Life’s a Picnic

July is National Picnic Month!picnic_scene I love eating outside, it is such a great way to enjoy the wonderful summertime weather. Here are some beefy recipes to provide inspiration for your picnic!

  • Roast Beef Tea Sandwiches: These are so fun and easy to make. You can experiment with different fruits or vegetables in them too. Some ideas are: cucumber, baby spinach leaves, tomato, red onion, pear, or apples.Steak USA
  • Mediterranean Beef and Veggie Wraps: In about 10 minutes you’ve got an easy, portable wrap made with common ingredients and fresh vegetables. Perfect to pack in your picnic basket!Steak USA
  • Beef and Cheese Roll-Ups: These wraps tend to be less messy than sandwiches. Steak USA
  • Beef and Broccoli Wrap: This recipe is also great for picnics. The broccoli slaw helps incorporate vegetables into the meal too.Steak USA
  • Vietnamese Beef and Vegetable Spring Rolls: Spring rolls are new to the picnic table, but if you make them at home and bring to your picnic they are a fun change of pace.Steak USA

Picnics are a fun way to make eating a meal an experience. I still remember fondly a picnic that I ate with my host family in France last summer. It is such a fun eating experience to sit on the blanket and watch the world around you. Food, friends, and location make a meal memorable. It’s also a fun date!

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Stage Two: Backgrounding

Approximately 751 total days makes up the complete lifecycle of cattle. For the first 205 days, the calf spends with its mother who provides it milk as its main source of nutrients, and at the end of this time the weaning process occurs. After the weaning process occurs, cow/calf producers can sell their calves to other farms and calves will enter what is called a backgrounding stage for 100 days.

The backgrounding stage is considered the second stage in the bovine lifecycle and is also known as the intermediate stage after weaning and before placement in a feedlot. Background feeding relies heavily on forages such as pasture grasses and hay in a combination with grains, if the producer chooses, to help increase the calf’s weight during this time frame. The goal during the backgrounding stage is for the calves to reach 700 to 800 pounds, as well as build up immunity to diseases before it potentially enters a feedlot. The duration of the backgrounding stage is 3 to 5 months.

Producers that focus consistently on backgrounding cattle maintain heard sizes of cattle that are around the same age, meaning the calves were all born within two to three months of each other. The concept behind keeping all cattle close in age helps with consistency and efficiency of feeding and gaining weight, as well as consistency of the timeline of the cattle growing before they enter a feedlot.

backgrounding

Cattle in the backgrounding stage of the bovine timeline are consistently the same age and weight and spend the majority of their time grazing on grass to convert into lean protein.

Producers by the name of ‘Stockers’ background cattle between the ages of six to twelve months where they will spend the majority of their life grazing on pasture grass with some grain mixtures as a part of the balanced diet. In this stage, cattle gain weight and convert forage and grass into lean protein.

With approximately 100 days out of the total 751 days in the complete bovine timeline (conception to harvest), it is safe to say that all cattle spend the majority of their lives grazing on grass, it is the last four to six months that determines if a producer will finish them out on a grain based or grass fed diet.

 

Check back next Tuesday to learn about the feedlot stages of raising beef cattle.

Have a great Tuesday!

-Demi-

 

City Lessons

I have been loving life in Washington, D.C. this summer. I have met amazing people, seen phenomenal things, and learned a lot! Life is much different than I’m used to here. The population in the district (not counting the surrounding area) is more than the entire population of the state of Wyoming. Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned:

  • Becoming disconnected from agriculture is really easy. It always shocked me when I would talk to people that had not idea where their food comes from. It was hard for me to realize how disconnected people can be from the food system while living so connected to agriculture at home. At the national zoo, they had cows and goats. I realized that for many kids (and maybe adults) those animals might be some of the only farm animals they have ever seen. Food is abundant at the grocery store. Not much thought is typically given to how that food gets to the store, or what the labels mean.

    It is easy to see why consumers get confused by labels and production practices.

    It is easy to see how consumers get confused by labels and production practices.

  • Rooftop gardens help, but they aren’t the ultimate solution. In many speeches and discussions, rooftop gardens have been brought up as a way to educate people about agriculture and where food comes from. Although they help start a conversation, I think that more work needs to be done. My building has a rooftop garden, and it is fun to see food growing.

    Rooftop

    My building’s rooftop garden.

  • Foodies are abundant! There are so many phenomenal restaurants here. The foodie movement is occurring!
    Yum!

    I have been enjoying all that D.C. has to offer, like this delicious Beef Barbacoa Burrito!

     

    Cities are a very different place than I am used to, but I have been thoroughly enjoying my time here! There are fabulous resources such as Facts About Beef available for consumers to learn more about beef.

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Weaning: A Part of Life

The beef industry is more than just the tender and juicy steak that sits on your plate hot off the grill. It is more than just the baby calves running in the pasture or feeding hay to the mama cows; the beef industry is a connection of many different sectors and family farms all working hard to raise a healthy and wholesome product, so that at the end of the day we as producers, as well as consumers can enjoy a hardy cut of steak with both family and friends.

cow and baby

Calves spend the first five to seven months with their mothers receiving nutrients from their milk and learning to eat forages and grains

An essential sector of the beef industry is the cow/calf operation where producers’ birth mother cows and offspring are cared for. Caring for their babies is the top priority of the cow for the first five to seven months as the baby calves receive most of their nutrients such as protein from their mother’s milk. However, at the end of approximately 205 days, or seven months, calves are weaned from their mothers and begin living strictly on their own.

Weaning is known as the process of managing without something or someone on which a species has become dependent on, such as young dependent on its mother’s milk. The mothers need time to put weight back on and have a rest period before birthing another calf. The ruminate of the calf takes four months to develop and after this time frame, the older a calf gets the more mature it becomes and can eat other foods, such as grass, hay, and grain that will sustain its body. The weaning process can be completed in a handful of ways such as fence line weaning or gradual weaning. Both weaning processes allow the calves and cows to be in familiar surroundings, as well as see and smell their mothers during the process of learning to live fully on their own, without their mother’s milk.

calves at gate

Gradual weaning allows calves to be separated by gates from their mothers during the evenings and return with their mothers during the days for approximately 3-4 days

fenceline

Fence line weaning happens in one day with a fence separating the mothers and babies

During the weaning process, both the mama cows and their calves bawl because of being separated. The bawling is more of a psychological factor because the mother and baby are use to being together and bonding and being separated is a life change. As one looks at the process of weaning, mama cows seem to bawl more during the separation than the calves because as the calves get older and bigger, they spend more time away from their mothers playing with the other calves. Weaning is comparable to a mother sending her child to school for the first time, watching him/her get a driver licenses, or dropping them off at college. It is separation from what has been the norm, however it needs to happen and both the mother and child or calf has to learn to be on their own.

It is important that the weaning process takes place around the calf being five to seven months of age for the safety of the mama cows. The calves are old enough to function on their own, so if they are left with their mothers, they would continue to take the nutritional milk that needs to be reproduced for the next offspring. The bull calves would also begin to harass their mothers, which could result in stressful and unhealthy circumstances.

drinking milk

The older a calf gets the better it is able to care for itself. Weaning a calf at 5-7 months of age ensures the mother cow can rest and reproduce milk for her next offspring

Beef producers have the goal to produce a healthy product, on four feet or on the table. To produce a healthy product during the stage of weaning, the cows and calves need to have minimum stress and be closely monitored for injury and sicknesses. The stress level is also minimized when producers wean during adequate temperatures, meaning that the day of weaning is not too hot or cold and rainy which results in the least amount of stress and sickness which overall results in a better product.

calves eating grain

As calves learn to be away from their mothers full time, they eat grain, hay, and other forages to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Weaning calves from their mothers is a natural process that all (animals and humans) go through. For the overall health, safety, and low levels of stress on both the cow and calf, weaning is beneficial and is the beginning of another sector of the beef industry bovine timeline.

~Demi~

Don’t Break the Bank!

Up until this summer, I have never truly needed to cook for myself. I lived in student housing my first two years of college, and relied on the cafeteria to cook for me. This summer, I am living and working in Washington, D.C., so it was necessary for me to learn to shop for myself. Shopping for groceries, I have learned several lessons:

  • Plan Ahead. Set a budget before you go to the grocery store, and make a list. If I do not do those two things, I end up making several unplanned purchases.
Planning ahead saves time and money!

Planning ahead saves time and money!

  • Don’t shop on an empty stomach! If I shop without eating a meal beforehand, I end up buying a bunch of ready-made junk food instead of the groceries I went to the store to purchase.

Hungry

  • Do the math. Sometimes buying in bulk is a great way to save money! However, sometimes it costs the same or it might be more expensive. Be sure to compare the price per pound or ounce before picking a size.
It's important to look closer at the "deals."

It’s important to look closer at the “deals.”

  • Look at the nutrition label. A product might be cheap for a reason. It is important to look at the nutrition label to see how much nutrition the product provides, and at what cost. Beef for instance is very rich in protein, zinc, and iron. For only 8% of your daily calories, beef provides almost half of the daily value of protein.
Check out here

Check out this link for more information on beef nutrition.

  • Shop sales, and freeze for later. Especially with beef, you can freeze the product to extend the shelf life. The video below shows a great method for freezing ground beef for later.

If you do freeze beef for later, this chart shows how soon you should use that product by.

 

 

 

Freeze

 

What ways do you save money at the grocery store?

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Fighting for Freedom: Beef Edition

I hope everyone has recovered from a fun weekend of colorful fireworks, yummy hamburgers and family get-togethers. Independence Day is a wonderful reminder of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, such as the right to bear arms, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. To maintain these freedoms, we are challenged to defend them.  In the same way, beef producers are faced with the challenge of defending their way of life every day.

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When it comes to our food supply, our desire for information is insatiable. As consumers, we want to know that our steak was happy and healthy when it was alive. No one understands the importance of that better than the beef producers themselves.

DSC_1161

Now more than ever, we are demanding transparency from agriculture producers. If those who produce the safe, wholesome and nutritious beef our families enjoy do not speak up, people who have no understanding of the business or animal welfare aspects of their operations will speak up for them. Producers cannot afford for their words or production practices to be misconstrued in anyway.

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There are many voices in the conversation about meat and food production. Our challenge as consumers is to tune out the “white noise “, or uneducated chatter, created by people who do not understand the logistics and fundamentals of beef production and animal welfare. To accomplish this requires us to research. Our fast-paced, constantly-connected society is guilty of being gullible. Our easily-convinced, drama-seeking nature is aligned to follow the societal norm, even when the information is false.

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Moral of the story: The beef producer’s number one concern is their cattle. Ranchers have a responsibility to do what reflects the best for the well-being of their animals. And in order to achieve that, they must maintain their freedom to produce healthy cattle.

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In order to meet the demand for transparency and protect their freedom to produce safe, wholesome and nutritious beef, producers must also do everything possible to tell their story. With the same token, consumers have the responsibility to research beyond the tabloid headlines and discover the truth about their food. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 🙂

#MeetYourMeat

 

God bless, folks!

Kalyn McKibben

Blonde Beef Babe

 

4th of July Cattle Facts

The average American eats 65 pounds of beef each year

cattle nose

Cattle can detect smells up to 5 miles away

footballs

One cowhide can produce enough leather to make 20 footballs, 18 soccer balls, 18 volleyballs, 12 basketballs, or 144 baseballs

cattle breeds

There are around 60 different beef breeds present in the United States-pictures is a Belted Galloway

pasture

The U.S. supplies 25% of the world’s beef with just 10% of the world’s cattle

bones

There are 207 bones in a cows body

chewing

The average cow has more than 40,000 jaw movements per day

scale

The United States produces approximately 26.0 billion pounds of beef each year

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99% of the beef animal is used when processed

burger

40 billion hamburgers are sold in the United States every year

 

Have a happy 4th of July!

-Demi-

 

 

 

God Bless America

Nothing says Happy Fourth of July quite like a barbecue complete with family, friends, beef, sweet corn, and watermelon. Although I am having the time of my life at my internship this summer, I am a little bit bummed that I am missing the small town celebrations for the Fourth of July. Steak USAIn the rural community I am from, the Fourth of July is always a big celebration. The farmers and ranchers typically take the day off (after taking care of their cattle of course!). Family and friends get together to enjoy the fireworks and fellowship. It really is a fun time. Here are some fun recipes and dishes with a patriotic spin to enjoy at a Fourth of July barbecue.

  • July 4th Kabobs Recipe: This is a fun recipe because it includes red, white, and blue! I also love how quick the kabobs are ready. I like mushrooms and avocados on my kabobs, so experiment with your favorite vegetables to find a combination that you love.

    Yum!

    Kabobs are a refreshing and fun dish to prepare and enjoy.

  • Patriotic Beef Pinwheels: Pinwheels are one of my favorite appetizers. This recipe provides a unique blend of flavors in just four ingredients!

    Additional bonus: Fun patriotic colors!

    Additional bonus: Fun patriotic colors!

  • Burgers: They are always a favorite! If you want to add a patriotic flare, use a star shaped cookie cutter to make fun shapes.

    A fun twist on a favorite!

    A fun twist on a favorite!

  • Patriotic Taco Salad: Food doesn’t have to be boring, make it festive!

    Ready in just 30 minutes!

    Ready in just 30 minutes!

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Remember, ground beef needs to be cooked to 160, and steaks and roasts need to reach at least 145.

Although barbecues can be a lot of fun, be sure to take precautions to ensure the food is kept at a safe temperature.

Patriotic food can be really fun! I hope everyone has a safe and fun Fourth of July. As always, thank you so much to the brave men and women in uniform that keep our great country free. God bless America.

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer

Live a Flavorful Life

As a generation, millennials like to show off their creative side when it comes to cooking. Not using a recipe to create a delicious meal can be fun and challenging, yet turn into a delicious new way to prepare a favorite cut of beef! As a summer campaign through the National Beef Checkoff, the entitled, “No Recipe Recipe” videos are a way to showcase to individuals the basics to remember when preparing a cut of beef, but allow the imagination and ingredients used by the chef to be an unlimited supply. The videos simply feature a cut of beef, a way to cook the beef, and simple rules to remember when cooking beef, such as how to check the temperature of a steak, or to season steaks after they come off the grill with salt to keep the flavors in the meat. From taco creations to mixing it up with stir-fry meals and salads, these new videos give everyone a taste of summer and a boost of confidence when it comes to cooking in the kitchen! Featuring easy, quick, and delicious meals, these new ideas are a great way to impress your friends and family alike. These simple 30 second to one minute interactive videos allows the chef to create their own recipe with their own ingredients of choice for a savory eating experience!

Below is the link to view the five different videos on the beefitswhatsfordinner website. http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/easy-dinner-ideas.aspx  

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So go-ahead, you be the chef and create a masterpiece tonight!

Happy cooking!

~Demi~

 

 

Beyond Beef: Part 3

Today is the final part of the beyond beef series I have done the past few weeks. Steak does not have to take hours to perfect. Sometimes, you might want an Instagram worthy meal to show off to your friends. This recipe is perfect for that!

Succulent Filet in a Field of Greens

Yum!

Yum!

Total Recipe Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Makes 4 servings
INGREDIENTS

  • 4 beef Tenderloin Steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 cups assorted wild mushrooms (such as cremini, oyster, shiitake, enoki and morel)
  • 2 cups red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup mixed baby salad greens

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add mushrooms and 1 teaspoon garlic; cook and stir 2 to 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and browned. Remove to medium bowl; cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 teaspoons garlic and thyme. Press evenly onto beef steaks. Place steaks in same skillet over medium heat; cook 10 to 13 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally. Remove to platter.

    Be sure to take the temperature of your steak to ensure you cook it to the desired doneness!

    Be sure to take the temperature of your steak to ensure you cook it to the desired doneness!

  3. Add tomatoes, salad greens and vinaigrette to mushrooms; toss lightly to coat.
  4. Season steaks with salt and pepper, as desired. Serve with salad.

My favorite feature of this recipe is that it is ready in under 30 minutes. The dishes for this recipe are also minimal, since the same skillet is used for the mushrooms and the beef. Tenderloin is my favorite cut of beef, so this recipe is one of my favorites. This recipe also enhances the umami flavor by pairing mushrooms and tomatoes with beef. The umami taste is described as meaty, savory and delicious. Although this recipe is so simple, it does not taste or look like a quick meal. It is a high quality eating experience.

Happy Meaty Monday!

Rachel Purdy
Princess Farmer