Educating for the Future

Educating kids is one of my greatest passions, and when you can educate them about beef – well, that just makes it all the more special!  From mentoring 4-H projects to going in the classroom, you can certainly count me in!  Did you know that the last real interaction and learning experience most people have with agriculture is in First or Second grade?

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When I went back to Arizona this past month, I organized a Beef Demo Day, in which we had the Sonoita-Elgin Elementary students come to our “Ranch” and learn about cattle.  Grades K-6 were alive with energy and very excited to get to see and touch real, live cattle.  I organized 5 different stations that covered a variety of topics about beef.

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Dressing up as a “Calf”

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At the first station, students talked about how cows are different from kids.  Long tails to swat flies, rough tongues for grabbing grass, and thick hides to protect them from the elements were some of the differences noted.

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The next stations talked in depth about the aspects of showing cattle and the duties of a cowboy or cowgirl and their horse on a cattle ranch!

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Finally, students were able to touch different feedstuffs and learn about why we feed cattle those things before making their own “Cow Chow Snack” to eat.

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Mackenzie Kimbro – AZ Beef Ambassador, Carolyn Wemlinger – Nogales River Cowbelles, Sam Donaldson – Area Rancher Extraordinaire, Tiffany Selchow – Arizona Beef Council, Alicia Smith – National Beef Ambassador, Pat Evans – Elgin-Sonoita Cowbelles

Of course, none of this would have been possible without some amazing, and passionate, volunteers!  A huge thanks to them for sharing my love of beef and making sure we educate our future!

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Cinco de Mayo Festivities!

Howdy Friends!

As many of you know, this past Tuesday was Cinco de Mayo!  I hope everyone celebrated with beef; I know that I did!  And it gave me a great excuse to take a break from studying for finals and kick back with a great friend and some awesome Mexican food!

My friend Logan and I had our own little party, which involved my mom’s recipe for enchiladas, homemade salsa and tacky Fiesta music.  We laughed, enjoyed dinner and had a fantastic time!  Now, my mom’s enchiladas are a winning recipe, and definitely a family favorite!  I would love to share them with y’all, so here goes!

Rolled Green Chile Beef Enchiladas

Meat Mixture

  • Hamburger
  • Minced Onion
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper
  • Green Chiles (we use Hatch Chiles we roast ourselves)

Brown meat with seasoning added to your liking.

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Green Chile Sauce

  • 1 Can Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/4 Sour Cream
  • Green Chiles to taste

Heat ingredients until they are combined.

Coat bottom of pan with Green Chile Sauce.  Portion some meat mixture into a tortilla, add cheese and then roll.  Place rolled tortilla into pan, continue until the pan is full.  Top with remaining sauce and extra cheese.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until heated through and cheese is bubbly!

“These enchiladas were the best I’ve ever had, and I generally don’t like enchiladas.  I never knew how scrumptious ground beef could be in this wonderful Mexican dish!”

-Logan

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

The Show Ring

“You do what to those cattle?!”  This is a phrase I’ve often heard when explaining to consumers about the show cattle side of beef production. They are often surprised that we not only bathe cattle, but blow dry, clip, condition and work hair on these animals, let alone put them on a halter and show them!

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My first heifer, Bella, inspired me to keep raising cattle and start my own cattle company

 

Not every producer is involved in showing, but there are some that make a living out of raising show cattle, and others that just want to occasionally showcase the quality of the animals they breed.  Still others are involved through youth programs like 4-H and FFA that teach members about raising these animals and often inspire them to pursue careers within the beef field.

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FFA helped me to develop my own start-up company, Ace Club Calves. We now exhibit our own cattle and have done well.

 

I’ll be very honest when I say that I would not be here if it weren’t for programs like 4-H and FFA.  I am a product of the show industry.  It is where I found my passion for cattle and learned innovative ways to raise them.  Without showing, I know that I would have never taken an interest in beef cattle nor found the passion I have for representing and advocating for this amazing group of people and their livelihoods.

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Making a bond with your calf is an important part of showing. Remmy was a very special calf that I truly enjoyed

 

The show industry is a great program in which youth can be exposed to raising cattle and what it takes to do so, and helps them to earn a little money that they can either save or spend as they please.  It teaches responsibility, commitment, compassion and accountability through having an animal rely on you to care for it.  Success in the show ring only comes if you work hard and do things the best way possible.  You have to ensure that you and your animal have a mutual respect and love for each other if you are going to get anywhere.

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

Beyond the amazing qualities it helps to develop, some of my best friends have been made around the show ring.  There is just something about sitting in the bleachers watching cattle shows, or helping on another to clip or fit an animal that creates an inseparable bond.  Though we are all from different parts of the country, I know that I can rely on my show friends to always be there if I need advice or assistance.

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Gourmet Beef At Home – Dry Aging

When I was in Washington D.C., I had the pleasure of dining with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association at the famous, “Capital Grille.”  At this wonderful establishment fit for senators, there were lots of premium beef selections, including dry aged steaks.  Since someone else was footing the bill, I decided to try one out and see what all the fuss was about.  And let me tell you, I am ruined for life.  That was some of the most tender and flavorful beef I have EVER had.

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Meat dry ages in a controlled environment

 

Dry aging is an art which beef is left in special rooms for several weeks and the moisture contained within the beef is allowed to evaporate and the natural enzymes break down the muscle fibers even further.   The temperature and humidity within these rooms must be carefully controlled so that the meat does not spoil.   All beef is wet aged, which means allowing it to hang in refrigerated rooms for a few days before being boxed and sold.

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An outer crust forms on the cut

 

This method of dry aging allows the beef flavor to intensify and results in a perfectly tender cut.  During the process, the outside of the meat develops a fungal crust, which is trimmed off before it is prepared.  Due to the length of time it takes to perform this process, the price also rises significantly; however, I have discovered that you can dry age your beef right in your own home quite easily!

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103 Rib

To age at home, you will need a large cut of beef, preferably a primal.  Aging individual steaks does not work because after a week, the steak is entirely dried out.  A great cut to start with, and one that ribeyes are cut from, is a 103 rib.  Also, the greater amount of fat on the outside, the better!  This protects the delicious parts from drying out as quickly!  It is then recommended you place it in a special fridge at about 40 degrees fahrenheit, and place a fan to circulate air within it (a desk fan works great).  Then, allow the meat to age for approximately 21-30 days.

 

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Removing the crust is essential before the meat can be prepared!

 

 

Before you can cook it, you will need to remove the outer crust, which is the molded and dried parts of the meat.  It is now ready for you to enjoy!  Here is a longer article on how to dry age beef http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/03/the-food-lab-complete-guide-to-dry-aging-beef-at-home.html.

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia   

Restaurant Quality Steak Anyone?

I don’t know about y’all, but I LOVE to go out to a restaurant for a good filet or strip steak!  There is just something about the way they were prepared that I wasn’t able to accomplish at home…UNTIL NOW!

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Believe it or not, you can make this right at home quite easily!

 

Being a bit of a pyrophobic (grills generally have scary flames), and the fact I live in an apartment, meant I didn’t get to eat steaks as much as I would have liked.  Then, I discovered the Two Step Method of cooking steaks, and my life was forever changed!  Now, I can have my filet and eat it too, all within the confines of my safe, flameless kitchen!

Cooking beef using this method is ridiculously simple and gives you lots of room for error.  First, you thaw your chosen cut and season it as you like.  I used Bodacious Red Soppin’ Sauce, Salt and Pepper.  While you are seasoning, get a skillet on the stove and crank it to medium high heat until it is nice and hot.  Using a pair of tongs, place the steak in the pan and allow the outside to sear for approximately 2-3 minutes per side.  I also throw a little butter in the pan, because let’s be honest, a little butter never hurt anybody!

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Once your steak is caramelized and seared on the outside, transfer it to an oven safe dish and put it into a preheated 350 degree oven.  Now, here’s the real magic.  Step away.  Let the oven do all the work!  The thickness of your cut will determine when it is done, so I use a meat thermometer to ensure it is just the way I like it.  Make sure to pull your steak out of the oven when it is about 5 degrees below your target doneness.  Allow it to rest, and it will finish cooking and reach the perfect internal temperature.

This is an easy and fool-proof way to make restaurant quality steaks right at home!  Make one for just yourself, or wow your guests with your awesome culinary skills!  If I can do this, I promise you can too!

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Beef All Around the World

Did you know that U.S. beef is being exported to countries around the world because of it’s commitment to quality and safety?  U.S. Beef is in hot demand and helps to add over $300 per head in value to that carcass!  In fact, in 2014 alone, exports set a value record of $7.13 Billion.

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So where is all the delicious beef product headed?  Well, Japan is our number one consumer, followed Mexico, Canada, the Middle East, China and South Korea.  Just last year, exports to Japan were valued at $1.58 billion with Japan having lifted its cattle age limit from 21 months to 30 months old.  Each of these markets has their own concerns and demands, and we are careful to help create a product to not only meet and exceed domestic demands, but foreign, as well!

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U.S. Beef making a splash in Japanese Markets!

 

You might be wondering why we don’t keep this beef to ourselves and not drive up the price in our own domestic markets, but I am pleased to tell you the majority of our exports are actually organ meats or other products U.S. consumers don’t want.  Instead of throwing these away, we now can make a profit off of them and help to keep muscle meat prices lower, and most importantly, increase our sustainability!  Over 90% of the liver, heart and kidney by-products of beef harvest are sent to the Middle East, Mexico and South America.  Egypt is our #1 consumer of liver, in fact, they take nearly all of it!  Stomach and intestine products make their way to Mexico and Southeast Asia to be cooked in traditional meals such as menudo.  Rib Fingers and Hanging Tenders, both products the U.S. consumer does not desire on a large scale, are in high demand in Northeast Asia, along with short ribs.

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Oven Roasted U.S. Beef Liver. Find the recipe here : https://www.usmef.org/international-markets/recipes/oven-roasted-u-s-beef-liver/

 

Exports are a valuable part of American beef production, and are continuing to show their usefulness.  It is also a source of pride for not only me, but for all U.S. Beef producers, that our product is demanded across the far reaches of the globe due to the standards we pride ourselves on!  If you desire to find out more, visit www.usmef.org!

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

10 Facts About Beef

Did You Know?

1. On every dollar, only 20 cents goes to the farmer!

2.  97% of Farms are Family Owned!

Monty Rey and my Dad

A Family Business

3.  The Average cow herd size in the U.S. is only 40 Cows!

4. The U.S. produces 20% of the world’s beef supply with only 7% of the cows!

5. There are half as many ranchers as there were 30 years ago, but they are feeding double the population!

6. The average age of farmers and ranchers is 65!

Lamb Family

7. Ranching and Farming isn’t a rich business – 75% of all U.S. Farms make less than $50,000 per year

8.  Beef Production accounts for only 2.8% of greenhouse gas emissions

9. A 3 ounce serving of beef provides 50% of your daily value of protein!

10. The cattle industry is rigorously monitored to make sure your product is the safest in the world!

The Herd enjoying the shade and pasture

5 People You Didn’t Know Owned Cattle

Take a moment, close your eyes, and conjure an image of what you think a rancher looks like.  Think about the sex of your character, their stature, the way they talk, the clothes they wear and what they are doing.  If I had to guess, this is something along the line of what you pictured:

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The person you are thinking of is most likely male, wears Wrangler Jeans, Chaps and scuffed up boots.  He sits upon his horse, lasso in hand, wearing a dirty button up shirt and dusty hat.  This man might have a fashionable handlebar mustache and probably talks with a southern accent.  He might “guffaw” and spit, too.

Now, let’s try another exercise.  Out of the pictures below, can you pick out the rancher?

 

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You probably picked out the dashing fellow in the lower left.  While Mr. Dean Fish is a terrific friend of mine and even better cattleman, he is not the winner in this contest.  All the photos above are cattlemen and women.  We like to travel, explore and have fun just as much as anyone!

  • TL: Rachel visiting France on her study abroad trip
  • TR: Alicia having trouble pinning the flowers on her prom date
  • Middle: Kalyn and her family enjoying a cruise
  • BL: Dean Fish at a Cattlemen’s Conference
  • BR: Will spending time in Ghana

Appearances can be deceiving, and beef cattle producers seem to be masters of disguise!  It is important to remember they are no different than you and I.  They have families, get nervous over school dances, worry about bills, enjoy vacations and most importantly take part in community activities.  They are not only men, but we have a growing population of women ranchers, as well as youth!

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

 

 

 

Calving Season is Here!

Around the country, and at my own operation, calving season is beginning!  Producers usually time-breed their animals so that they will all calve out within a two month period, reducing labor costs and ensuring a uniform calf crop!

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“Little Miss Sass”

 

 

Calving season means two things – lots of excitement and very little sleep!  When it comes down to the week that my cow is due, we watch her carefully for signs of calving – swishing tails, discomfort, mucus, and filling of her udder.  If we see all these signs, we know that she is close to having her calf and will probably calve out within 48 hours!  We get up every few hours every night to make sure she isn’t having any trouble if she does start.  Making sure our cows and calves are healthy and happy is top priority for all producers!

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A full Udder, Restlessness and Mucus around the tail are indicators a calf is coming soon!

 

After she calves, we separate our cow into a different pen to make sure she gets plenty to eat and her calf isn’t bullied by the other cows.  Not all operations do this, but because we are so small, it’s possible for us!  We check to make sure the calf is nursing, as it needs to receive all the “good stuff” such as immunoglobulins, and easily digestible nutrients contained in colostrum.  If the weather is bad, we will make sure that the calf is warm and mom and baby have shelter to stay out of the storm.  It is very important to make sure the cow has easy access to water, as she will be very thirsty and tired after the long process of calving.  The most important part though is to make sure everyone is doing okay and then to leave the cow alone.  We want her to bond with her baby and not cause her any stress.

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Our cow wanted to make sure the camera was safe to have around her calf!

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Receiving colostrum is important to the future growth potential and immune system of that calf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, we eartag our calves for identification purposes and give them another once over to make sure they are still nursing and look healthy.  Calving season is one of my favorite times of the year!  Spending time with the babies (given that Momma is okay with this) is lots of fun, and for show cattle is an integral part of making them good show calves later on in life.

 

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Spending time with calves ensures they are used to humans and being handled

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Taking selfies with Ms. Elsie a.k.a. “The Princess of Everything”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Heart of Beef,

 

Alicia 

 

 

 

The New Hamburger Helper

Hamburger is always a great beef product to reach for when you are short on time, but still want a savory and fulfilling meal. But, just like you, sometimes I get tired of just a plain burger with cheese (and lettuce and tomato for those that like vegetables!) on a bun. Here’s some great recipes I found to easily kick up your burger and turn it into a delicious culinary creation:

 

Green Chile Burger

This is my go to burger – it’s a family recipe full on flavor, low on time and hassle!

  • Diced Green Chiles (I use Hatch chilies that we roast ourselves)
  • Heinz 57
  • Season with McCormick Hamburger Seasoning
  • Served on a toasted bun

 

YW0302H_cheese-stuffed-burgers-recipe_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeCheese Stuffed Burger

Who doesn’t love gooey cheese in the middle of their burger?!

 

Best Ever Grilled Burger

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Down Home Burger

RU182385.jpg.rendition.largest.ssA little taste of the south!

 

From the Heart of Beef and Happy Cooking!

Alicia Smith