Beef

Good Crud

December 4, 2013
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When I was a kid we were poor. Like welfare, food stamps, free school lunches poor. I am not ashamed of this, it helped form the self reliant and frugal person I am today.

I remember standing in line with my mother for assistance and noting that the other women and children in line did not look much like me but that was more observation than shame (Oakland CA, where we lived in the early 1970′s was predominantly African American). I remember my mom using food stamps when they were still paper coupons and not a plastic card, and shopping at the “Dented Can Store” when you could get 10 cans of corn for a dollar and who cared if they were dented? School lunch tickets were my normal.

Again, it was all ok by me because my mom was a really good cook and most of the time we …

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Permission to be Imperfect (Beef Soup with Wild Rice)

January 3, 2013

One of the pleasures of being a comfortable cook and having some basics on hand is that you can throw together something to eat at (relatively) the last minute. Case in point; after the holidays I had a little over a pound of beef from a standing rib roast. It was beautifully cooked rare, and I anticipated that we’d make sandwiches with the leftovers. But days passed and for whatever reason, it was still there. Suddenly I found myself with this delicious piece of meat, and a need to make something with it, lest I allow it to spoil.

I rummaged through my refrigerator and pantry cabinets pulling out remnants from past meals (half a diced onion leftover from brunch, a couple of ounces of sliced bell peppers leftover from making pizza, about of cup of dried wild rice in the cabinet, etc) and slowly the meal came …

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How To Make Meatballs

March 7, 2012
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I was never a Girl Scout, but I am always prepared.

Make that almost always prepared. 

Every year we throw a New Year’s Day brunch party. Over the years it has grown to about 40 people, complete with pounds and pounds of bacon, kick ass Bloody Marys, Hoppin’ John, crepes, pizzas and more. Two years ago, the party which started before noon, lasted well into the evening. We literally ran out of food (gasp!) with a dozen people still in the house. They didn’t go home until we ran out of booze. Alas, I was unprepared.

This year I vowed to be ready. What would be better to whip up in a flash but homemade spaghetti and meatballs?
A couple of days before New Year’s my mother shared with me her recipe and together we made 80 meatballs and a vat of sauce. The plan was to heat …

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Cannellini Bean Soup With Beef, Roasted Eggplant and Orange Gremolata

December 7, 2011
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Last week was one of the most personally challenging in recent memory. You know the expression “when life hands you lemons…”? Last week, life threw oranges the size of softballs at me. The week included the death of our beloved cat Basil (ode below), a wicked cold which left me gasping for breath (still am), and hurricane force winds (in Los Angeles!) which caused damage to our roof, left debris all over our yard and left us without power for 36 hours, all while I was working extra long hours. Any one of those things alone could leave a girl searching the heavens and asking “Why me?”, yet all together, I just had to laugh (after I stopped crying) and say “Seriously??

The last thing I wanted to do was cook, and for the most part I didn’t. But when I read about the “Souperbowl” challenge

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Pastrami Made From Scratch

March 14, 2011
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When I saw this month’s Charcutiere Challenge, “to brine, and then corn, a piece of beef” I admit I was disappointed. Not in the challenge part of it, but by the fact that I really don’t like corned beef. Its saltiness and flaccid texture has never appealed to me. My mother agreed and suggested we try making pastrami which is basically brined beef taken one step further by applying a dry rub and smoking it after the brining process.

This is not a single day, cook-to-eat process. It’s a multi-day, you-have-to-really-want-it project. However, like most things which are cooked from scratch at home, the end product is worth it, significantly better than anything you typically buy in the grocery store. I still think pastrami is too salty for my personal preference, but I really enjoyed the sandwiches I ate with it on the home made rye bread I made …

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Making My Own Burgers, Review of the Maverick 5501 Grinder, and a Giveaway!

January 3, 2011
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I have long wanted to try grinding my own beef to make hamburgers from scratch. This desire grew stronger after seeing the movie Food, Inc.; I haven’t been able to eat commercially ground beef, and more specifically, a fast food burger since. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had a hamburger in the last 2 years, but when I want a burger, I usually make one at home with organic beef (albeit imported from Australia, so not exactly local). Since I’m a do-it-yourself kinda gal with a healthy dose of ”Type-A” personality thrown in, I thought I’d opt for a little more control over my burgers and make my own from scratch.

A little while ago I was approached by Pleasant Hill Grain, a Nebraska-based company which specializes in quality kitchen equipment and supplies who asked if I wanted to try their Maverick 5501 Meat & Food Grinder

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