California Fires

Smokey sunset

Smokey sunset

This week, I’d like to give a short update on the fires in Northern California, which are currently the largest and most destructive fires in the nation. They are right in my back yard, some less than 15 miles away from my house. Currently, the “July Complex” (which was burning in the he Marble Mountain range that surrounds my valley) has been mostly put out, but burned nearly 50,000 acres, and the “Happy Camp Complex” is still burning. The Happy Camp Complex has now burned around 100,000 acres of wilderness and is only 30% contained. The state and nation have spent nearly $55 million on this fire alone, and there are over 75 crews of firemen on the fire (almost 3,000 firefighters). Though no lives have been lost, hundreds of people have been under evacuation warning and some under mandatory evacuation. Scott Valley (the valley where I live) has been filled with smoke for most of the summer.
Many cattlemen, my family included, send their cattle to the mountains for the summer, and many of those cattle have been in direct danger of the fires. Cattle generally know to stay away from fires and don’t usually burn, but if they’re surrounded, they could have no other option. Naturally, farmers and ranchers with cattle in the mountains have been terrified for the lives of their livestock. Some of our close friends had to go bring their cattle back to the valley prematurely because they were going to be surrounded by fire. The constant threat on the lives of residents and livestock is hard to live with, but the community has responded to this issue with overwhelming support. It’s awesome to see neighbors coming together in a time of crisis.
More information on the fires can be found www.inciweb.nwcg.gov. Keep those in danger and those fighting these fires in your thoughts!

Have a great week,

Emma

 

Rump Roast Recipe

A few days ago, my mom asked me if I would cook dinner for the family. I agreed, but was slightly nervous. What should I cook? Will they like it? Then it hit me: I needed to use beef! Nutritious, delicious, and always a crowd-pleaser (if you call the 5 members of my family a crowd–I do). I went to the grocery store and whipped out my iPhone to check www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com‘s butcher counter for some inspiration and recipes. I scanned the meat options at the grocery store, and saw that a 3 lb rump roast was on sale. Perfect! After consulting the website, I decided to put a rub on it and roast it in the oven. Here’s what I did:

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Some of the rub ingredients

The Rub:

  • 3 tbsp. Garlic Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Dark Roast Coffee
  • 2 tsp. Basil
  • 1 tsp. Ground Celery Seed
  • 3 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper
  •  2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 4 cloves freshly minced garlic
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Notice the thermometer in the side of the roast for a more accurate reading. Yum!

After applying the rub, I wrapped the meat tightly in cling wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 2.5 hours (you can do more than that but that’s all I had time for).  I preheated the oven to 325°F. I read that the correct time to cook meat can roughly be determined by 30min/lb so I put the roast in for 1.5 hours. When it was done, I used an easy-read thermometer to check the temperature. It read 150 so it was just about perfect after that amount of time. I served the roast with diced roasted potatoes and a green salad. The meal was delicious and my family definitely approved! 

The great thing about this recipe was that it took very little preparation and I was able to complete other chores while I was waiting for the rub to settle and the meat to cook. After it was done, I simply cut it thinly into pieces and served it up!

Happy Friday everyone!

 

Emma

Norwegian Agriculture

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Norway with my grandparents and aunt. While it was a leisurely trip (a graduation present from my grandparents), I couldn’t help but notice all the agriculture that was around us throughout our journey. I was very curious as to what Norway’s leading agricultural commodities were, so when I got home I did some research. Norway isn’t known for its agricultural production–in all honestly, Norway is mainly known for being cold and for the fjords (which are outstandingly awesome), but they do have some interesting production methods.

Norwegian Red Cow

Horned Telemark Cow

Fjords of Norway

Agriculture in Norway only accounts for 3% of the annual Gross Domestic Production, and only 2% of the land there is cultivated as farmland (roughly 2,000,000 acres) due to the cold climate and rocky, mountainous terrain. The leading crops in Norway are barley, wheat, oats, and potatoes.  A survey conducted in 2000 showed that there were 2.5 million sheep, 998,000 cattle, and 768,000 hogs in the nation. Over 95% of the farms in Norway are less than 125 acres in size including pastures and meadows. Hiring help is very difficult, mostly because laborers see no long term advantages to working on farms, so many farming families pursue other occupations, such as ones in forestry and fishing.  Two breeds of cattle originated in Norway: Norwegian Red and Telemark. Norwegian Red cattle are used for dairy, and are desirable for their wide range of health and fertility traits. Telemark cattle are also primarily a milking breed, but do not grow to be very large. Though Norway does produce some agricultural products domestically, a majority of their food and ag commodity sources are imported.

I had such a great time in Norway and loved learning about their agricultural production methods. While it’s a beautiful country, I am glad to be home to our ranch in California.

 

Have a great week!

 

Emma

Siskiyou Golden Fair

Displaying photo.JPGThis week (August 5-10) was the week of my county’s fair, the Siskiyou Golden Fair. Though it’s a week of early mornings and late nights, barn duties, carnival rides, concerts, laughter, tears, and deep-fried everything, it serves to provide some of the best memories of my life. I have spent many an hour in the beef barn, broom in hand, greeting fair goers, sweeping shavings, and shooing the occasional kid away who was dared by his friends to “touch one of the cows.” Our fair is local and small, and there are only a handful of 4-H and FFA clubs represented, but the quality of both animals and showmen is, in my opinion, commendable. Many have been showing for years, and some, including myself, have even been there since the years of “pee-wee showmanship,” before they were eligible to sell their animals.

Displaying image.jpegRaising an animal for fair isn’t easy, and it’s something that showmen take pride in when fair rolls around. Fair is the time when young agriculturists can showcase the work they’ve put into their projects–and believe me, it’s a lot of work. The goal is to teach youth interested in agriculture how production agriculture works from start to finish on a very small scale. That is, from the animal’s birth (or from several months old) to its harvest. Often kids are with their animals two or three times a day for several months, feeding, washing, and walking them. The animals that go to fair have to fall within a certain weight range, one that is deemed “market ready” for each particular specie, and those who don’t make weight cannot sell. There are also ultrasound technicians who test each animal for carcass quality and grade. Not only does raising an animal teach the importance of raising a quality product, but it also includes communication with consumers (writing ‘buyer letters’ to inform businesses that you are selling an animal), and the ability to work well in high pressure, competitive situations in showmanship classes.

The livestock auction is always on Sunday, and that’s really when all the hard work pays off. There is a buyers’ breakfast, where buyers and sellers are invited to come dialogue and enjoy some early morning nourishment. The prices at the auction are inflated, of course, but they generally reflect actual market prices. After the showmen get their checks, they usually pay their parents for the cost of the animal and feed, and the rest is profit. Hopefully, if the buyer letters were done right, a pretty decent profit can be made. It’s a great way for kids to learn the importance of taking care of an animal and keeping communication with the consumer. It’s basically a very small look into what farmers and ranchers do on a daily basis. County fairs are traditional in our country, and though it may seem that they are becoming obsolete, they do so much more than provide entertainment and a place to take the kids for several days. I’ve learned many lessons, both about agriculture and life in general at the Siskiyou Golden Fair, and I hope that this tradition is one that never dies. 

With that, have a great week and be sure to check out the livestock barns at your local fair this year.

Emma

What I Learned Traveling as a National Beef Ambassador

As National Beef Ambassadors, a big part of our responsibility is to travel the nation and promote beef at assorted venues such as races, fairs, cooking and “foodie” events, campus events, etcetera. Our trips are coordinated through various states’ beef councils, CattleWomen groups, collegiate CattleWomen/men organizations, American National CattleWomen, National Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and others. Essentially, anywhere that we can promote beef to large volumes of people (or really any volumes of people), we’ll be there. Through these travels-most of which are at least a seven hour plane ride from California (not to mention hours and hours of layovers and even a sleepover at the Seattle airport)-I have learned several things:
1. Starbucks employees are trained to read name tags. It took several instances of me feeling very confused/frightened as to how my name was on the cup without me giving it to them.
2. The buckles are always a conversation-starter. People will go out of their way to come up to me and ask about my buckle in an airport–it’s awesome! image
3. Every security guard has a clever joke about beef. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “What do you call a cow with two legs?…Lean Beef!” (And I always laugh like it’s the first time I’ve heard it because security guards intimidate me).
4. There’s no better time to strike up a conversation with someone than when you’re sitting by them on a plane, and there’s no reason that conversation shouldn’t be about beef. I always explain what the National Beef Ambassadors are and if they lose interest, I ask if they have favorite cut of beef. That always gets them going.
5. Perhaps most importantly, traveling as a National Beef Ambassador has made me much more conscientious of how I’m acting and how I’m treating other people. As a representative of the nation’s beef industry, I need to be friendly and professional at all times. Now, even when I’m traveling for personal reasons, I find myself being more aware of my actions.
I’ve absolutely loved all of the conversations I’ve had while traveling this year. It has truly been one of my favorite parts of this journey as a National Beef Ambassador. Stay tuned for social media updates this weekend as Justana and I travel to New Jersey for the Atlantic City Food & Wine event.
Emma

Beef Fuels Boilermaker

This weekend, Justana, Tori and I were given the opportunity to assist the New York Beef Council at the 2014 Boilermaker Race Expo in Utica, New York. The Boilermaker 15K (9.3 mile) race is the biggest one in the entire nation, with thousands of runners and over $40,000 offered in prizes. They also offer a 5K (3.1 miles), a three mile walk, and a children’s race. The Expo takes place during the two days before the race, and is a time for sponsors to promote their cause.  The Beef Ambassadors joined the Beef Council at the beef

The spice bar

The spice bar

booth (really it’s an entire aisle if beef-related promoters), where we served two different beef spices: “Chill-Out” beef chili seasoning and “Mama Mia” Italian steak rub. People got a recipe and a spice bag, and got it put a scoop of each individual spice into their bag to create the seasonings. This interactive method of promoting beef allowed for many conversations; the line was practically to the door.

 

The Boilermaker Burger

The Boilermaker Burger

The New York Beef Council not only supports the race, but has also developed a “Boilermaker Burger.” The burger is served at local restaurants for only 5 weeks, as a promotion for both beef and the race, and is somewhat of a novelty item. This year, for every burger sold, $0.50 went to the Food Bank of Central New York.

While promoting beef and seeing all of the competitors was a blast,I think the most excitement came from the anticipation or running the 5K. That’s right, the three of us who have never ran three miles in our lives were going to wake up at 5 am Sunday morning and join over a thousand other runners in the 2014 Boikermaker 5 kilometer race!! The thought was both exhilarating and terrifying, but we knew we had to do it for Team Beef. And we did! All three of us (and over 100 other Team Beef runners spread out through both races) finished the race-and ran the whole thing to boot! It was such a fantastic experience and encouraged me to enter more races as a part of team beef. It was a beautiful weekend in Utica, and though I wasn’t expecting to run three miles before boarding my plane, I couldn’t be more happy or proud that I did!

imageHave a great week!

Emma

The Secret to Good Fajitas

In my opinion, the secret to the most delicious fajitas is pretty obvious: it’s all in the beef! If the beef in your fajita (or any recipe for that matter) is done right, it can truly make the entire meal complete. Here’s my tips for “fajita beef done right:”

  1. When choosing a cut of beef, don’t choose anything too tough or stringy (it can ruin the eating experience and make the food fall apart)-sometimes the best fajita meat is leftover steaks from  the previous night’s dinner! For example, my family had leftover tri-tip from a party we hosted, so we used that to make our fajitas and just cooked it a second time.
  2. Use the right seasonings! Just adding salt and pepper won’t give it the delicious and unique flavor associated with fajita meat. I use cumin, red chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. The key is really putting enough cumin on the meat. Don’t be shy with seasoning. Again, adding m0re seasoning will only contribute to that unique flavor.
  3. Don’t be afraid to really cook the meat. When using leftover tri-tip, I threw the meat into the skillet with some olive oil and really turned up the heat. A little charring isn’t a bad thing when it comes to fajitas.

Those are just some of my tips, and I think I make a pretty mean fajita if I do say so myself. Try it out and see for yourself if you enjoy the taste!

Have a fantastic week!

Emma

Transparency

Today’s consumer demands transparency in regard to the way their food is raised. This demand has been made increasingly obvious through the channels of social media; people want to know what’s in their food and how it got there, and they are voicing that demand loudly. Though problems can arise—it’s hard for those who don’t understand agriculture to be able to process food production without any background information—agriculturists (beef producers in particular) have risen to the challenge. There have been transparency campaigns for many years, but now that information is so easily accessed on the internet, there is a very serious need for agriculturists to allow the public to be a part of what they’re doing to produce food. Again, this request is not easily satisfied as there are many people who claim to be experts that speak against production agriculture and say it should be done differently, but simply lack the credentials and education to make these claims. There has to be a balance-a relationship if you will-between producers and consumers in order for transparency to work correctly. The consumer cannot be trying to prove the producer wrong or have previously formed ideas about how they think agriculture works. Similarly, the producer cannot discount or belittle the consumer.

There are many proactive steps being taken by agriculturists to ensure consumer satisfaction by showing them what happens on the farm. The “farm” can be anything from an actual farm to a feedlot or packing plant. From YouTube videos to blogs on hot topics, cattle producers and other industry workers are truly aware of their responsibility for transparency. There are even hands on experiences, such as farm tours (check out the Peterson Farm Bros tour options!). This year, CattleWomen have initiated “Mom’s on the Farm” tours, where moms in the area of the tour are invited to come out and tour local farms. They’re able to see how their food is raised and can gain confidence in the food they feed their children. Cattlemen and women encourage fellow producers and agriculturists to be transparent in their practices. My dad is always willing to let people come take a look at our ranching operation and see how we run things. 

 

Have a great week!

Emma

Thank Your Dad

On this Father’s Day, make sure to thank all the dads you know! Being a parent isn’t easy and they only get one day for everyone to really appreciate everything they do (just kidding! You can tell them every day). My dad is one of the hardest working and passionate advocates for the agriculture industry that I know and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his example, love, and support. imageBe sure to tell your dad thanks for all he does today!

Emma

The “It’s Already in Your Pantry” Beef Stir Fry

Summer is a crazy time of the year. While some picture lounging by the pool, tanning and painting toe nails, others (like myself and most of the agricultural community) are getting ready to work sun-up to sun-down. It’s hard to think about grocery shopping when there’s harvesting, irrigating, and feeding to be done. That’s why I’m sharing this recipe for beef stir fry and as the name indicates, it’s meant to be simple and “already in your pantry.” Aside from the beef (unless you grow your own), the grocery shopping list will be close to non-existant.

Ingredients:

  • Thinly sliced top loin steak (this is my favorite, but obviously feel free to insert your favorite-LEAN-cut there)
  • Soy sauce
  • Onion
  • Spinach
  • Rice
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic (any form works; you can use the full clove, minced garlic, garlic powder, or garlic salt)

It’s really that simple. Feel free to substitute different vegetables for the ones I listed-spinach and onions happen to be staples for my family so we always have plenty. I used minced garlic, but the idea is to have the garlic taste because it adds rich flavor.

Process:

Mix 1 cup olive oil and 1 cup soy sauce along with garlic in a bowl. Cut the steak into bite size pieces and put in the marinade (I usually only marinade small pieces for 45 minutes-1 hour). Start the rice and keep in mind that white rice will take 20 minutes to cook (you don’t want hot rice and cold steak). Start the steak in a pan, but keep in mind it doesn’t need to cook for long if it’s thinly sliced. Pour the whole marinade in the pan with the steak, it can be used for a sauce later. Cook to 145 degrees. Saute the onions in a small amount of olive oil. Once the onions are done, put them in a bowl, add some more olive oil to the pan, and put in some minced garlic. Once the garlic has warmed up, add the spinach. Sauteeing spinach with garlic makes it much more flavorful. When the rice is done, put it in a serving bowl, and add the steak and veggies. Stir together well. I use the leftover marinade as a sauce to pour over the stir fry.

Remember: you can change this around depending on what’s “already in your pantry!”

Enjoy!

Emma