Get Ready for the 2015 Contest

Wow! I can’t believe I am writing a blog for the 2015 contest, it seems like just yesterday it was the 2014 National Beef Ambassador Contest, but what a year it has been.  Some of my best memories were made at the contest.  So contestants get ready for an AWESOME weekend ahead of you.

Don’t be nervous.  I know I was very nervous when I left Texas to head to the contest, but don’t be.  The judges are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.  Have confidence in yourself and know you can do it.

Don’t stress about the last minute facts.  I will say, I spent a large amount of my time at the contest studying.  Of all the things I studied the weekend of the contest I don’t think I used any of it.  The important thing is how you communicate the information.

Show your personality.  Consumers want to be able to relate to you, be happy and show them you care what they think.  Each of the team members this year have an awesome personality and it makes it really easy for us to engage with consumers on any level.

Share your story.  This one is so important.  Growing up in or around the beef community gives you so many stories and experiences. Those stories are so valuable, SHARE THEM!

Above all HAVE FUN!!!!! The contest was so much fun last year for me and I hope it will be for you as well.  Not only was it fun, but I met some amazing friends that I can share my passion for the beef community with.  For five of you it will start an experience of a lifetime.

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

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The Values of Growing Up as a Ranch Kid

If you could take a look at my house right now, it would be needless to say, I’ve been packing for college this week.  It is such an exciting time for me, but also a time for me to reminisce on the past 18 years of my life.  Growing up on my family’s ranch, I have never moved or had a dynamic change in what I considered “home.”  Home has always been in the middle of a pasture surrounded by livestock; 10 miles from the closest neighbor.  But now “home,” will be considered my new college dorm room, in the middle of a town I have only been to a few times, with a “neighbor” just across my room.

I consider myself extremely blessed to grow up the way I did.  Not only was it a fun place to grow up, but it also taught me numerous life lessons and values.

  1. No one knows hard work like a farm/ranch kid does.  From early mornings to the middle of the night I’ve been helping alongside my family.    Sometimes in the summer heat and other times it has been below freezing and blowing snow, but work still has to be done.  Not only was hard work a given, you aren’t paid either.

2. You learn to appreciate Mother Nature.  Mother Nature can make or break you each year.    Whether it is Christmas morning or the 4th of July you NEVER complain when it rains, because we’ve seen what a drought can do.  When school was canceled for a snow day, while most of my friends would spend the day watching movies or sledding, not us.  We were helping put out hay and break water for the livestock.  Mother Nature can bring you the greatest blessings and the worst destructions.  Either way you develop a huge respect for Mother Nature.

  1. You know the meaning of team work more than any of your friends on the basketball team.  Team work isn’t just a game on the farm/ranch, it’s a necessity, and without everyone pulling their weight it can’t be done. Working with my family can sometimes be a real challenge, but we learn to work together, as a team.

4. Time is yet a number.  While I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a set time for lunch, dinner, or bed time, I have never know what this was like.  Many nights my family doesn’t eat supper until 10 o’clock because we were still outside doing chores, but other nights we might eat supper at 6 o’clock because it was an early morning and everyone is exhausted.  Either way, you learn to go with the flow, you usually don’t even ask what time it is, because it really doesn’t matter until you have finished the chores for the day.  Sometimes livestock don’t quite work on the same time clock as we do.

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  1. A driver’s license doesn’t mean much.  I first learned to drive when I was about five; yes I was five driving across a pasture, by myself.   Driving was a rite of passage at a very young age.  Driver’s Ed was a breeze, by the time I was 15 I had almost a good decade of driving under my belt.  Not only do you learn to drive at a young age, you also learn to ride a horse, learn to ear tag new calves, call cows in (because most time the siren doesn’t work), and countless other tasks around the ranch.  If you were old enough to walk you were old enough to help do chores.
  2. You develop a passion and respect for agriculture.  Growing up on a farm/ranch, agriculture is your family’s way of life.  Generation after generation has tended to the land and livestock in a sustainable and responsible manor; you learn that it is your job as the next generation to do the same.

I am beyond excited to leave for college tomorrow, but I know I will truly miss the life I have come to love so much and the beauty of the rolling planes.

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Beef & Blessings,

Justana

 

Bringing Beef to the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival

This past weekend beef ambassador, Emma, and I traveled to the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The trip was fast and furious but a great success.  Food and wine vendors from across the country filled the “grand market” at the festival, including BEEF!

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The NorthEast Beef council along with Roseda Beef (http://www.rosedabeef.com) served DELICIOUS servings of smoke sirloin steak, which I had for lunch and supper last Saturday.  If you weren’t already a beef lover, the samples would have definitely changed your mind.

 

When we first met this woman she said she was not a red meat eater, but she agreed with us to go ahead and try a sample.  This is a picture of her after her THIRD piece of steak.

When we first met this woman she said she was not a red meat eater, but she agreed with us to go ahead and try a sample.  This is a picture of her after her THIRD piece of steak.

Not only were we handing out samples and sharing the positives about beef with attendees, we also had a fun game for consumers to play.  Ever heard of pin the tail on the donkey? Well how about “Pin the cut on the cow!” The game really involved attendees and made them want to ask questions.  Some groups made it a competition to see who could get the most cuts right.

pin the cut on the cow

The beef ambassadors mainly stayed at the BEEF booth in the grand market talking to consumers, playing “pin the cut on the cow,” and handing out beef sample; but we also took a little time to play “PATTY,” the NorthEast Beef Councils mascot.  Along with the grand market was also numerous other food and wine events, like the Beach Burger Bash.  PATTY was a huge hit there.

patty

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

Coyboy Christmas

This past weekend my family and I had an awesome Fourth of July celebration. Like Americans everywhere, cattlemen and cowboys love to celebrate and honor our countries independence and freedom.

Texas fourth of Julys aren’t known for their fireworks and cookouts, but the 4th of July rodeos, “Cowboy Christmas.”  Although we all enjoy our cookouts and firework displays, those all come before or after a rodeo. Numerous small towns host their own rodeos. Not only do these rodeos bring lots of fun and entertainment, most of them carry long thought of traditions and showcase much of their communities history.

Ranch rodeos are a big part of the Fourth of July where I’m from. Ranch rodeos are different than your average rodeo. The Ranch Rodeos are an event that serves as a living tribute to our Texas heritage. They promote our unique history and the western lifestyle by featuring competition between real cowboys from real working ranches. The cowboys and their ranch horses compete in five events that showcase the necessary skills and know how ranch hands practice daily on today’s ranches. The Ranch Rodeo’s events require the same teamwork ranch hands use in their everyday lives.image

This past weekend my brother, Kater, was on a junior ranch rodeo team (all team members must be under the age of 16) at the Saints’ Roost Ranch Rodeo Celebration in Clarendon, Texas. This is just one more way to not only honor our country but also keep a “working” legend alive.

 

I hope you and your family had a fantastic celebration!

Beef & Blessings,

Justanaimage

Bugs off Beef!

With the summer months upon us and unusually plentiful amounts of rain this year, insects are out and about.  I, along with most people, am not a fan of insects.  Flies can be very annoying and mosquitoes leave me with itchy bites.  But people aren’t the only ones that insects bother.  Cattle also have to fight insects and other parasites during this time of year.

For people, insects can sometime be dangerous, but for cattle, insects can easily carry diseases that can infect the animal quickly.  Diseases like anaplasmosis are most commonly transmitted by insects. Insects such as flies not only aggravate cattle, but also cause an economic loss.  Horn flies can consume up to a pint of blood each day from a cow.  Mississippi State University conducted research that reveals insect pests can cause a loss of over $40 dollars per head for the cattleman.  Not to mention how restless cattle can be when trying to fend off insects constantly bothering them.

Farmers and ranchers know the dangers of not properly caring for their cattle when it comes to insect and pest control.  Numerous products are available to ensure cattle are protected against insects. From eartags that prevent flies to pour-on dewormers, cattlemen have many choices to use.  Twice a year my family treats our cattle for insect and parasite control.  We use a variety of different products depending on the year’s conditions and parasites we feel are the biggest threat.

fly control spraying

Usually when cattle are treated for parasites we have to pen them in a small area so we are able to spray insecticides on them.  This year we have tried a new product, “VetGun & VetCap.”  This new method allows for minimal handling to protect the cattle.  This means less labor and stress on the cattle.   The “VetGun” is very similar to a paintball gun, but instead of firing balls of paint it fires “VetCaps.”  VetCaps are single dose balls that burst when they hit a cow. They work the same as other insecticide, protecting cattle against parasites.  My brother and I have learned “shooting cows,” has become a good thing.  Generally cattle don’t even notice when administered with the “VetCap” and it is much easier on them as well as us.

vetgun

If you would like to know more about this new method of controlling parasites go to:   http://www.smartvet.com/parasite-control/vetgun-vetcup-what-it-is-and-how-it-works.html.

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

What 4H has taught me

This week myself and 4H’ers from across the state traveled to College Station, Texas for the 2014 Texas 4H Roundup.  The week was filled with state contest, workshops, and of course, fun.  I competed in the Beef Quiz Bowl contest and the Livestock Judging contest.

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Over 65 thousand Texas youth are enrolled and active members of 4H.  This week over a thousand members met to compete.  My team placed 6th in the beef quiz bowl contest.  The beef quiz bowl contest is designed to test 4H’ers knowledge about the beef industry.  I placed 31st in livestock judging out of about 130 participants.  The contest is made up of eight classes and 4 of those we must present reasons about our placements to a judge.

4h plaque

This year’s round up was a bitter-sweet moment for me.  It is exciting for me to be graduating high school and taking the next steps into my future.  But, it is also a little sad to be parting from an organization that has given me so many opportunities.  4H has been a huge part of my life since I was barely 8 years-old.  4H has introduced me to so many things I would not have been able to do without being a part of it.  From photography to livestock judging, steer showing, goat showing, and the list goes on.  I have had many good county agents whom have developed me into a knowledgeable livestock evaluator, good showman, and public speaker.  4H has given me knowledge about the agriculture industry and has shown me how to be a good leader and public speaker.  Overall, 4H has been a huge part of my life and just one of the many aspects of my life I am truly thankful for and has made me the person I am today.    It’s an experience you will never forget!

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

Beef Up Your Summer Party

Schools out and its summer time; what better time of the year to have a block party, family reunion, or just a fun get together with friends and family.  No matter what the occasion food is always at the top of the list for “party must haves.”   If you are anything like me Pinterest is a “go to” for party ideas.  While planning my graduation party I found the idea of a burger bar.  The burger bar has all the fixing you could ever want for a hamburger.  The hamburger patties could be cooked ahead of time.  This allowed everyone to have their burger how they prefer and the hostess could enjoy the party without constantly making food for guests.  To top it off who doesn’t love a good burger anyway.

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So when you plan your next summer bash, add a burger bar, your guest will thank you later!

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

It’s a family thing

Being born into a ranching family you aren’t ever given the option to not do your part, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.   I have been a rancher’s daughter since day 1.  When I was just a week old I was already out checking cattle with my parents. My favorite memories and hardest lessons learned have been made right at home on the ranch!

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Did you know over 96% of farms and ranches are family owned and operated?  Just like my family, families around our nation work together to produce our food.  We all know working side by side with our families can sometimes be a challenge in itself, but we always manage to get any job done.  Each person in my family has their own specific jobs; no one gets by without doing their fair share.

My dad oversees all ranch operations and makes the necessary long term decisions every rancher must face.  My mom keeps all the cattle records up to date and maintains the A.I. program.  My brother and I fill in all the little gaps, whether that is patching a fence, getting a newborn calf to nurse or just feeding cattle.  Each of us plays an important part.  The ranch way of life is in your blood and it envelops a lasting heritage and future for every ranching family.  I’m not just “working” for my family…… my brother and I are the next generation, we are investing in our future also.  After five generations of ranching in our family, we all know we are in it for the long haul.  The paybacks aren’t always seen in dollars, but better yet my little brother and I know where our future lies, whether that be coming back or taking what we have learned and moving onto something else.  Ranching families everywhere truly know what “hard work pays off” means.

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Beef & Blessings,

Justana Tate

It’s Grilling Season

With the spring temperatures arriving it is absolutely beautiful outside and what better way to spend your evening than grilling some tasty steaks on the grill.  Every night we can my family is on the patio grilling.  Nothing quite beats the taste of fresh off the grill beef.  Here is one of our new recipes to try for the summer.

 

GRILLED TOP SIRLOIN FILETS WITH SMOKY ORANGE SAUCE

grilled filet

INGREDIENTS

1 to 1-1/4 pounds beef Top Sirloin Center Filets, cut 1 inch thick, tied

Rub:

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 clove garlic, minced

Smoky Orange Sauce:

1 cup chopped orange segments

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel

1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

One thing that I love about grilling is that it adds its own flavor.  You can keep recipes simple and still have a DELICIOUS meal.  This little tip chart is also great for getting back in the swing of things for grilling season.

GrillingBeef tips

So fire up the grill this weekend and enjoy some tasty beef along with the beautiful weather. Always remember to check out beefitswhatsfordinner.com for beef recipes.

Beef & Blessings,

Justana

Safe and Savory Beef

Not that I have explained the beef lifecycle, let’s talk about cooking with beef.   When cooked properly beef is safe and delicious.  Nothing beats a nice steak or some great beef tacos after a long day at school for me.  No matter what we are cooking we should always consider food safety as a top priority.

How to Handle Beef Safely:

Raw Beef: Select beef just before checking out at the register. Put packages of raw beef in disposable plastic bags, if available, to contain any leakage which could cross-contaminate cooked foods or produce.  Take beef home immediately and refrigerate it at 40 °F; use within 3 to 5 days or freeze (0 °F). It is safe to freeze beef in its original packaging or repackage it. However, for long-term freezing, overwrap the porous store plastic with aluminum foil, freezer paper, or freezer-weight plastic wrap or bags to prevent “freezer burn,” which appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air reaching the surface of food. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after cooking the beef. Heavily freezer-burned products may have to be discarded for quality reasons. For best quality, use steaks and roasts within 9 to 12 months.

Safe Defrosting:

There are three safe ways to defrost beef: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Never defrost on the counter or in other locations. Refrigerator: It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Ground beef, stew meat, and steaks may defrost within a day. Bone-in parts and whole roasts may take 2 days or longer. Once the raw beef defrosts, it will be safe in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days before cooking. During this time, if you decide not to use the beef, you can safely refreeze it without cooking it first. Cold Water: To defrost beef in cold water, do not remove packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leakproof bag. Submerge the beef in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so that it continues to thaw. Small packages of beef may defrost in an hour or less; a 3- to 4-pound roast may take 2 to 3 hours. Microwave: When microwave defrosting beef, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.  Foods defrosted in the microwave or by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing because they may have been held at temperatures above 40 °F. It is safe to cook frozen beef in the oven, on the stove, or grill without defrosting it first; the cooking time may be about 50% longer. Do not cook frozen beef in a slow cooker.

Safe Cooking:

For safety, the USDA recommends cooking hamburgers and ground beef mixtures such as meat loaf to 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Cook all organ and variety meats (such as heart, kidney, liver and tongue) to 160 °F. Cook all raw beef steaks and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

Safe and Savory at 160

While cooking with beef always remember these tips and have a delicious beef meal!

Beef & Blessings,

Justana