Monthly Archives: October 2017

How to Make a Great Steak

Everyone wants to eat a great tasting steak, but where does the flavor come from? Once you select your cut you can marinate it, if you type that in on Google you’ll get a jillion recipes, or you can have it cut to a certain thickness, or aged a certain way.

You can slow cook it with low heat, fast cook it with high heat, eat it rare or well done. You could boil it, fry it, sear it, broil it, or grill it and the list goes on and on.

However I think the recipe for a great steak starts long before you select your cut of meat. It starts with the animal! Really a lot of things about the animal come into play but today we are just going to consider a couple.

I think one of the single most influences on your steak is what the animal had to eat both while it was in the growing phase and the finishing or fattening phase. I have to admit the first grass finished beef I raised was not very tasty. When I looked into it a little bit I figured out why right quick, this calf had a diet of only one kind of plant all through his finishing stage. Can you image eating the same exact meal day in and day out every day for 14 to 16 months? Yuck!

So when you add variety like multiple species of grass and legumes and other forage you actually are creating a flavorful steak. If you add to that nutrient rich plants, thick and green and lush with no chemicals on them, that adds to the flavor of the meat as well.

If you think about it, a calf was not created to have a grain based diet anyway. They will adapt and learn to eat it and do well on it but they were created to eat grass.

The other thing that influences flavor and tenderness is the way the live calf was handled. If he was spooked very easily and always panicked or shied quickly away from things then no matter what you feed him him he is likely to be average tasting at best. I’ve found that when I have a young calf that is a bit shy of people or equipment if I will spend some time on several occasions walking thru the herd and not really trying to do anything with them but just getting the accustomed to being moved and handled they settle right down. Some calves this may only take a couple trips and others maybe several, but then when you need to handle them or move their pasture they are much easier and safer to be around.

So the secret recipe for a great steak starts with knowing your farmer/rancher and how the calf was raised and what it was fed and how it was handled.

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Healing the Land

I have been trying my hand at multi species cover crops for regenerating the land and providing extended grazing into the fall for for our livestock.

I cleared out this small lot of overgrown weeds and cedar trees about 1 month ago. I broadcast Sudan, Austrian winter peas, forage radishes and ryegrass.

This is what it looks like today!
It has been a great fall with mild temperatures and plenty of moisture but I am really impressed with the growth here! This will actually be for the pigs and chickens because its too small of area for the cows.

This is some Sudan that regrew after I baled it this summer and I went in and planted peas and radishes for the cattle. The idea is to allow the cows on a small amount of the forage at a time with a temporary fence. I am using about 1 acre for 65 head of yearling calves. They will graze everything down and redeposit the nutrients back on the land which will lower the need for commercial synthetic inputs like fertilizer. I have been moving them daily to keep plenty of forage in front of them but it should cut down on hay and grain that we normally supplement with.

You can see where they have been on the right and where I just let them in on the left. The white posts you see are the temporary fence. They love it and seem to be doing really well on it. This actually mimics how the buffalo roamed in the wild years ago. Predators kept them bunched up and they moved all at once in large herds to new grass and ate everything there before they moved on.

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The Best Part of the Chicken

 

Want to know the best part of a chicken is? We raised and processed 20 broilers this year and we went ahead and froze 10 of them whole and cut up all the rest. Out of the ones we cut up we put all the bones and extra skin that we weren’t going to keep in a stockpot and made broth. All that I added was water and carrots and celery and boiled it for about 3 hours. Man you talk about tasty! Compared to store bought broth or those magic cubes, this stuff is great.

Want to make some really good queso dip? Add some broth.
How about frijole beans, add some broth.
Soups need it for sure!
Want to make your brown rice taste awesome? Yep, sub about 1/2 the liquid with broth.
I don’t really even like chicken all that well but this stuff is really good.

Out of those 10 birds we wound up with a little over 20 pints of broth. From what I’ve been reading the nutrients from the bones and the skin and small pieces of meat that you make the broth from is really good for you as well.

Another benefit of raising our own chickens is that we were able to move them to fresh grass and let them eat and we know exactly what they have been fed and how they were handled. By moving them to fresh grass they are getting all the things they need in their diet and this produces nutrient rich and tasty chicken and broth.

I think I’ll go make some soup now!

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Is the Food We Eat Good for Us?

 

I’ve been looking into and learning about regenerating the soil, mainly farm ground, on our farms. What I am finding out is that most of what is considered “modern farming practices” is really bad for our soil health.

When I eat fresh vegetables from my own garden they do taste good, but the same produce grown in soil that has high organic matter, high carbon and high levels of micronutrients actually tastes a lot better. Those nutrients will then be in your body to bring health and healing to you as well. Our ancestors had some really wise traditions that we should consider getting back to.

Same thing with the cattle grazing, if they are eating plants that are grown in healthy soil not only are the cows more healthy but they produce more nutrient rich meat and milk. This is a picture of some full size cows that I turned out on a fresh meadow in late September.

This management style is going to be different for me and require me to get off the tractor more and look closely at the soil to see whats happening. Seems like I am starting to question everything to find out exactly why we do it that way.
Should make for an interesting year!

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