Monthly Archives: December 2011

Mini Meatloaves with Mashed Potato Frosting

This recipe all started out because of an ex-girlfriend of an ex-boyfriend I had in my drama filled 20’s. She just happened to be a militant vegan, and she made it her job to poke me with a stick. She loved to accuse me of abusing my animals, killing baby calves for fun, you know, pretty much your standard uninformed vegan stuff. So I responded by opening my barn doors to our mutual friends and implementing my catch and release program on her ex-boyfriend (that is where I date a vegetarian, expose them to ranch life, get them to eat meat again and then release them back into the wild). I actually have to give this girl a lot of credit. Her passion to slander my way of life, made me realize that I must offer transparency and education to my consumers. Because of her, I started to invite non-aggies out to the Ranch, I started bringing my beef dishes to parties so people could taste grass finished, local beef. You know what? People responded really well. They liked to know where their food came from and how we raised it. They liked to try different types of beef.

What worse hell for a vegan that is trying to destroy your way of life than to have a room full of people walking around eating mini meatloaves groaning in pleasure? Tee hee.

Mini Meatloaves with Mashed Potato Frosting

For the meat loaf you will need:

1 ½ lb. ground beef

1 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste

1 egg

¼ cup Sundried tomatoes diced fine (I like the kind in oil)

¾ cup quick cooking raw oats

½ cup chopped onion

A dash of Worchestire sauce

A dash of sriracha or tapatio

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon (or beef bouillon will do fine, just make sure to melt it in hot water)

1 cup Ketchup

½ cup brown sugar

 Meatloaf is one of those dishes that you can use lots of different ingredients. The above list is merely a suggestion. Feel free to add peppers, Italian bread crumbs, grated carrot, really, go nuts here. And don’t worry if you omit something else, seriously, you can’t screw up meatloaf.

Sauté your onion in butter (or bacon grease!) until it is translucent and just starting to brown. In a separate bowl, combine all other ingredients except brown sugar and ½ cup ketchup. Add sautéed onions, grease and all. Mix well and form into balls. Place in a muffin or cupcake pan. Mix remaining brown sugar and ketchup together and coat the tops of your mini meatloaves. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes – use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is 160 (we practice safe eating on this blog, use that meat thermometer!!!!!!! Promise me!). If they are not done bake them until you get to 160.

If you are feeling really adventurous and want to astound your friends, go ahead and make bacon cupcake wrappers – go here for the directions.

On to the “frosting”!

You will need a pound or two of Yukon gold potatoes

Sour cream

Butter

Salt and Pepper

Peel and boil the potatoes in salt water until they are soft when you insert a fork. Drain off water. Add a couple tablespoons of butter, a dash of pepper, a healthy dose of sour cream and mash! Add milk until you get the desired consistency. You are going to want a firm mashed potato for this.

Place the mashed potatoes in a pastry bag or use a zip-lock baggie with one corner cut off and pipe the potatoes onto your “cupcakes”. Finally use bacon bits, chives or cheese as sprinkles. Serve warm.

This is a serious crowd pleaser. If you aren’t careful you will lose a finger when serving them.

*I’m going to make this recipe soon, and when I do I will add better picutres, and better directions. If you notice a screw up or have a question please e-mail me at megrbrown@gmail.com and I will fix it or answer your question. Thank you.

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Wordless Wednesday: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

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Fun Ag Facts VI

fun ag fact of the day: Much of North America’s pomegranate supply comes from California. Pomegranates are a seasonal favorite this time of year, and are sometimes given the nickname “the Jewel of Autumn.”

fun ag fact of the day: The CA almond industry shipped 213.1 million pounds in November 2011, a 19.2 % increase over November 2010.

fun ag fact of the day: Arkansas is the leading rice producing state, followed by California, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Missouri and Florida. Most of the rice grown in Arkansas is classified as long grain rice.

fun ag fact of the day: virtually every piece of sushi made in America features California rice.

fun ag fact of the day: Each year Americans consume 25 billion hamburgers.

fun ag fact of the day: More than 84% of farm bill-related spending goes to food and nutrition programs like food stamps, not to farmers.

fun ag fact of the day: Like snowflakes, no two cows have the exact same pattern of spots.

Fun ag fact of the day: Country ham is often served in restaurants as an entree as a whole slice, often with the femur cross-section left in. It is also commonly served boned, sliced and then cut into pieces to be used in sandwiches in buttermilk biscuits, sometimes with butter or red-eye gravy, made by adding water or coffee to country ham pan drippings and cooking down for a short time.

fun ag fact of the day: Swine (pigs) are sold at market when they weigh between 230-280 pounds, providing about 150 lbs of pork for the meat case.

fun ag fact of the day: the average cow has more than 40,000 jaw movements per day.

fun ag fact of the day: a mature bull elk (aged 7 or 8) produces 30-40 pounds of velvet in one year.

fun ag fact of the day: North American yaks come in 5 types: black, trims (black with white), royal (black and white with white blaze face), golden and woolly.

fun ag fact of the day: the best heifers are kept to replace cows in the herd as breeding stock. This improves our herd genetics, enabling us to produce better cattle with less.

fun ag fact of the day: There are 20 gallons of paint on each John Deere combine.

fun ag fact of the day: there are more than 7500 varieties of apples grown throughout the world.

fun ag fact of the day: It takes 540 peanuts to make one 12oz jar of Jif peanut butter

Fun ag fact of the day: legend has it that the Ethiopian Shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when they saw their goats becoming frisky and “dancing” after eating the berries.

fun ag fact of the day: “Cool as a cucumber” isn’t just a catchy phrase. The inner temperature of a cucumber can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air.

fun ag fact of the day: there are 440 Cranberries in a pound, 4,400 cranberries in a gallon of juice and 440,000cranberries in a 100 lb barrel.

fun ag fact of the day: pine cones are actually the flowers of pine trees.

fun ag fact of the day: the caruncle is the brightly colored growths on the throat region of a turkey.  Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

fun ag fact of the day: eggs for consumption are not fertilized and will not hatch into chicks. Egg farmers don’t even have roosters.

fun ag fact of the day: There are approximately two dozen varieties of California Cling Peach varieties which are used primarily for two major products: canned peaches and fruit cocktail; other products include frozen peaches, baby food and fruit concentrate.

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Shamrock Farms

As you all know by now this is a commercial cattle ranch. Our Ranch is mainly range ground where cattle roam in large fields. We are in an area of California that has a lot of different types of agriculture: almonds, rice, hay, walnuts, plums, nursery products, etc. This means we have a lot bees and when those bees aren’t working in those crops, they need a place to live. Enter, us! During the off-season the bees come live out here on the Ranch. We have a lovely crop of star-thistles, various grasses, and sometimes, clover. The bees love it out here and we love having them (except when I get stung in the throat and almost DIE, but that is for another post).
Since I’m crafty and I like to make stuff, occasionally I need beeswax. This was the case when I was making those body bars a while back. I called Kevin O’Laughin, from Shamrock Farms (our bee guy), to get some wax and ask him some questions about the honey industry. We played phone tag for a couple of weeks, but never connected. I ended up walking down the street at work, and buying some wax at the “organic” store. I made my body bars and forgot about the whole thing. Apparently Kevin did not. And he and his family did the nicest thing for me.

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I’m so lucky to live in an ag community where people are so nice. This was such a thoughtful gesture and I’m totally stoked! I love Big Dipper Wax Works! I have one of their candles that I’ve been refusing to burn because it smells so good! You notice that jar in the right corner? Honey butter. Homemade honey butter from a beekeeper. Yeah, it’s breathtaking. And I just ran out of my Savannah Bee Jelly at work! This couldn’t be more perfect! If you see honey from Shamrock Farms buy it!!!! It’s really good and depending on the kind you could be getting honey from our Ranch! They don’t have a website but his phone number is (530) 342-3000. Hit him up if you are looking for some quality honey.

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For Once, I’m Speechless

Sam Elliot tweeted me back. 

He called me darlin. I could just die!

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Wordless Wednesday: Jacob the House Eagle

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Giveaway: Pecans

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t done a giveaway in a long time. It’s time to fix that.

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This giveaway is for 2 pounds of in-shell pecans! These pecans are grown here on the Ranch. They are, dare I say it ……  organically grown. That is, they aren’t certified, but we don’t use any sprays on them. My Mom uses chicken poo (free range!) to fertilizer them and that is it. Interesting fact about pecans is that they are an alternate bearing crop, which means they have a “heavy” crop every other year. That heavy crop tends to deplete the next year’s crop, which is why you have that pattern.

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Once de-shelled these nuts are perfect for pies, candy, cookies, or just plain snacking. If you need any tips or pointers on how to de-shell, dry or need recipes, let me know! I will pick my winner using random.org next Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011. Just leave a comment below to enter. Good luck!

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Dr. Chris Raines

Over the weekend the ag community lost one of our shining stars. I lost a mentor, an influence and an idol. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Raines in person, over the past three years, he became an enormous influence to me. Dr. Raines was one of the biggest inspirations behind this blog. He challenged the way I thought about agriculture and meat science. He always provided support and answers anytime I needed help. Basically he made me want to be a better ag student.

My thoughts are with all his friends and family.

http://academicabattoir.org/

http://meatblogger.org/

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My Own Worst Enemy

Sometimes agriculture is agriculture’s worst enemy. I know we don’t mean to be, but it happens. This fact was brought to my attention yesterday, in a very unfortunate way. One of my facebook friends posted a video on their profile. This video (produced by a major New York financial paper) showed two methods of cattle production, grass-fed and “traditional”. It portrayed the grass-fed producer in a wonderful light, I mean, he might as well of had a halo over his head and an angel choir singing behind him. The traditional cattle producer was made out to seem “hickish” and un-educated. Basically the video bashed one segment of cattle production while promoting another, without giving any real facts, details or differing points of view.

When I asked this person why they posted this video, it didn’t go well. When I suggested that maybe this video was poorly done and lacked basic details about modern cattle production and offered a tour of my Ranch by me (an 6th generation cattle rancher with an advanced degree in agriculture who has worked on cattle ranches her whole life). I was told by this person that they grew up on a farm and their Dad taught them all they needed to know about cattle production, so they were good on their information. A little background on this person, they did not finish college, they did not major in agriculture, I’ve never seen them at any of the ag workshops in the area, they don’t raise cattle commercially, and they don’t even eat beef. Now, when someone claims they are from or grew up on a farm or ranch, I expect them to know, at the very least, basic modern ag practices. I firmly believe if you are going to represent yourself as having knowledge of a subject, you should have some actual knowledge.

Our discussion was your basic “only organic” agriculture is beneficial, sustainable, and healthy. Feeding cattle anything but grass “is not natural” (we all know corn is a member of the grass family right? And we DON’T feed cattle straight corn, right?). I’ll spare you the messy details, but it really wasn’t pretty. However, it was apparent that this person did not understand modern cattle production in the least. By the end of it I was accused of being brainwashed, abusing my animals, and pumping my animals full of drugs. As my readers know, it really pisses me off when people who have never seen my ranch or my animals accuse me of abuse. That is pretty much the worst thing a person can say to a Rancher. It’d be equivalent to me saying you abuse your kids because I don’t agree with your parenting style (and I don’t even have kids).

It’s puzzling to me why someone who claims to have an agriculture background would ever not want to look for ways to improve sustainability, the health of their cattle, or even learn more about this industry. Any reasonable person knows education is a good thing. Experience is a good thing. I want the people in charge of growing and raising my food to have the best tools and knowledge they can have. I want them to be as efficient and sustainable as they can be. I want the animals that I will eat to be treated with respect, dignity and to have the most enriched lives they can. All of this translates into a safe, nutritious and high quality food supply.

Like everything, the technology and ag practices we use are always changing. In my experience, the best farms and ranches incorporate many different types of production methods into their operation. For example our ranch uses “traditional” ag practices, some “organic” practices and some “natural” ag practices. By not pigeonholing ourselves we can do so much more with our land and cattle enabling us to not only survive, but thrive.

I think it is so important to always look for ways to improve what we are doing, and how we are doing it, in agriculture. We need to share that information with our consumers and other producers. As farmers and ranchers we need to always be learning, always evolving – we should never say “we already know enough”. We should never attack or bash farmers or ranchers that do things differently, every operation is different, and that isn’t bad. There are always going to be bad apples, every industry has them, but hopefully they will remain the few, and the rest of us can keep learning, changing and evolving for the greater good of agriculture. Never stop learning!

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Wordless Wednesday: Moonrise

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