Tag Archives: grassfed beef

Sirloin Tip Roast with Red Wine

So the last time I made Sirloin Tip Roast I let myself be inspired by dry-heat cooking methods, even though my heroine, Irma Rombauer of The Joy of Cooking, literally shows us in black and white that this meat cut deserves moist heat.

When Bill and I ate it, the meat did seem a bit dry, but I figured at the time that the lean-ness of grassfed meat had a lot to do with the end result.

This time I decided to stick with Irma’s suggestion. I found a recipe on Food.com that called for a dry heat method, i.e., roasted uncovered in the oven, but you also add water and wine to the pot. I loved the idea of rubbing the roast with Dijon mustard—which is really yummy on prime rib—but I decided not to add it because I was going to put a lid on my Dutch oven and that wouldn’t make the mustard nice and crispy like on prime rib. It turned out to be the right approach.

The recipe is simply called Sirloin Tip Roast. As the diagram above shows, this cut is either adjacent to the rump, the flank, or the shank of the cow. And for grassfed beef, it’s extremely lean so cooking time must be reduced.

I followed the beginning of the recipe by taking the roast out of the fridge an hour ahead of time, then sprinkling it with salt and pepper.

Then I poured olive oil in the bottom of my Dutch oven and browned the meat on all sides.

Afterwards, I cut slits in the meat and added sliced garlic cloves, then poured 1/2 a cup of water and 1/4 cup of dry red wine into the pan. Like I said, I skipped the mustard. And, I basically skipped the rest of the ingredients except for some fresh chopped rosemary.

Even when a recipe calls for a rack, I never use one because I don’t own one. Sure, it might be a good idea sometimes, but I don’t want to wreck my pans and I seemed to have done just fine so far without one.

I put the 3-lb. roast in a 325-degree oven with the lid on for just 1  1/2 hours.

I believe it was more moist than last year’s recipe. Served au jus alongside roasted root vegetables, it made a delicious autumn meal—and great leftovers during the week!

How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day: Day 4

Day 4 of “How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day” was somewhat labor intensive and I don’t recommend this combination of meals in a single day. I prefer to make soups, stews, and roasts on weekends—sometimes multiple dishes at the same time—and then use portions of them throughout the week. Each of today’s meals included more cooking than I would usually do and it’s only because I work at home that I could get away with it.

Here’s what we ate today:

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How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day: Day 1

[Note to reader: If you haven’t read why I’m writing this five-day blog series, please refer to my first post, “How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day,” which explains my intent.]

I marvel at the choices of oatmeal available to us in this country. In Bill‘s and my house alone, we have three: rolled oats, quick rolled oats, and instant oatmeal (all organic).

You can also choose from conventionally-grown oats, and instant oatmeal with a variety of flavors, such as maple and brown sugar, apple-cinnamon, etc. So it was interesting to see how the prices vary on just the three types we have in our house.

Of course, instant is most expensive because you’re paying for the convenience. But couldn’t you also say you’re saving energy since you don’t have to wash a pot? That’s my favorite part about instant oatmeal. Today I opted for quick rolled oats, cooked in a pot for about two minutes, which actually seemed faster than heating water for instant oatmeal and then waiting for it to set. Oh, the choices we have!

Check out the menus and the tallies for today’s experiment at trying to eat healthy on five bucks.

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One Family’s Road to Simplicity

Photo via TakePart.com

Here’s a really cool story from TakePart.com, about a family that saw the movie, “Food, Inc.,” and it literally moved them–to a former commercial dairy farm on 30 acres just outside Raleigh, NC.

Prior to watching the movie, Rosie Bolin and her husband, Lee, had already decided to simplify their lives. They were interested in moving out of the suburbs, but it was “Food, Inc.” that became the catalyst for the move.

Seeing the cruelty occurring on factory farms in our nation’s industrialized food system made an impression on the couple. So did GMOs.

So they did their research, joined a local homesteading meet-up group, and moved their family of four to the farm, getting much of their materials for free from Craigslist.

Bolin says, “We started very slowly, adding just one type of farm animal at a time. Our first was a bull calf. Because Holsteins are primarily dairy cows, we found that buying young bulls is very inexpensive. Ours was only $75. Grass feeding is pretty much free, so that has been an amazing return on investment.”

Next came the goats, which were also fairly inexpensive or free on Craigslist. After goats came chickens, which are kept in fully-enclosed tractors and moved every two weeks so they are both protected from predators and have constant access to fresh grass.

As for gardens, Bolin says, “We were way too ambitious and planted two acres of everything. We didn’t have irrigation (other than me with a hose), so I ended up watering, by hand, for two hours every night during one of the hottest, driest summers in North Carolina history.” She says their big lesson was to shift to a lower-impact, higher-yield method, so they’re moving most of the crops to aquaponics.

This year they plan to start selling eggs. They’re also creating educational trails so people can view and learn about the various animals. Because they’ve been inspired by the changes that their family has made, they are anxious to share their experience with others.

To follow their journey, visit them on the Road to Simplicity on Facebook.

GMO Alfalfa: A Lose-Lose Situation

A hot topic in the news you may have heard about recently is the deregulation of Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready alfalfa, which shows the Obama Administration’s lack of support for small farmers and food system reform.

What this means is that genetically modified organism (GMO) alfalfa has the ability to contaminate both conventional and organic alfalfa fields. For conventional growers, contamination prevents them from exporting because many markets outside the U.S. won’t accept GMO crops. For organic farmers–especially dairy and beef–contamination of alfalfa can make it difficult to find GMO-free feed, which is a requirement under organic rules.

While USDA Secretary Vilsack had suggested a “co-existence plan” requiring geographic buffers between fields planted with GMO alfalfa and conventional or organic fields, the compromise was reportedly overruled by the White House.

I subscribe to emails from Michael Pollan, which is where I first heard the news about the GMO alfalfa. Pollan claims, “In my view, Round-Up Ready alfalfa is a bad solution to a non-existent problem. Alfalfa is a perennial grass that doesn’t suffer from serious weed problems. In fact, ninety-three percent of alfalfa fields receive no herbicide at all. Which I suppose is fortunate for any farmers who plant GMO alfalfa, since Round-Up itself is well on its way to obsolescence, as weeds resistant to the herbicide proliferate around the country; I’m told that farmers in Iowa are already having to resort to hand-weeding to control weeds that no longer respond. So why is the Administration willing to risk damage to both organic and conventional agriculture to promote such an unnecessary product? Ask President Obama.”

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), said, “We’re disappointed with the USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice. The USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”

The CFS sent an open letter to Secretary Vilsack, calling on the USDA to base its decision on sound science and the interests of farmers, and to avoid rushing the process to meet the marketing timelines or sales targets of Monsanto, Forage Genetics, or other entities.

Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies

There’s a little project I’ve been working on during the past six months with a few good and talented friends. And because many of my blog readers suffer from food allergies–or live with people who suffer from them–I thought I’d share the fruits of our labor: I just published my first cookbook and it’s called Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies.

In the last several years that I’ve lived with Bill, who is allergic to wheat, cow dairy, and corn, I learned how many unnecessary ingredients are in processed food. I also learned how to make substitutions for the foods he can’t eat: bread, milk, butter, tortillas, most cereals, waffles, cookies, crackers, yoghurt, ice cream, cheeses from cows, breadcrumbs, semolina pasta–and even regular ketchup–just to name a few.

Adapting and creating recipes–many of which are posted on this blog–simply became a fun challenge as I cooked in the kitchen. So I thought: Why not share the recipes with people who suffer from food allergies? Then others can see how easy it is to make delicious meals without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

If you’re interesting in buying your own copy of Nothing to Sneeze At, please visit Lulu.com. I hope it offers hope and inspiration for those who suffer from allergies at the table!

Prime Rib for the Holidays

When you get a mixed quarter of a cow from Lubbers Farm, the butcher asks how you want the ribs—ribeye or prime rib? Bill and I opted for prime rib. Just once a year, I love making roast beef. It’s usually around the holidays…either Christmas Eve or New Year’s. This year, I made it for Christmas Eve.

I followed this recipe from Bon Appetit: Rib Roast with Thyme-Mustard Jus. One reason I picked this recipe is because it’s so easy. I’ve been pretty busy lately and needed some simplicity in my life.

Since we don’t have honey-Dijon mustard, I made my own by combining Grey Poupon Dijon mustard with one teaspoon of unfiltered honey, purchased locally from J & J Bee Service in Gobles, Michigan. (I picked this up earlier in the summer at the Holland Farmers Market.)

You just mix the mustard and honey together with fresh thyme, which I found in my local grocery store. It’s from a farm called Michigan Fine Herbs in Shelby, Michigan, which produces organic herbs.

Then you rub the mustard-honey-thyme marinade on the beef.

Roast the meat for about an hour and 15 minutes. Then let it rest on a platter, covered with foil.

Meanwhile, pour some dry white wine in the roasting pan and deglaze the pan to make the jus. There’s not much grease from this cut of meat because grass-fed beef is much leaner than feedlot meat.

We enjoyed our roast beef with potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper and roasted in the oven along with the meat.

Happy Christmas!

The Ongoing Debate: Grass-Fed or Corn-Fed Beef?

Here’s a video of Fox Business host John Stossel analyzing the environmental benefits of grass-fed and corn-fed beef. To debunk the “food myth”–as he calls it–that grass-fed beef is better, he interviews Dr. Jude Capper from Washington State University, who claims she has researched this issue and that corn-fed beef is actually better for the environment because feedlot cows live shorter lives and are therefore a more productive commodity. She claims they actually have a smaller carbon footprint, too. (Check out my blog post from January, 2010, supporting the claim that grass-fed cows are actually carbon-negative.)

But the issue isn’t only an environmental one, which makes Stossel look pretty narrow-minded in this video. Healthcare and animal welfare are big pieces of the meat pie that he simply ignores when it comes to choosing grass-fed over corn-fed beef. While emphasizing the high price of grass-fed beef, he never acknowledges the impact of feedlot meat on people’s health–a cost that all of us pay for long-term. Nor does he address the long-term effect of feedlot cesspools on the environment.

Check out the video as well as Animal Welfare Approved Andrew Gunther’s recent blog post in The Huffington Post. Do you think Stossel has a convincing argument?

Stocking Up for Winter: One Mixed Quarter of Grassfed Beef

I get lots of questions when I tell people Bill and I buy our meat in bulk. How much does it cost? Where do you get it? What’s the process? Where do you store it?

So I thought I’d share our beef purchasing experience with you since today’s the day I picked up our quarter of a cow and stored it in our freezer.

First of all, all farmers have their own process, but in general, you put in an order for meat way in advance, paying a small deposit, so they can raise your animal. In our case, last March we ordered beef, pork, and lamb from Lubbers Farm, which we visited last fall (in Grand Rapids, Michigan) so we could learn where and how the animals were raised. We were pleased with what we saw.

To find a farm that raises pastured animals where you live you can search on EatWild.com.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Mike at Mike’s Deer Processing in Allendale, Michigan. He said our cow was going to be slaughtered soon so he wanted to take our order for processing. That means answering questions like “Ground beef or stew meat?” “How many steaks per package?” “How many pounds per rump roast?” It does help to have an idea of the cuts of meat a butcher is referring to before having the conversation, so if you need a reference there are many charts and posters available online. But butchers are really good at walking you through the process.

So what’s a mixed quarter? Picture a cow (see above). If you want half a cow, you get all the parts on one side of the animal (not the front end or back end), but if you only want a quarter you would sacrifice certain cuts if you took the front right quarter or the rear left quarter. That’s why it’s called a “mixed” quarter, so everyone who’s buying quarters from the same cow gets an even distribution of the different cuts. It all fit into two boxes in the back of my car.

We chose to get a lot of ground beef because Bill makes a mean grassfed beef burger.

Everyone always asks, how much do you pay per pound? That’s because most of us have been raised to consider cost first on anything we buy. But for Bill and me, we draw the line at food. So here’s the breakdown for the beef:

One mixed quarter of beef: $336.60 (includes $20 kill fee)
Butcher’s processing fee: $87.80
Deposit paid in March: $25 
Total: $449.40

Up front, that’s a lot of money. If you divide the total by the 113 lbs. of beef we received, it costs $3.98 per pound. That’s still a lot of money from many points of view.

But think of it this way: While our ground beef may have cost $3.98 per pound, so did our prime rib, chuck roasts, short ribs, rump roast, t-bones, sirloins, and porterhouse steaks. And in the long run, that’s good for our health because we know we’re eating healthy, grassfed meat, locally raised without stress, hormones, or antibiotics. So we might have fewer trips to the doctor’s office as a result. Plus, we don’t eat beef every day. We vary our meals with vegetarian options so the meat lasts quite awhile.

Where do we store 113 pounds of beef? In our 11-cubic-foot upright freezer in the basement (sort of like this one), along with the soon-to-come half a pig, whole lamb, and various chickens. It’s a bit smaller than those huge chest freezers that most people buy. We like an upright one for ergonomic reasons.

If you don’t have room for a freezer or a big enough kitchen freezer, consider these options:

  • Store the meat at a friend’s or neighbor’s home and give them a roast or two for the favor.
  • Share the meat among a group of people.
  • Make room in the basement or garage by getting rid of that old rusty MG convertible that you’ll never drive and don’t have time to fix.

Hopefully, this information sheds a little light on how to buy grassfed beef from a local farmer. For more information about the benefits of grassfed meat, check out the NRDC’s Top Ten Reasons to Eat Grassfed Meat.

Cargill Settles with Stephanie Smith

Remember the story I posted about Stephanie Smith, the young woman who became sick from E. coli after simply eating a hamburger?

The Huffington Post reports that she has reached a settlement with Cargill. Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, Cargill will provide for Smith’s care throughout her life. The 23-year old former dance instructor was left paralyzed, with cognitive problems and kidney damage, after an E. coli infection led to kidney failure, causing seizures. She was was kept in a medically induced coma for three months.

The story, which has been followed by The New York Times, prompted Congress to demand better enforcement of food safety laws. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has promised to step up efforts to fight E. coli contamination. And Cargill has invested more than $1 billion in meat science research and new food safety technologies to eliminate E. coli and other sources of food-borne illnesses.

This is great news for Stephanie–that she’s getting the care she deserves after such a tragic incident. And, it’s got the attention of the government as well as the company that’s responsible. But is this just a Band-aid approach?

To me, a major root cause of meat contamination is feedlot meat. But moving away from factory farming might put Cargill out of business. And I guess the government doesn’t want that to happen, does it? Instead, the government has beefed up their education techniques toward keeping food safe, especially ground beef.

So many contamination issues would be resolved if people purchased grassfed meat from their local farmer. Learn more about the the benefits of grassfed meat from this primer. It could be a matter of life or death.