Category Archives: Local Grass Fed Beef

Holy Cow!

car-full-of-beef

Yesterday I drove up to Snohomish to pick up 3/4 of a cow that Cascade Range Beef had grown for me.

We had eaten Cascade Range beef last winter and even the hamburger was amazingly gamy and lean. I never once had to drain the pan after browning before adding the other ingredients. It made wonderful meatballs, bolognese, taco meat and other things my family likes to eat.

The great thing about finding a personal farmer is that not only are you supporting a local small farm but you can find one that is like minded – sustainably pasturing cows and slaughters on the farm which is the most humane and least traumatic for the animal. Cascade Range Beef cows are 100% grass fed rather than fed part grain and silage that are not a part of the animal’s natural diet. That means your cow will be healthier, tastier, and play an integral part in land management (by naturally fertilizing the land) rather than contribute to greenhouse gasses.

100-percent-grass-fed-beef

I managed to sell the whole cow which is, of course, a prerequisite in order to get your meat.

Here is what Kelso’s (the butcher) looks like

kelsos-meats

And here is what one Volvo station wagon loaded up with 600 pounds of meat looks like

car-with-cow

To better help you visualize just how much meat one quarter cow is, it’s about two and a half regular sized coolers of meat. Luckily it packs really well into neat little blocks of meat unlike the various cuts of pig which were a ton of odd shapes that didn’t fit as neatly together.

cooler-of-cow

From my house it was about 25 miles to Kelso’s and the time actually went pretty fast on the road. The time I spent arranging and re-arranging cuts of meat in coolers and boxes, sorting for this person who wanted no stew meat or that person who wanted only short ribs, was not so fast. My advice when loading a frozen cow? GLOVES!

I’m ever so thankful I happened to have a pair of running gloves in the back of the car. Otherwise it probably would have taken me twice the hour that I spent man-handling beef.

I dropped one quarter of the cow off at a neighbor’s then raced home to rearrange my freezer and load my quarter. I had to take out the turkey that Pastured Sensations raised for me as well as two pork butts from Akyla Farms which we’ll smoke this weekend, then trade for some of the neighbor’s smoked salmon and repackage what is left to re-freeze.

I raced to the bus stop to pick up Chicken Little and a neighbor boy, dropped off the boy, raced to another neighbor’s to store the turkey and some ground beef in her freezer since my was full, then raced across town to deliver the final quarter for a friend who was at work. After three cooler trips down to her basement and loading her freezer we raced back home and got there just in time to lock the chickens up for the night.

There have been so many raccoon attacks this time of year, both in our neighborhood and all around town, that I’m paranoid about not getting them locked up by dusk. We’ve got plenty of good dog smells around the yard but that probably isn’t enough to keep them away.

There was no room for the soup bones in the freezer (which you have to request or they are thrown away – they are not allowed to donate them to food banks or sell them according to USDA regulation.) I started two large stock pots of beef bone broth which has been simmering for almost 24 hours now. Normally I like to simmer it gently for 48 hours or more to extract all the minerals and gelatin from the bones but my husband is coming back in town tonight and he’s not so fond of the simmering cauldrons on the stove.

There are quite a few mistakes I made when ordering the cuts. The frustrating part about ordering an animal is the information they don’t tell you. For instance, they ask if you want pork chops (who wouldn’t?) but don’t tell you that if you get pork chops you don’t then get a loin roast.

And so it is that I now have a freezer full of meat and no brisket to smoke or corn for St. Patty’s day. Apparently brisket is a specialty meat meaning if you don’t request it they turn it into stew meat or hamburger. My husband the smoker is not going to be happy about this. And when we try to throw our annual St. Patty’s Day corned beef dinner I’m not sure what we’ll do. With more than a year’s worth of meat in the freezer I may just need to break down and buy a brisket that won’t be the grass fed $3.50 per pound this meat worked out to. It will for sure cost a lot more.

Lesson learned. Always ask “If I get that, what will I not get?”

Sustainable Cooking Fat

This is an odd name for a post I know. One challenge I have is the oil & fat for our diet. Local butter is crazy expensive but still a mainstay in baked goods and because of the health benefits I choose to continue buying coconut oil. My other oil of choice is olive oil from California.

We don’t fry much or use much mayo (which I make using a combination of olive and coconut oil) so I typically purchase just a few bottles of olive oil a year, mostly in the summer months when we like to sautee oil-absorbing veggies like egplants and zucchini.

Last spring I had made beef broth from Thundering Hooves soup bones which tasted great but had an amazingly thick layer of beef fat on the surface. After letting the broth cool I scraped it off and stored it in the freezer, unsure what to do with it.

Last night I pulled it out, shaved off a chunk and heated it in the frying pan. Then I took about 4 of the potatoes from our tuber buy through Sustainable Greenlake and cut them with the mandolin. Thanks for growing them for us, Skeeter! I fried them gently in the tallow until golden brown and crunchy, then sprinkled on some kosher salt and gave them to the kids.

potato-chips1

Even Mr. Pancake aka “I don’t like potatoes” was lured into trying one based on his brother’s ecstatic reaction. They scarfed them down faster then I could fry them. The potato chips were crunchy and salty with a hard to place beefiness, much like the McDonald’s french fries of my youth.

So when we pick up our cow from Cascade Range Beef complete with soup bones next week and I make bone broth for winter Pho I know just what to do with the tallow this time. Potato chip on! And now in search of a fry daddy…

Meatloaf that Makes the World Seem Better

Meatloaf has always been a comfort food for me. Even when it was my stepmom making it from some grocery store kit and fatty corn fed hamburger it was still one of the few things I looked forward to eating.

Then when I discovered Market Street Meatloaf in a Silver Palate Cookbook as a young adult I was hooked. I’ve been tweaking this recipe for twenty some years now and it never fails to please. I like it better than any meatloaf I’ve eaten in a restaurant and even better than the Cook’s Illustrated meatloaf – where they try a recipe every which way, vote on it and make the ultimate of any given thing.

Tonight’s meatloaf meal was even more satisfying when I realized that most the entire meal came from my hands. I grew the carrots, onions, garlic, celery, red pepper, baked the bread from local grains for the breadcrumbs, made the ketsup and bought local grass fed beef, eggs and apple cider vinegar. The only thing not local was the brown sugar that went into the glaze and the spices. Even the mashed garlic potatoes and creamed kale were mine. The cream was from Everett. The blackberries for the cobbler were picked at Magnussen Park and the ice cream once again made from local eggs and cream from Everett.

You know when you can make a meal of that scale and have 95% or more of all the ingredients from local sources, let alone be able to trace most every ingredient in the meal, that you have reached a certain level of sustainability.

I celebrated by washing it down with a bottle of Columbia Valley Sinner’s Punch from the Giant Wine Company in Woodinville. Sweet victory.

As I settle into fall and see the end to my canning days, my pantry full of staples, bins full of local grains and the freezer filling with local pastured meat and poultry, I have a serene sense of food security. And it’s nice to know that most of the year’s groceries are paid for and ready to eat from the pantry or harvest from the garden.

My Market Street Meatloaf

Sautee in 2 tablespoons butter:
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
1 large onion
1/4 cup red or green pepper (or roasted pepper out of season)

While sauteeing mix together:
1/2 cup ketsup
1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or cream from the top of your raw milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or kryddpepper if you have it)
2-3 chopped cloves of roasted garlic from your freezer (if you only have raw then sautee with the veggies)

Place in large mixing bowl:
2 pounds grassfed hamburger
1 pound pork or chicken sausage (Italian sausage is ok but will change the flavor)

Combine sauteed veggies, liquids and spices with 3/4 – 1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs and meat.

Form a free standing loaf in a small lasagna pan. Place that into a larger lasagna pan and fill the outer pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the smaller, inner pan.

Mix 1/2 cup ketsup with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of Rockridge Orchard apple cider vinegar. Spread over the meatloaf and bake at 375 until it reaches an internal temperature of 175 farenheit. Immediately drain any fat from the pan.

Like most meatloaves, this tastes even better the second day and makes stellar meatloaf sandwiches. This does make quite a bit of meatloaf but it freezes beautifully. You could even form two smaller loaves and freeze one but I just freeze any extra slices. They don’t last long in my household!