Tag Archives: meat

UMAi Dry – Lomo Part I

One of the perks of having a blog is sometimes companies contact you to review a product. I’m pretty picky about what products I’ll review, it generally has to fit into the wine, meat or boots categories. Back in May I was contacted by the UMAi Dry company. I had never heard of them before, but once I lurked them a whisper, I got super excited. This was right up my alley.

My UMAi charcuterie kit.

My UMAi charcuterie kit.

You see, ever since I’ve gotten into heritage pork, I’ve developed an intense interest in charcuterie. I really want to make some superior pork products. You know, like super fancy iberian ham that I can’t afford. But I have a healthy fear of listeria and other food born illnesses. That’s why I’ve been rather hesitant to dip my toes into the cured meat party.

My loin before and after the cure was applied.

My loin before and after the cure was applied.

UMAi Dry sent me a kit with everything I needed (except the meat) to make my own charcuterie. I started with Lomo because it took the least amount of time to cure. I figured I would work my way up to prosciutto and bresaola as my confidence grew.

My cure mixture.

My cure mixture.

I was able to watch some videos before I actually started the curing process. Their website had plenty of resources. Which made me feel pretty confident about what I was about to do and definitely took much of my hesitation about this away. I went to my local butcher shop, and bought my pork loin. Next time I will use my own pork, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw this up before I do that.

After my loin cured for two weeks and then in it's coat of paprika.

After my loin cured for two weeks and then in it’s coat of paprika.

Once the pork was purchased, it was as easy as mixing all the ingredients together, rubbing it on the meat and leaving it alone. No intense math, no fancy equipment I can’t afford, nothing scary at all! To quote the great Tom Petty “the waiting is the hardest part.”

My Lomo in the special curing bag included in the kit.

My Lomo in the special curing bag included in the kit.

In three weeks my Lomo will be done. I’m already planning the wine and cheese-board that will accompany my cured pork product. In the meantime I’m going to start my prosciutto and bresaola! I’ll keep you all updated on how things go!

My Lomo resting in my refrigerator for four weeks.

My Lomo resting in my refrigerator for four weeks.

I’ve had fun with this kit. I’ve already learned a lot about charcuterie, and can’t wait to get more involved. This kit is perfect for someone like me, someone that has an intense interest in cured meats, but is just a little too timid to jump right in. My next blog will cover the taste of my lomo and my full review of this UMAi Dry product.

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The Future of the Farm

Last month I got a rather interesting email from a Professor at Chico State. Dave Simon, who is the author of “Meatonomics” is going to be at Chico State and Dr. Jones (the Prof), is interested in putting together a discussion like The Commonwealth Club did here. Dr. Jones wanted to know if I’d like to be apart of this discussion.

I’ll admit, I was hesitant. My experience with some vegans and vegetarians have been less than stellar. Putting myself in the line of fire, away from my computer, is scary and outside of my comfort zone. But, part of the reason this blog exists is because of a vegan that went out of her way to attack my way of life, despite having never met me or seen my ranch. That experience did have a profound affect on me – I flung my barn doors wide open and never looked back.

When I flung my barn doors open, several leaders in my industry made it clear to me that they did not approve. While I certainly understand the repercussions of being so honest (I’m still feeling them), I think our industry needs to be as transparent as we can. We have nothing to hide.

 

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It’s no secret that my biggest criticism of the beef industry is we don’t engage with our consumers in serious matters. We should be using every opportunity, every forum, every event as a platform to tell our stories. For too long, our stories have been told by others, and it’s gotten us no where.

When Dr. Jones mentioned he was having trouble finding someone from the cattle industry to participate, I knew, right then I would love to be apart of this discussion. I met with Dr. Jones to get a copy of the book and talk about this event. I was very much surprised to find Dr. Jones agreed with me about telling our story. He assured me that this event would be positive and informative and not your typical “meat bad, cattle rancher bad” event.

I’m excited. This is me, practicing what I preach.

If you are in the area Monday, October 20th, won’t you think about attending? Word on the playground is there is going to be some Q and A, and I know I could use some support. Plus, I think it is just great that our University is hosting events where we all can learn from different points of view, that is the whole point of education, right?

 

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Wordless Wednesday: The Master

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Beef Swiss Steak

When I was  a little kid, my Mom would make swiss steak with a can of cream of mushroom soup. It was pretty much one of my favorite things to eat – beef, carrots, potatoes and gravy. Four out of my six food groups (bread and chocolate are the other two).

Since I accidentally obsessed over canning this summer, I decided to make swiss steak the traditional way, with tomatoes. I accidentally canned a crapton of tomatoes this summer and until I use some of my canned goods up, I can’t make anymore preserves (I’m out of jars).

I have so, so, so many canned goods. But these tomatoes are yummy, so it's ok.

I have so, so, so many canned goods. But these tomatoes are yummy, so it’s ok.

For Sunday Supper last night I made “traditional” swiss steak. It was cheap, easy and delicious so I am sharing it with my dear readers.

I used top sirloin because I was too lazy to dig in the freezer to find a bottom round (this is a great recipe to use a cut of beef that likes to be braised).

I used top sirloin because I was too lazy to dig in the freezer to find a bottom round (this is a great recipe to use a cut of beef that likes to be braised).

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs (or close to) beef top sirloin or bottom round
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 gloves garlic, mashed
  • 4 cups canned tomatoes
  • 5 large carrots, chunked
  • 6  yukon gold potatoes, chunked
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup broth
  • 2 bay leaves

Mix your flour and spices together. Dredge your meat in the flour and spice mixture.

Dredge your meat in the flour and spice mixture.

Dredge your meat in the flour and spice mixture.

In a dutch oven, brown your dredged meat in oil (I highly recommend bacon grease).  When your meat is browned, remove from heat, and add your onion. Cook your onion until caramelized, then add your mashed garlic for 30 seconds.

Browned beef. Yum.

Browned beef. Yum.

Add your beef back into your dutch oven, with the onion and garlic mixture. Add the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves and worcestershire sauce. Let that simmer over low heat for about an hour and half (also for the record you could make this in a crockpot, after you brown the meat, just add everything into your crockpot and cook for four hours).

After your meat has simmered add your potatoes and carrots, you could add celery too, but it’s not my favorite, so I omitted it in favor of green beans! Let your root veggies cook for about a half an hour, then add your green beans (I like my beans slightly crispy).

I love one dish meals. Less dishes, gravy - what isn't there to love?

I love one dish meals. Less dishes, gravy – what isn’t there to love?

After your beans are done to your liking, it’s go time. I use the “gravy” to cover the potatoes and dip bread in, it’s glorious. This is a great cold weather meal, it really sticks to your ribs!

It's not the prettiest of meals, but it is hearty, yummy and affordable. Yes.

It’s not the prettiest of meals, but it is hearty, yummy and affordable. Yes.

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Lambs: Scene One.

WARNING! This might be considered by some to be gross, inappropriate, or tragic, but I think it is extremely important share the how’s, what’s and why’s of our food. If you have any questions about anything you see please ask – I love to share about the ranch.

Basque Mike when I met him this summer.

Basque Mike when I met him this summer.

This past summer I met a wonderful man, Basque Mike. And over beers at our neighbor Pete’s house, I learned that he was an actual real-life shepherd that came to America when he was 16, with bread and wine, to herd sheep. He has a very heavy accent that was sometimes hard to understand, but he was a serious kick in the pants. My conversation with Mike inspired me. Mike told me that he would teach me to cut lamb the Basque way. The only problem with that is I don’t raise lamb.

Lambs, man.

Lambs, man.

I had a pair of bottle lambs when I was a kid, but for the most part, my experience with sheep has not been pleasant. I’ve been chased around by a mean ram, had a really bad experience with awful mutton and generally distrust sheep because they are evil. I really think it is a cattlepeople thing – we just aren’t used to things like goats and sheep.

Baaaa

Baaaa

After months of  hemming and hawing I decided to buy some lambs. This was not an easy choice for me. I just wasn’t thrilled at the idea of having sheep back on this ranch. Even my dogs were not sold on the idea of sheep. And our bottle calves were absolutely horrified.

But, I have a friend from college that just happened to have some lambs ready for slaughter. Neighbor Pete said he would help cut and wrap them if I wanted to learn. It was meant to be. I had cash because I sold my car (so sad!!!),  I bought some lambs from my friend’s Stacie and Taylor at Heart  P Livestock. After a week on the ranch, they were slaughtered and hung.

A hung lamb, ready to be cut and wrapped.

A hung lamb, ready to be cut and wrapped.

After a few days of hanging I went to learn how to cut and wrap a lamb from neighbor Pete. Pete is incredibly fast and amazing at what he does. We cut and wrapped 3 lambs in no time. It blew my mind. I learned my basic lamb cuts after the first two lambs, so by the third I was able to wrap and label with no assistance.

Pete is very fast, especially when he has help!

Pete is very fast, especially when he has help! (That’s my Dad helping him)

Since before this time, I was not a fan of lamb, I decided to split my lamb with another neighbor. I regret that now. Getting my hands dirty, being part of my own food, made me like lamb! (Plus it was quality lamb to begin with, I highly recommend Heart P). Go figure, that I would like lamb! Plus I have all kinds of people wanting to trade lamb meat for cool things. I LOVE trading! Since I don’t have a steady cash income anymore, I’ve started trading my time and talents for things I need and want. It is awesome.

This is me, learning from Pete how a lamb is put together.

This is me, learning from Pete how a lamb is put together.

Although Mike and I haven’t connected for a Basque session I feel much more confident in my lamb knowledge.

MY lamb.

MY lamb.

I would have been embarrassed to even have him attempt to teach me anything before this because I just did not have enough basic knowledge about lamb to make it stick. I took the first step, I got some lambs, I learned about some lambs, I wrapped some lambs. Lambs are good. I’m ready for next time.

My Manicure Monday picture from the day. I don't have pretty hands, but I have capable hands, and to me, that is more important.

My Manicure Monday picture from the day. I don’t have pretty hands, but I have capable hands, and to me, that is more important.

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Wordless Wednesday: This Year’s Buck

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Video: Roping a Calf From the Polaris Ranger

Don't wear flip flops to doctor calves. This is why I have the most hideous feet you've ever seen. Boots, socks, pants - they are your friends!

Don’t wear flip flops to doctor calves. This is why I have the most hideous feet you’ve ever seen. Boots, socks, pants – they are your friends!

Our friend Pete Neer came over for dinner, but ended up being put to work! We’ve had a really aggressive strain of pink eye hit our cattle. We’ve been very pro-active, treating them for flies (that helps prevent the spread), giving them minerals (healthy cows are happy cows!), and staying on top of the sick ones.

Despite our best effort to prevent illness in our cattle, we’ve had to treat some.

We used antibiotics on this calf because if we wouldn’t have the calf would have been in a lot of pain, and lost his eye. He’ll be sold separate from the rest if our herd, but that will be next year. By that time, no residue will be left. I use AB’s as a last ditch effort, very carefully, and very respectfully.

When we use antibiotics it costs us a lot of money. Not something that a ranch wants to do. It’s costs us to treat the calf and after it is treated, it’s not worth as much money because we can’t sell it as ‘natural’. That is why we work so hard to keep our cattle healthy. Quite simply, our consumers demand it, and we want them happy.

That is me screaming because my Dad wasn’t paying attention when that cow was in front of us! I thought he was going to hit her!

The calf is now fine. He can see, he feels good, he is healthy. It’s really amazing how one little shot can save a life.

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Adult 4-H: Processing the Hogs

This morning I had the pleasure of going to the Locker and watching my hog get cut up. Like watching a master musician or artist create a masterpiece, watching Craig the butcher break down these hogs was just breathtaking.

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cuttinh order. It's so fun!

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cutting order. It’s so fun!

The best thing about raising your own meat, or buying from people like me, is you get to decide how you want your meat cut and wrapped. That means you can decide what meat cuts you want, for example a pork loin or pork chops. You can decide how many chops you want in a package, how thick you want your chops, or bacon. For a foodie, it’s like a dream come true. I like it because it makes my life convenient – since I live alone, I only got two chops per package.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

If you want a more in-depth explanation of these pictures please read Jenny’s post here

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It's MINE.

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It’s MINE.

The hog has been split into two sides. They will process one side at a time.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

The first thing Craig does is remove the leaf lard. This is supposed to be the best lard ever for making baked goods. I’ve never had any before so I requested them to save it for me. I will render it down in my oven and then make heck of pie crusts and tortillas! Yum!

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

BACON

Check out this video of Craig cutting my beautiful chops.

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

This is the one time you will hear me say "look at all my beautiful fat!". Don't be jealous, I might share some if you ask....

This is the one time you will hear me say “look at all my beautiful fat!”. Don’t be jealous, I might share some if you ask….

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he's all there.

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he’s all there.

This is my Dad’s pork. It’ll get him through a summer of BBQing, it’s nice to change it up with some pork! We love beef, but variety is the spice of life!

This will be sausage.

This will be sausage.

All the scraps are saved for sausage, I wanted my sausage “southern style” because it is my personal favorite and makes the best biscuits and gravy. For reals. Come over for brunch, I’ll blow your mind!

Again, it's mine! It's all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Again, it’s mine! It’s all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Yeah, I’m excited. This was a lot of work right here!

My bacon and ham. Yum.

My bacon and ham. Yum.

The bacon and ham will take longer to get, because they must cure it. They said I would have my ham in time for Easter! YAY!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

So my next blog will be what this whole project was about – pork!!!! I cannot wait to try it. Even though I raise animals for a living, I’ve never had this caliber of pork before. I’ve been dreaming about it! What should I try first?!

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Fun Ag Facts: X

Fun ag fact of the day: livestock contribute only 3.1% of total greenhouse gas emissions (transportation is 26%).

fun ag fact of the day: a chef’s hat has 100 “toques” or pleats for each of the many ways to prepare eggs.

Fun ag fact of the day: Dairy cows produce the most milk of any mammal in the world.

fun ag fact of the day: Pork has three times as much thiamin as any other food.

fun ag fact of the day: Whole grain means that the entire grain is still present, which includes the bran, germ and endosperm

fun ag fact of the day: There are over 82,000 sheep operations in the US, a majority of them family owned and operated.

fun ag fact of the day: Georgia produces almost half of the peanuts produced in the U.S. each year.

Fun ag fact of the day: Asparagus is a member of the Lily family and is related to onions, leeks, and garlic.

fun ag fact of the day: beef cattle is the single largest segment of American agriculture.

fun ag fact of the day: Farrow is the term used when a pig gives birth.

fun ag fact of the day: 97% Of The Cranberries In The World Come From The United States and Canada.

fun ag fact of the day: Indiana is ranked the #2 grower of popcorn in the U.S, producing 192.5 million lbs a year on 77,000 acres.

fun ag fact of the day:  farmers within a 60-mile radius of Fresno account for 100% of all raisins produced in the United States.

fun ag fact of the day: USDA says the nation’s cattle herd numbered 97.8 million as of July 1 is the lowest inventory since it began the count in 1973.

Fun ag fact of the day: A zucchini has more potassium than a banana.

fun ag fact of the day: Most eggs are laid between the hours of 7 and 11 a.m.

fun ag fact of the day: California grows about 70% of all the asparagus grown in the US. More than 50,000 tons of asparagus are grown here every year.

fun ag fact of the day: Americans eat about 30 pounds of lettuce every year. That’s about five times more than what we ate in the early 1900s.

Fun ag fact of the day: California produces 95% of the U.S. olive crop!

fun ag fact of the day: Brazil is the world’s largest producer of oranges with more than 37% of the world’s total! The United States is the second largest producer followed by China and the EU-27.

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Wordless Wednesday: It’s That Time of Year

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