Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5 Uncommon Uses for Beer

Let us begin today's post with a little wisdom from our old school buddy, Benjamin Franklin. I was going to use the quote, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," but upon further investigation, I found that is wasn't actually our boy BF that said that! I don't want to tarnish this blog's sterling reputation, so here is our inspiring quote of the day.
It is wonderful, and quite applicable to today's topic, Uncommon Household Uses for Beer. At this point, I might be losing you, or maybe you are intrigued! I'd advise sticking around for these nuggets of information I'm about to feed you! At the very least, you will  have some fun conversation starters!

1. Pour it on your compost!
Beer is a wonderful beverage for all (of legal drinking age) to enjoy, even the microorganisms that live in your compost bin and make the magic happen! These wonderful little bugs live on sugar and adding flat beer to your pile can really jumpstart the process. Next time you're cleaning up after a bbq, pour the dregs onto your compost for a little boost.

2. Cure brown spots in your lawn!
Beer is an acidic beverage compared to water {Chemistry interlude: Pure water is 7.0 pH, anything lower is considered acidic, higher is alkaline. Malts - especially darker malts - in beer have phosphates in them that react with the calcium and magnesium ions in alkaline water freeing up H+ ions that make the mixture acidic, thus lowering the pH of beer. Here is an interesting article on the topic if you care to learn more.}and that acid will kill the bugs are are harming your lawn, while the yeast and residual sugar in beer will nourish the grass and encourage new growth!

3. Supplement the garden!
Relating back to what we just touched on, flat beer can nourish your plants as well. Think of your leftover beer as food for all your plants. FLAT is the keyword here, the delicious bubbles in beer are CO2 aka Carbon Dioxide, which is naturally produced by yeast during fermentation. It is acidic, which may be harmful when applied directly to plants, so flat (all CO2 escaped) is better. 

4. Take a bubble bath! 
Just as some use beer for a cure for a rough day, a bath in beer can be used as a cure for rough skin! Sound strange? Give it a try! Brewers yeast is added to many beauty products, as it claims to help skin maintain a healthy pH balance. Hops (the bittering agent in beer) help exfoliate dead skin cells, and the yeast will reactivate in warm water, creating wonderful frothy bubbles! Most shocking of all, after you rinse off, you won't smell like a bar after game night. I am happy to report after my beer bath, my hubby commented I smelled like fresh bread and vanilla! I'll take it! I also found this recipe for a DIY beer face mask on

Combine 1 tbsp. of your favorite beer with 1 tsp. plain yogurt, 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 egg white, 1 tsp. lemon extract and 1 tsp. almond extract.
  1. Mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  2. Lightly wet the face with warm water and apply the mask.
  3. Allow the mask to dry for 15 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
  4. Complete the experience with a cold water splash, and step back and admire your beer-kissed skin.
 I am definitely trying this tonight! 

5. Marinate your meal before grilling! 
I touched on this a couple weeks ago when we talked about Chainbreaker Coriander Chicken Skewers. 
Many studies have shown the reduction of cancer-causing carcinogens on grilled items from marinating in beer! We love to grill, and any way we can make it better for us is good news! I recommend using a beer that has like flavors to what you are cooking, that way you have a logical pairing when it comes time to eat! For example, a dark roasty stout to marinate those baby back ribs with BBQ Sauce. A lemony weiss or Hefeweizen for your salmon. An herbal, grassy pale ale mixed into your burger patties. The options are endless and if it sounds good to you, chances are it will taste great! And remember, when cooking with any type of alcohol, the alcohol content (what makes you drunk), cooks off over heat so it is safe for those who don't drink, such as children or pregnant women! 

Beer is more than just a refreshing beverage! What other uses do you have for it, besides enjoying a cold one and catching up with friends?! Share in the comments! 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Urban Farm {May}

Hello friends!!

Life is moving right along here at our Urban Oasis! Our last farm update brought you the birth of our two raised bed gardens.

Since then, we have fully planted one of the beds, and the other is about half planted. Since we divided the beds into square foot increments, we are able to fit many veggies in in an organized manner.

We labeled each section with a rock with the plant name written on it, as you can see here with the peas. 

Did you know peas are a cool weather crop, and can be started outdoors as early as March?! They are considered snap peas if you harvest earlier, and sugar peas if its a later crop. Peas are easy to grow and heavy producers, and you can freeze your harvest! Holla for filling the freezer with home grown goodness! 

Here is a look at Bed #1, fully planted and labeled for your viewing pleasure. 

 We will likely be doubling up some of these veggies in the other bed, carrots for sure, since we will go through a lot of those. 

I'm sure you've noticed and are wondering about the PVC hoops on the beds. If you follow me on Instagram (@lololalala), then you've seen the progress on what are now hoop houses. We installed these hoops, and sewed plastic covers for the beds to extend our growing season and protect our crop from both the unpredictable weather here in Bend, and our fruit bat pit-mix puppy, Cash. So far so good as well! As you can see from the photo above,  if you squint, all of our starts have sprouted!! 

In the other bed, we have planted two types of heirloom tomatoes, which we bought at a local garden store, Zucchini, Tuscan Kale, and more peas. I will definitely be putting in more carrots, and maybe some broccoli and arugula. 

I am loving the gardens so far, and spend at least 30 minutes a day tending to them, and our herb garden in the front yard. You may remember our successes of years past with this built in planter box. Last year we decided to take all the plants out of it and put in an herb garden! Best idea ever!! It worked fabulously and is easily accessible when cooking! Herbs are very easy to grow and quite expensive at the grocery store, so I highly recommend growing your own! 

Here's what we have growing so far. The Tarragon, Thyme and Rosemary all survived the winter and returned for 2013, and the Cilantro, Parsley and Mint are new additions as of a few weeks ago. We will be putting some Basil in soon as well, but for now we have a thriving basil plant (for 3.99 from Trader Joe's, get one, best purchase ever) indoors so we aren't missing out in the basil department. 

We will close this post with some hilarious pics of our pets, my constant garden companions. 

Here is our cat Zeke defying gravity by running DOWN the fence... 

 And here is our fruit bat Cash, investigating the plastic cover of one of the hoop houses. He is quite the trouble maker, but overall a fantastic dog. 

So that's where we stand so far on the Urban Farm. Its still early, but I am feeling confident that we will get a decent crop this year! Any tips or garden advice, especially on growing tomatoes? That is the one plant I am most intimidated by. 

Speak up in the comments!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chainbreaker Coriander Chicken Skewers

Hi hi friends!

So many fun and exciting things are happening around the Ol' Inspired Casa. You will just have to keep coming back for more info!

Today, I am sharing my new FAVE thing to cook for dinner! Its no secret that the Mister and I love some craft beer, and this recipe is an excellent way to incorporate a light and bright flavor, AND have a logical beer pairing when it comes time to eat!

I found this recipe from my absolute favorite food blog, Cooking Classy. Almost daily, Jaclyn has me drooling on my keyboard with her luscious photos and creative ideas!

I followed Jaclyn's recipe, found here, pretty much to the T. The major change I made was to add about 6 ounces of Deschutes Brewery's Chainbreaker White IPA to the marinade. Chainbreaker is among my favorite beers in existence. It is light, the color of sunshine in a glass, with complex flavors like CORIANDER and bitter orange peel, which make it the most logical addition to this Indian marinade. If you are concerned about residual alcohol on your food, it cooks off on the grill, but marinating in beer before grilling has been proven to reduce the amount of carcinogens on your meal! Win-win situation here!

We decided to go the healthier route and make quinoa with Italian Kale as our starch for this dish. Quinoa is a protein rich grain from South America that has wonderful texture, a nutty flavor and cooks quickly! We made a quick curry vinaigrette to toss it in with the wilted kale, and Boom, tasty dinner for two! We also added some chopped cucumber to Jaclyn's yogurt sauce for a  a nice refreshing pop of flavor.

The chicken cooks relatively quickly on our charcoal grill, we do approximately 5 minutes on each side. I also brush the leftover marinade on the skewers right when they do on the grill.

What's your go-to weeknight meal? Any other amazing beer marinades out there? Spill!!
I'll be back soon with more updates to our Urban Farm... it is growing!!

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