Myth or Fact: Common Debates Among Meat-Eaters.

We all know the internet can be a wonderful thing. Information is readily available at a moment’s notice, blah blah blah. Unfortunately, another more frequently used tool of knowledge is word of mouth and more likely than not this information is wrong. The internet is funny in that it can either perpetuate the old wives’ tales we cling to, or enlighten people about them.

Once upon a time I was the administrative assistant to the Risk Manager at a hospital. She is one of the wisest people I know and she shared a story with the staff that has stuck with me to this day. She had been tired of hearing “well, this is just how we’ve always done things” when discussing why a certain approach was taken in patient care. Her intent in sharing this story was to show this is not always the best thinking. Just because it is common practice doesn’t mean it’s correct.

The story starts with a young girl watching her mother bake a Thanksgiving turkey. Her mother put the turkey in the oven and left the oven door slightly open. The girl asked her mother why she does that and she replied, “That’s how my mother always did it.” So the girl visited her grandmother and asked her, “Why do you leave the oven door cracked when you cook the turkey?” Her response was the same. It was something her mother had always done. The girl then went to her great-grandmother and repeated her question once more to which her great-grandmother replied, “When I was young we lived in a very small house. The oven was not big enough for the turkey so the oven door wouldn’t shut all the way.”

For the great-grandmother this was not a clever strategy but a necessity. Things may seem logical at one time, or may have been in a specific situation, but we have to keep in mind the weight of certain circumstances in that moment and maybe even accept that new knowledge or circumstances has surfaced rendering the old obsolete. Society is always learning and advancing but sometimes we refuse to budge from our familiar frame of mind.

Heavy stuff, right? This is actually kind of a fun little blog post today. There are a lot of theories out there regarding prep and cooking of beef and it’s something people apparently feel strongly about on both sides. I am not here to side with either theory but to simply shine light on these common debates. The rest is up to you. I am curious to know your personal opinions and practices!

#1. Should you rinse meat before cooking?

Some believe you should rinse meat before cooking to get rid of the bacteria that reside on the surface. After all, it has been drilled into our brains that is important to rinse fruits and veggies before eating them. It only makes sense to rinse meat as well, right? However, others disagree explaining this actually does not make much of a difference at all. In cuts you would rinse such as steak and roasts bacteria only lives on the surface and those bacteria will quickly die with exposure to high heat. They believe the only thing you manage to do when rinsing meat is easily spread that bacteria to your hands, sink and counters.

#2 Will letting meat come to room temperature allow for more even cooking?

This is one I see all the time and have always been curious about. It does kind of go against everything I learned in my food health safety course when I worked in the fast food industry. This is advice offered by everyone from a back country BBQ’er to renowned chefs. If you cook a steak straight out of the refrigerator the center will take much longer to heat causing the outside to overcook. It’s usually recommended to let the meat sit for 20-30 minutes before cooking. Several people have taken to test this theory and noticed that in reality it usually takes an alarming couple of hours before you could consider meat room temperature. On top of that, they didn’t seem to notice much of a difference between cold and room temperature in the final product.  Whether this is something you believe to be true or not, it does seem universally agreed upon that this only applies to whole cuts as bacteria doesn’t penetrate the meat. You never want to let ground beef or even cuts that have been tenderized to sit at room temperature for longer than a few minutes.

#3 Do marinades make a more tender meat?

I feel like this is one of the most debated theories out there. I even said myself in my pot roast recipe post that I love when I get to marinate meat. It’s not something I do often and feel fancier when a recipe calls for it. I always think the longer the wait, the better the meal is bound to be – something I have definitely proven wrong, by the way. Some say using certain marinades, such as something acidic, can actually have the opposite affect after too long of a period. Others say marinades only penetrate the very surface of the meat, not making too much of a difference. Who knows?

#4 When should you season meat?

There is some discussion on whether or not seasoning at a certain point in the cooking process makes a difference. I remember hearing from a famous chef that you can salt a steak before cooking but you should never use pepper until after because the pepper can burn causing an unpleasant taste, or something to that affect. Then again, I’ve seen this contradicted by that same chef. Other people believe salt will draw out the moisture creating a dry, tough steak. Another idea is that this is a good thing because a dry surface is how you get that good, seared crust. What do you do?

#5 Will searing meat keep juices in?

I’ve noticed in my research that people everywhere are VERY concerned about their meat juices. It’s pretty commonly taught that searing the meat will create some sort of barrier, keeping the juices in and your meat nice and moist. It is argued that this really doesn’t affect anything and juices will escape no matter what. In fact, some people even state this CAUSES more juices to leak out. The good news is the feeling I got from most of my reading is the difference is super minimal, so it may not matter regardless of which way you tend to lean.

#6 How many times should steak be flipped?

In line with searing, the idea is that you should only flip steak once in order to not release juices, also if you keep flipping the heat doesn’t have time to reach the middle, meaning an overcooked surface or under-cooked center.  The absolute complete opposite has also been said, that flipping actually helps get a more even doneness.

#7 Juice

Like I said above, people are serious about their meat juices. (Fun fact: Did you know the red juices you see running from beef isn’t blood? It’s actually a protein found in the muscle called Myoglobin and it dissolves in the water causing the pink liquid you often see.) For the sake of repetitiveness I’m going to group these all together:

You often hear, don’t flip with a fork, don’t cut open to check for doneness, and let meat rest after cooking. All of these revolve around avoiding loss of moisture or allowing the meat to absorb all it’s juices again. I think this is where basic human psychology comes in. When you poke a steak or roast the juices pour out of it. It looks like a lot of moisture and flavor being released!  Of course it’s going to be concerning. Apparently it’s not to some though. It is actually said that this loss is so minimal and actually unnoticeable in the meal. This is one that is probably just safer to agree to disagree with your neighbor.

#8 How to check if it’s done. 

Honestly, I didn’t even know this one existed. Most agree the best and safest way to test doneness is to use a meat thermometer, but need I remind you of the juice loss concern? So along came the “poke test” or testing with your finger or face. Now, hear me out before you start putting your face all over your steak. Apparently you can poke the meat with your finger and compare how much the meat gives with different parts of your hand or face (ex: a medium rare steak will feel like touching your thumb to your middle finger). This determines how done the meat is in the middle. Guess this depends on if your dedication lies with meat juices or clean hands.

#9 Bone-in or Boneless?

Do you think this makes a difference to taste? Some people think the bone in meat will give it better flavor. This has been argued, of course. I even read about a study someone did with mashed potatoes  cooked with and without a beef bone. Some people noticed a meatier flavor in the potatoes with the bone, but most didn’t notice any difference. I’ve also read there’s more science to it (mashed potatoes aren’t the same as beef), that it is only true to the meat directly surrounding the bone, that this makes a difference in certain cuts. I personally tend to go for boneless for the convenience. I’m lazy and I like to think I’m not alone, haha.

#10 Is well done the safest way to eat meat?

I think when it comes down to it, people’s preference of meat doneness again comes down to our mentality. Some people, regardless of how good it may taste, just don’t have the ability to get over the raw-ness of a rare steak. It is easy to believe it is not safe. Others simply do prefer the taste and texture of a well done piece of meat. As I have mentioned before I think it is universally agreed that with ground beef well done is the only safe way to eat it. However with whole cuts, this may just be a personal preference.

Some bonus grill theories for you:

Will oiling the grill grates prevent meat from sticking?

A lot of people do this to make life easier. I certainly have. I’ve also read you should oil the meat directly. Something about the cold temperature of the meat keeping the oil from burning and creating a bad taste. It seems to be a debate even among celebrity chefs. Some say oil hot grates, some say oil them cold. Try it out and see what you think!

How will lifting the lid affect temperature?

Another thing grill masters seem to be adamant about is lifting the lid to the grill as little as possible to avoid a slower cooking time. I figured this to be true but actually read something interesting. Some people say it’s the heat on the surface of the meat that cooks the inside. So while opening the lid will release a lot of hot air, this does little to affect how the meat cooks. I guess some could argue that it will just take longer to maintain that surface heat.

Sear first or last?

Grilling is one of those things I so badly want to excel at. I absolutely love the crusty charred goodness on any sort of meat but it’s something I haven’t mastered without overcooking everything. Well this is one I will have to work on. It is commonly believed that you should sear your meat directly over the heat source and then move to indirect heat to let it cook the rest of the way, however it is also rebutted that you should actually cook through first and then in the last couple minutes sear to perfection, known as the reverse sear. Either way, I just need to figure out how to succeed!

So there you have it. Almost every debate you will read about how to properly cook beef. I noticed a lot of the beliefs people hold on to really make sense, but so do the opposing arguments. As with anything, it seems near impossible to get a straight true answer. So I want to know what your meat beliefs are and challenge you to be open-minded, do your own research and try something new! You may find a new game-changer technique!

Comment below!

 

Recipe of the Month: Wine-Marinated Pot Roast

FALL IS HERE!! This is my season. I’ve seen posts all over social media begging Fall to make it’s official appearance. Unfortunately if you’re familiar with Oklahoma weather you know how it likes to tease us. We had a beautiful week awhile back. High temperatures were in the mid 80s, there was a slight cool breeze. You better believe I was full speed into Fall mode. Sadly, the 90s visited again and everyone had retreated back inside. Fortunately for us, I think it may be back and here to stay. I knew tempting Fall with our posts about pumpkin spice and hay bales would bribe it come a little early. So doing my part to make this last I’m going to jump in with a delicious recipe I found on Midwest Living’s website.

Before I get started, I want to give a shout out to my friend and fellow blogger, Samantha, for letting me take advantage of her beautiful kitchen as well as lending her awesome photography skills. I only had to bribe her with free dinner and my company 😉 Go check out her website at www.geekedable.com for all things geeky and enjoy the upgrade from my usual recipe posts!

Delicious Grass-Fed Dinner

To start off our seasonal recipes, we’re going to use a beef chuck roast. This is another versatile cut that is perfect for roasts or stew which means a lot of savory crock pot meals. We won’t actually be using a crock pot for this dish however. It is a bit more involved and “fancier” than our other recipes. It should be fun!

Marinated Roast

The recipe will need a lot of time and dedication. It calls for marinating the chuck roast for 8-24 hours along with about 3-4 hours cooking time with some work in between. I don’t know about you but marinating is one of those things I get really excited to see in a recipe. I know there is debate about lengths of time to marinate meat, if longer than a certain time frame really makes that much of a difference, but I always feel like the meal is bound to be excellent if it takes a whole day to make. Really, marinating is not something I think to do often and only do it if I see it in a recipe rather than on my accord. I’m such an “out of the box” thinker, right? So pour yourself a glass of wine, bring the rest with you, and let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • One 3-3 1/2 lb boneless chuck arm or shoulder pot roast
  • One 750ml Bottle fruity red wine (such as Cabernet, Sauvignon, Red Zinfandel or Merlot)
  • 1/2 Tsp kosher, sea salt or regular salt
  • 1/2 Tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • One 10 1/2oz Can condensed beef broth
  • 1/4 Cup no salt added tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence, fine herbes or Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 3 Cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and halved crosswise (or 2 cups packaged peeled fresh baby carrots)
  • medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces or 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into sixths
  • 2 Cups whole fresh cremini mushrooms
  • stalks celery, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • Hot cooked noodles (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp snipped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Baguette-style French bread, cut into 1-1/2 inch slices (optional)

Roast Ingredients

For the detailed cooking instructions I’m going to direct you to Midwest Living’s recipe directly. They were so generous to let me share this with you! Keep reading below to follow my adventure with it. Trust me, this is a recipe you want to try.

Wine and friendship makes cooking so much more exciting. This may have to become a monthly tradition. With my ingredients and pre-marinated chuck roast in tow I headed to Sam’s house ready to get cooking and dream of the Fall days upon us.

Peachy Canyon Red Zinfandel

Sadly, I’m not a wine connoisseur. When looking at the recommendations on the ingredient list I singled out the red zinfandel. I thought, I like white so I’ll probably like red too, right? Yes, that is how my mind works. Picking the first bottle I found I ended up with this 2015 California Zinfandel from Peachy Canyon. When drinking I tend to select sweeter wines but this was yummy and worked perfectly for the recipe. I tell you what, that roast looked amazing just after marinating it. Did you see that deep red color??

Reserving the wine used to marinate the beef, I made a fragrant wine base with garlic, herbes de provence and other flavorful ingredients. I lightly browned the roast at the same time and was already ready to eat. The kitchen was filled with so many wonderful smells. I had never used herbes de provence before but instantly fell in love with the aroma. I’ll definitely be keeping in stock.

Once the wine base reduced it was time to put the roast in the oven for a few hours. This left plenty of time for philosophical talks, rants about life, discovering new shows on Netflix – all while dying to eat the amazing meal we knew was cooking.

Veggies

Finally, it was time to work on the next step so we got started on cutting up the veggies. Here’s a tip for you: Don’t drop most of your mushrooms on the floor. However, the jokes on you mushrooms. I don’t even like you. I didn’t consider this a huge loss in my book but if you do you might want to avoid sharing your ingredients with the floor.

Wine- Marinated Pot Roast

After cooking for another hour it was time to pull out the finished product. Oh. My. Goodness. The roast was literally falling apart as I transferred it to another dish. It was so tender and had great flavor. If you are hesitant about trying anything cooked with wine, don’t worry. It didn’t have a strong taste at all. It was subtle but perfect. The potatoes were the exact consistency I like. My friend had nothing but nice things to say about it as well. I think we both gave this meal an A+. Honestly, it probably could be just as good throwing everything in a crock pot for a few hours, but sometimes there is just something so satisfying about taking your time and knowing you went that little extra mile for the noticeable big flavor.

I would love to know what you think of this recipe! Please leave a comment below when you give it a try. It is sure to be a big hit with your family or your next dinner party.

Grass Vs. Grain: How it Affects the Cow

This is honestly probably the most interesting post I’ve written so far. There was a time when I didn’t give any thought to any of this and frankly didn’t care what I ate. I love when things fall into place, when things just make sense, and that’s what this article is about today. The best part is you don’t need a science degree to understand it! I started out thinking I’ll talk about cow digestion. If you didn’t know it’s actually quite interesting. But I want to expand on it more. We’ve covered why grass-fed beef is better for humans, but how does eating grass vs. grain affect cows? So I did more research than what I already knew. You guys, it’s about to get real.

The Digestion

First, let me briefly explain the basics of cow digestion. Cows basically have four stomachs. Frankly, this can be hard to “stomach.” I won’t lie. It’s a pretty gross process to think about. Cows are ruminants like sheep, goats, deer, even giraffes which means they have a rumen, a part of the stomach that allows them to take grass and convert it into protein. They eat a lot of grass, not chewing it very much, swallow it and it gets stored in the rumen. This is the biggest part of their stomach. They then lay down somewhere, sort of regurgitate the previously eaten grass (another part of the stomach called the reticulum contracts to push it back into the rumen), “chew their cud,” and swallow it again (are you feeling queasy yet?). From there it goes through the omasum and abomasum, where further digestion and nutrient absorption take place, before it goes into the small intestine, etc. similar to human digestion. You can read a more detailed explanation on the FDA’s Website. They have the awesome ability to digest grass and anything left over from grain harvesting and extract the nutrients that humans and other animals can’t!

So, the BIG question is why do we feed cows something they’re not naturally meant to eat and digest when they have the tools to do something most animals, and definitely humans, do not?

Grain Digestion

Obviously, cows do have the ability to digest grain but it is an entirely different process. You see, when eating grass, cows can eat and digest all parts of it from stalk and stem to seed. They are not really equipped with the proper teeth to break into the few seeds they may eat so these simply pass through, and the manure acts as a fertilizer causing the seeds to grow again. It’s a perfect cycle. When grass fully sprouts into seed, however, the nutrients are leached from the grass into these seeds leaving no nutrient value in that grass anymore. The cows do have enzymes that can digest these grains, but it involves the stomach creating more acid in order to break these grains down and retrieve the few nutrients the grain now has. The stomach has to “switch” to a completely different way of digesting food. It is definitely more complicated than just this. You can read more about it in Comparing Grassfed and Grainfed Beef, and Why it Should Matter to You. This process is simply an “evolutionary back-up plan” for the cow’s survival in instances where their natural food source is scarce. The article goes on to explain how these two affect the actual beef differently, mainly how it impacts the type of fat produced by the cow and how it in turn greatly affects our diet. On a personal note, as someone who is a supporter of Keto and other low-carb diets, I found the following paragraph extremely interesting:

“Grain fed beef typically has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1, which at first glance would seem to be the ideal ratio. But that’s not the only thing we eat. With grain fed beef already at a 4:1 ratio, there is no room for any grains (bread, rice, oatmeal, etc…) in your diet if you want to avoid the unhealthy side-effects of eating too much omega-6’s.

Small wonder then that doctor’s often recommend cutting beef from the diets of cancer patients…

Grassfed beef, on the other hand, has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2:1. This leaves ample room on the dinner plate for some carbohydrates made from grains without the overall ratio of our diet exceeding the magic 4:1 ratio.

Which begs the question, what if doctors recommended that their cancer patients eat lots of grassfed beef, but cut the grains, breads, and cereals instead?”

Of course all of this can be debatable, but I do believe it makes sense that a lot of our health problems today don’t stem from beef, but rather the type of beef along with the increase of processed foods, how all of our food is prepared, and the imbalance we’ve gotten so used to in an American diet.

Further Down the Grain Path

So at this point in my research I was already somewhat unsurprised by what I found as far as how this affects humans, but I found the digestion difference and its effect on cows thought-provoking. Little did I know it was about to get a whole lot better. I found an interview PBS conducted with Michael Pollan, an author that examines how nature and culture collide and affect the systems we have in place. You can read the interview here. It’s a long read but I HIGHLY encourage that you take some time to check it out. He goes through each point, one thing affecting the other, like a cascading waterfall of logic. It just made sense. I found myself getting more and more excited as I caught on to what he was saying, almost beating him to the punch in my head.

He starts out by also marveling at this ability cows and other ruminants have but then goes on to explain why this natural process is interrupted. What it boils down to is the economic and financial benefits of the common commercial cow industry process. Grain (corn) is cheap and easy to grow. It fattens cows at a much higher rate and quantity than grass which means faster turnover in beef production along with higher profit.  How do local independent farmers compete? As I briefly mentioned in Cost: Is Grass-fed Beef Worth it? bigger companies have the resources to quickly push cattle through from calf to meat. They have an easier time meeting the demand and they can offer cheaper prices. What people don’t realize however is there is way more risk involved, and it is not only affecting our present but could be detrimental to our future.

Physical Impact

By now, you already know how we feel about the treatment of animals. There is an ethical way to raise and slaughter cows for meat and we abide by that. As much as we obviously support pasture-raised and free-grazing cows, we don’t think feedlots are evil. They saw an opportunity to speed up the beef production process, making it cheaper and more efficient, just at the expense of the calf. The fact is though cows aren’t meant to live in that environment or eat that type of food. The life expectancy of a cow living in a pasture is easily over ten years, close to twenty. They say the life expectancy of a cow on grain would only be a year or so after the point they would usually be slaughtered.

Remember what I said about a cow’s digestion of grain and the switch from grass-eating microbes to grain-eating microbes? It causes a higher acidity level in a cow’s stomach in order to soften those grains for digestion. This can lead to heartburn and bloat. They are not burping and releasing those gasses like they would normally. This, among other effects of this grain digestion, can have serious impacts on their health. Pollan explains this further and discusses how it can lead to liver abscesses. If the cow wasn’t going to be slaughtered soon anyway, this would certainly lead to eventual death. But we don’t worry about that, understandably. I can’t help but tie this in to what we always say about stress in animals and the effects on meat. If you suffer from frequent acid reflux *raises hand*, you get it.

The interview goes on to discuss in further detail why we started feeding cows grain in the first place, mostly due to economic gain. He talks about the antibiotics used, which I will summarize in a minute, the health problems we are facing, physical differences between the look of a cow in a pasture and a feedlot cow, his experience with his own cow, and just about every aspect of the beef industry. I couldn’t possibly reiterate everything he said without 1) plagiarizing, and 2) turning this into a novel. He is so thorough in his explanations but I also love that he tries to stay away from making too many assumptions, he gives people and companies the benefit of the doubt, and doesn’t point fingers or blame anyone for the potential mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. He understands the rationale behind the systems people have put in place.

If anything, his main point of his interview is we’ve implemented so many steps just to fix previous steps taken. Feedlots became the norm because of faster and cheaper production, however changing a cows eating pattern suddenly mixed with crowding them in a pen caused more illness than they would ever experience in a pasture, which created the need for antibiotics. A cow living on pasture doesn’t get infected with diseases such as E. Coli, but a cow on a grain diet has high stomach acidity in which E. Coli thrives. The antibiotics are not used as a treatment but instead a preventative measure. These antibiotics are in our food and water causing bacteria to be antibiotic-resistant. In turn, scientists and doctors are constantly working to develop newer and more effective antibiotics, but Pollan says it best when he says, “Nature will outwit any technology. This is what evolution has been doing for billions of years — figuring out ways to outwit threats to a given population.”

When you really stop to think about it, it’s dumb that we are, as Pollan puts it, using “band-aids” to fix the problems that literally occur ONLY because we disrupted the natural cycle. Had we kept things the way they were we likely wouldn’t have run into nearly as many problems with food-borne illness and antibiotic resistance. As I said before, and what I think Pollan touches on, is this all started with good intentions: cheaper and more available meat. However the cost saved is only being used to fix what came of that. Is cheaper meat really worth it? He believes we should go back to the system that was already in place. A system that worked. The question is, can we do this? Returning to a grazing-only method means a slower, longer and essentially more expensive process.

Of course there will be pros and cons to everything and going back to this old system wouldn’t fix everything, but it could help. Farmers are using rotational grazing patterns to help the environment, they are saying no to hormones and preventative antibiotics, and they are thinking about the future. Please, please, PLEASE go read Pollan’s interview and you too will be saying “Wow, IT JUST MAKES SENSE!”

The Nature of Grant Creek Ranch

Calves and Beef are obviously the big business of Grant Creek Ranch. Understandably, this is what we focus most of our time and effort on promoting. We have a great product to offer that we all stand behind 100%. Naturally we want to share that with the world, or at least our small part of the world for now, but in fact there is so much more to Grant Creek.

The drive to our ranch is not unlike most one would experience in the central part of the U.S. Once you leave Tulsa and pass through the suburbs to follow you reach what most people probably envision when you tell them you’re from Oklahoma or Kansas: Flat nothing. Of course there’s so much more than that, but to the untrained eye it can seem desolate. What you see are flat fields of grass, hundreds of cows, the occasional house, hawks gliding through the air. It takes you to a quieter time before cities pushed further and further out. It’s fun to wonder about the people who live out this far. How often do they go grocery shopping? What’s the closest town to them? How much work does it take to maintain this much land? What do they do??

Black-Eyed Susans

While I love outdoorsy things and have no problem getting my hands dirty, I am admittedly a city girl at heart. I love the convenience and easy access to necessities and entertainment. Most of all, I love the style and look of “City.” For being in a southern state I’m not much of a southern girl (regardless of how much I may love biscuits and gravy or beans and cornbread). However, having just recently moved out to the “country” myself I can definitely see the benefits. It’s much quieter. I have talked to my neighbors more than I ever did living in town. Traffic isn’t much of an issue unless you run into the occasional slow tractor or loose cow. There definitely is something relaxing about being in the country and time seems to slow down, especially at the ranch.

Going further in our hypothetical drive towards the ranch it gets increasingly quieter and calmer, towns are even fewer and far between. You can tell the people around have to rely a lot more on their local resources. It’s a completely different atmosphere. Luckily this is where the scenery gets better with rolling hills starting to form, wide open skies and beautiful flowers. When you get to the ranch there’s open space for miles. You can’t help but stand and take in all the beauty you don’t get in a city. While pictures won’t do it justice it’s certainly the next best thing and I wanted to share them with our readers!

Birds, and their lodgings, are everywhere at Grant Creek. I find the nests of the Swifts/Swallows to be the most interesting. They are built up all throughout the shop we use to house our big equipment. They use such a unique design you don’t often see. Hawks are another common bird that are so beautiful to watch as they gracefully glide through the air, giving the impression its an easy task.

I am amazed at the people who can identify certain types of flowers. It’s certainly not a talent or skill of mine so please comment below if you know what these are. Google is letting me down. For now, I will simply admire their beauty and all the colors. Maybe I’ve watched Disney’s Alice in Wonderland a few too many times, but looking at the purple/blue flower with yellow in the middle I can imagine it’s a little tiny woman twirling her glamorous dress all around her.

Of course, where there are flowers there are insects. I can’t say they’re my favorite things ever but I can appreciate the pictures. Look closely at the pictures above. Do you notice the little spider chilling on his purple chair? Most interesting of all, zoom in on the picture of the tall violet stem. There’s more than the big bumble bee to find here. Putting their awesome camouflage skills to perfect use is an insect hidden on almost every one of those buds. Can you see them? Does anyone know what these are or what type of flower this is?

It’s almost hard to believe that in all these big open spaces you can find so much. You have to look closely or they’re easy to miss. Photo credit goes to Steffanie, the wife of one of the ranch’s managing members. She has such an eye for catching these magnificent images while most of us rush on by. Thank you, Steffanie!

Recipe of the Month: Chicken Fried Steak

The amazing thing about purchasing a whole/half/quarter cow is the order is so customizable! You get to choose, within reason of course, what cuts you get, how much fat is trimmed, how thick you want your steaks, if you’d rather have more ground beef, etc. It can be overwhelming at first, which is why we want to help as much as we can. We are always available for ideas, tips, and suggestions. If you’re anything like me before I got into this, you have probably had to google what kind of meat to use for a recipe. What’s the difference between certain cuts? Is a Porterhouse and T-Bone steak the same thing?

Did you know you can get your grass-fed round roasts cut into tenderized fillets instead of individual roasts? This opens up many recipe options like the all-time favorite Chicken Fried Steak! Others include philly cheese steaks, pepper steak and rice, fajitas, and grilled round steak. These tenderized fillets are ideal because they require no additional tenderization from the cook (think pounding with a meat mallet – although a great stress release after a bad day). These fillets have been cross-cut tenderized at the butcher and then packaged in groups of two or four steaks. They have great flavor by themselves and are very lean.

Preparation of the Chicken Fried Steaks is easy! Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of tenderized round roast fillets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 Cups of seasoned flour (I season with salt, mild paprika or a little cayenne pepper, and lots of pepper)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Canola Oil

IMG_20180804_172957797

To Prepare:

  • Beat the two eggs in a shallow, wide bowl (you are going to dredge the steaks in these bowls so they should be large enough to fit the steak in them) with milk until very well mixed.
  • In a second shallow, wide bowl add the seasoned flour (Instead I used a ziplock baggie to use the good ol’ shake and bake method. This is not recommended, however, as the steaks are thin and flexible and fold in on themselves. I ended up having to work with it a bit)
  • Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and then season generously with salt and pepper (What’s your preference? More pepper or more salt?)
  • Take the seasoned steak and dredge it in the flour bowl, forcing flour into the meat with your fingers.
  • Remove the steak from the flour bowl and then soak it in the egg mixture.
  • Repeat the flour coating one more time. This is important to get that good thick breading we all like.
  • Put the steak on a rack and repeat this process for all the steaks.
  • Pre-heat a cast iron skillet with approximately 1/2 inch of oil covering the bottom of the skillet.

The Cooking:

  • Once the oil is hot, add a steak or steaks to the frying pan. Be careful not to crowd the steaks, there should be space between each steak in the skillet.
  • Fry over high heat for approximately 2 to 5 minutes per side until the coating is golden brown – be careful not to burn the coating by leaving the steak too long. Flip the steak and cook for half the amount of time on the second side or until golden brown.
  • Remove the steaks to a plate and place in a warmer until ready to eat.
  • These chicken fried steaks should be medium rare to medium. If you want them more well-done then you can place them back in the skillet, and then put the skillet in a 350 degree oven and bake for 15 to 30 minutes.

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Grass-Fed Chicken Fried Steak is a great way to serve round steak and it is very fast to prepare once you have mastered the recipe. These steaks are great served alone with mashed potatoes and a salad, This time I went completely southern with it and paired the steak with mashed potatoes/gravy and fried okra and squash. They make great steak sandwiches. We like to have ours on a large hamburger bun, with mustard, pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce. Yum!

Let us know what you think below! Also, share your recipes using round roast fillets.

Two Places at Once: Our Locations Explained

You might be wondering, or even confused, about our process and how we do things at the ranch, especially since you might have noticed I throw out Kansas and Oklahoma a lot. Why multiple locations? Let me explain.

As I have mentioned before in Ranch Day!!, our main ranch (Grant Creek) is in Cedar vale, KS. It is about 1,400 acres of beautiful pastures and creek. We also own some farm land in Carney, OK. Technically, these are all owned by Riverview Property Co., LLC. Riverview is an affiliate company of Marjo Operating Co., Inc., a small oil and gas company out of Tulsa, OK. This is where the blog magic happens. Mark and Brian run ranch operations with the help of a few guys both in Kansas and Oklahoma while I pass on all the information I hope you all enjoy reading. Then there are the other office duties like Accounting that go on at our Tulsa office as well.

All of our cows and bulls live at Grant Creek Ranch and all of the calves start out there. When calves are born, they stay with their mothers for about 6 months. During this time they roam free and are only caught once when they are tagged with ear tags. After this period, the cows are separated into two groups: Those that will be raised for meat and those that will be sold as calves.

Raised for meat

The calves that are kept to raise will go to the ranch in Carney, OK after they have reached 6 months old. The pastures they will graze are mostly Bermuda grass fertilized with nitrogen. This is safe for the cows and the meat and causes the grass to grow extremely fast, giving the calves plenty to eat. Of course there is a weaning period first. The calves are kept in a smaller area only for about a week. They are fed hay and supplemented with protein, similar to what we have to do in the winter. This is an important step because unfortunately this can be a stressful transition for calves and it can make them susceptible to certain health conditions. We want to make sure they are watched closely and kept calm. As you know we treat our cows well so we have never had any issues with their health or well-being. After this transition time, they are released into the pastures to continue grazing and grow.

Our current calves were born in February/March and will go to Carney in September. They will remain until they are about 1 1/2 years old, gaining approximately 3 pounds per day.

Calves to sell

All of our calves go through this similar process. The ones that are selected to sell will be weaned and then taken to Oklahoma City to be sold. It is better to sell them after the weaning process to ensure they do not develop any issues. This means they can be sold for a higher price and at less risk for the buyer. What happens to these calves next is up to the buyer. Some are sent to feed lots, others are probably sent to other pastures. Who knows, some might even be used for therapy. Yes, this is a thing. Read about it.

Delivery and Processing

Because we have farms locally in these locations, we focus on processing and delivery in these areas only. Someday we hope to grow to be able to branch out our business and offer our meat to a larger demographic. The cost of keeping the meat cold during shipping makes this at a challenge at the moment.

We do offer free delivery in Tulsa and can even make arrangements to have the meat processed at a closer location to you to make ordering easier and more convenient, depending on where you are.

Spread the word so we can start reaching more people and make the delivery process easier and more available for everyone!

Cow Appreciation: Treat ’em right!

HAPPY COW APPRECIATION DAY!!!

We definitely appreciate our cows at Grant Creek Ranch. Beef is arguably the best meat out there…at least it’s my favorite.

Cows sacrifice a lot for us and in return we treat ours with the best care.

  • We do not inject our cows with hormones. Again, our main goal is not to produce giant animals. Our goal is to produce healthy, flavorful meat.
  • Our cows roam freely.  Feedlots are usually a stressful environment for an animal. If a cow is stressed it will produce adrenaline and other hormones that will affect the meat. Remember, we don’t want extra hormones.
  • We are a closed herd. We are not bringing cows in from just anywhere. We are careful in our selections. Doing this drastically reduces diseases and illness that can develop and be easily spread in a herd raised with less discretion.
  • We do not use unnecessary antibiotics. Feedlots are usually crowded, which leads to more sickness and disease, which leads to the need for antibiotics, which affects the meat. If we do not use these methods, it would make sense that we do not need unnecessary antibiotics, and frankly why would we waste the money on them just to be proactive? Now, just like if you are sick, sometimes it is a necessity to ensure the health of our cows, but we try to keep this to minimum.
  • We are never cruel. If a cow is in a stressful environment, it’d be natural to associate humans with that emotion meaning they are not as receptive to humans. Our cows are only handled a few times a year. What exposure they do have to us is always pleasant, therefore they are not scared and are very tame. Connect this to the points above and you can come to the conclusion that they will produce much more tender meat.

If you noticed, all of these points lead to another. Not all beef is the same and every aspect of their care absolutely has an impact on the product you are buying.

Plain and simple, it just makes sense this way.

 

Recipe of the Month: Smoked Whiskey Bacon Burgers

Happy July! The month of patriotism, fireworks, and summer. Naturally, for this month we’re sticking to a 4th of July classic: Burgers. Perfect for your family gathering before you blow stuff up. This recipe combines good ol’ grass-fed beef with whiskey and bacon…’Merica!

I had actually come across a video from the BBQ Pit Boys a few times and decided to try my own take of their whiskey burger. This was just used as inspiration. I left out and added quite a bit, strayed from their method, and as much as I would’ve liked to be doing this in the woods with the perfect smoker like they do, I stayed on my front porch with my average, tiny smoker (Can you guess what’ll be on my Christmas list this year?). But you know what? There’s nothing whiskey, bacon, and cheese can’t make better.

Ingredients:

  • Seasoning (or any seasoning of your choice)
    • 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon salt
    • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 Tablespoon ground mustard
    • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika (love the smell of this!)
    • 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 Pounds Grant Creek Ranch grass-fed beef (Makes 4 burgers)
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • Crispy onion strings (Store-bought or make your own!)
  • 1/2 Cup Whiskey
  • 8 Slices Bacon
  • 4 Slices Swiss Cheese

*Disclaimer – These measurements are an estimate. I eye-balled most of it. There’s lots of freedom (pun totally intended) with this recipe.

Make It!

  • First, mix all the seasoning ingredients together. This recipe actually makes quite a bit and you can use as much or as little as you like. I had a lot left over to use for future recipes.
  • Mix some of the seasoning mixture into each 1/2 pound of beef along with a 1/4 of Worcestershire sauce each, and then form your patties. Because grass-fed is leaner, it sometimes helps to add that extra moisture you get from the Worcestershire, even if you can’t pronounce it.
  • If you have rings you can form the patties in, that’s great. If not, you can make one out of aluminum foil, although this step isn’t completely necessary. It just helps to hold everything together, especially when you pour the whiskey on top.
  • Poke holes in your patties and put a layer of brown sugar on top. You can also use more of the seasoning mixture above. I personally would use more brown sugar than I did next time.

Prepped Patties(Please ignore the poor quality of my photos. We’re in a remodeling process and my lighting is not the best)

  • Drizzle a tablespoon of BBQ sauce over each patty. (I forgot this step)
  • Pour a tablespoon of whiskey over each patty.
  • Let sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • This is the time I used to get my charcoal going for the smoker, fry up some bacon, and make my crispy onion strings.
  • When your smoker is ready to go, put the patties on, close the lid, and wait. Then, go ahead and sneak that shot of whiskey and slice of bacon. No judgement here.
  • I smoked my burgers for about an hour. When I got them out they looked smoky, glazed and beautiful.

Smoked Patties

  • Next, build your burger however you like and pair with your favorite BBQ sides (which I was lacking at the moment).

Smoked Whiskey Bacon Burger

Overall, I thought this burger was pretty delicious and had a very deep smoky flavor. Very moist and cooked perfectly, I will definitely be making this again!

Let me know if you gave it a try in the comments below!

Recipe of the Month: BBQ Brisket

Happy June! We have another mouth-watering recipe for you to try.

I was talking to my boss about what recipe I should post and he suggested I look up Aaron Franklin’s Brisket. Oh. My. Gosh. What I saw was the most beautiful charred brisket I’ve ever seen in my life. I am a carnivore to the core and couldn’t wait to try this at home.

I stand behind these recipes. There’s no way I could in good conscience just post something random and let you fend for yourself. They are tested and eaten by yours truly. I will admit, the grill has not been my friend lately, and it’s something I am desperately trying to master, but I figured surely this time would be a success. Guess what…it was! I geared up and bought a coal chimney and everything.

Here is the Aaron Franklin video and description of the cooking method I used. I just used this as a guideline since I am still finding my way, but I’d say it worked.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large or 2 Small brisket
  • 1/2 Cup salt
  • 1/2 Cup pepper
  • Water/Apple Cider Vinegar (optional)

Make It!

I do have an electric smoker, which I was told would be easier, but I just had to do it the tried and true way. I went to the store and bought a charcoal chimney. I also stepped away from the Match Light easy light stuff and bought basic charcoal briquettes.

  • I heated up the charcoal in the chimney for about 15 – 20 minutes and then dumped them in the smoker box, setting a couple hickory wood chunks on top.
  • This process was repeated about 3 times throughout the smoking.

Honestly, I did not measure my salt and pepper. As a salt lover I just covered every inch of the brisket and then some. And since I’m only cooking for two I used a small brisket, but threw on a whole chicken as well so I wouldn’t waste the space.

  • Put the brisket in your smoker, fat side up, and leave it.
  • You can place a metal bowl filled with water next to the meat to help with moisture. Or spritz the meat with apple cider vinegar every now and then, which is what I chose to do.

If you’re anything like me, this is the hard part: Just let your meat cook and leave it alone. I put it on the grill around 10:15am and let it cook for about 6 hours.

I tend to stress about the temperature and how long it is taking, but I simply researched how to manage the temp — something you must experiment with to get just right — and put my faith in that metal box.

While I think I probably should’ve left it in even longer, and mine didn’t look quite as charred and delicious as Aaron Franklin’s, I was happy with how it turned out. Now get your favorite BBQ sauce and look forward to those fatty bites with some of the salty edge…Yum!

(Unfortunately I forgot about it a little too well and didn’t get any pictures of the process)

Comment below with any tips or let us know how you did!

Ranch Day!!

Last Friday, we took a company outing to the Ranch in Cedar Vale, Kansas! What we thought was going to be a miserably hot day turned out to be quite nice and tons of fun.

To give you a bit more background, we actually are primarily a small oil & gas company out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but we also own Riverview property Co., LLC, which has some rental houses in Midtown Tulsa and farms near Tonkawa, OK and another cow-calf operating in Carney, OK. As part of these ventures the owners’ dream of owning a ranch finally came true, bringing you Grant Creek Ranch: 1,420 acres of beautiful land in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

 

Unfortunately, Ranch Day happened to fall on the hottest day we’ve had so far this year. Being in Oklahoma, the crazy weather never comes as much of a surprise. With a forecast of 95°, a heat index of 110°, and 70% humidity we honestly were expecting the worst. We packed up the cars with our lawn chairs, sunscreen, and bug spray and made the hour and a half long drive to Grant Creek.

What did come as a surprise was how nice the day actually ended up being. The huge tree in front of the ranch house provided the perfect amount of shade for our group accompanied by a nice cool breeze. We picked up BBQ from Buck’s BBQ in Sedan for a lunch of brisket, pulled pork, red potato salad, pies, and other goodness. This place is HIGHLY recommended if you’re ever in the area. Delicious food, cold beer, and great friends: what else could you ask for?

 

Next, we took a tour of the ranch to see the many pastures, shady creek, and of course…our cows. There are so many kinds of birds and flowers to admire, old structures left on the property made our imaginations soar, and the views are spectacular with nothing but land and sky for miles and miles.

 

Most of our employees are not directly involved with the ranch so it was great for them to be able to finally see what it’s all about and all the work that is put into it. I was particularly excited to see everything as I am involved in more of the background work, this blog included. To finally be able to physically experience it made my already amazing job that much better. Heck, I even learned how to drive the tractor! They’ll be putting me to real work in no time.

 

At the end of the day, we were all thankful for the road trip and can’t wait to do it again soon.

 

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