So, what do the head cowboy and his wife think about the all this political bru-ha-ha going on? Well, first and foremost, hallelujah – election season is almost over! At least there is an end in sight to all the hate, evil thoughts, tweets, ads etc that have inundated all of us for too long. Now, I know that once someone is elected today there won’t be an immediate end to said chaos – unfortunately I don’t know that there’s enough dignity on either side to concede graciously. But I pray that by some miracle there is both a gracious winner and loser.
As I prepped for my Junior High Bible study this week, a passage from Exodus really stood out to me.“And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men (and women) – men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible – and appoint them as leaders.” Exodus 18:2. (Parentheses added by me). Whether or not you characterize yourself as a Christian – can you imagine if we as Americans, as people, still held these values as priorities and requirements in our leaders? If we required our leaders, officials and ourselves to be held to these higher standards?
Stereo-typically speaking, the fact that you are a conscientious consumer of food products tends to place you in a category different from the majority. What if we could take some of our effort and concern for the food movement and transfer some of it to the political and social movement? Perhaps many of you already are, and for that we applaud you! I’m challenging all of us, myself and the head cowboy included, to go make a small difference in this next presidential season. I’m not asking you to change the whole world, but if you want to rock that – YOU GO!! Realistically, let’s start small, let’s think about what comes out of our mouths at home, at work, at school, at church…make it positive. Take it to social media: check your posts, your responses – are they helpful, kind, fruitful…unfriend those people who fill your feed with hate or send your blood pressure through the roof. Take 10-15 minutes each day to meditate, pray, journal; just to be still and contemplate what brings you joy.
Because here’s the long and the short of what I believe. No matter who wins the election today, no matter what party is in control, they can’t take away any of these things from you or me! We still are so fortunate and blessed to call ourselves Americans – we have more freedom than so many others can even imagine. We have the ability and duty to take responsibility for our own joy, our own values and what we instill in ourselves and those closest to us! No political candidate or party can take that away from us.
Here’s to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Joy (Because that’s so much better than Happiness)!!
God Bless America and Everyone in it,
Did this title catch your eye, does it sound interesting and maybe scandalous?! If so, read on. While I don’t actually lead a double life in the scintillating way you might have imagined when reading my title, I do in fact feel like I lead a double life.
As you may know, my husband, lovingly referred to as the “Head Cowboy” in most posts, and myself run a grass fed beef business. Part of my role in the company is managing our blog and social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest; Facebook is mostly all the Head Cowboy.
But I’m going to be honest here…CONFESSION TIME…I have a really hard time doing this. I will always present an honest picture of our life & I want to be interesting and real at the same time, but I feel that these things don’t always converge. See, we do raise 100% grass fed beef. Our cattle are happy and on beautiful green grass their entire life; they spend the spring and summer in Gilroy, CA and they spend fall and winter in Catheys Valley and Hornitos, CA. But we don’t live with our cattle. As lovely as that would be, it’s almost impossible. We lease all of our pasture, but it doesn’t come with living quarters, unless we were ready to pop a tent and really “live off the land”! So instead, we live in Turlock, CA, a town of about 75,000 people; we technically live in the “country” but we are between two large dairies (and let’s just say “factory farming” isn’t too far off), we have truck traffic day and night, buzzers moving the cows forward most of the time, and it’s less than the idyllic picture of country life most people have in mind! And trust me; you don’t want pictures and blogs about this! 😉 So here’s where I get stuck. What do I blog about to you, what do I post about to you?
If I had to guess, I’d say you want to see our cows, their pasture, country life; but truth be told, I rarely get out to our ranches. The Head Cowboy does, for sure, but even he gets mired down with the challenges of running our own business. We have two amazing employees, thank God for that! Jaime is our delivery driver and some of you may have met him as he delivered meat to you; Andy is our cowboy and he does the day-to-day ranch work.
So if I’m not at the ranch, what do I do? My typical day is probably pretty similar to yours! We have three kids, Henry, 11 and in 6th grade, Elle, 8 and in 3rd grade, and Charlotte, 2, and at home full time with me. Our kids participate in a unique school program where they are in class 3.5 days and at home 1.5 days. It’s great; we get more time together this way and are able to take advantage of Fridays at home. Both of the older kids are active in 4-H, sports and church activities. We were always a one-activity per kid family, but somehow, the older they get, the harder this is to stick with! I myself take advantage of not “working” full-time and do a lot of volunteer work. I am on the PTA at the kids’ school in the capacity of Treasurer, I teach a Junior High Bible study through Community Bible Study (CBS, a great group for anyone looking for a good Bible study), and I teach one yoga class a week. My husband and I are both active in the local CrossFit community and we’re both leaders for the local 4-H group. Phew…just typing all that gives me a clue why it’s hard to find time to get a family dinner with the 5 of us!
Anyhooo…I type all of this to let you know that I love you, our customers, our readers, those who follow us on social media and I apologize if it feels that I don’t take enough time to acknowledge this and get more posts and blogs out there for you to enjoy. It’s not that I don’t want to…it’s just that my boring, busy day-to-day life might not be what you’d expect from the wife of a rancher, who doesn’t live on the ranch and it doesn’t always provide material for posts or blogs! …this is my Double Life!
In His Peace & Joy,
I know I am totally old school, but I still haven’t wrapped my head around the kids returning to school before Labor Day!! (And this marks our 7th year of kids in school, so apparently I don’t accept change very quickly!!) That being said, I hope the rest of you have accepted that school starts in August and are enjoying the new school year.
For me, when the kids head off to school, I plan, plan, plan, because every year, I have it in my head that I am going to have SO MUCH TIME to accomplish so many tasks that stacked up over the summer. This year that feeling didn’t even last through the first week of school. Part of my problem is that I’m not super at time management, the other part is that I don’t like waking up early and really should get up about an hour earlier to accomplish more before the kids get up!
One area I have made vast improvements in, not to toot my own horn or anything, is menu planning. I tried some of the apps that are out there, but they all wanted money to use the “cool” features and that wasn’t part of our budget! So I went to Target, purchased a whiteboard with spaces for 7 days and every Sunday, I sit down and write out a menu for the week. This saves so much headache at 5pm on any given weeknight, or 7pm if it’s a night with activities! I don’t always stick to the menu, sometimes I move things around; sometimes we have extra leftovers, so we eat those instead. My favorite thing about writing out a menu is what our son has deemed “restaurant night”. Nope, we don’t eat out once a week; “restaurant night” is a fancy and fun way to have leftover night. Everyone gets to choose their own meal, just like at a restaurant, someone is the waiter, usually our 8-year old daughter, “because it’s fun”, then at the end we all bus our own dishes and call it a night.
Our last blog talked about how to stretch a chicken into several meals. This past week I used a Brisket and stretched it into 3 meals. The first was a crockpot meal, one of my favorite things when I know I won’t be home for the whole day. We turned those leftovers into BBQ sandwiches and will be incorporating the rest of the Brisket into tonight’s “Restaurant Night”. So who knows, they could be beef tacos, another BBQ sandwich or perhaps the original Brisket with some fried red potatoes and Brussel’s sprouts. Here’s the recipe for the Brisket along with links to the others. http://tinyurl.com/z49ssf5
Happy Back to School…please leave some comments on your tips to easing back into the school year!!
Easing into Monday Brisket
3 pound Open Space Meats Grass Fed Brisket
½ Bottle Hawaiian Spicy BBQ Sauce
2 tablespoons dried onions or ½ cup sliced onions
8 ounces water
½ cup red wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Penzey’s BBQ Seasoning
Salt and pepper both sides of Brisket
Place in crockpot
Mix BBQ sauce, dried onions, water, red wine and BBQ seasonings together in a bowl (I usually just throw it all in the crock pot to make one less dirty dish!)
Pour mixture over meat in crockpot
Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours
After meat is cooked it should pretty much fall apart as you pull it out, you can slice it or shred it
As many of you out there know, there’s a delicate balance between keeping in line with your family budget and still serving, healthy, nutritious food that you feel happy with, to your family. With that being said, I’m going to devote a few blogs to share how we stretch our meat products (and in doing so, stretch our budget). We’ll start with our Open Space Meats Whole Roaster Pasture Chicken. http://openspacemeats.com/store/
Now, please don’t let “whole chicken” keep you from reading this post. I too was very nervous to try this cooking a whole chicken the first time…I grew up in the 80s when TV dinners and fish sticks were really popular, my parents were conscientious hippies, so they did care about what we ate, (i.e. no sugar, soda or anything overly processed), but they were not “cook it from scratch” cooks. In fact, I’d never even seen a whole bird being cooked until my first Thanksgiving with the head cowboy’s family. My point being, if I can learn to cook a whole chicken, so can you!! And you’ll be so happy you did.
Our family consists of me, the head cowboy and three children (1 boy -11, 1 girl – 8, 1 girl – 2). I’ll be the first to admit that our family eats smaller portions than a lot of people, so this might not seem possible to your family, but remember the rule of thumb, your protein portion should be about the size of your palm.
Monday night I roasted the whole chicken. Here’s the recipe I used, http://tinyurl.com/jv2mgcd
On Tuesday, I pulled all the meat off the bones and shredded a bag for Chicken Tacos and a bag for Southwest Chicken Chili. On That night we made tacos for the grownups and bean and cheese burritos for the kids. I froze the rest of the shredded chicken for the Southwest Chicken Chili we would have that weekend.
On Wednesday, I boiled the carcass for Chicken Broth using Danielle Walker’s recipe, http://tinyurl.com/ht8fjp2, it usually makes about a gallon of good chicken broth.
Saturday I thawed the rest of the shredded chicken and made a hearty Southwest Chicken Chili that fed 4 grownups and 5 kids! So all told, we made 3 meals + Broth for our family.
Now for our left brained friends, here’s the math…
- Online our Open Space Meats Whole Roaster Pasture Chicken is $28.45 http://openspacemeats.com/store/
- We made 3 meals from this chicken. $28.45/3 = $9.48 per meal
- We have 5 people in our family, so $9.48/5 = $1.90 per person per meal (for protein).
- Chicken Broth at Wal Mart is $0.09 per oz.
- We made around 128 oz so that is another $11.52 in value.
The argument I hear most about why people can’t feed their families, healthy, all natural, organic, local food options is cost. I hope by writing this blog and showing the math, you can see, and share, with your friends, that it if you are prudent with your food prep and cooking it can be done! You can feed your family high quality, all natural food that you know is good for you, humanely raised and sustainable…the choice is YOURS!
I’d love to hear from you now, share with me and our readers how you stretch your food and dollars! Also, in the comment section let me know what of our other products you’d like a post on!
Everyone has a memory tied to a sound, a smell or a taste. My grandma raised her family in the 50s and 60s. Cooking, however wasn’t her strong suit. But when it came to the holidays, she always made Beef Brisket.
This was her “fancy” dish and as the day progressed the house would smell more and more of the sauce she cooked the brisket in! My grandma stopped cooking brisket many years ago and we moved on to our own traditions of holiday food, which didn’t include beef brisket. But the other night when I pulled my recipe box off the shelf in lieu of clicking on my Pinterest app on my phone, I knew exactly what recipe I was going to make, Grandma Bev’s Beef Brisket. Now, Grandma would have been a little disappointed in me, because I didn’t warm up a serving platter, place the meat on it and garnish it. This was very important back in the day. Instead, I served it out of the baking dish (gasp!!), but with 3 kids, a busy husband and spending most of the day putting the garden in as a family, there wasn’t sufficient time or reason to plate it and make more dishes!! I’m pretty sure Grandma is looking down and smiling at the fact that I still use her recipe and she may be a tad embarrassed that I’m sharing it with everyone here on our blog! She was always worried about things not being good enough for others, but with that in mind, I can assure you, this is a delicious recipe, especially when made with our tender, grass-fed beef brisket. As our 2-year old said at dinner, “more meat, more meat!!!” …enough said. Enjoy friends 🙂
Recipe for: Beef Brisket
From: Grandma Bev
First step: 4-hours, final heating 40-minutes
6-pound brisket of beef
1 large onion sliced ½-inch thick
1 or 2 bay leaves
16 whole cloves (or ground cloves)
1 clove garlic cut in half (Grandma used the “powder form”)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. dry mustard
2 cups catsup
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Put meat into large saucepan (to boil meat, I used my dutch oven pan, as it is my largest!), cover with water, add next 4 ingredients. Cover and simmer (4 hours until tender). Cool in liquid – drain and trim off excess fat. Refrigerate boiled meat several hours or overnight.
Cut meat across grain into very thin slices. Place slices and stand on edge in large, shallow baking dish. Pour a mixture of remaining ingredients over meat.
Heat in a 350 degree oven for 40-minutes, basking occasionally with sauce.
Arrange overlapping slices on heated serving platter and garnish (I don’t bother to heat platter usually!)
**Can be made ahead ~ **Can be frozen
A Family Day at the Ranch
One of the challenges about being a first generation ranching family in California is the lack of available land! As much as we’d love to paint the picture that we lay our heads down right next to the rolling hills where our cattle are out peacefully grazing, this is not the reality of our life! We lease all of the ranches our cattle graze on, and with pasture land becoming more and more limited, we must take what we can, which often times can be far away.
You may be reading this wondering, why is this important?
It simply adds another component to what we do. We know our customers and followers enjoy getting a glimpse into what we do and how we do it, so the idea of blogging about a “family day at the ranch” seemed like a good idea!
When we started Open Space Meats, we had 1 child who was 18-months old. Whenever Seth, the head cowboy, had to head out to the ranch to do things, we’d pack Henry up in the truck, he’d sleep the whole way there, and we would spend the day at the ranch. We’d bring a picnic, check cattle, fix fence, etc., and when we were all done, we’d head back to our house in Newman. As the years have come and gone, so have various leases and ranches. We’ve added two more children to the mix, considerably more cattle, and gratefully, many more customers! As many of you know, the more people in your family, the more activities there seem to be and free time seems to grow smaller and smaller! So now, a family day at the ranch isn’t quite so common place.
This past Saturday we were blessed with the opportunity to go out to the ranch with Seth. It is off-season for everybody’s sports, there weren’t any birthday parties to attend or family events we needed to be at. And thankfully, nobody was sick! So we took advantage of this moment, as well as the beautiful sunshine and packed up the family! Here’s what that looked like. The kids and I stayed at the house and packed a picnic lunch, finished up chores, and other miscellaneous items, while Seth drove to the office to get our ranch truck. He had to pick up the 4-wheeler, load it into the ranch truck and then head back to the house for all of us! We moved car seats into the pick-up, loaded up 3 dogs and everyone’s necessities and we were off!!
It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to get from our house to the ranch in Catheys Valley. It was a beautiful drive, the sun was shining, the skies were blue and for the first time in several years the grass has a green tinge to it!! One kiddo napped the whole way there, the other one read and the oldest looked out the window. When we were about 5 minutes from the ranch gate, the reader got carsick! Luckily she made it out of the car and it didn’t dampen her spirits. Once we got through the gate and up to the ranch everybody piled out of the car and ran around for a bit.
There is something completely freeing about getting out of town and up to the ranch, I can visibly see a load come off the head cowboy’s shoulders and our children act like kids from years past, they amuse themselves in the great outdoors without any screens, devices, toys, etc.…it is a beautiful sight to behold.
As we no longer can all fit on the 4-wheeler, the kids have to take turns helping out Dad. Elle went with Dad first to check cattle; while they were away, Henry, Charlotte and I wandered around the property, exploring, climbing rocks and shooting photos.
After about an hour, Henry got his turn checking cattle with Dad and the girls and I hung out. When the work was all done, we spent the last hour of sunlight enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, watching an amazing sunset and enjoying a day with nothing in particular to do!
Around sunset we packed everyone and everything back into the truck and headed home. It was a mostly quiet drive home, we had worn out kids and worn out dogs.
And like every time we head to the ranch, the head cowboy and I discussed the challenges of living one place and ranching another. It’s not unlike so many who live in the valley and commute to a big city for work, except that we aren’t commuting to a big city; we are commuting to the country! We’ve done this for close to 10-years now and there is never an easy answer. As nice as it would be for the head cowboy and I to pack everyone up and move to the hills, there’s so much we’d miss about where we live. The ranch offers peace, solitude, beauty and a wonderful environment to raise children in. But it doesn’t offer a wonderful school, sports and activities for the kids; Bible study and an amazing church; accessibility to our office and cold storage, like we have where we are. (Not to mention, there isn’t a home available there at the moment either.) So for now, there still isn’t an easy answer, other than to live where we are planted and enjoy it! Raising cattle the way we do is so important to us, that it is worth the long drive, long hours and challenges unique to first generation ranchers. It is the way of life, and the path that we’ve chosen for the moment. We enjoy sharing all we do with you, our friends, customers and followers!
Father’s day is fast approaching and I just wanted to share some thoughts. As many of you know (or at least you should know) we are a family company. Which means everybody participates, right down to the kids. We have three awesome, intelligent, good looking, charming, and above-average children.
As a business owner I have to wear a lot of different hats. Of all the job titles I hold (Cowboy, entrepreneur, meat salesman, truck driver, janitor, customer service agent, and rancher) Dad is the job I am most challenged by, and the most proud of. It is the job that requires the most dedication, the most time the most patience and by far is the most rewarding. The job of Dad takes up 80% the space on my resume and 100% of my heart. It’s important. That is all.
So for Father’s Day may I offer some advice… Don’t get your Dad a tie, chances are he doesn’t like wearing them. No power tools; although they are very cool, they just imply all the work we haven’t gotten done yet. Don’t get Dad a BBQ because as much fun as it is to play with fire it is still work to cook. So what is the solution?
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. They are right. Oh… so right. Cook him some steaks and get the man a beer and I promise no Father will be disappointed with that. It always fits just right, he will like the color for sure and you don’t have to fill out a warrantee card.
If you review some of the slogans and names of our major grocers you can learn a LOT about what we value in the food system in America.
- Wal Mart – Save Money. Live Better.
- Winco – Your low price leader.
- Stater Bros. – Where you always get more… For less!
- Food 4 Less… Well, I guess that name tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it?
We value a bargain. And why not? Everybody LOVES to save money and I am no exception. I have even been accused of being, you guessed it CHEAP.
If you stop to think about it though, not one of those slogans say anything like…
- Our food is nutritious!
- It tastes good!
- Our food is GOOD for you.
- Our food will make you smell better! (OK that last one is a stretch but you get the point).
It is not an exaggeration to say that big grocery chains spend millions of dollars on marketing, and they are not wrong to do so. It is important to get the message to your customers that they want to hear. In this case it is what I would consider the lowest common denominator… It’s cheap. Buy some. In fact, buy a whole LOT.
We have seen the enemy and it is us. Only we can change it. Let’s put our “VALUES” into our food system and not just “value”. It is going to cost a little more. But if we as a nation decide we are tired of walking around (sitting may be closer to the truth) fat and sick, then WE must do something about it. It starts with how we spend our dollars. If we want healthy, nutritious food raised sustainably and humanely then we must demand it, and then… Pay for it.
Thanks – Seth
Have an “All Natural Burger”
Recently a major fast food chain launched its own version of “The All Natural Burger”. It boasts no hormones, free range and grass fed. Last year another nationwide chain (that markets itself extensively as a healthy and green option to fast food) announced something similar. I usually like to let this kind of thing slide, but I just can’t keep quiet on this one. I suppose this can be seen as a victory for grass fed beef, it is popular enough now to be seen as almost mainstream. Then again it can be seen as a loss for those of us that have worked very hard to bring all natural grass fed beef to consumers. Let me explain…
Per the press release of that fast food chain, they are sourcing their beef from Australia and South America. Ok. Great. So it won’t in anyway help American ranchers that have worked hard to popularize Grass Fed Beef as a product. Next up, the fact that in MOST of the world’s major beef producing nations grass fed is the normal production method for beef. So they haven’t actually done anything special.
What they did was look at their costs and decide that US beef was too expensive (US beef prices have been setting all-time highs this past year) and need a cheaper option. Soooo…. They decided to buy foreign beef at lower prices and see if they could greenwash that decision by marketing it as something special. Which it is not. What is the carbon footprint on beef shipped across the Pacific Ocean?
You know what? None of that matters. Why? Because we do what we do because we believe in it. NOT because it is a marketing gimmick. NOT because it is suddenly trending on Twitter. Feeding people is a noble profession and we choose to do it nobly. That means holding true to our values. Looking after our animals, being faithful stewards of the land and serving our customers.
So we think you should have an all natural grass fed burger. Just make it from somebody you trust.
Last week, the Republic that we call home compelled us to raise our voices and be heard. I admit it, I like voting. I like to smile really big at the elderly lady volunteering at the polling station, I like knowing that when I pull the curtain behind me I won’t be bothered (sometimes I am tempted to stay longer for that reason). Then I get a sticker that I can wear proudly (like when you got a gold star in Kindergarten). The best part is that no matter who you are, on some, albeit small, level you made your voice heard.
I am a big fan of making your voice heard in very small ways. I know that seems ironic since you are reading this in a blog that reaches hundreds of people. But you, our customers, are what I am talking about when I say making your voice heard! Let me explain, I hear a lot about changing the food system and how our way of raising meat is good, but other ways are bad, etc, etc. And while I don’t mean to diminish that sentiment, because it is very important, but it is just that, a sentiment…until you vote.
When we started this company, it was a vote, a vote to do something different in the food system. We were tired of the business as usual status quo of the beef industry. We voted…with our feet…we decided to do something different. And in that small way we have made a difference in the food system. And so do you, as our customers, because you have been there to support us. When you buy beef from us it is casting a vote for sustainable agriculture, for family farms, and for local products. When you cast that vote it is a referendum on who we are and what we do. So far you, our customers, have enabled us to continue doing what we love to do! We thank you for your vote and hope you continue to help us make positive changes in our food system!