave that the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together.

Written by Bloomington native Michael Koryta, Last Words is a suspenseful and engrossing read that will appeal to fans crime mysteries. Indiana natives will recognize the setting in the book from the Indiana Cave Trail network of caves.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel and Gus meet in a support group for kids with cancer, which is not the most romantic of places to find the love of your life.

Yet the two bond over books; one title,  An Imperial Affliction, especially connects them and Gus surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam to meet the author so they can find out why he ended the story the way he did.

Set in Indianapolis, Indiana, The Fault in Our Stars is both delightful and heartbreaking at the same time, painting a very real picture of what life can be like for teens who suffer from cancer.

John Green lives in Indianapolis, which serves as the backdrop for several of his young adult novels. Many of the places in his books are real places in the Circle City and even though the movie version was not filmed here, it can be fun to go looking for all the places Hazel and Gus hung out in the novel.

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Come and Get Me by August Norman

Award-winning journalist Caitlin Bergman returns to Indiana University to accept an award, and she’s not exactly thrilled to be back in the town that holds some haunting memories from her college years.

When a young college student goes missing, Caitlin become involved in the case and is forced to confront her own trauma, dealing with the same police force that screwed her case up years ago.

Loosely based on the Lauren Spierer case that still remains unsolved today,  Come and Get Me is a must read. Hoosiers will enjoy the setting – all the places in the book are very real, and if you’re familiar with Bloomington at all, you will likely have a clear picture painted in your head as the events in the story unfold.

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Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

While the World’s Fair is being built in Chicago, H.H. Holmes is building his murder house a few blocks away.

Holmes murdered at least twenty-seven people, defrauded countless others and investigators were horrified to find gas chambers, sound proof rooms and torture tables when they raided his building.

Based on the true story of one of America’s most infamous serial killers, Devil in the White City isn’t set in Indiana for most of the book but it has strong ties to the state.

Holmes’ third wife was from Franklin, Indiana (the town where I work!) and for a short time, lived in Indianapolis while the police were pursing him. Here, he committed one of his last murders in a home in Irvington, and it was a gruesome one.

I included this one since it has strong ties to the Hoosier state and interest should peak in the next few years with the adaptation of the true crime non-fiction title into a Hulu mini series produced by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Teen Idol by Meg Cabot

Jen Greenley is kinda famous – everyone always wants to know what she’s wearing, who she’s with and where she’s going next.

But when the school administration asks her to befriend a new student, who happens to be an undercover Hollywood movie star, she’s about to find out she’s not the only “teen idol” at her high school.

Bloomington, Indiana native Meg Cabot is the GOAT when it comes to YA/teen lit. The author behind book-to-movie classics such as “The Princess Diaries”, her charming and witty style make for light reads.

Teen Idol is set in the Hoosier state and it was also the author’s first stand alone novel after writing several series.

 

 

 

The BEST Strawberry Pie

The best recipes often come to you as family hand-me-downs and this one is no exception. It’s my mom’s strawberry pie recipe that she’s been making all my life. I don’t know exactly where it came from, but she’s passed it on to me and now I am passing it on to you!

I almost always try to make a home made pie crust with my pies – people comment all the time about how hard that is, but I think they are leaving out one crucial detail when they make theirs. I’ll share my secret in this post so you can make award winning crust that will knock the socks off your friends and family next time you have a get-together.

For the Single Shell Pie Crust you will need:

1 1/2 cups Flour
3/4 cup of shortening (I use Crisco)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cold water

How to make your crust:

I HIGHLY recommend making your pie crust the night before and refrigerating it. Typically, the dough will be sticky and chilling overnight helps it roll out wonderfully so it doesn’t stick all over your hands and rolling pin. If you don’t have time, at least try to chill for a couple hours.

Measure out your flour, mix in the salt, then cut in the shortening with a fork or pastry blender. You will want to get a crumbly mixture and make sure all the shortening is mixed in well.

Add cold water. Honestly, I never measure this. I just run some from the faucet in the flour mixture and start mixing until it seems like it’s enough. If I had to guess, 6 – 7 tablespoons of cold water.

Once a dough has formed, shape it into a ball, put in cling wrap and stick in the refrigerator overnight. Then, when you are ready to bake your pie, roll the dough out on a floured surface and transfer to your pie dish.

Bake the crust on 400 for about 20 minutes. (Another trick to making sure your crust doesn’t get bubbly in the center is to weight it down with dry beans. It will leave a funny design on the bottom but no one will see it because your pie filling will cover it up!)

 


What you need to make your Pie:


3/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup of water
1 package (3 oz.) strawberry Jello
fresh sliced strawberries

Directions:

Line your baked pastry shell with sliced strawberries. You can add as many or as little as you like – I try to get a good layer that covers the bottom of the crust. Set aside.

Combine the Jello, water, sugar and cornstarch in a pan on the stove. Mix until thickened – this can take anywhere between 5 – 10 minutes.


Once mixture is at the right consistency, pour over strawberries in pastry shell.


Refrigerate until set – at least 5 hours. Serve by itself or with whip cream and enjoy this delicious summer favorite!

Willowfield Lavender Farm

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Quietly tucked away on a county road near Mooresville, Indiana you will find Willowfield Lavender Farm. Four acres of organic lavender dot the fields surrounding the gift shop and main house, which has been a hidden gem on the south side of Indianapolis.

Kieran and Elizabeth O’Connor, who own the farm, were inspired to turn the property into a relaxing and educational retreat after visiting Provence, France in 2008. It’s free to visit, and when I was there, several people were painting the beautiful purple flowers and spending time with their families.

The best time to go is during mid-June; that’s when the lavender plants will be in full bloom and you’ll get to experience them at their finest. Keep in mind, the O’Conners do harvest the blooms for products like fresh teas and cookies as well as bundles of the flowers which they sell in their shop.

I tried a raspberry lavender tea with honey and it was quite refreshing!

Once you’ve grabbed a tea or some cookies, head out to the field to enjoy some quiet time away from the city, breathe in the fresh lavender scent and watch the bees and butterflies frolic among the blooms.

Shop this look here!

In years past, summer concerts were held at the farm, however there are none scheduled for 2019. I recommend checking their web site in the future to see if these resume for 2020 and beyond.

The farm has also rented their space out for weddings in the past – can you imagine how pretty that would be??

If you go:

Willowfield Lavendar Farm is located at 6176 E Smokey View Road, Mooresville, IN 46158. They are open Wednesdays thru Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. during the lavender season. Check their Facebook page to see when that begins as it can vary from year to year depending on weather.

Bring your own water; they only sell tea in the store. Dogs are also welcome as long as you pick up after them. Admission is free.