Beer Butt Chicken

I love meats that are grilled, roasted, basted or in anyway cooked with beer. I love the flavor it imparts to the meat so when I came across Blue Moon’s Harvest Pumpkin Spice this weekend I knew I needed to cook something with it.  A nice “Beer Butt Chicken” sounded yummy.  Yes, the name isn’t very appealing but the taste is great and the meat is so juicy and flavorful.

To make a “Beer Butt Chicken” you will need:
1 Roasting Chicken
1 Can (I used a soda can cause my beer comes in bottles.)
A Roasting Pan
Spice Rub (Recipe Below)
An Apple or Orange wedge

Spice Rub
(You can use for favorite spice rub for chicken. I made this one to match some of the flavors of the beer. )

2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. paprkia
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice

Mix ingredients together. Rub inside the cavity of the chicken and all over the skin of the chicken.  Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Beer Butt Chicken

Remove all but the bottom rack and preheat the oven to 350.  Punch 5 or 6 holes around the top of your can.  Fill the can with 6 ounces of beer.  Save the rest of the beer to use in my Hunter’s Carrots recipe.  Line a baking dish with foil and place the can in the center of the dish.  Carefully lower your chicken onto the can. It should fit easily into the cavity of the chicken.  Adjust the legs to balance the chicken.  Place an apple or orange wedge into the neck cavity of the chicken to prevent the steam from escaping.  Roast in the oven for about two hours or until the juices run clear.

When you remove the chicken from the oven, carefully remove the can and discard the beer and the can.  Carve and serve with Hunter’s Carrots! Enjoy!


Help Delete Hunger in Arkansas

Can you imagine being a 10 year old, active child and knowing that when you leave the school cafeteria after you eat lunch at 11:00am that you will likely not get any more food until you get to school the next day?  Unfortunatly, this is the sad reality for many kids here in Arkansas and all over the country.  Approximately 1 in 4 children in Arkansas do not get enough food to eat each day.

I am teaming up with bloggers all over the state of Arkansas in the Delete Hunger Food Drive to help raise money and awareness about hunger in the state of Arkansas.  This special pledge drive runs now through October 15, 2011.  Your donation, even a dollar or two, can make a significant difference in the lives of hungry children all over the state.  The money goes to the Arkansas Rice Depot to directly help hungry families.

The Arkansas Rice Depot began in 1982 when a group of concerned Arkansans realized how many families in our state were going hungy.  They worked to find a food source for these families and found rice, one of the most prolific crops in Arkansas.  They paid for the rice out of their own pocket and gave it to anyone in need.  Today the Arkansas Rice Depot gives out over 8 million pounds of food (not just rice anymore) to hungry families all over the state.  It is believed that the Arkansas Rice Depot feeds approximately 14% of the states population.  You can learn more about the Arkansas Rice Depot by clicking here or reading this article.

Please take a moment to think about how fortunate you are and consider donating to the Arkansas Rice Depot today by clicking the picture below.

Finding Health Answers in Food – A Guest Post

Finding Health Answers in Food

by Christie Ison, Fancy Pants Foodie

When I was a kid, I was perpetually sick and fragile.

No, I didn’t have any serious, life-threatening illnesses, but nary a month went by that I didn’t have a fever, sore throat or cold of some sort. I bruised easily and was always exhausted.

I remember being at yet another doctor’s office with my mom, not any older than 10 or so, and telling her I was so tired. I laid down on the exam table and took a quick nap before he came to see us for yet another vague diagnosis.

Fast forward several years to college, at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. At the end of my junior year, I had a terrible car accident (I misjudged the speed of oncoming traffic at a lightless intersection). I came away with a concussion, bruises and a sacral fracture (the bone that rings around all the nerves to your legs) that left my legs only semi-usable for about a month. I finished the school year in a wheelchair.

I recovered well, thankful that the nerves were not severed and I could walk in a straight line by the end of the summer. But this was the beginning of more strange complaints, including severe pain in my shoulders and worsening fatigue. By the time I had my first real job, getting out of bed was a real issue. I often had “crash days,” usually on Saturdays but occasionally during the week.

After this long, personal story, I’m sure some of you are bored. It’s not polite to tell others about your health issues.

But I know there are a few of you saying, that’s me, too.

After a few years at home with children, I am now back at college, this time in culinary school. I’ve developed a passion for food and the science behind it. And through that, I’ve begun to discover some answers.

Some of us are simply more sensitive, I believe, to food. The reasons behind this are still in question and may include genetic modification of crops, human genetics, and the SAD (appropriately-acronymed Standard American Diet). But, no matter the reason, some of us have immune systems that just freak the heck out.

What’s the solution? In our current American food system, there are no easy answers. I’m still in the process of finding them for myself. But, I’ve had some victories, and as a soon-to-be professional chef, I aim to use my skills to share them with others.

Some thoughts to consider:

Get a sharp chef’s or santoku knife and learn how to use it. Seriously, get rid of all those junky knives and invest in one good one in the $30-50 range. Then you can…
Cook at home more often. This is the critical first step in taking ownership of your food and your health.
Try an elimination diet. Go one week without any wheat (read labels!), then add it back and see how you feel. Try again with corn, sugar, and any other foods that seem to have an effect on you, one at a time.
Avoid sodas, and treat diet ones like they’re poison. They’re not making you slimmer, and more than likely, they’re robbing your short-term memory. Try it and tell me I’m wrong.
Eat healthier, with more fresh fruits and veggies, but don’t feel like you have to be a total organic, sustainable food nazi right away. Take baby steps to healthy foods that work for you. But…
Margarine is evil. I’m just saying.
After years of knowing I needed to do it, I went gluten-free about three weeks ago. It’s like I flipped a switch on the muscle pain, and my digestive system is much happier. I would never have known this had I not experimented with eliminating foods.

(And before you ask, no, I don’t have celiac disease, according to the blood test. It turns out I’m just highly sensitive.)

You’ll notice the first step starts with a knife. A sharp one. One you know how to use. If you can chop vegetables and break down a chicken without flinching, you’re more likely to take the other steps that might require some skill and creativity. (What, no wheat???)

Questions on the next steps? Shoot me a message over at

Here’s to cooking our way to better health, together.
Christie Ison is a wife, mother of two, and non-traditional college student at Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School. She blogs about the school, what she’s cooking, and other fun stuff at and on Twitter at @ARFoodie. She still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up.

In Memory…

In some ways September 11, 2001 seems so long ago and in other ways it seems hard to believe that 10 years has passed. I look at the changes that have occured in my own life and realize that so much is different than it was back then. Newly married, still in college, I was young and didn’t really understand at the time how the events of that day would mold and shape the world around us.

I am one of the lucky few who have not been directly effected by the days events. I didn’t lose a loved one that day. None of my family members were shipped overseas to fight wars we entered in to as a result of that day. Yet the magnitute of that event has not failed to create an impact on me.

I hope that today wherever you are you take a moment to remeber those lost on that day and their husbands, wives, parents, children, family and friends. Take a moment to think of the service men and women who were called into action as a result of that day and have spent the last 10 years ensuring the safety and freedom we feel within our borders. Take a moment to remember, pray and thank God for all we have been given.

God Bless America!

September 11, 2001

Contour Drawing – Drawing 101 – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of my drawing series – “Contour Drawing”.  A few weeks ago we practiced blind contour drawing which can be scary but is fun because it is all about the process of drawing and nothing to do with the outcome on the paper.  Today as we move into Contour Drawing we start to focus a little more on what we see on the paper. But we are still taking baby steps.  If your drawings don’t look much like the objects you are looking at, don’t worry.  Remember, these are EXERCISES.  They are meant as a practice tool.  If it has been a few weeks since you have done any blind contour drawings you might want to start with a few of those and then move into the contour drawings discussed in the video below.

After you finish your practice exercises I highly encourage you to join my Flickr Group.  Please post your pictures here so we can learn and grow together!

Other posts in this series:
Drawing 101 – Part 1
Blind Contour Drawing – Drawing 101 – Part 2

Baker Seeds and Pioneer Village

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company is based in Mansfield, Missouri and carries over 1,400 varieties of heirloom vegetable, herb and flower seeds, the largest selection in the United States.  I have purchased all of my garden seed from Baker Creek for the last two years.

Why is buying heirloom seed important?

  • History and Tradition – Many heirloom varieties are over a century old.  Seeds are passed from generation to generation. You can eat a tomato that really does taste just like the one you ate out of your grandma’s garden when you were five.
  • Variety – F1 Hybrid and GMO seeds are often sterile and must be “grown” in a lab.  Because of this companies that deal with these types of seeds usually “perfect” several varieties.  F1 Hybrid apple seeds are only available in a few varieties while there are over 10,000 different varieties of heirloom apple seeds available. Of course variety is not just limited to apples.  Many heirloom plants are available in a host of varieties.
  • Experimentation – Aren’t you curious to try some of those heirloom apples?  Check out this Heirloom Apple Tree Farm in Hood, VA. The left side of the website lists hundreds of unusual apple varieties.
  • Self-reliance and seed saving – Because most F1 and GMO varieties are sterile, saved seeds will often not produce fruit or will produce a fruit far inferior to the original product.  Heirloom varieties have survived through the process of seed saving.  Saving your own seeds can be very frugal and fun.
  • Taste – Taste and heirloom tomato next to a store bought tomato and you will immediately know the difference.
  • Health Reasons – although their are conflicting studies available, some scientist believe that GMO produce can cause organ damage and decrease liver and kidney function.

When Richie and I went to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museums last month we decided to drive out to Baker Seed and Pioneer Village which is just 7 mile away. All I can say is WOW! Baker Seed is such a cool place.  Just take a look at a few of these photos!

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Heirloom Seeds and Pioneer Village

Not only do they have a HUGE store where they sell their seeds and gardening related merchandise but they also have a really cool Pioneer Village.  The Village is complete with a garden, live animals in all varieties, demonstration areas, a general store and even a restaurant.  We visited mid-week and it was pretty quiet but they have a Heritage Days Festival on the first Sunday of every month which looks to be something to see.  They also have a Spring Planting Festival usually in May.

We really enjoyed Baker Seed and Pioneer Village but beware – they are CLOSED on Saturdays!

Finding Laura and Churning Butter

I recently read The Wilder Life: My adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure who is on a search for her minds version of “Laura World.”  The funny thing is, I never realized that I have been on my own hunt for some version of “Laura World” for years.

Having grown  up in Vermont helped to fuel this pioneer girl fantasy of mine.  We lived in a house surrounded by farm land and our own version of the “big woods.”  Hidden ponds, raging rivers, covered bridges, barns and cattle were a part of the everyday scene.  Family vacations beyond the borders of Vermont helped me to learn that Vermont operated on a different plane than the rest of the world.  Things were a lot slower and a lot simpler in Vermont.  We actually did things like walking a mile to the bus stop in a blinding snow storm.  We tapped our trees and made our own maple syrup.  Mud season was dreaded by every Vermonter who lived down a dirt road; which was darn near most of us.  We got Friday afternoons off from school in the winter time so we could take skiing lessons.  It really was a different world in Vermont, one which I regret not appreciating more as a child.

Some of my favorite activities as a child included climbing Mt. Tom and visiting the Billings Farm and Museum which is touted as the “gateway to Vermont’s rural heritage.”  I absolutely adored the Farm Life Exhibit and touring the 1890 house.  In mere moments I could be swept back to a time where people ate common crackers smeared with homemade freshly churned butter, sheered their own sheep, made dolls out of corn husks and dried apples and played games like Rounders and Graces.

At home, my sister and I loved to play “olden days.”  We would go into the woods by our pond and “hunt” for food which we would cook at “cooking rock.”  It was especially exciting when the power would go out and we had to light candles and lanterns that would bring the “olden days” to life inside our house. Cooking and crafting (even wild-crafting) were always a part of our life as well and looking back I now realize that there was always a part of me searching to make my own life a little like “Laura World.”

I knew deep down that “Laura World” wasn’t all rosy and that the time was filled with tragedy and despair that often outweighed and outnumbered the times of joy and triumph.  Still I longed to be a part of this world in some shape, form or fashion.

I do not recall the exact first time that I made fresh butter, which likely occurred at Billings Farm,  although I can recall many subsequent times.  The simple act of churning butter spurned a desire in me that has led me to life on a farm in Arkansas where I raise chickens and constantly beg my husband to buy me a cow.  The simple act of churning butter has led me to seek out a more simple life where I can be more self-sufficient and less dependent on the world for my survival.  The simple act of churning butter has led me to learn how to garden and grow my own vegetables and herbs.  The simple act of churning butter has led me to learn how to butcher and dress my own chickens.  The simple act of churning butter has led me to learn how to sew, and knit, and crochet.  The simple act of churning butter has led me to where I am today.

I realize now that Laura has been with me all along. That life, my life, is merely a modern day version of “Laura World.”  That my family strived to give us a life full of adventure and passion which spurnned us to seek out a “better” life for ourselves. That as I got older I seeked out love over material things. That happines comes in accepting where you are, striving to be better, an having no regrets about roads untravelled.

Is it weird that I still churn my own butter sometimes and that I always make fresh whip cream? Is is strange that I grow my own herbs and vegetables? Is it weird that when we run out of eggs I visit the chicken coop instead of the grocery store?  I don’t think so. I am proud of my “Laura World” type life.

Daisy Butter Churn
My antique Daisy Butter Churn

Churning Butter

1 Small lidded jar, such as a Mason jar
Whipping Cream
Kosher Salt

Fill the jar about 1/3 of the way with whipping cream and cover tightly. Shake the jar vigorously for 15-20 minutes.  As you shake the cream with expand, become fluffy and fill the jar (whipped cream). Continue shaking and it will seemingly turn liquid again as the buttermilk separates out and you will start to see pea-sized lumps of butter.  When the bits are firm but not hard, stop shaking.  Pour off the buttermilk and add a little bit of  fresh, cool water to the jar.  Cover and shake for about 30 seconds.  Pour off the water and repeat until the water stays clear after shaking.  Washing the butter removes the milk and helps the butter to last longer.  After you have washed the butter you can work in the salt.  Add approximately one-half to one teaspoon of salt per pound of finished butter.  Store in the fridge for immediate use or in the freezer for storage.



Everything Happens for a Reason – A Guest Post

Everything Happens for a Reason – By Carrie Hirmer
On December 8, 2000, my husband and I welcomed our daughter into the world via emergency c-section. Not exactly how I’d envisioned my first moments with my newborn baby girl -me all strapped down to a table, unable to hold that bundle of sweetness who came complete with the mini-version of my pouty bottom lip and my husband’s “chicken legs” as we call them. She was healthy, and I survived, so that’s really all that mattered, right?  Well, there’s more.  Read on.
Remember how I said about 3 sentences ago that this wasn’t how I’d envisioned her birth?  Well, turns out, this was not only the best alternative for my daughter’s health, but mine as well.  You see, after she was born, I started having headaches.  At first, they were similar to mild migraines, but as the months went by, they got more intense.  Then, in November 2011, I had the worst headache I’d ever had – EVER!  It felt like something was trying to come out of my head – literally!
After calling the doctor’s office on base (my husband was active duty Air Force at the time), being treated for migraines, I was sent to get a CT-scan.  The CT was normal, but the doctor still wanted me to see a neurologist.  So, a couple days later, I saw Dr. M, or “my angel” as I’ve been known to refer to him. We talked for a bit, and then he looked me and said, “If I told you that I want you to have a test done at the hospital, would you go right now?”  Ummm…”Sure” I say.  So, he says, “Okay.  Do not go home, do not stop anywhere along the way, go straight there.” So, my clueless self, my husband and 11 month old daughter went “downtown” (military lingo for off-base) to the hospital. It wasn’t until I got there, checked in at the desk, and saw several medical personnel running around like chickens with their heads cut off at the mere mention of my name, did I realize something might be wrong with me.  They told me I was going to have an angiogram, and then they explained what an angio entails.  It wasn’t exactly fun or pleasant, but I was cool as a cucumber until they started re-scanning and re-scanning and re-scanning.  Then I got a little concerned.|
After it was over, while I was in the recovery room, the neuroradiologist came to see me.  He very matter-of-factly tells me that they found a brain aneurysm.  This is me very seriously and rather loudly saying, “AN ANEURYSM?  PEOPLE DIE FROM THOSE! I’VE GOT A BABY TO RAISE – YOU’D BETTER FIX IT!  NOW! “
Of course, he tells me he can’t fix it, that he’d confer with Dr. M and they’d refer me to a neurosurgeon.  So, my mom and one of my sisters came up to help take care of me and my little one so my husband could go on an Air Force mission.  We went back to see Dr. M.  Of course, he knew what it was before he even saw my angiogram results.  He then referred me to a neurosurgeon in Little Rock; we’ll call him Dr. K.   Long story short, I finally got in to see Dr. K after waiting all day in his office, then coming back another day.  Evidently brain surgeons are very busy people.  He tells me that he recommends surgery, that the likelihood the aneurysm will rupture in my lifetime is very high.  I was only 27 at the time. However, since according to the angio results, the aneurysm was only at 3mm, they didn’t deem it an emergency and put me on the waiting list.
On January 23, 2002 – after two months of walking around with what felt like a ticking time bomb in my head, I had a cerebral craniotomy.  Several members of my family drove up from Southwest AR to be there, a few friends dropped by.  Finally, sometime late that night, I woke up in a recovery room, and then was moved up to the Neuro Intensive Care Unit.  My husband stayed at the hospital, but the sight of me, with all the bandages, 38 staples in my head, half of my face black and blue and swollen, with all kinds of tubes and wires attached, was too much for him to handle.  I love him dearly, but he’s a total wimp when it comes to seeing someone he loves in pain.  I understand.
Dr. K had told me the sooner I got up and walked the sooner I could go home, so I was on a mission – and that mission was to walk, see my daughter and go home. With her being so young, she couldn’t come back to ICU, so I went to her.  My family brought her up to the hospital and the nurses wheeled me out into the waiting room, so I could see her.  She didn’t even recognize me.  It wasn’t until I started talking to her that she knew who I was.  That was something else, let me tell you.
I moved up to a regular room, had several visitors and one overly excited Neurosurgery Resident come by to see me.   He thought it “was so cool” that the aneurysm was so thin, so close to rupturing that they “could see the blood swirling around in it.”  I didn’t find it as cool or as exciting, but he was right – it was very close to rupturing. When they got in there to do the surgery, they found it was actually at 9 mm – not good.
I went home after 4 or 5 days in the hospital (sorry, memory’s a little fuzzy after brain surgery) and started the recovery process.  For some crazy reason, a few months later, I decided it was time for me to go back to school to finish my degree.  Almost one year to the day after my surgery, I was in class part-time and two years later, I finally had my degree!  Not that it was easy, not that I didn’t have any side effects, because I did.  But, with the support of my family, and friends, and by the grace of God, we worked through them.
In June of 2005, I went back to work full-time and led the development of an agricultural education/awareness facility and its programs.  I stayed there for almost two years, and then realized I was missing out on too much of my daughter’s life. I’d fought like crazy to stay alive to see her grow up, and working anywhere from 40-80 hours a week was not allowing me to be the kind of parent I wanted to be.  So, I started working from home, first as a volunteer, then eventually as paid CEO and Project Director for a nonprofit.  My last day with the nonprofit is about a month away, and I’ve started another part-time job from home already as well as working on a few other ventures that I’ve wanted to do for years.
There have been so many times since my diagnosis and surgery that I’ve questioned why this happened to me.  Why did my daughter have to witness all of this at such a young age?  Why did my family have to endure all of this? Why me? Why am I still here?  I have come to the conclusion that there is a reason – well, actually, there are several.  First of all, I am here to help educate others about the fact that aneurysms do happen and to inspire those who are newly diagnosed or going through the healing process – to show them there is hope.  Another reason is that it was simply not my time.  God has plans for me, for my life – and checking out early was not in His plan.  And, after seeing my struggles, my daughter is a bright, compassionate, caring child, wise beyond her years.  My marriage is stronger because I know, without a doubt my husband really meant what he said in his vows, “through sickness and health.”
As for my life now, I do still have some side effects, but they are minimal in comparison to what they could have been.  I celebrated my 37th birthday last week, and this coming January will be 10 years since my surgery – yet another birthday I’ll celebrate! I have CT-Angiogram scheduled this month, which has to be done every five years just to make sure all is okay in the ole noggin’.
So, why am I writing this story?  It’s simple – by writing my story and putting something so personal in a very public format, my hope is that each of you will:
  • Listen to your body – it has a way of telling you if something is wrong.
  • Seek out medical attention, and do not settle for mediocre patient care.
  • Treasure each moment you have with those you love and love you – because we never really know when our time on earth is done.
  • Be reminded that everything happens for a reason.  Remember my c-section?  Well, turns out that if I’d had my daughter the old-fashioned way, I might not have made it through delivery.  Again – everything happens for a reason.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I’ll close with a quote by one of my favorite writers, Maya Angelou, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”
If you’d like to contact Carrie, you may email her at
Information on Brain Aneurysms:
You may know someone who has had an aneurysm. More often than not, they are not detected until it is too late. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation,”unruptured brain aneurysms are typically completely asymptomatic. These aneurysms are typically small in size, usually less than one half inch in diameter. However, large unruptured aneurysms can occasionally press on the brain or the nerves stemming out of the brain and may result in various neurological symptoms. Any individual experiencing some or all of the following symptoms, regardless of age, should undergo immediate and careful evaluation by a physician.
  • Localized Headache
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Pain above and behind eye
  • Weakness and numbness
  • Difficulty speaking
Ruptured brain aneurysms usually result in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which is defined as bleeding into the subarachnoid space. When blood escapes into the space around the brain, it can cause sudden symptoms.”
Here are some very interesting facts about brain aneurysms, also from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
  • An estimated 6 million people in the U.S. have an unruptured brain aneurysm, or 1 in 50 people.
  • There is a brain aneurysm rupturing every 18 minutes.
  • Ruptured aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of cases.
  • · Brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people age 35-60, but can occur in children as well. Most aneurysms develop after the age of 40.
  • · Women, more than men, suffer from brain aneurysms at a ratio of 3:2.
    • 4 out of 7 people who recover from a ruptured brain aneurysm will have disabilities.
    • There are almost 500,000 deaths worldwide each year caused by brain aneurysms and half the victims are younger than 50.
For more information on brain aneurysms, please visit the Brain Aneurysm Foundation at (
About Me:
Personally – Carrie Hirmer is a native Arkansan and lives in the southwest corner of the state with her husband and daughter.  In addition to their 10-year-old, Carrie also has four bonus kids, who are all grown, three with kids of their own.  She enjoys photography, crafting, bargain-shopping, gardening and spending time with her family.  Carrie is also an active member of an aneurysm support site, where she finds joy in encouraging those who are struggling through the brain surgery recovery process.
Professionally – Carrie is in a bit of a transition, ending her nonprofit job and beginning her new role as a part-time business planning consultant.  She is also a grant-writer, a member of the Grant Professionals Association, a Certified True Colors Trainer and is in the process of starting her own independent consulting business.