16 January, 2009

Budget Irish Cream

After all, what is "Irish cream" but basically whiskey, sugar and cream? Yeah, yeah, the purists and/or marketers will tell you it has to be Irish whiskey, and that there should be added flavors of chocolate, coffee, nuts, pizza, whatever to the mix. But when you're puttering about the flat on your day off and you decide you have a taste for the stuff (it happens and you know it) but the weather outside is frightful so a trip to the store is offputting, boozy beggars can't be choosers and necessity indeed gives rise to invention.

First is the question of whiskey. All respectable Budget Bachelors (or those who at least live like one) have some in a cupboard somewhere, it's part of the requirements of commanding the title. But the chances of it being genuine Oyrish are prolly just what you expect. Fear not, I've done it with any number of Scotches and even Jack Daniels and haven't been arrested yet by the Grain Police.

Next is the cream, without which Irish Cream would be a misleading sham, wouldn't it? Best is the real thing, simple sweet cream.

Living in Romania compels me to clarify: we must call cream "sweet cream" because (now keep up) around here the plain word "cream" (smantana) really means "sour cream." If you want regular fresh non-soured dairy cream, you ask for "sweet cream," or "smantana dulce." Despite the included term "sweet," this does not imply any added sugar in any cream. The nearest equivalent in nature of which I can think is in the petroleum industry where crude oil is labeled "sweet" if sulfur is not found in it or "sour" if it is. However, this is not quite analogous because said oil terminology is not biased towards sweetness or sourness; there is a fair and equal descriptive term for each. With Romanian cream, the "generic" term means sour cream, and non-sour cream gets the complex name. The implication here is that to Romanians, sour is accepted as cream's natural state, and non-sour is a novelty, if not an aberration, that you need to ask for special, by a term that isn't even accurate, at that. This reminds me of how I also hear the word "castraveti" used to describe pickles almost as often as to describe fresh cucumbers. Again, the state of being sour appears considered not particularly different from ordinary, to the possible extent that sour IS considered ordinary and non-sour is special. It gets downright thoughtful if you dare to extrapolate this trend... is "sour" considered the norm over "sweet" in other areas of life here? Say, not just foodstuffs but in more behavioral areas? Wouldn't it just completely explain the attitudes one gets from the average Bucharest shop staffer, ministry drone, motorist, etc?

But I digress.

Sweet (fresh, non-soured, but without added sweeteners) cream is certainly the truest ingredient for your homemade Irish cream. But you have to work in your own sweetener (ironic after all this etymology) and I suppose you could heat the cream til sugar melts in it and then wait for it to cool, or just stir it in cold til your hand falls off. But all respectable Budget Bachelors (or those who at least live like one) are not only known for being frugal, but lazy as well, and like to find the least effort necessary to get the best results. I found mine by accident after a party for which I made homemade whipped cream. In this case, "homemade" meant running an electric hand mixer through a pre-mixed whipping cream which already contained cream and sugar mixed together. Granted, it also contains gelatins to stabilize and thicken the whipped results, but it's not like it's poison or anything. Bit of extra protein in fact. Anyway, after said party I had a bit of unused whipping cream left in the container, roughly about the same as the amount of Chivas in a similarly post-party bottle. Too little of either to do anyone any good, so I did what I usually do in these cases... pour them together and see what happens.

The result, a surprisingly passable Bailey's wannabe. To my palate, it actually seemed a bit more "honest" somehow than the commercial stuff, maybe from no added third-party flavors like nuts, cocoa, etc. The sugar in the whipping cream was just the right amount, a bit less than Baileys which again, to me, was a good thing as Bailey's runs at roughly one cavity per shotglass. Consistency was spot on, not too thick or thin. I categorized it as "something I'd do again" and in fact I have. Today. Right now. Day off, you see. I usually do something ill-advised on my days off anyway, so this fits in. Not so much that I've once again mixed up my own Irish Cream, but that I was so impressed by it (or at least, it was so potent) that I was compelled to get online, and after roughly the last 2 years, finally research blogging sites and software before landing here to set up a blog just so I could write about it.

So, welcome to Ken's long, long overdue blog. Well, I actually did it once before on MySpace but it seemed very mis-targeted for my needs. Hopefully this will be better. So far so good. Can't promise the rest of my stuff will be this cohesive in future... apparently I may tend to ramble.

- K -

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