Having recently moved, I have had to once more go through the process of getting acquainted with a new kitchen. As anyone who regularly cooks can attest, this isn’t always easy; developing the routines and shorthand methods for convenient cooking can take a very long time. Which is why discovering Blue Apron has turned out to be such a boon. It’s an online meal delivery site of sorts, but in the best way. Each week, Blue Apron creates original recipes for its members. You choose which ones look good to you, the number of people you want each meal to serve, and make adjustments based on dietary needs and availability. Blue Apron delivers all the ingredients, chopped, measured, and ready to mix. They’re even kept cool, in case the box has to sit because you’re not home to receive it. You put everything together and cook it—bon appetit. It’s an indulgence, but a useful one; the time saved on meal prep is worth the extra cost. Plus, it’s not a weekly necessity. Don’t like any of the current recipe options? Skip ’em, and come back next time. I haven’t had a bad meal yet, and I’m already looking forward to the next round of choices. [Alex McCown]
Upon hearing about Monikers’ Kickstarter, I was eager to support the “dumb party game that respects your intelligence.” Based on a classic game that I knew as “Celebrity” growing up, Monikers takes away much of the sometimes daunting pre-work. The game comes with 500 uniquely illustrated cards featuring everything from “Drunk Jeff Golblum” to “A Russian Nesting Doll,” along with a clue. The instructions remain simple in spirit, but are enough to keep the game moving smoothly: Each team has 60 seconds to get through as many weird, inappropriate names as they can. In the first round, you can say anything you want, which includes sharing the card’s clue in its entirety. In the second, you can only use one word. And in the third, you can’t say anything at all, only using gestures. The same cards are used in each round, so by the end of the game, you and your fellow players have made up a bunch of hilarious jokes together. Each card has a point total based on how difficult it is to guess (1-4), but skipping is highly encouraged so no one will ever completely stall the game. Monikers is currently for sale for an affordable $25, but is also available under a Creative Commons license as a free, downloadable PDF to print and play. [Becca James]
Off Color Brewing’s Apex Predator Farmhouse Ale
I love craft beer as much as the next twentysomething guy, but I have trouble finding a beer worth remembering, something that stands out enough to my dull taste buds that I’ll actually seek it out in the future. One beer that has recently made an impression on me is Apex Predator Farmhouse Ale from Off Color Brewing in Chicago. Its name suits it: Apex Predator is, in many ways, an alpha beer. By combining tangy, earthy flavors with a strong, dry finish, it offers the best qualities of pale ales, wheat beers, and Saisons, all in one bottle. Modern farmhouse ales are part of a somewhat loosely defined branch of beer, but they’re typically thought of as refreshing with a complex flavor. The Apex Predator certainly fits the bill: it’s crisp and drinkable, but it packs a lot to the flavor that takes a few sips to really grasp. It initially hits you with some hints of tropical fruits, like guava and citrus, that then give way to an earthier, fuller flavor with a light spice and a floral hoppiness. I feel kind of ridiculous calling a beer “approachable,” but this accessible and drinkable brew strikes me as a great entry point for beginners into the rapidly expanding world of craft beer. Most essentially, it’s a beer for all seasons: the citrus makes it ideal for sipping outside in the summer, but the spices and hops can justify it as a pleasant winter warmer. Plus, Apex Predator is 6.5% ALC/VOL, so it really only takes one or two before you start to feel cozy and tingly on the inside.
Apex is one of a handful of yearlong brews to come out of Off Color Brewing, a thriving Chicago brewery that’s just a few years old. Unfortunately, you can’t yet find their beers outside of the Chicagoland area, but their products seem to have already expanded their reach by quite a bit, so it might not be long before they make their way outside of Illinois. Either way, be on the lookout for their distinctive black-and-white labels the next time you’re in town. [Cameron Scheetz]