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It Don’t Come Easy

February 11, 2014
Morning milking

Morning milking – two kinds of Yak tracks…

This picture is the story of my life let me tell you – I spend a part of each day looking at cows asses.  The thaw has arrived and all the work that goes with that.  We didn’t have too much snow, but it was the half-inch of ice that brought some grief.  Mostly in the way of broken limbs on trees (none on us – thanks Yaktrax!) and maybe some Populus buds for salve.

Trying to find some time to write a coherent post about winter water, but not finding the words with all that outside work calling me.  So I’ll leave you with a frugal cooking tip.  We’re having beef stew tonight, with beef of course, and home canned tomatoes, green beans, summer squash, dehydrated chanterelles, onions and garlic from dry storage and carrots, rutabagas and parsnips from the garden “root cellar.”  Even though we have a freezer full of meats, that don’t come easy.  There’s a lot of work involved getting that beef in my freezer.  So I stretch it, not for some idea of a meatless meal or day of the week, but because there is a whole lot of living involved in that little package of stew meat I’m stretching today. My family’s living, the steer’s living, and the farm’s living.  Whole foods at their best.  Grown and consumed where they started.  It’s pretty special.  Maybe I am stretching the memories of all that, or maybe not.

It’s pretty simple really and a real budget saver.  I simply brown the meat as you do for many dishes, and I reserve half for the next day’s stew.  No one misses it, out of sight, out of mind.  And you know how it goes, a lot of the meat gets fished out the first serving leaving scant portions for the next day.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben Hewitt permalink
    February 11, 2014 1:56 pm

    reminds me of something my friend Richard Sachs, who is sort of a zen builder of high end bicycle frames, likes to say: “It’s simple, but it’s not easy.”

    We had beef stew yesterday, too. With dried chanterelles, even!

  2. February 11, 2014 4:01 pm

    I love the photo! Very eloquent! And your stew recipe is making me hungry . . .

  3. February 11, 2014 7:23 pm

    I know exactly what you mean about the stew – you need to “stretch” it, as my mother used to say!

  4. February 11, 2014 8:28 pm

    Dear Husbandry Matron, The beef is fine, but with all the other things you mentioned! Wow! what a feast! All those homegrown Vegetables! I might even forget to put the beef in and never miss it! Another big ice and snow storm is bearing down on us tonight here in Alabama…(so unusual for us!) And I am planting some of my early spring crops today…indoors…in gallon jugs they call mini-greenhouses and plan to get them set out in the ice and snow tomorrow. I will see if they work this way instead of putting them under lights in the house. I read it under winter gardening on the internet. Each year I like to try something new. But I saved some seeds to do the traditional way too. I enjoy your articles so much. Can’t do so much like you do anymore, but I kind of live the excitement of farming through reading your stories. Thank you for all the inspiration!
    Grandma Sarah

    • February 11, 2014 9:09 pm

      Sarah, you’re so right – the beef was pretty tasty, but it sure wasn’t necessary. I think it will taste even better tomorrow night!

      You’re entirely welcome Sarah! Stay safe and warm in that storm!

  5. February 11, 2014 9:08 pm

    I like that idea of saving half the meat to add back the next day. I’m the worst one for sneaking pieces of meat out of the leftovers:)

  6. February 11, 2014 9:10 pm

    That’s a great idea, saving half of the meat to add the next day. I’m the worst one for sneaking pieces of meat out of the leftovers.

  7. February 12, 2014 5:03 am

    I do the same thing. I chop my pound of hamburger in half and nobody misses the smaller amount of meat. Good meat is expensive, no matter how you get it.

  8. Julie permalink
    February 12, 2014 5:29 am

    Are your summer squash canned? Frozen? Dehydrated? I haven’t figured out a good way to preserve them and, for now, just enjoy the heck out of them when they’re fresh…

    • February 12, 2014 5:51 am

      Julie, I do the same as you, we love them during the summer and as long as they will go, popular for succession planting here :) I do can some just for soups and I like them in my lasagna sauce. Frozen and dehydrated didn’t taste the same to me.

      • Beth Greenwood permalink
        February 12, 2014 10:17 am

        Grated or shredded summer squash freezes well, in my experience. The key is to know when you should drain off the resulting water it loses when thawing. If I’m doing soup or stew, I figure it into the calculations for whatever fluid I’m using — usually about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water per 2 cups squash. For zucchini bread, fritters, etc. I drain the squash and mix in a little of the water into the milk, buttermilk, or whatever. Have to be careful here because it can upset the ratio of acid to baking soda for the baking process. For hot zucchini/corn/green onion as a side dish, I simmer off the water until the squash browns a little bit, then add the frozen corn, let it heat through and stir in some butter and finely sliced green onions or chives (white and green parts). I have also found that the variety of summer squash you use makes a difference when freezing grated squash. Black Zucchini, Early Prolific Straightneck and Cocozelle are all good choices. I didn’t like the way hybrids tasted after freezing.

        • February 12, 2014 10:35 am

          B. sounds yummy, I miss the zucchini browns come winter, maybe this year if I have enough freezer space I’ll try again. Cocozelle is my favorite of all I think, fresh or put up. I like to let them get huge and just throw them on the porch, usually they keep until it freezes and we’re getting a little tired of summer squash.

  9. Beth in Ky permalink
    February 12, 2014 6:07 am

    This is one of those pictures worth a 1,000 words! The frozen water at the barn has been a struggle the last 5 weeks. Moving that tank heater from here to there. The pond has been frozen 5 inches thick, luckily it is spring fed & the cows have a tiny area where they drink from. My hubby is the meat-sneaker-outer. I start to heat it the next day, look in and say “What the %^&*!)

  10. Jennifer permalink
    February 12, 2014 10:51 am

    We just picked up a load of beef from our steer from the abattoir yesterday and stocked the freezer. It’s so nice to look in and know that I have food for the next 8-12 months. Even so, I ration it out as if it won’t last. I make ever bit count!

  11. Charlotte permalink
    February 12, 2014 2:58 pm

    MoH, I echo your sentiment about looking at asses all day, the variable being mine are of the human element who work in corporate. I’d gladly trade views with you and your bovine in a heartbeat! Until such time, I’ll just continue living vicariously through your posts. Stay safe and warm, my neck of the woods (NJ) is bracing for a Nor’easter with blizzard predictions, on top of the residual ice and snow from two previous storms. Summer can’t get here soon enough!

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