A blog about food
How Now Brown Cow: How to cook half a heifer
[Vegetarians never fear, recipes and thoughts herein can make do without the beef.]
I believe the conversation went something like:
Him: “Honey, guess what? (no pause) I got us a half a cow today! It really was a deal.”
Setting: boyfriend and boss lady are on a work trip, and have met with a partner, who happens to be a rancher.
Me: “Um, wow. I mean, um, awesome. Wait, where will we put it? Should I carve out some of our north-facing snowbank?”
Oh the optimism of January! Particularly when the sun shines and the temperature smacks you awake by taking your breath away. One overcast, diligent moment several weekends ago, we sat down and put in the work of writing up a household budget. Major conclusions: neither of us is allowed to get sick or miss one hour of employment. AND the grocery spending has to be a smaller number.
Thus, I rallied around my boyfriend’s work trip to eastern Idaho with his boss lady. Might have even sent him off with a “work hard and impress!” comment. Not a single cautionary nag, purely supportive rah-rah. So whether from peer pressure or from ingrained Texan habitudes, I’m not sure what brought out the checkbook to purchase a half a cow. But it happened, and life thus has changed.
Thank goodness our pantry is stocked with over-enthusiastic purchases of other sorts: 20-lb. bags of Jasmine rice from Winco, 25-lb. bags of lentils from Idaho’s Bounty, bulk bags of Quinoa from Costco, etc. The long and short of it is that it’s a great financial savings to buy meat in bulk, but don’t expect to go grocery shopping anytime soon afterwards. Time to get creative with your dry goods and spices.
Curry for breakfast? You bet. Then hot rice salad for lunch. A slab of delicious, spice-rubbed steak for dinner alongside more doctored rice. For you see, after purchasing a side of beef, you must also purchase a chest freezer (and drive to Twin Falls to pick it up). To the tune of another month’s groceries, minimum. You truly will NOT be going to the grocery store.
Here are some recommendations on tasty thrift if ever confronted with such a culinary dilemma yourself.
1. Keep a well-seasoned cabinet: spices including cayenne, ginger, curry, etc. What one might call condiments, including rice vinegar, hot chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, sesame seeds. Grains including rice and quinoa. Legumes such as beans and lentils.
2. Keep storable yet fresh veggies on hand: onions, ginger root, potatoes, garlic, etc.
3. Keep a healthy cooking oil, such as olive, on hand in bulk.
Ultimate Spice mix—for rubbing on meat, or sprinkling into other dishes for extra kick. Get your spices from the bulk foods section at Bellevue’s Atkinsons’ Market. This blend is inspired by Jeff Keys’ “Vintage” cookbook, from the same named restaurant in Ketchum.
2 Tbs. chile powder
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs ground black pepper
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs whole fennel seed
1 Tbs curry powder
1 Tbs whole-leaf thyme
1 Tbs cayenne.
Or try just a simple 1:1 ratio of ground cumin and ground coriander as a rub.
Savory Lunch Rice Bowl – to be made with rice or quinoa; kale or cabbage, etc.
You’ll need: 1 cup Jasmine rice
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbs olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-sized piece ginger root, minced
two good-sized stems kale, 1 medium-sized carrot, grated
salt and pepper. Additional, if you happen to have around: chili garlic sauce; lime, cilantro.
Cook the rice in two cups of water (or broth is you have it. Place rice and water in a metal pot, bring to a boil uncovered, then cover and reduce to a simmer until tender). Set aside.
Heat large sauté pan over medium high heat for a couple minutes. Add ground beef, cook till all brown, remove and set aside. Heat pan again, adding olive oil. When hot, add onion, garlic and ginger. Stir, season with salt and pepper.
After a couple minutes add the stems of the kale, chopped. Stir till they begin to soften, then add the leaf of the kale, chopped. If sticking happens, de-glaze the pan with some rice vinegar or dry white wine. When kale is wilted, add ½ the ground beef and 1/3 the rice to the pan, mix well and heat all. Taste for seasoning.
Portion into two bowls; top with shredded carrot. Use extra ingredients for additional flavors.