Beefing up

14 April 2012 § 3 Comments

Even though my grandfather was a butcher, I was a vegetarian for about 20 years. I’m discovering a whole new world of meat.

I love this infographic from It demystifies those cuts of meat so you can see where all the bits come from. It also offers explanation of why a little grass-fed beef is good for you.

Beef Infographic

Source: FrugalDad

Go west little piggy

18 July 2011 § 9 Comments

This weekend, This Little Piggy herded the grass-fed family and went to Pakatan Farmers’ Market in Upstate New York.

I was determined that for once we did not arrive just as everyone was packing up, and so for the first time in a long while, we made it to a Farmers’ Market before noon. You’d think it would be easy getting two four-and-a-half-year-olds into a car, wouldn’t you? Or perhaps you wouldn’t depending on your knowledge of twin toddlers…

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The market is set in the beautiful rolling hills of Delaware County, NY — the perfect backdrop for the big, round, red barn that provides the focal point for its vendors.

The market grows all the time with new farmstands appearing with each new visit. As well as fresh, locally grown produce and plants, there were crafts – ranging from scarves, soap, jewelry, the obligatory tie-dye (I do wonder if anyone specifically goes out to buy tie-dye) to cute little felt drinks coasters with bears on.

Of course there was the usual array of tempting snacks — ice creams, waffles and several bakeries plying their wares — but one thing struck me as odd: no doughnuts. A farmers’ market without doughnuts? How can that be? That said, the smell of the burnt sugar from the waffle stand more than compensated for the doughnut-free zone.

The Ladies™ were extremely happy petting a tray full of  yellow ducklings. These cuties drew every market attendee under 10 years of age to Lilac’s farmstand. When asked how soft they were to touch, The Ladies™ replied: “softer than a puffy pillow” and “softer than a fluffy cloud.” What more proof do you need?

All the while, Tundra Brewery – rookie brewmasters from Stamford, NY,  kept King Marv happy with their free beer samples and the six-pack he took home.

We bought a pound of grass-fed ground beef from Sap Hollow Farm to make burgers (see recipe below). I spent some time chatting to the very wonderful Shannon Hayes who runs the farm with her husband. She is a writer and farmer and an expert on grass-fed beef. I bought a copy of her book The Grassfed Gourmet because, as a former pescetarian, I needed to brush up on my meat cooking skills. Her book not only offers lots of delicious recipes and advice on how to handle and cook grass-fed meat, but also the simple reasons why you should buy it over the ubiquitous bland, processed, corn-fed variety.

Best beef burger recipe ever below….keep reading…

Other goodies we came away with were fava beans, black raspberries and tiny perfect round plums. The kind duckling lady from Lilac also gave The Ladies™ her last two zucchini flowers.

There you go that burger recipe (from The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook)

Best-Ever Beef Burgers

Makes 4 hamburgers

  • 1½ lb ground beef preferably 80% lean (20% fat)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried, minced onion
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs

Place the beef in a mixing bowl. Whisk together the egg, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, minced onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour over the ground beef; add the bread crumbs. Using your hands, lightly mix all the ingredients together.

Grill or fry over a medium-high heat. Leave the grill uncovered while the burgers cook. 2 ½ minutes on the first side and 3 minutes after flipping will yield a medium burger.

Don’t press the burgers with your spatula while you are cooking – you’ll squeeze out the juices.

Serve in a toasted bun.

Pakatan Farmers’ Market is open from 9am to 2pm every Saturday throughout the summer. Located on Rte 30 just south of Roxbury, NY in Delaware County.

Well worth the trip and not just for the stunning setting.

Mary Meatballs

7 February 2011 § 2 Comments

The Ladies™ are not huge carnivores but they have recently discovered meatballs, thanks to the power of television and Olivia the Pig’s love of them. Hang on, isn’t that how we ended up with BSE? Cows eating other animals? Anyway meatballs, made with grass-fed beef have become a weekly staple in our house this winter as the kids love them with spaghetti and we love them with a bottle of red wine. They are such a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs, comfort food, perfect to keep the cold at bay. The sauce is really rich as it has been cooked twice. If there are any left (no chance in our house), they are even better on the second day. Meatballs have taken on an extra dimension thanks to a character that the eldest of The Ladies™ dreamed up. We were back in Wales, driving in the car and she started this bizarre chant – a list that went something like “pink pony, big girl’s bike, crayons, drawing pad, doll, books, little kid’s computer, ear muffs, toy unicorn….Mary Meatballs has TOO MANY PRESENTS!!!!”

In case you were wondering Mary Meatballs is a tiny girl who lives in her tummy.

Here is my recipe for meatballs, not sure how authentic it is – I hope I don’t offend any of my Italian friends, but there is never an empty plate.

Meatball Recipe (serves 4)


2 slices stale bread, crusts removed

3 fl oz milk

4 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion chopped

1½ lb lean minced beef (preferably grass-fed)

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly grated nutmeg

½ pint dry white wine

2 x  13 oz can chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper

Basil leaves

Buttered spaghetti, to serve

Chop the bread up small and leave to soak with the milk in a large bowl. Heat the oil and fry the garlic and onions for 5 minutes until soft and just beginning to brown. Combine the meat with the onion and garlic, the Parmesan, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Work together with your hands until the mixture is well mixed and smooth.

Roll the mixture into 28 even-sized balls. Heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches, then transfer to a shallow, ovenproof dish.

Pour the wine and tomatoes into the frying pan and bring to the boil, scraping up any sediment from the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and boil rapidly for 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the meatballs, cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for one hour or until tender. Serve with buttered spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves.

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