Cast and Crew

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beef. It's What's for Dinner, Part 1

Eating local is trendy. It's good for the environment and boosts the local economy. Farmers' markets and CSAs bring consumers closer to growers, and big box distributing companies get pushed back to the periphery. We've joined this bandwagon recently, and we're learning how to find local foods to replace our pre-packaged favorites. More of our money goes into the local farmers' markets and the co-op down the street than to Safeway or Costco, and we're doing better at growing more of our own food.

Let's be clear; we are not obsessed. Sure, it's great to purchase local foods as much as possible, but we love chocolate. I love tea. Olive oil is a must, and Aimee couldn't live without orange juice. We have our weaknesses. One of those is steak.

I was a vegetarian for seven years. I wasn't always loyal to the soybean. I ate fish and chicken when I was low on protein, but I stayed clear of beef and pig meats the whole time. It wasn't out of conscientious objection or environmental reasons, it was because my body just couldn't handle some foods well. When you're at the point of putting A-1 steak sauce on tofu, you know it's time to give meat another chance.

Enter the girlfriend who could not survive without steak. She would eat steak every night of the week and be content. She eats steak for breakfast on Christmas day. When we go out, steak is her favorite thing to order. Let's just say, steak has a stable home with us. So where does one find local beef?

A quick google search will get you started on local farms and ranches producting grass-fed beef in your area. We found several, and we decided to buy half a side of beef for our first attempt. On the Lamb Farm in Arlington has been helpful and friendly every step of the way. We ordered our quarter of a cow and a whole lamb back in February, paid a small deposit, and waited. The call came about three weeks ago. Our cow was headed to Del Fox Meats to be cut to our specifications. Three weeks of aging and a lot of butcher paper later, WE HAVE STEAK!

A second chest freezer found a home in the basement. We also installed extra shelving for all the processing of jams and pickles we're doing this year. How much space does 180 pounds of beef take up? How long will it last us? Those are all questions we're trying to answer. We'll keep you posted as we learn.

While I was up north collecting a quarter of a cow, I also stopped in at Eagle Haven Winery and picked up a case of their Pinot Noir (above) and another case of Sangiovese (below). They give a fantastic discount when you buy in bulk! Their bottles of wine range from $20 to $25 a piece, but we spent around $14 per bottle by buying them by the case. The Pinot Noir is grown in their own vineyards. It doesn't get much more local than that.

As we stock up for the fall and winter to come, it's comforting to see that running out of wine will not be a problem we face for a few months at least. And, if all else fails, Aimee is putting together quite the collection of locally based fruit alcohols! We'll tell you more about that in another post.


  1. Wow--you're doing so great! I'd LOVE to have an animal processed and freeze it like that. I just saw a free deep freezer on Craigslist too. I should really be considering this.

  2. That is great! I am trying to eat locally too. Its hard when my garden is really bad this year. Oh well, there is always the farms market.

  3. I`ll admit that where we live buying local beef is very easy, since we`re surrounded by cattle. As a person who has two steers destined for the freezer it`s a very nic feeling knowing just where and WHAT went into our steak and hamburger.

  4. I always get exciting when I see a freshly stock pantry, freezer... but its nothing compared to a freshly stocked wine cellar! Great Job with going local too!

  5. What a great idea. We eat local a lot and use our local farmers market but have never got round to buying meat in bulk. I very much like the idea of buying wine in bulk too! We did find our local flour mill though and have started buying bread flour by the sack which makes like much easier and cheaper - love the blog and what youre doing!


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