Monthly Archives: March 2011

Apple Butter

 Apple Butter

4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut in chunks
juice of 1 lemon (I think I’ll add the zest next time, it’s good)
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup brandy
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
pinch salt

This is a pain in the butt. But worth it.

This is a pain in the butt. But worth it.



Combine the apples, lemon juice, cider, brandy and cinnamon stick in a large, heavy pot.  Set the pot over medium/low heat, allowing the mixture to come to a gentle simmer.  Simmer for an hour, until the apples are very soft.  Carefully remove and discard the cinnamon stick.


I wish I could bottle this smell.

I wish I could bottle this smell.

When the mixture has cooled slightly, pulse it in your food processor.  I like a very smooth apple butter, so I pulse the shit out of it.  Return the puree to the stove and re-heat over low heat.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook for another hour or so, until the mixture is very thick.

I love my food processor.

I love my food processor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



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Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, photos, Ranch life, Recipe

Hormones in Beef


Are you concerned about the amount of hormones that are in the beef you eat? A common misconception about modern beef is that it is riddled with ‘evil’ hormones. While many feedlots do use hormone implants to quicken the growth of their cattle, it’s very surprising how little the  implant changes the hormone content of the animal. It could also be argued since the use of hormone implants require less resources (feed, water, time) to produce the finished product it is actually more sustainable to use implants in cattle. We don’t implant our cattle on the ranch, but I think it is important to educate about them anyway. It’s also important to remember that ALL living beings have hormones. I often see food marketed as “hormone free” – that is a lie. Everything has hormones!

The below table is from: Food and Drug Administration; Hoffman and Evers; Scanga et al.; FSIS-USDA; Dr. Harlan Ritchie, Michigan State University; NCBA

Food (3-Ounce Servings)              Estrogen (in nanograms)

Soybean Oil                                                  168,000,000

Milk                                                                   11

Potatoes                                                         225

Peas                                                                   340

 Ice Cream                                                     520

Wheat Germ                                               3,400

Beef (no supplemental hormone)    1.3 

Beef (with supplemental hormone)   1.9

Basically what this table is saying is that you need to eat 3,000 lbs of implanted beef to equal the amount of hormones in one birth control pill. It’s nice to have perspective.



Filed under Ag, food

Fun AG Facts II

Fun ag fact of the day: About 2/3 of cattle farms and ranches have been in the same family for 2 generations or more. Thanks to smart practices, raising livestock in the U.S. today accounts for less than 3 % of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Today they produce 15% more beef using 20% less feed, 14% less water, and 30% less land as compared to 1977.

fun ag fact of the day: Japan is the largest customer for U.S. beef and pork exports in terms of dollar value. Japan accounted for 30 percent of U.S. pork exports and 15 percent of U.S. beef exports last year.

fun ag fact of the day #2: beef cattle production represents the largest single segment of American agriculture? The U.S. beef industry is made up of more than 1 million businesses, farms and ranches!

fun ag fact of the day: Women farmers own more than 50 million acres of farmland in the United States.

fun ag fact of the day: Worldwide, more people eat and drink milk from goats than any other animal.

fun ag fact of the day: Women represent 30.2 percent of all farmers and ranchers in the United States. *according to the National Ag Stat Services

fun ag fact of the day: A 60-pound bushel of soybeans yields about 48 lbs of meals and 11 lbs of oil.

fun ag fact of the day: There are over 500 different types of bananas. Bananas are about 99.5% fat free and a source of potassium.

fun ag fact of the day: Last month 883 million pounds of cheese were produced in the U.S., 5 percent increase from January.

fun ag fact of the day: Grain sorghum is grown in over 66 countries and the U.S. is the largest producer in the world. In the U.S., 46% of the sorghum grown is used as livestock feed.

fun ag fact of the day: There are 1,008,943 women farmers in the U.S!

fun ag fact of the day: Alabama ranks 6th nationally in sweet potato production.

fun ag fact of the day: Michigan ranked 3rd in U.S. apple production in 2010.

fun ag fact of the day: California became the first US state to ban weeding of commercial crops by hand in 2004.

fun ag fact of the day: cows can produce up to 125 lbs of saliva a day!

fun ag fact of the day: As of Jan. 31, there were more than 2 billion pounds of frozen vegetables in cold storage in the U.S.

fun ag fact of the day: The Roman goddess, Ceres, who was deemed protector of the grain, gave grains their common name today – “cereal.”

fun ag fact of the day: Glycerine from processed raw animal fats or vegetable oils is added to ink as a stabilizer and to control viscosity.

fun ag fact of the day: 80% of the world’s almonds are grown by California farmers.

fun ag fact of the day: Pennsylvania leads the U.S. in mushroom production, growing more than 425 million pounds annually.

fun ag fact of the day: Arizona apple growers produce 94.5 million pounds of apples each year.

fun ag fact of the day: In 2010, nearly 2 million gallons of maple syrup were produced in the U.S.

fun ag fact of the day: Ohio is the No.1 producer of Swiss cheese and home to the world’s largest yogurt plant .

fun ag fact of the day: Beef is Arizona’s leading agricultural product. Arizona produces enough beef annually to feed over 4.6 million Americans.

Fun ag fact of the day: U.S. strawberry production topped $2.2 billion last year.

fun ag fact of the day: 40% of land in Maryland is for Agriculture use

fun ag fact of the day: generally, the hotter the region where the olives were picked, the bolder the flavor of olive oil.

Fun ag fact of the day: cows can smell odors up to 5 miles away.

fun ag fact of the day: one bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour OR 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour.

fun ag fact of the day: Cattle out number humans in 9 states: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

fun ag fact of the day: California has been the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States for more than 50 consecutive years.

fun ag fact of the day: boiling water can be used instead of herbicide to control some types of weeds in small areas.

fun ag fact of the day: a cup of Jerusalem Artichokes will give you 28% of your recommended daily intake of iron. They are also high in thiamin, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, niacin, vitamin B6 & riboflavin. Their carbs are stored as inulin. The body breaks it down slowly so your blood sugar doesn’t rapidly increase as it does with white potatoes (good if you have insulin resistant diabetes).

fun ag fact of the day: One ton of California olives produces 30-42 gallons of extra virgin olive oil.

fun ag fact of the day: The U.S. is the largest producer of cheese in the world.

fun ag fact of the day: Hard winter wheats have a higher gluten protein content than other wheats. They are used to make flour for yeast breads, or are blended with soft spring wheats to make the all-purpose flour used in a wide variety of baked products. Soft wheat is used for specialty or cake flour.

fun ag fact of the day: Todays combines can harvest 900 bushels of corn per hour. In the 1930’s a farmer could harvest (by hand) about 100 bushels of corn in a 9 hour day.


Filed under Ag

My Factory Farm 2

Since the first one was so popular.…. I give you number 2….

My boys.

How I spent almost everyday of my childhood.

A little older…


My Mom’s bottle calf and Hoot on clean up duty.

Cows coming home from the mountains.

After they get off “the bus” they “pair up” in the corral. The babies and moms ride in separate parts of the truck so no one gets squished. We know they are done pairing up when everyone is quiet.

This is what they come home to.

Spring time!

One of Mom’s bottle babies with our replacement heifers, on the winter ranch.

Steers getting ready to be sold. It’s early summer so their winter hair is dying and falling off, that is why they have that red look to them. They scratch on anything! We find tufts of hair all over the fences. They finish off slick and black.







I call this border collie eyes.

The babies crawl through the fence. The dogs push them back with their moms. The cows like to hang out in the dust piles in the summer, it keeps the bugs off. They graze in the morning and evening and hang out in the dust and chew cud during the day. Notice how the cattle all hang out close to each other? They like it – the spread out when they graze but when it’s cud time they pile on up.

Yeah Clint Eastwood filmed a couple movies on the ranch. The little blonde is me.

I still work in my PJ’s.

Ranch dog telling a steer what’s up!




My B&W phase.

Baby Hoot. Cute, huh?


Filed under Ag, photos

Salted Caramel Sauce

This is good, I mean really good. Watch out, you’ll eat the
whole batch and not even realize it. Perfect for gifts!

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 Cup water

2 Cups vanilla sugar

1 Cup heavy cream

¼ teaspoon fancy salt (plus more for making it pretty)

Add water to a saucepan, add the sugar being careful to pour it in the middle of the pan, trying to avoid letting it touch the sides of the pan. DO NOT STIR. Turn heat to medium until the sugar is dissolved and clear. When the sugar is clear turn the heat to high until the mixture turns golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. DO NOT STIR. I know you want to, but just don’t do it till I say.

Put your cream in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Meanwhile, turn the heat down to medium/low for your sugar mixture. Slowly whisk (stir!) in the warm cream into the golden sugar. Watch out, it will steam and foam and be kinda scary (because I didn’t turn it down). Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add the salt. *Be careful not to overcook it. It won’t be the end of the world, you’ll just have thick caramel.

I poured the sauce into little jars and cooled, then sprinkled some more salt on top. It looked fancy-pants.




Filed under food, Recipe

Cross Rib Roast

  • 3-5 pound cross rib roast
  • Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons fine dried herbs (Rosemary, paprika, parsley etc)

I make a mixture of herbs, pepper, salt and balsamic vinegar. Peel a head of garlic.

Using a sharp knife point from a paring or a boning knife make several slits in the top of the meat. Tuck slivers or whole pieces of garlic into each slit.

Coat with your spice/vinegar mixture, drizzle with a little olive oil.  Notice I cook my roast in my cast iron frying pan, that way when I make gravy later it’s easy!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Calculate cooking time, using 20 minutes per pound of meat as a guide for a cross rib roast. Place roast in oven, TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN to 350 degrees and roast for the calculated time, checking with an instant meat thermometer after 3/4 of the cooking time just to make sure things are going ok. The thermometer should register about 140 (rare) to 155 degrees (medium). Remove from oven.

Look how pretty!

Pull your roast from the oven and tent with foil for about 20 minutes so the meat can rest and the juices can re-absorb.

Slice the meat and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy. This is seriously one of my death row foods, the leftovers are even still breathtaking!


Filed under Ag, agriculture, Beef, food, Know a California Farmer, meat, photos, Ranch life, Recipe