#1StudentNWI: Midsummer moments in Kouts

#1StudentNWI: Midsummer moments in Kouts

What's recently happened:

Monday marked the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day. It was a day celebrating the United States of America’s birthday since it is the day of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. 

While Kouts didn't have a Fourth of July parade, there were still plenty of barbeques and celebrations. 

Many families also utilized the open space in Kouts to light fireworks in their own backyards instead of seeing a fireworks show. These fireworks started the last week of June and are likely to continue for about a week after Independence Day.

The City of Valparaiso's fireworks show at Urschel Field was great for a multitude of reasons. The first is that admission and parking were free. Live music started at 6:30 p.m. and there were food vendors lining an entire block. The firework show didn’t even begin until 9:15 p.m., but when it did start, it was a sight to behold as well as hear, because patriotic music was played over the usual boom and bang of the fireworks.

Regardless of whether they were watching a firework show or having a backyard barbeque underneath the night sky in the town of Kouts, this holiday was about spending quality time with family and friends while celebrating pride in one’s country.

What’s coming up:

The American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association (AVMRA) Chapter 16 out of Wanatah, Indiana is hosting its annual river float on Saturday, July 23, 2022 at 9 a.m. The AVMRA will meet in Kouts at the Family Express that morning before heading down to the Tippecanoe River in Winamac. 

The organizers of the event wanted people to make sure they bring floats, a life jacket for each person, shoes for the river, snacks, lunch, and lots of drinks as the float will last around five hours, but there will be extra floats and life jackets if needed.

Community member spotlight:

Desserts By Juliette is a bakery located on 401 South Main Street in Kouts, Ind. The owners are Susan Keller and her husband Daryle Keller.

Juliette Keller and her mother, Susan Keller, had taken cake decorating classes and Juliette Keller had worked at Strongbow Bakery as a cake decorator through college. In 2013, Juliette Keller, the bakery’s namesake, quit her job to care for her grandmother who was home after being in the ICU.

During her downtime, Juliette Keller baked in the evenings, and Susan Keller would come home and photographed what she baked. Together, they started a food blog that went viral thanks to the chocolate Italian buttercream. When searched on Google, out of 21,000,000 results, their chocolate Italian buttercream was the first to appear. After selling their Italian buttercream for a while, they went to the Chesterton European Market to sell the buttercream with cupcakes in a cup to be easily carried and eaten. This was a huge success, as even more orders and requests for the buttercream came.

Using a connection with Valpo Velvet, they started baking in a commercial kitchen, but they quickly outgrew the space. In March of 2018, the empty Country Folks Pizza was purchased and turned into the bakery which opened during Porkfest that August with lines out the door and around the block.

The bakery started as just a storefront with limited hours for walk-ins. The business was mainly a catering one for special events such as weddings and birthdays. Now, while catering is what keeps them busy for most of the week, the bakery is open consistently Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“When we did buy the building, people were worried because the buildings were empty," said Susan Keller. "When we bought here, it was a cool thing to see the revitalization going on in Kouts. The park is amazing. People are walking and riding their bikes. It’s more lively now. It’s really a great community. I grew up here. My kids grew up here. It’s a wonderful community for sure."

At Desserts by Juliette, one can find cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, cheesecakes, mini cheesecakes, brownies of all kinds, and specialty items like tarts. An expanding business means an expanding menu with some gluten-free items, some KETO items, and a few vegan options. After a partnership with Rabbit Coffee Roasting Company–a local coffee roast out of Knox–lattes, espressos, and cold brews can also be ordered at the bakery. 

A popular item is the Cake of the Month. For July, it is the lemon cake with lemon curd filling and blueberry Italian buttercream since that is what is in season. 

“Our signature is the Italian buttercream. That does separate us from a lot of the bakeries in the area. It is our own recipe so it is self-stable, and we had it tested in a food lab,” said Susan. “If it wasn’t good, it wouldn’t be in here.”

Being a part of the Kouts community means supporting and partnering with one another. Dessert by Juliette’s partnerships include the Kouts Volunteer Fire Department, the Food Bank, and more recently, the Pleasant Township Pool.