Category Archives: Uncategorized

Timeout!

Hey all,

We’re calling a brief timeout but we’ll be back next week. In the meantime, enjoy the tunes:

If you need anything, you’ll probably find me senselessly blabbering about hockey on the Twitter. Such is life for the battered Chicago Blackhawks fan.

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The Art of Beer Cooking: Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo! If you’re celebrating today you may want some mexican flare to your dinner. Try these beer marinated shredded chicken tacos to accompany your ice cold beer.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dark Mexican beer
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded queso

Add beer, water, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and  chicken to a large pot. Bring it to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes. After about 40 minutes, most but not all of the liquid should have evaporated and the chicken should be falling apart when poked with a spoon or spatula. If there is still a lot of liquid left, take the lid off and turn the heat up a little to evaporate. Shred with your spatula or spoon and remove from heat to cool slightly.

Take a tortilla and add shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato and queso. You can also enjoy this shredded chicken over some delicious nachos or quesadillas.

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Spring Break

Thanks for visiting the MwBC, but we’re on Spring Break right now. Leave a message at the beep and we’ll get back to you when we return. BEEP.

This is an adventure.

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The Art of Beer Cooking: Corned Beef and Cabbage

St. Patty’s Day is right around the corner and what could be better to celebrate the Irish holiday than with than corned beef and beer! Socializing is an important part of this holiday so you don’t want to waste it away slaving over the stove. This corned beef and cabbage recipe is beyond easy. Basically throw all the ingredients in a slow cooker, sit back and enjoy a beer with good company.

One of my favorite St. Patty’s Day traditions is the dying of the Chicago river. It’s been done for over 40 years and it’s amazing the perfect shade of green the water turns. Definitely worth checking out.


Ingredients

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2in pieces
  • 10 baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 (4 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1/2 head cabbage, coarsely chopped

Place the carrots, potatoes, and onion into the bottom of a slow cooker, and place the brisket on top of the vegetables. You want to keep the vegetables larger so they don’t over cook and get mushy. Pour the beer over the brisket and veggies. You may need to add more to cover everything or substitute water. Sprinkle on the spices from the packet, cover, and set the cooker on low. Cook the brisket for about 8 hours. An hour before serving, stir in the cabbage and cook for 1 more hour.

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Suds: March 5

Happy belated birthday to the City of Big Shoulders! The city I call home turned 175 yesterday amidst a full-blown urban renewal. What many feared would become another rust-belt casualty now houses some of the strongest industries in the United States. Learn more from the Chicago Historical Society, and check out this nice recap of the past 175 years from the Sun-Times.

I can see my house from here!

And now that the times are changing, I see no better beer for the occasion than a Dyanmo from our friends over at Metropolitan. Cheers, and on to Suds.

-I keep forgetting to post her stories, but Jessica over at Girls Like Beer Too writes some great stuff.

-Learn to pour beer the right way from Northern Brewer.

-Some love for Chicago’s South Side and its own vibrant beer culture.

-I love this idea: Short’s Black Cherry Porter from the cellar.

-More cellar drinking at the Happy Gnome.

-Let’s just get our stout needs out of the way. We probably won’t discuss stouts until next November.

Apparently Chicago style uses home-brewers rather than homebrewers or home brewers. Okay, then.

-Finally, make no small plans. I know we never do.

Need more than just Suds? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@midwestbeer) or send an email to mwbeercollective@gmail.com.

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Hoptellectual: Beavers, Salmon, Umwelts and the Preservation of All Three

Ed Note: This piece will eventually be cross-posted with a blog I write for from time to time, Planet Forward. That’s the reason it has a noticeable environmental slant and a little more news-y style, which is not my norm.

Although you can fish for salmon in the Great Lakes, us Midwesterners consider them a delicacy. Restaurants fly them in daily from as close as the Eastern Seaboard and as far as Norway. Rarely ever do we get to eat a Lake Michigan salmon—especially at a fair price. I grew up hearing the legends of my grandfather catching salmon in the northern reaches of Lake Michigan, a byproduct of an intense Great Lakes fisheries initiative. The first stocking of the lakes happened forty years ago, long enough to establish the salmon as another part of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

It was a big surprise when salmon stopped their annual river run in the Kinnickinnic River, one of Milwaukee’s most ecologically strained waterways. Imagine people’s surprise when the salmon started coming back:

The revitalized salmon population comes as a direct result of Milwaukee’s watershed cleanup plan. City officials have been constructing green roof, setting up rain barrels and buffering watersheds to stop toxic runoff before it pollutes the freshwater. These techniques have allowed the river ecosystem to reestablish itself, and the wildlife is returning. Very simple cleanup plans like these are finding success across the nation.

I recently spoke to someone from Groundworks Anacostia about the cleaning up the Anacostia River and the surrounding watersheds. Groundworks places bandalog litter traps at compromised points of the Anacostia River to soak up refuse before it infiltrates the river. We got to talking about river health and wildlife, and he mentioned a beaver had recently been spotted down the river from the DC watershed making a dam. There are few better signs of ecosystem health than wildlife returning and settling to a region.

But we have to ask the question: Why did the wildlife leave in the first place? Obvious answers would be habitat compromised by polluted watersheds (in Milwaukee, concrete fortifies the Kinnickinnic at points, which I find confusing to say the least). Viewed through a more theoretical lens, the health of certain species of wildlife pertains to the preservation of their umwelt—an extension of an organism’s own personal ecosystem.

A German word, umwelt came about in the 1920’s. It poorly translates to “self-world,” or the observable world of an organism occupying a certain habitat. For instance, since birds fly they occupy very large umwelts that span different ecosystems, whereas a tick that clings to a blade of grass occupies a very small one. Though the word has been bouncing around for a while, it somewhat-recently got ecological treatment in T.F.H. Allen’s Supply-Side Sustainability, a book that suggests what we should sustain, and to what extent. As is Allen’s style, he takes a hierarchical approach to sustainability. He asks questions based on the different criteria of his particular hierarchy—the most useful of these for conservation are defined as organism, community and population—noting that most observations change as the level of analysis changes (as an example, evolution acts differently on an organism than it does on a population).

Combining these ideas, we can say that the beavers in the Anacostia and the Salmon in the Kinnickinic survive through the preservation of certain key elements of their habitat. Trash disrupts the beavers umwelt because it reduces fish populations and can prematurely alter the flow of a river. For the salmon, poor river flow and poor visibility affect mating patterns and force salmon to find other sites to spawn. Both are great examples of restoration in action, the confluence of great ideas, hard work and a little bit of luck.

Now, the idea of the umwelt does seem to imply that we can protect wildlife by identifying the key parts of the habitat and then rehabilitating them, and there’s some credence to this. If we could preserve wildlife by isolating the most important variables and preserving just those, then what have we really preserved? The umwelt becomes a sort of a habitat-dependant cage rather than a restoration tool.

However, as in the cases of both of the salmon and the beavers, proper restoration is difficult to get right on a small scale. We would need enormous amounts of data about certain organisms to begin to assemble a pattern, and the odds of finding the right information are incredibly small. Groundworks Anacostia and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District only focus on the health of the river, and let natural ecology do the rest.

For more on umwelts, check out Allen’s Supply-Side Sustainability as well as Mitchell Thomashow’s Bringing the Biosphere Home: Learning to Perceive Global Environmental Change. For a bad experiment that ignored these concepts, check out Biosphere 2.

For more on hierarchy theory and systems science, check out this paper by Allen on the privilege of science in the modern world and read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn.

What constitutes your umwelt? Probably beer. Let us know on Twitter (@midwestbeer), Facebook or send an email to mwbeercollective@gmail.com.

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The Art of Beer Cooking: Curry Stew

Curry is one of my favorite ingredients and with this sudden surge of extremely cold weather I have been in the mood for a spicy, hot curry stew. This is a great simple recipe that you can throw in the slow cooker, cook all day, and have a hearty dinner waiting to greet you when you get home. Traditionally, IPAs pair well with spicy dishes. I used Ballistic from Ale Asylum and it turned out very well but feel free to get creative!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 onion, sliced and quartered
  • 1 cup beer

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and brown the beef on all sides. Remove from skillet, reserving juices, and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir the garlic, ginger, sweet potatoes and jalapeno in the skillet for 2 minutes, until tender, and season with curry powder. Mix in the diced tomatoes and juice. Place the onion in the bottom of a slow cooker, and layer with the browned beef. Scoop the skillet mixture into the slow cooker, and mix in beer. Cover, and cook 6 to 8 hours on low.

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