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I’m going to take a break from some of the kitchen basics and talk about homebrewing beer. The art of beer making to be exact. I know. You can go out and buy beer – it’s cheaper and easier. While there is fun in that, it’s even more fun to make it.
Beer making falls into a few culinary categories. It’s cooking. It’s fermenting, and it’s a little cooking science.
In a nutshell, you’re activating the yeast, you’re feeding the yeast, you’re adding flavors (hops, malt, herbs, etc.), and then you’re fermenting and aging. One of the hardest parts, however, is waiting.
I will tell you right now, the instructions say 30 days, but in all actuality, it’s closer to 60. Which is fine, especially if you have a rotation going (#goals).
I decided to do a test run on a beer kit because I was going to teach a class on it. Since I had never made it before, a practice run was probably a good idea. It took about half a day to prep and get the ingredients together. It took a little finesse but it came together nicely. The really exciting part of it all was waking up in the morning and seeing the yeast foaming, bubbling, and eating the sugar.
Side note: if you don’t see that, then something went wrong and you probably killed your yeast.
The beer kit I used was an Oktoberfest beer kit from Craft A Brew (craftabrew.com). It is technically a type of lager but it has a higher ABV. The starter kit is about $50 with some styles running a bit more. Refills are about $15. For the record, I enjoyed the craft beer making so much, I bought 2 refills.
Each beer kit and refill comes with its own set of instructions. I am paraphrasing the instructions for this article so you can see the rough process before you dive into your own beer-making adventure. I also assume, if you choose to brew your own beer, you have the necessary kit and equipment.
Oktoberfest beer recipe from Craft A Brew
Starting your brew day
- Sanitize: The first step is to sanitize your equipment. This includes the gallon carboy (think large growler) and all the kit pieces for a minimum of 1 minute in the sanitizing solution. Then let everything dry on clean paper towels. Sanitizing is required because if any bacteria gets into your brewing equipment, it can ruin the batch or it can make you sick.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil, put the grains in the steeping bag and tie the opening in a knot. When the water reaches 155 degrees (use a cooking thermometer), steep the grains for about 20 minutes while keeping the temperature at 155 or as close to it as possible. After 20 minutes, remove grain bag and discard. DO NOT SQUEEZE the excess water; it will release bitter flavors and sediment into the beer.
- Bring the unfermented beer, which is called wort, to a boil. Once you see the first big boiling bubble, turn off the burner and remove from heat.
- Take your dry malt extract and stir into the pot slowly. It gets a little sticky so make sure you mix it thoroughly avoiding clumpiness or getting it stuck to the bottom of your pot. After the malt has dissolved, bring the wort to a slow rolling boil. Here is where you can get boil overs. If it begins to boil over, remove from the heat and blow on the foam.
- After it has come to a rolling boil, add half of the bitter hops blend and bring to a boil for 60 minutes using a timer.
- Add the other half of hops blend, the aroma part, when you have 2 minutes left on the timer.
- Cool down the wort to 75 degrees. In order to do this, create an ice bath in your sink with ice and cold water. Put a lit on the pot so you don’t get any contaminates in the wort.
- Once the wort is below 75 degrees, pour the wort into the carboy (growler) using the funnel. If there is any sludge or sediment in the pot, make sure to leave as much of that behind. You can also use a fine mesh strainer.
- Most likely the liquid will not be 1 gallon. At this point add cool water to the carboy to bring it to 1 gallon. There is a marker on the carboy indicating 1 gallon. Open the yeast and add it to the mixture.
- Add the rubber stopper, and place it into the carboy opening. Cover the hole on the rubber stopper and shake the mixture and yeast together for about 1 minute. Do not over mix otherwise you can create oxidation.
- Add the blow off assembly to prevent overflowing. You just place the tube into the opening and the other end into a container filled halfway with water. This is to allow CO2 to escape but keeps the oxygen out.
- Fermentation: The fermentation should begin in 12-72 hours where you will see foaming and bubbling of the CO2. It reminded me of those old sea monkeys you could get years ago. A few days later, the bubbling slows down but the fermentation is still happening. Place your carboy somewhere cool and dark for 2 weeks. Don’t allow it to get too hot or too cold. Ideally, the temp should be between 60 and 75 degrees.
- Bottling: I used swing-top bottles. I only had clear glass but they worked just fine. You can get bottle caps or swing tops. It’s your preference really.
- Mix your priming sugar into a pot and heat until dissolved.
- Once the sugar water is completely cooled, siphon the beer into the pot to mix the sugar water into the beer. This will feed the yeast and give your beer the carbonation it needs.
- Siphon the beer from the pot into your sanitized bottles
- Conditioning: Store the bottles in a warm dark place for 2 weeks to let the beer condition and carbonate. After 2 weeks, you can refrigerate and then drink, and well, obviously enjoy!
Some beers will be better if they age longer. This is why I said it took me 60 days. I clarified it (extra siphon) and stored it a little longer.
Again, this is just an overview. Each kit will have its own set of instructions. It was well worth the wait because the beer was amazing, especially for it being my first time.
Since the weather is turning better and better each day, now is the perfect time to tackle your own homebrewing operation so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor this summer.
Next up for me, I'll be homebrewing some IPA and Double Hops beer kits…
Healthcare is a hot topic for many Americans. No matter your stance on it, most of us can agree that it’s not easy for everyone to access affordable medical care. If you’re in the LGBTQ+ community, you might face another obstacle – discrimination.
It can be hard to believe you would be discriminated against or even turned away based on your sexual identity, but it does happen like so many other injustices in this world. If you already have a healthcare provider you like and trust, you might be worried about coming out to them.
Will they treat you differently? Will your care be compromised?
Let’s cover some of the common barriers people within the community can face in the healthcare industry, why your doctor should know if you’re LGBTQ+, and what to look for in a provider that won’t discriminate.
What Challenges Do LGBTQ+ People Face in Healthcare?
There are a variety of underserved populations in healthcare, including minorities and those in traditionally underserved or poverty-stricken communities. Those in the LGBTQ+ population are often underserved because of discrimination. Think it doesn’t exist? Consider some of these staggering statistics from a 2017 national survey:
- 8% of respondents said a healthcare provider refused to see them because of their sexual orientation.
- 6% said a doctor refused to provide them with care.
- 9% said a healthcare provider used abusive or harsh language while treating them.
- 7% said they received unwanted physical contact from their healthcare provider.
It should come as no surprise, then, that fewer LGBTQ+ are getting the healthcare they deserve. These statistics are more than numbers. They are people. They are stories. If someone you know had a negative experience with their doctor and told you about it, you’d be less likely to go. Maybe you even had a bad experience yourself, and have never trusted the medical industry again.
Several things need to be done to serve the LGBTQ+ community better, including:
- Federal initiatives
- Smart devices that make it easier to access public health care
- Education on inclusivity within the medical field
Unfortunately, it will take time for this kind of reform and restructuring to happen within the healthcare industry. In the meantime, what can you do to get the care you deserve, whether it's from your current doctor or someone new?
Why You Should Talk to Your Doctor
Building up a trusting relationship with a healthcare provider can take some time. Maybe you’ve been working with your doctor for years, and you trust their medical knowledge and like their personality.
However, maybe they don’t know your gender identity or sexual orientation. Maybe you’ve thought about telling them in the past but have been worried about discrimination.
While it’s always a risk, it’s important to come out to your doctor for medical purposes, if nothing else. Certain health issues affect higher proportions of the LGBTQ+ community, including:
- Mental health issues
- Sexual assault
HIV is still a problem among members of the community, too. According to a 2010 study by the CDC, 63% of new HIV infections impacted men who had sex with other men.From a mental health standpoint, telling your doctor can be both freeing and can get you the help you need. It’s not uncommon for those in the community to experience extra stress, anxiety, and depression due to discrimination and constant worry. Because LGBTQ+ people are also at a greater risk of sexual violence, finding the right mental health treatment for the aftermath is crucial. Medical attention is needed to document evidence and identify any injuries or long-term risks, as well as to set up a mental health treatment plan that will help you process what happened.
Finding the Right Healthcare Provider
Whether you’ve experienced discrimination from your doctor or you want a clean slate in a place that will give you the care you deserve, there are a few things to look for in an LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare environment.
- First, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Shop around, and set up consultations with providers you’re interested in. Ask them about their experience with the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll get a lot of information from that answer, and can probably trust your “gut” with whether they’re comfortable or not.
- You should also do your research. Seek both online and offline resources for LGBTQ+-friendly physicians in your area. Read reviews, look for doctors who offer a safe and inclusive practice for everyone, and consider asking your friends about their personal experiences and where they go. Thankfully, despite the obstacles you might face in finding a doctor, it’s not impossible. Even if you live in a rural area or far away from a doctor who is willing to give you proper care, nowadays, it’s easier than ever to connect with the right provider.
- If you can’t find someone nearby, consider choosing telehealth services for your general well-being and for regular checkups. While they can’t cover everything, it can help to have a physician in your corner who you trust, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. Don’t let discrimination in the healthcare industry get you down. With a little bit of time, research, and doctor-shopping, you can find a provider who will give you care without judgment.
The weather is warming up, and that means it’s grilling time. It's time to invite friends over and fire up the grill. If you are new to grilling, it's best to start with the basics, and a charcoal grill is a perfect place to start.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, it's important to learn about the type of charcoal grill you have. Ensure everything is in working order and familiarize yourself with the air vents on the grill because these help you control the heat. If you are looking to buy one, you will need to consider which size is best for your needs. We recommend buying one with an ash container for easy cleanup. Charcoal grills come in different shapes and sizes, and the price range starts at around $100 and can go up from there.
Once you have your grill set up, you will need a couple of things.
- Chimney starter (optional)
- Grilling tongs
- Pumice stone for cleaning the grill grate
- Heat resistant gloves
Choose Your Charcoal
Charcoal briquettes are the classic choicePhoto by Amin Hasani on Unsplash
Charcoal grills, of course, use charcoal as fuel, and there are two types of charcoal you can use. Charcoal briquettes are the most affordable option. You can find them in any supermarket in a big bag. They create consistent heat and burn for an extended time. While they are inexpensive, they don't add much smoky flavor and the slow burn creates a lot of ash.
Hardwood charcoal is the more expensive option, but worth it if you love the smoky taste of grilled food. This type of charcoal burns quickly and leaves little ash for easy clean-up. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use both charcoals together.
Before you get started, you will want to make sure you have enough charcoal. The amount of charcoal needed depends on how much you are planning to cook and for how long. A rough estimate is if you are cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken for a group, 4.5 to 5 pounds of charcoal is best. If you are cooking for 2-3 people, then 2.5 pounds of charcoal should be enough. And, if you are grilling a long-cooking cut of meat or using your grill as a smoker with lower heat but for an extended time then 2 pounds of charcoal is fine.
Light the Grill
Waiting for the grill to heat up is hard when you are hungry.Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
There are a few ways to get your grill fired up. The most traditional way is to arrange the charcoal in a small pile on the grill and spray some lighter fluid on the charcoal. Always read the instructions on the bottle for the exact amount of fluid to use. Using too much lighter fluid can affect the flavor of your food. Give the charcoal a minute to absorb the fluid, then light the charcoal with a utility lighter. Once the charcoal is lit, resist the temptation to add more lighter fluid, it's dangerous, and it will be difficult to control the flame.
If you prefer not to use lighter fluid, you can use a chimney starter. Chimney starters are available at any hardware store, and if you grill frequently, they are a great investment. Using a chimney starter is the fastest way to get your charcoal piping hot. Some starters have a place to add either newspaper or fire starter cubes. Follow the instructions, add the charcoal to the starter, and light from there. Once hot, pour onto the grill. Use heat-resistant gloves for safety.
For tech lovers, there is also an electric charcoal starter. Just place the charcoal on the grill and touch the electric starter to the charcoal until it lights.
Another option to light the charcoal is a strike-able fire starter. They are like a large match that you can place in the middle of the charcoal to get the coals going.
However, you get your charcoal started, you will need to wait for your grill to heat up before you start cooking. It can take around 15- 20 minutes to get hot enough to cook your food. Most charcoal grills have a built-in thermometer to help you know when it reaches grilling temperature which is anywhere between 350 to 450 F. While your grill is heating up, you can prepare the grill grate.
Prepare the Grill Grate
Oil up the grill grate to keep juices meats from sticking.Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
You should always start with a clean grill. While you don't need to deep clean the entire grill after each use, you should clean the grill grate before and after each use. Use a pumice stone made for grills to clean your grill grates. There are wire brushes on the market for this, too, but there have been cases of metal bristles breaking off and getting stuck on the grill and then sticking to food, so stick with a pumice cleaner.
Once the grate is clean, brush some oil on the grate to keep food from sticking. Save your olive oil for your salad. Instead, use a high heat oil like vegetable or canola.
Arrange Coals for Effective Cooking
Sear some steaks for the perfect grill marks.Photo by Paul Hermann on Unsplash
Once the charcoal has heated up, you can use your grilling tongs to arrange the coals. Charcoal placement is key to coking with charcoal. As a general rule, you will want to have two cooking areas on your grill—one for direct heat to sear and one for indirect heat for foods that require longer cooking time. Searing is good for steaks, while indirect heat is better for meat on the bone and roasts.
Another option is to use grilling planks on the charcoal grill. Grilling planks are pieces of wood like cedar or alder that you can cook food on rather than placing the food straight on the grill. Soaking the planks in water for an hour prior to grilling ensures they won't burn. Then, place meats, fish, or vegetables on the plank for a smoky dish.
Cleaning Up the Grill After Use
Properly caring for a charcoal grill extends its life.Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
When your last burger has been flipped, and it's time to turn off the grill, just close the vents and put the lid on the grill. Without air to fuel the fire, it will gradually burn out. This can take up to 48 hours for it to completely cool and be safe enough to remove the coal and ashes.
If you are in a hurry you can use your tongs and pull out each charcoal brisket and place it in a metal bucket filled with water. Scoop the hot ash into a metal container to let it cool. Never pour water onto a charcoal grill as it can damage the grill and leave a sludge that you will have to clean later. Plus, water directly on hot coals creates dangerous steam that can burn anyone near the grill.
When your charcoal grill is cooled and cleaned, it's ready to be stored for next time. While charcoal grills are sturdy and can be left outside, if you live in a colder climate you will want to ensure it is protected from the elements to extend the life of the grill.
Tips and Tricks for Charcoal Grills
- Resist the temptation to flip your food too much
- Control the heat by using the vents and lid
- Keep the heat around 350° F for most foods or 450° F for searing
- Add a handful of wood chips like hickory or mesquite to the coals for more flavor
Lesbians and queer women assemble! We have put together a list of some of the best women-only and LGBTQ+ friendly campgrounds in the U.S. Trying to find safe and fun places to travel to and stay at shouldn't be a hassle, so we've done most of the work for you. All you have to do is select one of these incredible destinations and get to packing. Enjoy our list of the best lesbian campgrounds around!
Windover Women's Resort, Owendale, MI
Go canoeingPhoto by Michael Niessl on Unsplash
Founded in the 1980s, Windover Women's Resort was created to provide all women with a safe outdoor camping experience. Located in Owendale, Michigan, the resort offers many amenities and activities to women over the age of 18. With an in-ground heated swimming pool, clubhouse, camp store, and multi sports-court, you will never be bored during your stay here.
Sugarloaf Women's Village, Sugarloaf Key, FL
Florida CampingPhoto by Jorge Vasconez on Unsplash
In 1976 Barbara Deming and her partner Jane Verlaine moved to the Florida Keys, where they created the oasis now known as Sugarloaf Women's Village. The lush acreage on Sugarloaf Key boasts four houses, two guest cottages, and a campground for RV and tent campers. Women are welcome to camp here for a few days up to several weeks, or they may submit an application for residency if they wish to stay for an extended period of time. Though only lesbians are permitted to live full-time here, any woman is welcome to camp or visit. Sugarloaf fosters a sense of community among the women who stay there and is an idyllic escape for anyone wishing to spend time in the Keys.
The Woods Camping Resort, Lehighton, PA
Pocono Mountain campingPhoto by photo nic on Unsplash
Nestled in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, The Woods is a membership-only LGBTQ+ camping resort for the 18+ crowd. Book one of their campsites for tent camping or RV camping, or get cozy in one of their on-site cabins. The Woods offers many amenities, whether you stay for the weekend or the month. Hang in the clubhouse with friends, join in group activities on the lake, or check out the dance club when the sun goes down. The Woods is a great place to escape with friends or lovers or to meet new people.
El Morro, Ramah, NM
Camping in New MexicoPhoto by Julia Karnavusha on Unsplash
High in the mountains of New Mexico beneath a sacred mesa, El Morro is home to an RV park, campground, cabins, and highly rated cafe. Visit this campground to experience the healing energy of the land and connect to the past. Explore lava flows, prehistoric ruins, Native American arts and crafts, and red rock mesas. Bike, hike, paddle, eat, or just relax and soak in the splendors of nature. A popular destination for rock climbing, caving, and viewing wildlife, there are countless pastimes to keep you busy during your stay here. While not LGBTQ+ exclusive, El Morro is dedicated to providing a safe and inclusive space for everyone, specifically members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Coastal Acres Campground, Provincetown, MA
Visiting Cape CodPhoto by Abel Y Costa on Unsplash
If you are looking for the best in nature and in LGBTQ+ nightlife, check out Coastal Acres Campground in Provincetown, Maine. P-town has long been a popular LGBTQ+ destination, with rainbow-flag-lined streets, many queer-owned businesses, and plenty of themed nights and weekends. Within walking or biking distance to downtown Provincetown, Coastal Acres Campground offers tent and RV camping for the whole family, including your four-legged friends. Enjoy the beaches of Cape Cod and the culture of P-town during your stay here and take advantage of all of the campground amenities while you are at it.