Your Tuesday round up of interesting bits and pieces I’ve been finding online:
We were lucky enough to be the recipients of several large roasts that came from a tiny herd of cattle that one of Chuck’s friends raises. Last year, we had a roast beef from one of their steers, and it was the best piece of meat I think I’ve ever eaten. There really is something about meat that hasn’t seen the inside of a feedlot.
So, yesterday, being grey and rainy and full of football and all, I cooked a five pound chuck roast. While it was searing the house filled up with this amazing beefy smell. I don’t think I’m just projecting here, but I could be I suppose. Anyhow, it was marvelous.
I seared it on all sides with salt, pepper and a generous sprinkling of aleppo pepper. Then I took it out, and added three onions, sliced, and sauteed those until they were all soft and turning golden. Back in with the meat, and two half-bottles of good beer that had been languishing in the back of the fridge. I put it in a 250 oven all day, basically. A couple of hours before serving, I added a can of Herdez Ranchera sauce — my favorite dark red salsa for a little depth of flavor. Served with mashed potatoes and some sauteed spinach for me, well, it was lovely.
Although now I have about 3 pounds of leftover pot roast. I think there’s a pot roast lasagne in our future. Then maybe soup.
We eat meat nearly every night around here, but I have to say, we don’t eat huge portions, and the vast majority of the meat we eat is sourced from local ranchers. I’m less concerned about whether it’s “organic” than whether it came out of a small operation, especially since the organic regulations are such a pain a lot of organic farmers I know stopped getting certified. But it’s really worth it to find a place to buy meat by the share if you can. It’s an adventure all around — you’ll learn to cook cuts you didn’t think you liked, you’ll eat better quality meat, and you’ll make a stand against a big agriculture industry that really doesn’t care about poisoning us all with bacteria and antibiotics and other scary things.
Here’s an interesting article about buying meat in bulk, including practical tips for those of you who might be interested but don’t know where to start.
The Seminal » Food Sunday: I’ll take half a cow and ten chickens please.
We’re lucky here in Montana — not only is it pretty easy to find a rancher who will sell you part of an animal, we’re one of the few states that still has small local slaughterhouses. Big Ag has managed to kill them in most other states — I have a friend in Colorado who would raise cattle for her family, except that she has to send them to Kansas to be slaughtered, and they have to go to a big feedlot. Here we’ve got some great local slaughter and butcher operations, in part because of out-of-state big game hunters who need their meat cut and packed. We bought a pig in August, and have half a lamb coming sometime this week. We’ve also got elk from one of Chucks’ friends, and another friend of his gave us several big roasts cut from their own cattle. You need a freezer, but if there’s one foodie thing I can absolutely recommend, it’s buying meat from a source you know. You keep an animal out of the industrial food system, you get nice clean delicious meat and generally save some money over what buying organic meat costs you in the grocery store.
Things have been a little crazy — work is work, life is good and I’m sort of just enjoying living it without the self-consciousness of blogging. But there are a few things I’ve been meaning to link to —
First off — my friend Craig Arnold, who I went to grad school with at Utah, is missing in Japan. He was researching volcanoes and went missing last week. He’s an award-winning poet (author of Shells and Made Flesh, teaches at the University of Wyoming, and has a teenaged son. It’s all very upsetting — if any of you would like to help out, there’s a Facebook group called Find Craig Arnold with info about how to help.
Sad news yesterday about Dom Deluise, author of one of my all-time favorite cookbooks: Eat This! You’ll Feel Better! I’ve blogged about my love for this book before, and in his honor, I think I’m going to have to go make his grandmother’s cake, the one I make for every occasion. It’s the perfect cake — spongy yellow genoise, split in half and filled with fruit and custard, then “frosted” with sweetened whipped cream and topped with more fruit. I’ve had men propose marriage over this cake at potlucks. It’s fabulous. So thanks Dom for making us all giggle a lot, and for giving me my favorite cake recipe.
The NY Times has a long article on how the American company Smithfield is inflitrating eastern Europe and building industrial hog farms in areas with lax legislation …
I picked up a copy of a cool new magazine about cheese called culture. I really liked it, especially as there were a couple of articles about cheesemaking, and it wasn’t entirely focussed on buying and eating cheese. It’s a terrible time to start a new magazine, so if you’re at all interested, go pick up a copy so it’ll stay in circulation.
Again at the NY Times, Mark Bittman writes about how the freezer is your friend. I am a huge proponent of home-frozen food, and was just noting the other day about how one of the first things you learn when you move to Montana is that you need to buy a separate freezer. My own take on Montana freezer culture is here, at Ethicurean.
I’ll be back later this week with cheese news, photos of the baby rooster (yes! there is a rooster) and garden news. It’s still cold and while it hasn’t snowed in three or four days, it’s still barely spring here. So not much happening outdoors yet.