Tag Archives: United States

cooking at home versus fast food

It this really busy world where women and men are out working, being parents, playing sports, being on committees and numerous other roles unmentioned in this blog. There is always that nagging feeling when coming to the end of the working day, even if you do not work in paid employment after a day working, it comes to about 4pm and your mind starts thinking about the dreaded chore of preparing the evening meal. Remember the ‘frustrated Chef‘ from ‘Sesame Street’ well cooking daily makes me feel like this

There is no speech by your parents when you grow up about how laborious this chore is, yes they talk about sex, making babies, financial responsibilities and school and growing up but my mother never told me how this could be the worst chore ever invented and how necessary it is to daily functions. My mother also never told me how frustrating it is when you ask people in the house what do they want to dinner and have responses like “anything as long as I’m with you” as nice as it sounds it’s a cop-out. In Australian language that means I have no idea and I’m not prepared to offer any suggestions, this is frustrating to say the least, or what would be nice occasionally is to have someone say, “I know” and get up and prepare it and present it themselves.

We sit and watch shows like ‘Masterchef‘, ‘My Restaurant Rules‘, Huey’s kitchen and every other ‘lifestyle’ program has a cooking segment on it and we (pardon the pun) devour these shows, in my case I love some of the dishes and want to see who wins, that’s the competitive nature in me coming out there. But sometimes these dishes they don’t relate to normal life do they? Who really has the time (other than paid contestants) to spend 5 hours preparing meals? Not me I could not think of anything more boring. Preparing and presenting a perfectly cooked meal, consuming it and then CLEANING up.

There are some days when I think, can’t I just go and buy dinner? I live where there is no identifiable (no golden arches) fast food places within 150kms or in American terms 93.20 miles so when I do feel like this I rely on the trusty freezer, to have meat, oven fires and frozen vegetables and normally use this opportunity to do a mixed grill, rump, fillet or lamb chops which I will crumb, eggs from our chooks, sausages either our beef or lamb, then bread cooked in our bread maker and frozen oven fries cooked in the oven. This really is our choice, I don’t keep frozen ‘fast foods‘ like hash browns or others, these can be high in fat and salt.

But sometimes just sometimes I would love someone to come in and cook and clean. The last time farmer was out for dinner I cooked a microwave bag of popcorn and ate that, nothing else but white wine with it. When we travel to the city to see family and friends it normally is for a celebration so food is part of this shared experience, I have a family of cookers, they bring salads, hot vegetables, desserts and we cook either a leg of lamb or roast some of our beef. There is nothing nicer, but if we dine out, I note farmer goes for the seafood or steak, I normally go the steak option, it is just nice to have food prepared and presented to you. We also like Asian foods which I also cook when I feel I have time, but overall home cooking is always much more flavor some and healthy for you than ‘fast foods’ but for the convenience fast foods will win this mental trauma every time and this is back by the statistics, people would rather drive through than shop in.

My advice, find a great fresh home delivery company that will bring fresh fruit, produce and meat to your door, plan your meals so that you only order what you know you are going to eat. This will help reduce the high calories intake and save you from opening your purse. Put that money towards a long desired holiday where, when you get it you can PAY someone to cook what you want and clean up.

frustrated chef

Is Organic better than Grassfed?

We are hearing the terms ‘organic’, grass-fed, ‘free range‘ and feed lots lately and in relation to cattle, sheep, pork & chicken. Do you have any idea what this means and have you wondered why it affects you and should you change your purchasing meat requirements to go organic? This is a question I get asked a lot, are you ‘organic’ – no we are ‘grass-fed’ you can not claim to be something that you are not without implications.

Organic is what it says it is, these producers must adhere to strict standards including not using antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering; they must adhere to certain soil and water conservation methods; and to rules about the humane treatment of animals. Certified organic producers are audited and inspected annually and are subject to surprise inspections to ensure compliance with the strict guidelines. “Organic” and “Natural” don’t mean the same thing. Organic producers work hard to produce quality meat whilst sticking to these strict standards, it also costs them a lot of money to have the herd, flock or mobs or animals certified, in setting an enterprise up like this all animals and property need to be assessed and maintained in this permanent state to maintain the certification, both here (Australia) and in the US.

All products that come off that property will then have the rights to label it ‘organic’, it does not mean however that animal has spent all of its life in pasture, it means that they had access to pastures, not given hormones, no antibiotics or injections. Their diet is based upon naturally occurring grasses, hay and can be given a percentage of grain which also has to be certified organic. Some producers feed their animals significant amounts of grain, a proven way to speed their growth and increase milk production. The more grain in a ruminant’s diet, however, the lower the amount of omega-3, CLA, vitamin E and beta carotene in their products.

It has been said for optimal nutrition, it’s got to be grass-fed. By this it is taken to mean, the naturally occurring grasses limiting gain feeding, that will grow within that specific region, under climatic conditions of the area (not introduced) and on properties that have limited human access. This means, humans walking from one property to another getting dirt & seeds on shoes and they become planted accidentally. If the animal needs a supplement say of hay then it is best to try to buy from within your region so that they still are getting the natural nutrition or grow and cut your own (which is what we do) Raising cattle and sheep on grass, boosts the beef’s level of a conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in beef, lamb and dairy products. Over the past two decades, numerous health benefits have been attributed to CLA in animals, including a reduction in cancer, heart disease, onset of diabetes and accumulation of body fat.

What does free range mean? this relates to the captivity status of the animal such as with chickens that are kept in cages against chickens that are allowed to wander over a substantial grassed area so they scratch and peck at the naturally occurring food sources, not just grain, barley and seeds with human feed scraps. For larger animals this means the same, not kept in close proximity to each other as in feed  lots , but are able to walk through paddocks that are fenced purely to keep stock from swapping properties. To not be free range does not mean this is bad, neither does feed lots, it puts a different finish on the taste and quality of the meat.

For those wanting to know if you get a tough piece of meat, be it beef or lamb, it can be because the animal was stressed at slaughter or that the butcher has carved against the grain. This will be another topic for later in the week. Regardless, buy meat for protein and pleasure and get the most you can out of the hard work of all producers, ask your butcher, check the labelling and most off all enjoy.

Maintaining animal health in trying weather conditions

Everyday we read the papers, drought in the USA, floods in the tropics, minimal rainfall in parts of Australia and well I don’t think I have ever met a farmer who has no interest in the weather. I know we do and I never considered really what climatic conditions do until I married a farmer in the Upper South East of South Australia. I don’t know how many times I had to ask why the yearly average rainfall was important and what was ours… 17 inches. Rain is still talked about in inches despite Australia being metric.

My husband is second generation farmer who loves the land, loves the animals and well it is his passion and hobby. He is not happy unless he is fixing something, doing something, mending fences, planting trees, painting equipment and cleaning up around stock yards, sheds and the house. His pride in his ‘work’ is only matched by his knowledge of the property we own 5000 acres or 2023.428 hectares of land. He plants crop and we have Angus Cattle and Dorper sheep, which currently I am bottle feeding twin brothers whose mother died and they sit or sleep touching each other. I can not guarantee they will not be sold for meat but the level of comfort and care they receive is a testament to my husbands caring for his animals. They now live in my 1 acre or .404 hectare vegetable garden, but the concern is that we are going into a dry period. Ben is facing the camera.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I won’t talk about climate change as we have over 60 years of rainfall records kept by his father and now him and the average hasn’t changed and some years it’s less or more, we are not seeing what the ‘experts’ are saying so I will leave this topic alone. What we are seeing and hearing is the cry of animals looking for food so we are buying hay to feed them. We do not feed lot – that is place them in a confined area and feed them grain, this is not part of our practice and takes away our grass-fed status. Animals that eat from pastures are getting a more balanced and nutritious diet thus making the meat of the cattle tender and tastier. If you think about it, natural pastures in our part of the world include veldt grass, rye grass, clover and planted Lucerne whereas a feedlot or grain fed cattle get barley or wheat or a mixture of grain to sustain their diet. This also goes for lambs.

How do we looking at our dry pastures keep feeding the animals to maintain a healthy weight range and balance to sustain the herd? Well we purchase hay from other farms and every second day he loads hay and takes it to the animals in the different areas of our property they reside. We are waiting for rain and a break in the season so that the native vegetation begins to grow which will help the land rejuvenate and animals settle back to not looking for the Ute and trailer piled high with hay

 

Valentine’s Hit or Miss

Well don’t all the best laid plans go astray?? There I was so proud of my pre planning and purchasing of condiments and all things for dinner, I even bought nice smelling candle and outdoor candle holder (lucky that was) All I needed to do about 6pm was defrost the rump steak, it was all going well till 4pm when we had a 40 mils or 1.5 inches of rain which was desperately needed to replenish the rain water tanks that had been drained at the property fire in December – but what it did do as well was cut the power from 6pm..

What to do, complete the prep in daylight, prepare all the candles in the house and ready the table so by nightfall nothing to do other than defrost the meat. I go to the freezer pull out the rump – it is dark so torches and candle light are what I am using to see things light the BBQ. We have one of the modern ones which have a rack above the plate and the hood closes – great place to defrost meat in a blackout.

But how to cook the oysters, I abandoned the idea of natural with lime and wasabi so I go the cooked option of Kilpatrick and I have horseradish dip, wasabi and parmesan cheese. I place all of the oysters on the rack and close the lid, the plate is warm so I place the steak which is now scotch fillet (didn’t pick rump in the dark) and the cut bacon (for oysters on the plate to cook slowly). I cover 6 with Kilpatrick sauce and the other six with horseradish dip, a dob of wasabi & parmesan cheese close the lid and let cook for 5 minutes. I take the scotch fillet off and place in al foil in the BBQ on the unlit plate and put all the oysters combined onto another plate and serve.

We have candle light every where but it is hot, humid and dark. There are bugs falling into the candle and all the cats (we have 3 cats) come out to join us. The dogs (we have 3 working dogs) are placed in their kennels and Pete the Golden retriever lies on the ground panting. The Oysters with a glass of ‘sparkling’ are beautiful and we enjoy them together. We pull the salad bowl close and he cuts the mouth-watering meat places it into the salad and I add the dressing (check recipes for details) We argue as he wants to keep the thin layer of fat on the meat and add it to the salad I want to feed it to Pete, I win, Pete gets a treat and I pour the juice from the meat into the Thai sauce I made before pouring it onto the salad, More bubbles and food to be followed up by strawberries & dipping chocolate.

Sadly earlier that day I realised I had left the strawberries in a fridge in town and it being a 300 km one way trip I hope they enjoyed them, I have peaches and nectarines so I cut them and we eat them. Perfect outdoor picnic by candle light and great company for valentine’s day.

For my American friends who are now asking what is Scotch Fillet? In Australia & New Zealand it is known as Scotch Fillet out of these countries it is known as Rib Eye or ribeye steak obviously from the rib section. A rib steak is a beef steak sliced from the rib primal of a beef animal, with rib bone attached. In the United States, the term rib eye steak is used for a rib steak with the bone removed; however in some areas, and outside the U.S., the terms are often used interchangeably. The rib eye or “ribeye” was originally, as the name implies, the center best portion of the rib steak, without the bone.

In Australia, “ribeye” is used when this cut is served with the bone in. With the bone removed, it is called a “Scotch fillet” instead.

It is one of the more flavorful cuts of beef, due to the muscle getting a lot of exercise during its life, unlike the tenderloin. Its marbling of fat makes this very good for slow roasting and it also goes well on a grill cooked to any degree. The meat when fresh is pinkish red and very tender, it is hard to ‘ruin’ this cut but over cooking can make it tough and tasteless, the trick is to grill each side for 5 minutes or more cover in aluminium foil to let it rest for up to 5 minutes, there should be juices in the aluminium foil when opened even if you like it well done.

scotch fillet

 

Food Choices

After traveling in the USA for the last 2 weeks, and having the taste buds of a meat connoisseur, seeing as we produce grass-fed beef and lamb, I was expecting the food would be much the same as in Australia. Especially as I was traveling to New York City & Orlando Florida, we all know NYC through sex & the city and any American sitcom. The TV & film characters sit in restaurants and eat what appears to be fantastic food. I was fooled, I was expecting lots of steak, lamb cutlets and quality meals like you get served in Australia.

It didn’t take me long to work out that Americans prepare and serve food for the masses and those masses appear to be the cheap, convenient and ready-made fast food as is the catch cry when talking about America. We had a lovely first night meal at T.G.I Friday’s in their biggest restaurant in New York City on 7th Avenue, I chose the pork BBQ ribs, they were beautifully prepared and mouth-watering, this led me into a false sense of security as it was large and delicious. I only ordered half a serve and this was big enough. There is one of these restaurants in Australia, in fact in my home town at Marion Shopping Centre and they are in other states as well http://www.tgifridays.com.au/find-a-fridays

Americans call them appetizers, we call them Main Meals they are the size of mains and they give you pickles before dinner. You only have to eat these once to reject them every other time :-). I ordered the ribs as I didn’t see steak or lamb of any sort on the menu, lots of hamburgers with cheese. I chose the ribs as they have a less fat content and knowing the size of meals this was a smaller option after having traveling for over 24hrs to get to NYC.

I found a recipe for the ribs which I may try over the weekend, I shall take pictures and post them Written on July 16, 2010 at 5:00 am , by for http://www.betterrecipes.com

BBQ ribs

2 slabs baby back ribs, 3-4 lbs total or 2 kilo

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup chili sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup dark rum

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Wrap each slab in double thickness of aluminum foil and place on a large pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours.  Unwrap and drain drippings.

2.  Return ribs to pan.  Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over ribs, coating each one well.  Marinate at room temperature for 1-2 hours; or cool, cover, and marinate overnight in refrigerator.

3.  When ready to grill, lay ribs above medium-hot coals.  Grill for 30 minutes, turning and basting with sauce about every 10 minutes

ribs-490x411

Angus Beef is best (we are bias)

Angus Beef vs Wagyu Beef

What Is Angus Beef?

Originally developed in Scotland in the late 1700’s, Angus have always been bred purely for the production of highest quality beef indicated by the smooth, close-grained texture, carnation red colour & finely marbled fat within the lean muscle. Angus is now the dominant breed in the major beef producing countries of the world where beef quality is considered all-important. In Australia, Angus is continuing this dominance, winning gold medals in various prestigious beef tasting competitions & carcass competitions across all breeds at Australia’s Royal Agricultural Societies Shows. According to the Angus Cattle Society in 1989 there were only 9227 registered calves now there is over 62,000 registered Angus calves. The first imports from Scotland can be traced back to Tasmania in the 1820’s then the mainland in 1840’s they are now found all over Australia.

They have a good temperament, consistent weight gain & good marbling traits. The Angus Society in the US have one of the longest genetic histories of any breed. Genetics is used simply for selection, not for modification.

What Is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu is a Japanese word – ‘wa’ meaning Japanese and ‘gyu’ meaning cattle. The term ‘Wagyu beef‘ can be applied to meat from any cattle of the Wagyu Breed and was introduced into Australia in 1991. The Wagyu breed is genetically predisposed to intense marbling & produces a higher percentage of unsaturated fat than any other breed of cattle in the world. Australian wagyu cattle are grain fed for the last 300–500 days of production. Wagyu bred in Western Australia’s Margaret River region often have red wine added to their feed as well.

Caloundra Station in the Upper South East of South Australia is second generation breeders of Angus Cattle, Contact us for any information