Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Ol Fashioned Meat Loaf.. with a twist!

HELLO!!!!! I know, I know, its been a really long time! There's been a whole lot of doing the exact same thing every day here on the ranch and on top of that, the Holidays! But, I'm back. And I promise I'll do my best to never leave you that long again... Pinkie Swear.

So, are we friends again? Good, because I really want to tell you about my Meatloaf!

Meatloaf can be tricky. We all remember the hard as a rock, flavorless, cardboardy meatloaf our friend's moms make ( not my mom of course, she is a master meatloaf maker!) so I made it my personal goal to find a traditional meatloaf that is tasty and nutritious.

Here's all the usual suspects.  Half a red pepper, half a red onion, 2 garlic cloves minced, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1 egg and 1 cup mushrooms and 1 cup of breadcrumbs. (Usual for me, maybe not for you, my usual is everyone else's weird.)

To 2 lbs of ground beef add a little S&P, the egg and the breadcrumbs. I like to get this rockin and rollin first before the veggies go in.  Once its pretty melded add the rest of your ingredients and keep folding. 

  Its tempting to work this meatloaf to death but that's where the brick like texture comes in to play so get it just mixed.  Add a big ol squirt of Ketchup and a couple little dollops of Dijon mustard, mix one more time. 

Place in a loaf man, top with a little more Ketchup and a little more cheese
Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.

Of course you serve this with mac and cheese... what else do you eat with meatloaf?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beauty, Brains and Beef Love

 Here she comes... Miss America.... Right to the campus of my Alma Mater, Kansas State University. 
If there is anyway to get people listening about the importance of farming and ranching put Miss America and her tiara on a podium and let her at it! I was so happy to hear about this cross campus tour she is taking, educating and informing people across the nation about our job.  Here is an article from the Kansas State Collegian newspaper written by Haley Rose. 

Picture from Evert Nelson, KSTATE Collegian
"Tiara-clad and smiling, Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan gave a presentation in McCain Auditorium Tuesday evening to spread the message of the importance of agriculture in America.
The 18-year-old pageant champion addressed the audience of almost 400 on subjects ranging from crop insurance to encouraging young generations to take up farming.

"Not everybody farms, but everybody eats," is a phrase she has recently taken to using as a part of her platform.
"I'm trying to reach an audience that doesn't get this information," Scanlan said. She said she uses her motto as a simple way to get people thinking about agriculture in a new light.

General awareness and understanding about the nation's agriculture system is something Scanlan said is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome when conveying her message. One of the biggest misconceptions about the agricultural industry is that it is cash-rich and that it isn't a serious issue.

"It affects us more strongly than any other industry," Scanlan said. "That's one of the big problems we're facing — bridging the gap. The generation gap and the gap between rural and metropolitan America."

The generation gap is the difference between the aging demographic of those who currently farm and new generations coming up in a time of limitless technology and a different idea of work ethic.
Picture from Evert Nelson, KSTATE Collegian
"We have to encourage young people to take up farming or continue a family farm," she said. "It is so important."

Another topic Scanlan discussed was the hefty agricultural discussions on a governmental level. Federal budget cuts have impacted the agriculture industry in more ways than just budgetary, she said.

A recent bill passed by the legislature will cut the U.S. Department of Argriculture budget in 2010 by close to $1 billion, but other laws are being put into place that could hamper farming operations.

Another legal issue she touched on was developing strong farm policy as a safety net for farmers, specifically crop insurance.
"Farming is a risky business," she said. "And we can't really go without it.""

I hope and pray that Miss America finds time to hit campuses that aren't so Ag driven to spread the word to the ranching opponents.  I guarantee that almost everyone in that auditorium was an agriculture major or minor, from a farming family, a part of the food for thought group or all of the above. We don't need you to convince us that we're in the beef business for all the right reasons but I guess we all have to start somewhere. 

If only I could get my hands on a tiara.... 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Ol Bertha

Hi Y'all! My names Big Ol Bertha and I'm in charge of the feedin' round here.  These cattle know that when my engine gets a rumbling, their tummy's will stop grumblin!

But first, I gotta get my load on.  We start at the pit where my driver puts a big load of ground hay, then a big load of silage, top it off with some distillers grain and were off to the silos. 

Here I get a couple hundred pounds of corn and a little extra mineral to keep the cattle healthy and strong.

When our ranch gets full we have around 700 head to feed but not everyone gets the same thing. That's where the trusty board comes into play. It helps keep all the rations straight so everyone gets exactly what they need.

Inside my tub is a big scale so my driver can know how much of each part they're putting in. This also helps ensure nobody goes to bed hungry!

As soon as I'm loaded we sit and mix for 3 whole minutes. ...   ...  ...

And we're off! I have a chute that comes down off my tub and all the cattle know when they hear me coming, they better get their seat at the dinner bunk!


I get to work twice a day every day no matter what the weather is like.  These guys gotta eat!

I have the best job in the world!!   

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tortellini with smoked beef and mushrooms

I know, I know, this all sounds very weird but I broke down and let Hoag get a smoker and well.. there are only so many times this girl will eat Brisket sandwiches.... So, much to my mother's disapproval I tried this recipe and it turned out pretty ding dong darn good!

Now I know that not everyone has half a smoked brisket laying around their house so just any roast cut up and browned with a little seasoning will probably be ok with this too although dont take my word on it. I'm winging this people!

I bought these cheese tortellini on a pre lunch grocery store run, ( never a good idea) and so they'll be the base for our meal tonight. Cook as directed. No tricks there. Well, ok one trick. Put a wooden spoon on top of your pots of boiling pasta to keep it from boiling over.

For the sauce.  Start with a base of EVOO, a little chopped garlic and a 1/4 chopped onion.  You're also going to need some red wine for this so do us all a favor and open it now, you know you want a glass :)

Sautee those for a minute or so and then add your mushrooms. I am using baby bellas that I chopped up. A mix of mushrooms would probably be pretty amazing but this is what I have.  Cook the mushrooms until they're nice and soft then add a big ol glug of wine. Dont be stingey like me, at least a cup. 

Let this cook out a little, add a can of crushed tomatoes and your shredded or cubed meat here.  You could totally go all vegetarian with this meal if you'd like and it would still be great but that's not what I do.  My meat just needs to be warmed through so it wont need too long.  A little S&P, a little oregano, a little red pepper flake and you're good.  Let this cook for a while longer, add a dash of cream. ( Why?? Why not?!?!)

Serve over pasta ( also would be pretty great over rigatoni or penne) with a little salad and voila! No more brisket sandwhiches!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Family Farms... a dying breed?

In the last couple months, Hoag has hung up his suits donned his chaps to start the process of running the ranch for his parents.  He has always had the dream of settling on the land and continuing to raise Black Herefords the way his parents did but that doesn't seem to be the case in all family farms. 

When we were in Montana in June, a couple that was attending the same feedlot conference asked Hoag and I, "what is it that made you want to go back? We have two sons and they want nothing to do with the cattle..." You could literally feel the pain in their voices as they realized without one of their son's coming over to the ranching side, their feedlot's future was fading. 

So what is it that drew him back? Well, the happiest Hoag is are the days that he's worked 12-14 hours out on the land, checking cattle, working the cows, mending fence, building mineral feeders...anything that gets him out on the land. He loves to see his end result that day and he loves to see the end result of the year each calving season.

Of course, there are plenty of kids that grow up on their family ranches, work the land, go off to college and never come back.  Maybe they fall in love with someone who has no interest in living in rural America or maybe they always wanted to pursue another career. 

97% of all farms and ranches in the US are run by families but of our parent's generations.  My generation has been tainted with media, HSUS, and dollar bills.  We are the next generation but it's taking us a little longer to come on home.  It's not as common of practice for the kids to go straight from school back to the farm.  Ranching is not a glamorous job.  You likely wont get rich from it. You work 365 days a year, at least 12 hours a day, rain, snow, Christmas and Easter.  Everyone wants to be a "cowboy" but nobody is willing to work for it. 

But you know what we get that those office jobs will never provide? That fulfilled feeling at the end of the day knowing we did the best by the animals, earth and environment to provide a healthy and safe product for the nation and the world. That thanks to us, a few more people are going to eat well.   That we are instilling into our family an unshakable work ethic and understanding about the planet that will travel with them on whatever path life leads them on.  An innate sense of responsibility for all living creatures and respect for mother earth.  That when it comes right down to it, we are providing the fuel for what makes our nation run. Without the Farmers and Ranchers of America, America simply is not. 

So no, we may never be rich, we may never take a two week vacation to the Riviera and we may be viewed as simple by those who are. And I can understand how, to my generation of instant gratification and easy roads, that is just downright as unappealing as it gets. But I challenge you to spend a couple days living the life of a rancher and tell me that it's not the most alive and fulfilled you've ever been.  That, that is what life is about. Dying breed? No way -- but only the strong will survive.