Sunday, January 26, 2014

Where's the beef? Right here!

We ordered our beef, an entire cow this time.  It was a smallish one, and the price was right, so we got the entire thing.

A cow is huge.  Even a "smallish" one.

Especially when you ask for the organs, all the bones, the suet (which someone didn't arrive, I'll be on the search for it this week.)  Our freezers are packed.  We had to buy another one, and we still can't get all the beef inside.  Fortunately...and this is the only reason I say this....we are dealing with some Artic weather and it is cold enough in the garage to call it our "walk-in freezer."

The most valuable and perishable cuts are all safely in the freezers.  The steaks, roasts, organs, and the ground beef.  The bones are in boxes and a few are in a stock pot, simmering away, on the stove.

I had to cook supper on the woodstove tonight, and  I've never done that before.  I've warmed things up and I made a fantastic pizza in it once  and have roasted meat inside the stove, but the top is generally not hot enough.  Since my gas stove was out of commission temporarily and we were getting hungry, I made up part of our dinner.  I put some bacon bits in the cast iron frying pan and let them brown up, and put some cabbage in a covered sauce pan with some broth from the recent roast I cooked and put that on to simmer.

It took about an hour an a half to come to a simmer and for that dang bacon to brown.  But in about two hours, we had something hot and delicious to eat.

A very simple, and usually quick, supper of bacon and greens, this time it was fresh cabbage.

The reason my stove was out of commission was that I am canning up 80 lbs of stew beef.  I just upgraded my canners to All American and put 19 pints of beef in each, packed in jars while quite cold.  It took a LONG time for these canners to start to steam.   Especially the one on the right.  I'd forgotten to turn the burner on.  Sheesh.

These are some serious canners!  The pot behind them is four gallons of simmering beef bone broth, also to be canned, probably tomorrow night.
I like to can some of our meat so we will have something quick and easy for those rushed nights.  You know those nights....home from work late, chores to do, animals to feed, phone calls to return before 9, and it is too hot to spend much time in front of the stove (remember those days?  We called that time "summer.")  Canned meat is our answer to fast food.  I will have 80 lbs of jarred beef and 20 lbs of jarred pork by the time I'm done.  That is a year of quick meals, plus a few to share.
Buying our beef in bulk is a fantastic way to be able to afford very high quality and ethically raised meat.  It takes some planning.  In fact, I have to start all over now, saving up about $100 each month towards next year's beef.  But that $100 per month turns into a value of $300 per month in great beef, or more, depending on the cut.
Yes, it can be very daunting at first, but when all that glorious meat is packed away in the freezer, that fear and intimidation is quickly replaced by a sense of wealth and security.  If you haven't considered this before, consider it now.  The farmer who dropped our beef off told me his buddy, who works in the meat department of a local grocery store, told him the better cuts of beef were going up in price this week, by $2 per lb.
That is what we paid, $2 per lb, hanging weight.  For everything from shanks to filet mignon to brisket to T-bone steaks.  And because of the drought conditions last summer in the Midwest, the price of beef is going up.  Buying in bulk is truly price protection. 
Buying directly from the farmer is the best way to get food that is great for you AND your budget!
Don't know where to buy?  A great resource is your local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.  The leader of your local chapter will provide you with a list of farmers who raise animals on pasture, and will offer this information to you, free of charge, and you don't have to be a member!  But do consider it, as this organization works hard to fight for the small family farmers who provide great food for us. 
Meanwhile, pass me another medium-rare filet mignon, if you would....and some of that shiitake gravy, thank-you-very-much!


  1. I just LOVE when people buy from local farms! One reason is because I'm a local farm. :0) We sell a lot of our grass fed beef to people. They love it!

    1. Where are you? I'll give you a plug here if you want!