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Maryland Meat Run

This past weekend, we made a road trip to Maryland to pick up meat. This wasn’t just ordinary meat. In keeping with our efforts to connect with farmers and know where our meat comes from, this meat was sourced in the family. My sister’s father-in-law has been raising a small herd of Angus for the past few years. This year, two steer were up for “harvesting”, so we decided to buy a hindquarter.

How much closer to the farmer could we get? We’ve met the cows in their infancy, checking them out on every visit. We know they had a great life, spending their days grazing in the hilly pasture. Donald cared for them well. The cow was slaughtered about a month ago and aged until they cut it up on Friday, the day before it got picked up.

The steer was about 1300 pounds at the end of its life. Our hindquarter weighted 187 pounds before it was cut up. We learned a lot of about the anatomy of a cow when filling out the cut sheet that specifies how we wanted the meat cut up. The front quarter (which is what we didn’t get) is where the ribs, chuck and brisket come from. The hindquarter is where most of the steaks are, which is why we picked it.

Our quarter yielded about 100 pounds of meat, about 60% steaks and roasts and 40% ground beef. It looks gorgeous. We also got a big bag of soup bones, the oxtail (after last year’s successful stew, we wanted to try again), and liver. Actually we got extra liver. We knew most people wouldn’t want it, so I asked for it. The butcher gave us 10 pounds. All I wanted was to make some dog biscuits with it for Bella. Now, we have a liver bonanza!

This much beef will last us at least a year. It’s all frozen, so that shouldn’t be a problem. There are lots of cuts I’ve never really cooked before, so it will be another series of kitchen adventure. What fun! If you have any favorite beef recipes to share, do let me know.

Driving back and forth to Maryland, a 450 trek each way, was an arduous way to spend the weekend. We spent over 18 hours in the car. The reward was a wonderful visit with family. We stopped in New Jersey to see Howard’s sister and her family on the way south (a much too brief overnight stop). Then, in Maryland, we not only saw my sister Jane’s family who lives there, but also my father and stepmother, plus my sister from Pennsylvania came with her family to visit too. Highlights were: watching my nephew Brett’s last baseball game of the season, delicious home-cooked meals at Jane’s, and an adventure in a very muddy corn maze.

The best part of the corn maze was something called the “Pumpkin Cannon”. It was a hydraulic contraption that you point and shoot pumpkins out of. They had giant “transformer”-like creatures to shoot at like targets. My nephews and nieces and Howard all had fun taking their turn.

All in all, it was a fun-filled weekend, making me wish I lived closer to family than I do.

My Family: A Motley Crew

Spring is in the Air

It was over 50 degrees yesterday! It finally feels like winter is on its way out. I didn’t wear my winter coat or my boots at all. My snowdrops are blooming. The skunks are out. I bought bunches of daffodils at Trader Joe’s. It makes me happy!

In the afternoon, we took Bella for a walk in Lexington Center. Passersby oohed and aahed at how cute the “puppy” was. We treated ourselves to ice cream. I had Heath Bar crunch. Howard had chocolate (of course). We both had hot fudge.

For dinner, we had “indoor shish kebobs”. Even though we had a teaser weather day today, it’s not quite grilling season yet, especially because we use charcoal. We had some beef kebob meat from Codman Farm. I roasted some vegetables under the broiler, seared the beef in a skillet, mixed it all together with yogurt and some seasoning, and finished it under the broiler again. It would have been great with rice pilaf, though I just served with more vegetables.

Indoor Shish Kebobs
Serves 4 – 6
Adapted from “The Best Recipes in the World” by Mark Bittman

2 red peppers
2 Anaheim peppers
1 onion, peeled and halved through the poles
2 -3 tomatoes, halved through the equator and seeded
1 lb beef kebob meat, cut into 1 – 2 chunks
1 cup yogurt
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

On the top rack of the broiler, roast the peppers, onions, and tomatoes. If you need to, cut the red peppers in half if they are too big to fit under the broiler. The onions and tomatoes should be cut side up. Remove the onions and tomatoes when the cut surface starts to char. Turn the peppers until the entire surface is blackened.

Cool vegetables enough so you can handle them. Slice the onions into half moon rings. Peel and coarsely chop the tomatoes. Peel the peppers, seed them, and cut into strips.

In a large skillet, sear the kebab pieces. Turn so all the surfaces are browned. The meat doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through.

Combine the vegetables, meat, yogurt, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread the mixture on a large baking sheet (with sides) and place it under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the meat starts to char. Cut a piece to make sure it is cooked enough inside.

Serve over rice pilaf.