Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Butcher's Wife
While we love living the rural lifestyle, there are a few things I do miss about suburbia. The grocery stores, for example. We do not have the luxury of oodles of choices of exotic produce or lovely meats close at hand. If I travel an hour away, I can find what I want, but that is hardly convenient.
Since I married a butcher, I had the option of asking him to bring home a cut of meat that was superior. (That didn't mean he would always remember to do it, however.) And my own experience of working in the meat market gave me an edge over what to look for in a cut of meat. Now I have no service counter, or meatman to help me get what I want.
My limited choices do not include asking for a specific piece of meat or even a category.
Lamb chops? Forget it.
And when it comes to the staple of almost every kitchen, GROUND BEEF, I am really underwhelmed. The offerings are pitiful. I have not purchased fresh ground beef in five months. And even then, it was just OK, not Dave's Famous Blazing Red Sunglasses Required Ground Beef.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I bought a nice three pound package of beef chuck, labeled as boneless country ribs (O sure.) with nice marbeling and limited amounts of fat. I took it home and cut the meat into large chunks about 1.5-2". Then I popped it, unwrapped, into the freezer for about an hour, until it was stiff and hard, but not totally frozen.
Then I got out my Cuisinart and put a few chunks of frosty beef in and whirled it up. I transferred the chopped bits to a bowl and continued until all the meat was chopped. It was still frosty, but it looked a lot like hamburger should.

Of course the taste test would tell the rest of the story. I had a few bits of fat that I didn't want to chop, so I rendered those in a saute pan and then added my freshly made patty. Salt and pepper were the only other ingredients.
Sure it took a bit of effort, but the resulting burger was worth it. And now I have the rest of the meat wrapped and ready to thaw for my next recipe.
Learning how to make do is kinda like an adventure. Having fresh produce from the garden has already begun, with lettuces and soon, our first radishes. However, the chickens are on strike and I was forced to BUY eggs.
All that crowing with nothing to show for it. Those rascals!


  1. Mel. My chickens didn't lay eggs the first spring I was here in the country either. They were in a pen and after months of eggs, suddenly there were none. My friend at the local feed store told me that they probably weren't getting enough "scratch"... Scratch?? In the pen they had devoured almost all the sand...and they need grit for shell production. She recommended lots of scrap veges (they LOVE lettuce and grapes), some powdered vitamins in their water (you'll find it in little bags at the feed medication...just vitamins) and then, the most important things...ground oyster shell and some cracked corn. Voila!!! EGGS!!! Now my chickens range free and I've never had a problem since then. I took some pictures of two of my little hens yesterday sitting on a mountain of eggs...looking like characters in a Dr. Seuss book! Try scraps, oyster shell, cracked corn and a little bit of vitamin in their water. I'll bet it works.

  2. And once you get them laying, you need to find a local farmer who raises sheep and beef cattle. We used to sell 1/2 or 1/4 beef. All the buyer had to do (besides pay) was call the meat locker to tell them how they wanted their share cut and packaged.

    Of course, you could raise your own....


  3. Judy Sall9:07 AM

    Cuisinart? What ever happened to the good old-fashioned meat grinders we used to attach to the edge of the kitchen counter? I think I still have mine somewhere....

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  5. We get lamb chops at Sams Club, since we moved to a smaller city that's the only place we have seen them - but they are pretty good!

  6. Green Acres pops to mind. I am always learning something new here. Don't know if I will ever use this knowledge, but, hey! You never know. Can't wait to see if the advice works for the chickens.

  7. We recently gave away the old-fashioned meat grinder that belonged to my inlaws and before that their parents. It weighed a ton. Good luck with the chickens-it sounds like it makes sense that they need that calcium and I know birds need the grit to digest stuff. Very cool Mrs. Greenjeans!

  8. Sure does sound like an adventure. I would love to have a vegetable garden. I am blessed with being in a shady area with not enough sunlight to grow anything. I am contemplating a community garden, just need to motivation and the knowledge to get it going. Too late for this year though.
    That burger sure did look tasty.

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