Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Beef’ Category

Two great beef recipes

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The Niece made a barbecued brisket for the celebration of The Grand-Nephew’s first birthday, and I was reminded of a favorite recipe using brisket: Boeuf à la Flamande, from Myra Waldo’s fine book Beer and Good Food.

And that in turn reminded me of the best Beef Stroganoff recipe I’ve ever found.

Both of these are more autumn and winter dishes, but these recipes are so good you might want to put a reminder in your calendar for when the days grow shorter and colder. This, of course, applies only to those who still eat beef, something I now very seldom do. (I did yesterday, and my fasting blood glucose this morning shows the effects.)

Written by Leisureguy

5 July 2021 at 10:36 am

Although some plants are included, I would not call this dish vegan

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But it does look like a good way to cook a steak.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2021 at 2:38 pm

Braised beef short ribs

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I do follow a whole-food plant-based diet on the whole, but occasionally I have a hankering for something not included in the diet. It started with watching a video by Chef John of, and then I found a video whose technique I liked better (and made more sense to me) by Helen Rennie. Moreover, in the notes to the video on YouTube, she provides the full text of the recipe.

Obviously, I’m not making six pounds. I just got 3 shorts, though after seeing them in the pan I’m using (2-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan), I think that if I ever do this again I will go with 4 short ribs which would fit the pan better.

UPDATE: The parchment-paper lid worked much better than I expected. It occurred to me that you could avoid the boiling problem by cooking at 200ºF for 6-8 hours. Also, a fat separator obviates the need for refrigerating overnight. It was very tasty with tarragon mustard and horseradish (and the rest of the red wine).

Here’s her video:

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2021 at 3:28 pm

3-D printed meat and (vegan v. whole-food plant-only)

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A vegan is not the same as a person who (like me) follows a whole-food plant-only diet. For one thing a vegan generally puts a high priority on animal welfare and will (for example) not use products derived from animals (no leather shoes, belts, wallets, or handbags, for example, and no wool sweaters or shirts or socks). The WFPO person is focused on food, not attire, and their primary concern is health.

One effect of this difference is that vegans will eat many foods that a WFPO person will avoid — namely, foods manufactured from refined ingredients using industrial processes. In fact, in a typical supermarket there’s often a whole section of such highly processed foods specifically marketed to vegans — imitation meat (“field roast,” for example), imitation cheese, and the like. These are about as far from whole foods as you can get (and, oddly, they are sold at Whole Foods despite the market’s name).

So now we have manufactured meats that do not involve killing animals but instead are made by cultivating animal muscle and fat cells and printing them to make a steak. A vegan (preumably) could happily eat such a steak — no animal suffering involved — whereas a WFPO person will avoid them because, despite the absence of animal slaughter, the food still is high in (for example) saturated fats and in its effects on IGF-1. 

It will be interesting to see how this new food plays out in practice, but it certainly strikes me as vegan-acceptable.

Laura Relley reports in the Washington Post:

An Israeli company unveiled the first 3-D-printed rib-eye steak on Tuesday, using a culture of live animal tissue, in what could be a leap forward for lab-grown meat once it receives regulatory approval.

During the coronavirus pandemic, alternative protein products have soared in popularity, prompting nearly every multinational food corporation to hasten to bring its own versions to market. Frequently plant-based products have been patties or processed nuggets — “everyday” foods easier for companies to produce — that aim to ease the climate effects of the worst offender: Americans eat nearly 50 billion burgers a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Aleph Farms’ new 3-D bioprinting technology — which uses living animal cells as opposed to plant-based alternatives — allows for premium whole-muscle cuts to come to market, broadening the scope of alt-meat in what is expected to be a rich area of expansion for food companies.

Several other companies are sprinting to capture what is expected to be a robust appetite for what is often called “cultivated meat.” San Diego-based BlueNalu has announced its intent to bring cell-based seafood products to market in the second half of this year; Israel-based Future Meat Technologies and Dutch companies Meatable and Mosa Meat aim to have cultivated meat products in the market by 2022, each with proprietary methods of growing meat tissues from punch biopsies from live or slaughtered animals.

But the lack of a regulatory framework could stymie the companies’ race to market. In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the world’s first head of state to eat cultivated meat, and that same month Singapore became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for the sale of cultivated meat. It remains unclear when other countries will follow suit. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has not set a date for when it will rule on the matter.

The new meat-making process, developed with research partners at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, prints living cells that are incubated on a plant-based matrix to grow, differentiate and interact to achieve the texture and qualities of a real steak. It has a system similar to an animal’s vascular system, which allows cells to mature and nutrients to move across thicker tissue, resulting in a steak with a similar shape and structure to traditional cow tissue before and during cooking.

“It’s not just proteins. It’s a complex, emotional product,” says Aleph chief executive Didier Toubia. He says the product mirrors the sensory quality, texture, flavor and fatty marbling of a traditionally produced rib-eye.

Toubia’s claim will be quickly tested. Unlike plant-based burger patties or meat strips used in a more complex dish, Aleph’s rib-eye will often be served unadorned and at the center of a plate — with no bun, sauce or other ingredients to disguise it. Toubia said the company will even be able to adapt the steak to a specific country or palate, for instance, making it more or less tender, according to a consumer’s taste.

“With cows, the breed has a role, but the quality comes from the feed. With our cultivated meat it is similar,” Toubia said. “We control the cultivation process, and we can design meat specifically for a market, adjusting the amount of collagen and connective tissues and fat, to tailor meat to specific requirements. The idea is not to replace traditional agriculture but to build a second category of meat.” . . .

Continue reading.  There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2021 at 11:00 am

Taking walks again and other health notes

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Regular readers know that about 18 months ago I adopted a whole-food plant-only diet, which I’ve described in some detail. My motivation was primarily to improve my overall health and more specifically to help with my type 2 diabetes.

Whole-food” means no refined or highly processed foods, which eliminates refined sugar (and foods that contain it), refined salt (and foods that contain it), flour (and foods made from it), and foods made from refined ingredients using industrial processes and sold packaged with a brand name (and heavy marketing) — for example, Cheez Whiz, Diet Coke, and most “convenience” foods. 

Plant-only” means no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs (and no foods that contain those as ingredients — thus no mayonnaise, for example). 

To make sure that I cover the nutritional bases, I used Cronometer for a while. (It’s free, but I opted for Gold status, which provides some additional features for $35/year.) Using Cronometer did indeed reveal some deficiencies, which I mostly corrected through diet — for example, I wasn’t getting enough selenium, so I added 1 brazil nut per day to my diet; I was short of B5 (pantothenic acid), so I added mushrooms to my daily diet (since I like mushrooms). (The search term “foods high in…” is quite useful, though Cronometer itself can make suggestions).

A standard issue in plant-only diets is vitamin B12, and I took care of that by chewing (for faster absorption) a B12 tablet (cyanocobalamin) each morning (with the brazil nut, as it happens). I also take a vitamin D supplement (living as I do in a high latitude, thus with weaker sunlight). And as I posted yesterday, I am now adding a vitamin A supplement. In general, Cronometer showed that my diet was nutritionally sound.

Because of my diabetes, I had been following a low-carb high-fat diet. (“High” is somewhat misleading. It means only that you add enough fat to match the calories lost by cutting net carbs (total carbs minus dietary fiber). For example, if you reduce net carbs by 100g (which is 400 calories), you add 45g fat (405 calories).)

The low-carb diet, together with medication, did bring my blood glucose under control, but as I posted, the reason was that I was not eating any carbs to speak of — around 30g/day of net carbs. On the whole-food plant-only (WFPO) diet, I increased my intake of net carbs from around 30g/day to around 145g/day. However, my intake of dietary fiber also greatly increased (eating whole foods, avoiding refined foods, and eating only plants means you get a lot of fiber). On my new diet my intake of dietary fiber is around 60g/day. (Meat, fish, dairy, and eggs contain zero dietary fiber — and dietary fiber is essential for the health of the gut microbiome, which is essential for your own health.)

It took me a while to find my footing and develop new routines and patterns of eating, but through trial and error I developed an eating pattern based on Dr. Michael Greger’s Daily Dozen. The Daily Dozen provides a template and framework that made it easy to plan my daily food intake.

As a result of the change in diet, my diabetes significantly improved (as did my blood pressure), to the degree that my doctor told me to discontinue all the medications I had been taking. My HbA1c went to 5.2% (well within normal range) and my fasting blood glucose was around 5.5 mmol/L (99 mg/dl). 

And then…

Fast-forward a year. I was doing so well that I decided it would be okay to eat a piece of fish once every week or two — and I do like steelhead. The plot sequence at this point is a cliché: the piece of fish once every week or two became a piece of fish three or four times a week, and I decided eggs (cooked in butter) would be okay occasionally (and then frequently — I had to use the dozen before they went bad, after all). And then I ventured to eat a steak about once a month. Moreover, it seemed appropriate to have wine with my meals and an evening cocktail (I’m partial to rye Manhattans (redundant, but rye is not so commonly used) and gin Martinis (also redundant, but nowadays it’s wise to specify). 

My fasting blood-glucose readings gradually increased: I started seeing 6.0 fairly often, then 6.1, 6.3…. A doctor had told me that so long as the readings were below 7.0, all was well, but I was getting uneasy. My Contour Next blood glucose meter gives me averages, and I couldn’t help but notice that the averages also were slowly increasing (naturally enough). My morning readings started to include an occasional 6.5 and then an occasional 6.8. But the readings jumped around a lot, and I naturally focused on the “good” (lower) readings. Then I noticed an average of 6.5.

And one morning I saw a 7.0 reading. I got seriously worried and cut back right away…  but then things improved somewhat so I resumed the drift. I reassured myself by noting how much the readings varied day to day (and tried to ignore the increased averages).

Then I hit a rocky series of readings, starting 18 November: 6.5 (bad, so I was careful), 5.8 (that’s more like it) — and then 7.0, 6.7, 6.4, 6.5, 6.1, 7.0, 7.3 (!), 6.7, 6.8, 6.1, 6.5 — and I thought “Enough’s enough.” I decided I had to do hard reset. 

The hard reset

I knew, of course, exactly what I needed to do, but this time I wrote it down — putting things in writing makes them more concrete and, in effect, nails them to the wall. I wrote:

1. No alcohol (first day was 30 Nov 2020 and I’m still abstaining)
2. Daily walk with Sunday as a rest day (first day was 2 Dec 2020 (2000 steps), with a goal of 8000 steps/day)
3. No food after 5:00 (first day was 3 Dec 2020 — no eating in the evening helps with fasting blood glucose)

At the right you see my fasting blood-glucose averages two weeks into the hard reset. (And this result is without taking any medication at all.) One morning this week I even had a reading of 5.2 mmol/L. The 90-day average as of yesterday was 6.5, but today it dropped to 6.4. A fasting blood glucose of 5.5 mmol/L is the top of the “normal” range; 5.6 is the bottom of the “pre-diabetic” range. (“Diabetes” starts at 7.0.)

It’s clear that cutting out animal-based foods has made a quick and quite noticeable difference in my blood glucose levels. The reason is well understood: saturated fat spikes blood glucose. (The 7.0 reading was the day after I had a steak and the 7.3 followed a dinner of beef shank.)

By sticking with plant-only foods (and not eating any coconut), I avoid saturated fat, and that helps significantly with the blood glucose (as does eating whole rather than refined foods). Here’s why:

And the walking helps

Walking certainly helps physically, and I find it also helps with mood and morale. Getting out of the apartment into the open air and seeing interesting things in the neighborhood brightens the day and broadens the range of experience (beyond being in the apartment). For example, this shrub caught my eye: I like the fractal-like branches. Nothing like that in my apartment.

Almost all houses in this neighborhood boast flower gardens, in a wide variety of styles and designs. There is also a good variety of fences and gates, not to mention houses. You can see that people have devoted thought and effort to create their own little garden environment (cf. the movie Greenfingers, with Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, David Kelly, and Warren Clarke — check for availability). 

Even though it’s very late in the fall — winter begins in 9 days — I see some bushes still valiantly blooming. There’s one at the left, but there are others. And bushes with white berries — I need to learn some botany.

Another unexpected pleasure: I encounter a variety of little free libraries — I’ve spotted three so far, and I bet I will find more. Perhaps soon I’ll borrow (or donate) a book. And I go by a couple of parks, and of course there’s the Salish Sea right across the road for part of my walk.

I’ve been walking rain or shine (so far but one day in the rain, when I found walking with an umbrella is not a problem). And I have found a time for the habit — before my (late) lunch. (Breakfast lately is tea and three pieces of fresh fruit.)

Resist entropy

I followed a common sequence. I started with good resolutions, good results, and good persistence, and that lasted for months. But then I started probing the boundaries, and then drifting across (or moving) the boundaries. And then there’s the shocked awakening: “What am I doing?! What have I done?!”

That was the moment that I decided I needed a hard reset. Because I’m familiar with what I needed to do — where, in effect, I needed to be — it has been easy enough to resume good practice (though I definitely think writing it down helped — there’s a reason we are advised to put our goals in writing. And the restrictions due to the pandemic help, since they eliminate restaurant meals and socializing over food and drink. 

Now all I need to do is to stay the course and fight the universal pressure to move from order to disorder. I must remind myself from time to time what happens when I cast caution to the winds — or even nudge it aside a little. Pushing the pebble over the ledge can lead to a landslide.

Update: My fasting blood glucose this morning (13 Dec 2020) is 5.1 mmol/L (93 mg/dL). That is excellent. Of course, I don’t want to venture into hypoglcemia (when blood glucose is too low): “A blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L) is low and can harm you. A blood sugar level below 54 mg/dL (3.0 mmol/L) is a cause for immediate action.” I’m well above the harmful level. The Mayo Clinic notes:

A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) is normal. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it’s 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you have diabetes.

I’ll note again that I am achieving these levels with no medication: only diet and, lately, exercise.

14 Dec: This morning my blood glucose was 5.4 mmol/L (97 mg/dL), which is in the normal range — but more important, my 7-day average (see at right) was 5.5 mmol/L, also within normal range (albeit at the top: 5.6 is where “pre-diabetic” begins).

I’m still surprised at the rapidity of recovery once I returned rigorously to a whole-food plant-only diet. And I’ve been enjoying a cranberry slushie as an afternoon treat (recipe at the link).

Written by Leisureguy

12 December 2020 at 7:43 pm

Whole-food but not completely plant-based: What I’m going to make tomorrow — update: Plan vs. Actual

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The Wife and I went to Farm & Field Butchers today, me to buy Okazu Spicy Chili Miso with sesame oil (sunflower oil, too, which I despise (very bad omega-6:omega-3 ratio), but I figure just once in a while is okay). I’ll use it to sauté tofu cubes or slabs. It’s wonderful stuff.

They did have some very good looking thick cross-sections of beef shank, so I yielded to temptation and got one. Here’s my plan:

I’ll use my yellow 24cm Staub round cocotte (3.8L — see above) rather than the red 20cm (2.2L) one. I bought these just as they were being introduced, apparently: I remember that the red one cost me $65, and I see the price today is $300. (I also got most of my All-Clad at introductory prices.) I’m going to use the 3.8L one so I can spread out the food more to braise in the liquid.

After I posted how I planned to make it, this morning I actually made it, and the difference is enough that I describing the two (planned and actual) separately, with the planned method first.


• 1 head red Russian garlic, cloves peeled, sliced thinly, and set aside to rest
• 1 beef shank cross-section, allowed to rest at room temperature for an hour

Thoroughly dry the beef. Heat the pot, add a little olive oil, and brown shank well on both sides, then remove it and set it aside.

Add to the pot:

• 1 large leek and 3 leek tops I’ve saved, all sliced thinly
• a little more oil if needed

Cook the leeks 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Add:

• the garlic, which has been resting and preparing itself for this moment
• 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
• dried sage leaves
• dried thyme
• ground coriander
• ground black pepper
• 6 or so whole allspice, ground
• 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (from the refrigerated section)

Put the shank to the pot and nestled it among the veggies so that it rests on the bottom of the pot. Add:

• many small domestic white mushrooms, whole (I got these today)
• some red wine — not a lot: maybe 1/2 cup
• juice of a lemon
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (or maybe tamari: umami is what we want)
• maybe a tablespoon of the Spicy Chili Miso.

If I had any cognac, I’d add a little of that, perhaps toward the end.

I’ll cover the pot, put it into a 200ºF oven and leave it for 8 hours or so.


I decided to skip browning the meat. The idea of browning meat is get flavor from the Maillard reaction and (especially with steaks) to have a flavoral crust.  But I will get plenty of flavor from the other ingredients, including lots of umami (mushrooms and Worcestershire or tamari), not browning the meat means greater tenderness for meats that are stewed or braised. For example, I stopped browning the little pieces of beef when I made chili. (I much prefer beef to pork for chili: much more tender, especially a chuck roast that you cut into small pieces and cook long and slow.) The Younger Daughter taught me about not browning meat for stews and braising, and Quebec Steve reminded me this time. So no browning.

Moreover, I decided that I would not sauté the vegetables for much the same reason: not needed for flavor, and also obviates the need for added oil (the extra-virgin olive oil).

So here’s what I actually did — and note that in some cases I revised the amounts:

Put beef shank into pot.

In a large bowl, mix:

• 1 large leek and 3 leek tops I’ve saved, all sliced thinly
• 1 head red Russian garlic, cloves peeled, sliced thinly (no need to let it rest)
• 1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (1/2 head would have been too much)
• dried sage leaves
• dried thyme
• ground coriander [discovered I was out; I’ll get more and would have used it]
• ground black pepper (about 2 tablespoons
• about 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 cup prepared horseradish (from the refrigerated section)
• 1/2 cup red wine
• juice of a lemon
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons Spicy Chili Miso.

Pour the mixed vegetables, herbs, spices, and flavorings over the beef shank. This filled the pot (since I did not sauté the vegetables, they were still voluminous, though they will cook down). Put the pot in a 225ºF oven for 1 1/2 hours to allow vegetables to cook down to reduce the volume. This did work, which left room for the next step.

Remove pot from oven and add:

• small (about the diameter of a quarter — 30¢ at the most) white domestic mushrooms

I added all that I had purchased, which covered the top of the vegetables 1 (small) mushroom deep. I then used a spatula to mix the mushrooms in with the vegetables, leaving the beef on bottom.

Cover pot, return to oven, reduce heat to 200ºF, and cook for another 6 1/2 hours.

Once I’ve eaten a serving for dinner, I’ll update with my verdict.


At the right is a photo of the stew (as it is turning out to be) when I checked it after 5 hours. I think 3 hours more will be plenty. Although the pot is sitting on my induction burner, it is merely resting there for the photo; it’s being cooked, covered, in the oven.

It turned out that 6 1/2 hours was plenty: meat very tender, flavors melded (but probably better tomorrow). I’m having a bowl of it now, and it is well suited for winter dinner. One bowl stew alone (topped with the single bit of marrow), one bowl over kamut and lentils — good both ways.

I think next time I’ll try it on a mirepoix (not much — just a cup) with more of those little mushrooms. And I might throw in some marrow bones to get more marrow. But I won’t be having it for a while — still mostly plant-based.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2020 at 6:40 pm

Beef short ribs later today

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I follow a whole-food plant-based diet almost exclusively, and today the emphasis is on “almost.” For some reason I got a hankering for beef after seeing some extremely nice beef short ribs at the supermarket. I got three very chunky short ribs — much meat, little bone — and I browned them well on all sides in a cast-iron skillet while I prepared the veg for slow roasting in my Staub 24cm Round Cocotte, which holds 4 US quarts.

2 heads spring garlic, chopped small along with about 5″ of the stem
2 carrots cut in large dice (or moderate chunks)
1 large red onion cut into chunks
1 largish turnip cut into chunks
about a dozen small domestic white mushrooms, entire

The garlic and carrots went into the pot for the bottom layer, then I nestled the browned shorts into those veg. I scattered the red onion, turnip, the mushrooms over the meat, then added:

about 2 teaspoons dried thyme, rubbed between my hands to crush it
a good amount of ground black pepper
a pinch of smoked salt
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
juice of 2 lemons
a sprinkling of malt vinegar
about 1/4 cup good cognac

Here’s the result:

I covered the pot and put it into a 200ºF oven, where it will laze away the day.

I bought some crème fraîche and I’ll mix that with some:

ground white pepper
horseradish from the refrigerated section, squeezed dry
a little Dijon mustard
a pinch of sugar

That will go nicely with the beef.

UPDATE: The turnips are in lieu of potatoes — potatoes are too starchy for my diabetes. And I like the flavor of turnips. It occurs to me that a cup or so of shredded red cabbage might be very good. I think I’ll add it. One benefit of long slow cooking is that it accommodates afterthoughts.

ANOTHER UPDATE. I found a useful post on the sizes of the Staub round cocottes (and oval cocottes as well). Note that in that post “quart” means the Imperial quart: 1 Imperial qt = 1.2 US quarts. The Staub cocotte pictured is the 24cm one, so is 3.3 Imperial quarts — 3.96 US quarts. My little red Staub round cocotte is 20cm, or 2.25 US quarts.

I really like these Staub round cocottes, FWIW.

VERDICT: I had a bowl at 4:00pm — seven hours of cooking. Delicious. Pot is now atop stove, cooling, and oven is off. Here they are with one bowl (including one short rib) already removed (and eaten). The horseradish sauce,  BTW, was top-notch.

It occurs to me that a little crushed red pepper flakes would have been good — not a lot, just to provide some warmth and presence.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2020 at 9:08 am

What Happened When Health Officials Wanted to Close a Meatpacking Plant, but the Governor Said No

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Michael Grabell reports in ProPublica:

On Tuesday, March 31, an emergency room doctor at the main hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska, sent an urgent email to the regional health department: “Numerous patients” from the JBS beef packing plant had tested positive for COVID-19. The plant, he feared, was becoming a coronavirus “hot spot.”

The town’s medical clinics were also reporting a rapid increase in cases among JBS workers. The next day, Dr. Rebecca Steinke, a family medicine doctor at one of the clinics, wrote to the department’s director: “Our message is really that JBS should shut down for 2 weeks and have a solid screening plan before re-opening.”

Teresa Anderson, the regional health director, immediately drafted a letter to the governor.

But during a conference call that Sunday, Gov. Pete Ricketts made it clear that the plant, which produces nearly 1 billion pounds of beef a year and is the town’s largest employer, would not be shut down.

Since then, Nebraska has become one of the fastest-growing hot spots for the novel coronavirus in the United States, and Grand Island has led the way. Cases in the city of 50,000 people have skyrocketed from a few dozen when local health officials first reported their concerns to more than 1,200 this week as the virus spread to workers, their families and the community.

The dismissed warnings in Grand Island, documented in emails that ProPublica obtained under the state’s public records law, show how quickly the virus can spread when politicians overrule local health officials. But on a broader scale, the events unfolding in Nebraska provide an alarming case study of what may come now that President Donald Trump has used the Defense Production Act to try to ensure meat processing plants remain open, severely weakening public health officials’ leverage to stop the spread of the virus in their communities.

Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said the governor explained on the call with local officials that the plant would stay open because it was declared an essential industry by the federal government. Two and a half weeks later, as cases were rising among the state’s meatpacking workers, Ricketts, a Republican businessman whose father founded the brokerage TD Ameritrade, held a news conference and said he couldn’t foresee a scenario where he would tell the meatpacking plants to close because of their importance to the nation’s food supply.

“Can you imagine what would happen if people could not go to the store and get food?” he asked. “Think about how mad people were when they couldn’t get paper products.”

“Trust me,” he added, “this would cause civil unrest.”

In the last two weeks, small meatpacking towns across Nebraska have experienced outbreaks, including at a Tyson Foods beef plant in Dakota City, a Costco chicken plant in Fremont and a Smithfield Foods pork plant in Crete. With the governor vowing to keep plants open, the companies have only in recent days decided to close for deep cleanings as cases have grown to staggering levels.

In Grand Island, two hours west of Omaha, the consequences of the governor’s decision came quickly. The CHI Health St. Francis hospital, which has 16 intensive care beds, was soon overwhelmed. At one point in April, it had so many critical patients that it had to call in three different helicopter companies to airlift patients to larger hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha, said Beth Bartlett, the hospital’s vice president for patient care.

JBS workers felt the strain, too. Under pressure to keep the food supply chain flowing, some of the plant’s 3,500 workers, many hailing from Latin America, Somalia and Sudan, said they were told to report for work regardless. In a letter to the governor last week, Nebraska Appleseed, a nonprofit advocacy group, said a JBS worker had been told by his supervisor that if he tested positive, he should come to work anyway and “keep it on the DL” or he’d be fired. Some workers who’d been told to quarantine after being exposed told ProPublica this week that they were called back to work before the 14-day window recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — even if they felt sick. One worker in the offal, or entrails, section recently fainted in the plant, they said, but was told he couldn’t go home.

Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS, said the company has worked in partnership with local officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and did not influence the governor’s decision to keep the plant open. He pointed to . . .

Continue reading.

Good example of not learning from experience.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2020 at 11:33 am

Best Beef Stroganoff recipe

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Just got a comment on this recipe, which reminded me of it.

Written by Leisureguy

17 February 2020 at 7:46 pm

Confessions of a slaughterhouse worker

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The BBC has this report from a slaughterhouse worker:

About 100 million animals are killed for meat in the UK every month – but very little is heard about the people doing the killing. Here, one former abattoir worker describes her job, and the effect it had on her mental health.

Warning: Some readers may find this story disturbing

When I was a child I dreamed of becoming a vet. I imagined myself playing with mischievous puppies, calming down frightened kittens, and – as I was a countryside kid – performing check-ups on the local farm animals if they felt under the weather.

It was a pretty idyllic life that I dreamt up for myself – but it’s not quite how things worked out. Instead, I ended up working in a slaughterhouse.

I was there for six years and, far from spending my days making poorly cows feel better, I was in charge of ensuring about 250 of them were killed every day.

Whether they eat meat or not, most people in the UK have never been inside an abattoir – and for good reason. They are filthy, dirty places. There’s animal faeces on the floor, you see and smell the guts, and the walls are covered in blood.

And the smell… It hits you like a wall when you first enter, and then hangs thick in the air around you. The odour of dying animals surrounds you like a vapour.

Why would anybody choose to visit, let alone work in a place like this?

For me, it was because I’d already spent a couple of decades working in the food industry – in ready-meal factories and the like. So when I got an offer from an abattoir to be a quality control manager, working directly with the slaughtermen, it felt like a fairly innocuous job move. I was in my 40s at the time.

On my first day, they gave me a tour of the premises, explained how everything worked and, most importantly, asked me pointedly and repeatedly if I was OK. It was quite common for people to faint during the tour, they explained, and the physical safety of visitors and new starters was very important to them. I was OK, I think. I felt sick, but I thought I’d get used to it.

Soon, though, I realised there was no point pretending that it was just another job. I’m sure not all abattoirs are the same but mine was a brutal, dangerous place to work. There were countless occasions when, despite following all of the procedures for stunning, slaughterers would get kicked by a massive, spasming cow as they hoisted it up to the machine for slaughter. Similarly, cows being brought in would get scared and panic, which was pretty terrifying for all of us too. You’ll know if you’ve ever stood next to one that they are huge animals.

Personally, I didn’t suffer physical injuries, but the place affected my mind.

As I spent day after day in that large, windowless box, my chest felt increasingly heavy and a grey fog descended over me. At night, my mind would taunt me with nightmares, replaying some of the horrors I’d witnessed throughout the day.

One skill that you master while working at an abattoir is disassociation. You learn to become numb to death and to suffering. Instead of thinking about cows as entire beings, you separate them into their saleable, edible body parts. It doesn’t just make the job easier – it’s necessary for survival.

There are things, though, that have the power to shatter the numbness. For me, it was the heads.

At the end of the slaughter line there was a huge skip, and it was filled with hundreds of cows’ heads. Each one of them had been flayed, with all of the saleable flesh removed. But one thing was still attached – their eyeballs.

Whenever I walked past that skip, I couldn’t help but feel like I had hundreds of pairs of eyes watching me. Some of them were accusing, knowing that I’d participated in their deaths. Others seemed to be pleading, as if there were some way I could go back in time and save them. It was disgusting, terrifying and heart-breaking, all at the same time. It made me feel guilty. The first time I saw those heads, it took all of my strength not to vomit.

I know things like this bothered the other workers, too. I’ll never forget the day, after I’d been at the abattoir for a few months, when one of the lads cut into a freshly killed cow to gut her – and out fell the foetus of a calf. She was pregnant. He immediately started shouting and throwing his arms about.

I took him into a meeting room to calm him down – and all he could say was, “It’s just not right, it’s not right,” over and over again. These were hard men, and they rarely showed any emotion. But I could see tears prickling his eyes.

Even worse than pregnant cows, though, were the young calves we sometimes had to kill.

A physically demanding role

On its website, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) says the UK meat industry has some of the highest standards of hygiene and welfare in the world.

Many of its members, it says, “are at the forefront of abattoir design with facilities designed to house the animals and help them move around the site with ease and without any pain, distress or suffering”.

Meat processing in the UK employs about 75,000 people of whom approximately 69% are from other European Union member states, the BMPA notes.

“The barrier to British people taking up roles in meat processing is an unwillingness to work in what is perceived to be a challenging environment,” it says. “Most people, while they eat meat, find it difficult to work in its production partly because of the obvious aversion to the slaughter process but also because it is a physically demanding role.”

At the height of the BSE and bovine tuberculosis crises in the 1990s, whole herds of animals had to be slaughtered. I worked at the slaughterhouse after 2010, so well after the BSE crisis, but if an animal tested positive for TB they would still bring the entire herd in to be culled – bulls, heifers and calves. I remember one day in particular, when I’d been there for about a year or so, when we had to slaughter five calves at the same time.

We tried to keep them within the rails of the pens, but they were so small and bony that they could easily skip out and trot around, slightly wobbly on their newly born legs. They sniffed us, like puppies, because they were young and curious. Some of the boys and I stroked them, and they suckled our fingers.

When the time came to kill them, it was tough, both emotionally and physically. Slaughterhouses are designed for slaughtering really large animals, so the stun boxes are normally just about the right size to hold a cow that weighs about a tonne. When we put the first calf in, it only came about a quarter of a way up the box, if that. We put all five calves in at once. Then we killed them. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

On the whole, I think a whole-food plant-based diet offers many health benefits, and I now see that we could add “mental-health benefits” to the list.

Written by Leisureguy

31 January 2020 at 2:29 pm

Mayonnaise improves grilling meat

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J. Kenji López-Alt reports in the NY Times:

For the past couple of years, I’ve been seeing a trend among the online community of sous-vide cooking enthusiasts: rubbing meat with mayonnaise before searing it. A parallel trend has also been hitting the grilled cheese forums (there’s a message board for everything), where folks are slathering their bread with mayonnaise before griddling, insisting that mayonnaise produces a golden-brown crust that’s superior to the one you get with butter.

. . . [Y]ou should try it! I first let mayo get intimate with some sous-vide steaks a couple years ago. The steaks browned like a dream. Next I rubbed some mayo on my grilled cheese. It’s true: Mayo really does brown better than butter (though these days I use both).

More recently, I’ve been testing the limits of cooking with mayonnaise and discovering it may just be the most magical marinade ingredient I’ve ever encountered. I mean it.

There are a few reasons mayo is so effective. For starters, mayonnaise — a seasoned emulsion of oil in water — is mostly fat, making it a great delivery mechanism for the fat-soluble flavor compounds found in many aromatics, while leaving behind no distinct flavor of its own. (This means that mayo-marinated meats don’t taste like mayo once they are cooked.)

Moreover, that fat is suspended in an emulsion. An emulsion is a homogeneous mixture of two or more liquids that typically don’t mix together. Fat droplets have a natural tendency to coalesce when suspended in water. (Think: the shattered pieces of the liquid metal Terminator coming back together.) To make mayonnaise, the trick is to break up that fat into droplets that are so fine that they have difficulty reuniting.

p class=”css-exrw3m evys1bk0″>Emulsions are always more viscous than either of their independent constituents, which is what gives mayonnaise its semisolid texture. This quality makes it easy to spread a mayonnaise-based marinade evenly across the surface of a piece of meat — and more important, it stays there.

Mayo also improves Maillard browning, which are the chemical reactions that take place when you sear foods.

Functionally, we can think of mayonnaise as consisting of three ingredients: Along with fat and water, there is also egg protein. As the mayonnaise on the surface of a piece of meat cooks, its water content eventually evaporates away, breaking the emulsion and leaving behind a thin, evenly distributed layer of fat, as well as a very, very thin coating of egg protein.

This extra source of protein and fat can increase browning on naked meat or in watery or low-sugar marinades. This comes in handy when you want to minimize the time a piece of meat spends on the grill or in a pan. Thinner cuts — skirt steak, flank steak, skinnier pork chops — typically have trouble browning before they overcook in the center. A chicken cutlet will be cook through on a hot grill or skillet in under four minutes. This isn’t a lot of time to properly brown, but with a thin coat of a mayo-based marinade, it’s easy.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to work with sweet sauces like barbecue or teriyaki, which have a tendency to burn as your meat grills. Mayo solves this problem by diluting and coating the sugars with fat and egg protein. Combining a sweet sauce with mayonnaise before rubbing it on the meat allows you to grill as hot as you like without risk of burning. Also, that sauce flavor really sticks to the meat.

Perhaps the greatest advantage a mayo marinade gives you is the ability to easily incorporate flavors. I tried combining mayonnaise with a wide range of sauces and condiments — chimichurri, pesto, Thai red curry paste, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, Buffalo sauce — before marinating and grilling chicken cutlets, steaks, pork chops, vegetables and fish fillets, and tasting side-by-side with mayo-free counterparts.

Every marinade and sauce was improved — every single one. This was true with both homemade and store-bought mayo.

Another neat thing I discovered: Mayo-marinated meat can be cooked in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet as is, no extra oil necessary. The mayonnaise provides all the fat the pan needs. . .

Continue reading.

He seasons the meat with salt and pepper and rubs it with a combination of some saurce of marinade combined with some mayo. He lets it marinate, cooks the meat, and serves it with the remaining sauce.

Written by Leisureguy

28 October 2019 at 4:37 pm

The price of plenty: how beef changed America

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Joshua Specht writes in the Guardian:

The meatpacking mogul Jonathan Ogden Armour could not abide socialist agitators. It was 1906, and Upton Sinclair had just published The Jungle, an explosive novel revealing the grim underside of the American meatpacking industry. Sinclair’s book told the tale of an immigrant family’s toil in Chicago’s slaughterhouses, tracing the family’s physical, financial and emotional collapse. The Jungle was not Armour’s only concern. The year before, the journalist Charles Edward Russell’s book The Greatest Trust in the World had detailed the greed and exploitation of a packing industry that came to the American dining table “three times a day … and extorts its tribute”.

In response to these attacks, Armour, head of the enormous Chicago-based meatpacking firm Armour & Co, took to the Saturday Evening Post to defend himself and his industry. Where critics saw filth, corruption and exploitation, Armour saw cleanliness, fairness and efficiency. If it were not for “the professional agitators of the country”, he claimed, the nation would be free to enjoy an abundance of delicious and affordable meat.

Armour and his critics could agree on this much: they lived in a world unimaginable 50 years before. In 1860, most cattle lived, died and were consumed within a few hundred miles’ radius. By 1906, an animal could be born in Texas, slaughtered in Chicago and eaten in New York. Americans rich and poor could expect to eat beef for dinner. The key aspects of modern beef production – highly centralised, meatpacker-dominated and low-cost – were all pioneered during that period.

For Armour, cheap beef and a thriving centralised meatpacking industry were the consequence of emerging technologies such as the railroad and refrigeration coupled with the business acumen of a set of honest and hard-working men like his father, Philip Danforth Armour. According to critics, however, a capitalist cabal was exploiting technological change and government corruption to bankrupt traditional butchers, sell diseased meat and impoverish the worker.

Ultimately, both views were correct. The national market for fresh beef was the culmination of a technological revolution, but it was also the result of collusion and predatory pricing. The industrial slaughterhouse was a triumph of human ingenuity as well as a site of brutal labour exploitation. Industrial beef production, with all its troubling costs and undeniable benefits, reflected seemingly contradictory realities.

Beef production would also help drive far-reaching changes in US agriculture. Fresh-fruit distribution began with the rise of the meatpackers’ refrigerator cars, which they rented to fruit and vegetable growers. Production of wheat, perhaps the US’s greatest food crop, bore the meatpackers’ mark. In order to manage animal feed costs, Armour & Co and Swift & Co invested heavily in wheat futures and controlled some of the country’s largest grain elevators. In the early 20th century, an Armour & Co promotional map announced that “the greatness of the United States is founded on agriculture”, and depicted the agricultural products of each US state, many of which moved through Armour facilities.

Beef was a paradigmatic industry for the rise of modern industrial agriculture, or agribusiness. As much as a story of science or technology, modern agriculture is a compromise between the unpredictability of nature and the rationality of capital. This was a lurching, violent process that sawmeatpackers displace the risks of blizzards, drought, disease and overproduction on to cattle ranchers. Today’s agricultural system works similarly. In poultry, processors like Perdue and Tyson use an elaborate system of contracts and required equipment and feed purchases to maximise their own profits while displacing risk on to contract farmers. This is true with crop production as well. As with 19th-century meatpacking, relatively small actors conduct the actual growing and production, while companies like Monsanto and Cargill control agricultural inputs and market access.

The transformations that remade beef production between the end of the American civil war in 1865 and the passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act in 1906 stretched from the Great Plains to the kitchen table. Before the civil war, cattle raising was largely regional, and in most cases, the people who managed cattle out west were the same people who owned them. Then, in the 1870s and 80s, improved transport, bloody victories over the Plains Indians, and the American west’s integration into global capital markets sparked a ranching boom. Meanwhile, Chicago meatpackers pioneered centralised food processing. Using an innovative system of refrigerator cars and distribution centres, they began to distribute fresh beef nationwide. Millions of cattle were soon passing through Chicago’s slaughterhouses each year. By 1890, the Big Four meatpacking companies – Armour & Co, Swift & Co, Morris & Co and the GH Hammond Co – directly or indirectly controlled the majority of the nation’s beef and pork.

But in the 1880s, the big Chicago meatpackers faced determined opposition at every stage from slaughter to sale. Meatpackers fought with workers as they imposed a brutally exploitative labour regime. Meanwhile, attempts to transport freshly butchered beef faced opposition from railroads who found higher profits transporting live cattle east out of Chicago and to local slaughterhouses in eastern cities. Once pre-slaughtered and partially processed beef – known as “dressed beef” – reached the nation’s many cities and towns, the packers fought to displace traditional butchers and woo consumers sceptical of eating meat from an animal slaughtered a continent away.

The consequences of each of these struggles persist today. A small number of firms still control most of the country’s – and by now the world’s – beef. They draw from many comparatively small ranchers and cattle feeders, and depend on a low-paid, mostly invisible workforce. The fact that this set of relationships remains so stable, despite the public’s abstract sense that something is not quite right, is not the inevitable consequence of technological change but the direct result of the political struggles of the late 19th century.

In the slaughterhouse, someone was always willing to take your place. This could not have been far from the mind of 14-year-old Vincentz Rutkowski as he stooped, knife in hand, in a Swift & Co facility in summer 1892. For up to 10 hours each day, Vincentz trimmed tallow from cattle paunches. The job required strong workers who were low to the ground, making it ideal for boys like Rutkowski, who had the beginnings of the strength but not the size of grown men. For the first two weeks of his employment, Rutkowski shared his job with two other boys. As they became more skilled, one of the boys was fired. Another few weeks later, the other was also removed, and Rutkowski was expected to do the work of three people.

The morning that final co-worker left, on 30 June, Rutkowski fell behind the disassembly line’s frenetic pace. After just three hours of working alone, the boy failed to dodge a carcass swinging toward him. It struck his knife hand, driving the tool into his left arm near the elbow. The knife cut muscle and tendon, leaving Rutkowski with lifelong injuries.

The labour regime that led to Rutkowski’s injury was integral to large-scale meatpacking. A packinghouse was a masterpiece of technological and organisational achievement, but that was not enough to slaughter millions of cattle annually. Packing plants needed cheap, reliable and desperate labour. They found it via the combination of mass immigration and a legal regime that empowered management, checked the nascent power of unions and provided limited liability for worker injury. The Big Four’s output depended on worker quantity over worker quality.

Meatpacking lines, pioneered in the 1860s in Cincinnati’s pork packinghouses, were the first modern production lines. The innovation was that they kept products moving continuously, eliminating downtime and requiring workers to synchronise their movements to keep pace. This idea was enormously influential. In his memoirs, Henry Ford explained that his idea for continuous motion assembly “came in a general way from the overhead trolley that the Chicago packers use in dressing beef”.

Packing plants relied on a brilliant intensification of the division of labour. This division increased productivity because it simplified slaughter tasks. Workers could then be trained quickly, and because the tasks were also synchronised, everyone had to match the pace of the fastest worker.

When cattle first entered one of these slaughterhouses, they encountered an armed man walking toward them on an overhead plank. Whether by a hammer swing to the skull or a spear thrust to the animal’s spinal column, the (usually achieved) goal was to kill with a single blow. Assistants chained the animal’s legs and dragged the carcass from the room. The carcass was hoisted into the air and brought from station to station along an overhead rail.

Next, . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.


Written by Leisureguy

11 May 2019 at 8:39 am

Perfect evening (with photos)

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Where to start? Right now I’m having a wonderful Manhattan, made with Gibson’s Finest Rare 12-year-old Canadian whisky (which back in the day meant rye whisky, but probably a rye-and-wheat mix—I’ll have to get some genuine rye: Crown Royal Northern Harvest or Odd Society Prospector (scroll down)), Martini & Rossi red vermouth, and a dash of Angostura, of course. (The great cartoonist Vip – Virgil Partch – did cartoons for their ads for years. “Don’t forget the Angostura!” It’s burned into my brain.) Example at right.

But for the past few hours I’ve been letting this flat-iron steak rest at room temperature (“tempering” the steak). Note the unusual grain, running lengthwise through the steak rather than across (as the in T-Bone, Porterhouse, rib-eye, NY/KC strip steak, etc.). It’s a very tender steak, however. In the photo I have already applied a thin coating of extra-virgin olive oil. I cooked mine this way in my No. 8 Field Company pan, which I heated in an oven to 500ºF, and using the sauce described at the post.

And while the oven came to temperature, I used this recipe to make 8 oz sliced Crimini mushrooms (scroll down). I discovered that my 11 7/8″ Matfer Bourgeat carbon-steel skillet is ideal for this. It provides a lot of room, and I can heat it on the range top rather than in the oven. And, like the cast iron, it is nonstick.

Here are the mushrooms before:

and after:










With the steak and mushrooms I had a glass of an inexpensive Côtes du Rhône.

And to add to all that, I’m reading “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” which offers an escape when the Amazon Prime Video “Hanna” becomes too tense. I do think translating the movie into a series is working well: makes you more conscious of the texture.

Written by Leisureguy

19 April 2019 at 6:11 pm

To Cook a Steak, First You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned

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Emily Timberlake has an interesting article in Taste on the way to cook steak over coals. From the article:

Conventional Wisdom: Remove your steak from the fridge and temper it for 20 minutes before cooking.

Franklin Steak SaysTwenty minutes won’t make any difference at all. And in some cases, it’s better to throw your steak on cold!

“For super-thin pieces, I’ll sometimes throw it in the freezer, wait until it’s really, really cold, and then put it on the grill,” says Franklin.

The first time I read this piece of advice in the manuscript, I was certain it was a mistake. But the more I think about it, the more Aaron’s counterintuitive advice makes sense. If you’re cooking a steak thinner than one inch, say a skirt, hanger, or even a thinly cut strip, and if your goal is rare or medium-rare doneness, then you want to slow the cooking of the interior to give yourself enough time to develop a proper crust on the outside of the steak.

A giant piece of meat, by contrast—say a bone-in tomahawk rib eye, which might weigh as much as 2 1/2 pounds, or a standing rib roast—benefits from tempering, since it will take quite a bit longer for the interior of the meat to reach doneness, and you risk drying out the exterior if you start grilling meat when the interior is super-cold. But for a piece of meat that massive to reach room temperature could take hoursPersonally, I’m fine leaving a hunk of meat on the counter for that long. The USDA, not so much. “We did check the gradient on how fast a steak warms on the counter,” says Mackay, “and it’s very slow. Taking it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it, or even an hour, especially for a thick piece of meat with a bone in, ultimately does very little.”

I do this right: when I cook a thick steak, it sits out for around three hours.

Conventional Wisdom: Don’t flip your steak too often—let it rest in one place on the grates. You know, for those magazine-worthy grill marks that are clear sign of the perfectly cooked steak.

Franklin Steak Says: Those grill marks are a lie. The goal is an allover crust, so flip early and flip often.

This doesn’t really apply for indoor cooking so much, but I do get my cast-iron skillet good and hot before the steak hits it. (See this post.)

Conventional Wisdom: Rest, rest, REST!

Franklin Steak Says: As soon as you can touch your steak without burning your fingertip, slice the thing and serve.

And this too I’ve been doing right.

Read the whole thing. More tips in it, along with a couple of recipes.

Written by Leisureguy

16 April 2019 at 2:09 pm

The wonderful iKon 102

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This RazoRock silvertip from Italian Barber has quite a large knot, but it did a fine job with Meißner Tremonia’s Woody Almond shaving paste. Their shaving paste is very nice, but it does get used up faster than their shaving soap. Still, very fine lather and wonderful fragrance: the Italian bitter-almond but with cedar.

Three passes from my 102 removed all traces of the 2-day stubble, leaving clear and undamaged skin, to which I applied a good splash of Phoenix Artisan’s Spring-Heeled Jack, a coffee-fragranced aftershave that to my nose includes some chocolate notes, though that may be an olfactory illusion.

And the beef shanks are on, with the recipe revised somewhat based on what I actually did.

Written by Leisureguy

11 February 2019 at 8:49 am

Beef shank stew with turnips: The first creation

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UPDATE: It’s in the oven. Revisions in boldface below. The recipe filled my 6-qt pot, though still with adequate room for cooking and stirring from time to time. /update

UPDATE 2: Delicious and satisfying on dark, cold, snowy day. I figure it’s 51 WW points total (9 duckfat, 8 olive oil, 34 beef shanks (after subtracting bones), and 5.5 qts = 22 1-cup serves = 3 points per serving, at most. /update

In Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, included in the list of books I find myself repeatedly recommending, he talks about the first creation of something (the plan, the blueprint, the recipe) and the second creation (implementing the plan, building the structure, preparing the food). Just as the first creation must precede the second, so too (he advises) you should define your life goals and direction early (the first creation) and then live it (the second). Without the first creation, the second lacks direction: you can’t tell when you’re off track if you don’t know the track.

I got to thinking about what I might make with some great beef shanks my butcher, Farm & Field, now has on hand:

I came up with my first creation, a recipe. (I just made this up. After I actually make and eat the dish, I’ll return and modify it where modification is required.)

2 tablespoon duck fat, divided (I have a tub of duck fat from that butcher, and I’m using it up)
2-3 good beef shanks, preferably thick (4 pounds, as it turned out, counting bones)
1/2 cup seasoned flour

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 medium leeks, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
large or 2 medium carrots, diced or rolling cut (cut off end of carrot at 45º, then roll carrot 1/4 turn after each cut)
4-5 small turnips, cut into small chunks (quartered, each quarter cut into 3 pieces)
1 cup celery, chopped
4 anchovy fillets, minced
1 bunch parsley, chopped

28 oz canned diced tomatoes (1 large can or 2 14-oz cans)
juice of 2 lemons
3/4 lb mushrooms, either small or quartered
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
3 Tbsp horseradish (get it from the refrigerated section)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 star anise, 8 whole allspice, 6 whole cloves wrapped in cheesecloth or in herb bag
1/2 cup pot barley (I never knew about this until I moved to Canada; you can substitute hulled (whole-grain) barley (pot barley is basically steel-cut), but please, not pearled barley—have some respect)
1.5 cup red wine

2-4 tablespoons cognac

Cut shanks into smallish chunks, dredge in seasoned flour, and brown in duck fat. I browned the floured meat in two batches. Use 1 Tbsp duck fat for each of the two batches.

This in effect creates a roux, which will thicken the stew (though perhaps coals to Newcastle, given the barley, but I do like thick stews).

Remove browned meat to bowl, add olive oil, and cook leeks, carrots, celery, anchovy fillets, and parsley for 5-10 minutes

Add the bones from the shanks, along with the browned meat, tomatoes, lemon juice, herbs, spices, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, barley, and wine, cover, and cook all day in a 200ºF oven.

Just before serving stir in 2-4 tablespoons cognac

Written by Leisureguy

9 February 2019 at 3:44 pm

There’s some truth in “You just never had it cooked right”: Liver & onions

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I had a hankering for beef liver and onions since glancing again at my lab results and seeing that the hemoglobin and red blood cell count were a little low: hemoglobin 134 (desirable range 135-170) and RBC 4.17 (range 4.20-5.40). So I got some, and cooked it tonight, The Wife being out watching the Golden Globes.

As I made and cooked the meal and observed what I did, I saw several ways in which I could have cooked it wrong and gotten a dry, tough result. So I offer here how to cook it right.

Use a cast-iron skillet. Cast iron has enormously greater heat capacity than other metals, and it also emits more radiative heat than stainless steel, so cooking certain things just works better in a cast-iron skillet. (I was using my Field Company No. 8 which I like a lot.) Examples of when I automatically reach for my cast-iron skillet: sautéing onions to the point of their being well caramelized; shrimp; veggies that I want to sort of give a roasted effect on the stove top; chicken hearts; and steak, of course. And beef liver.

Here’s the key info:

Stainless steel has an emissivity of around .07. Even when it’s extremely hot, you can put your hand close to it and not feel a thing. Only the food directly in contact with it is heating up in any way.

Cast iron, on the other hand, has a whopping .64 emissivity rating, which means that when you’re cooking in it, you’re not just cooking the surface in contact with the metal, but you’re cooking a good deal of food above it as well. This makes it ideal for things like making hash or pan roasting chicken and vegetables.

Given its heat capacity, cast iron also takes a long time to heat up, so start that before you do any prep. Pre-heat oven to 200ºF, with skillet in the oven.

For more information on the tech specs of cast iron, see this excellent post.

1/2 large red onion, halved vertically and sliced thinly across the grain

Take the skillet out and put it on a burner set to medium-low—roughly, midway between medium and low, and then take that halfway to the “low” setting.

The skillet already contains a lot of heat. You just want to maintain it, perhaps heat it up a bit more, but not a lot. For the onions to caramelize properly, they must cook slowly and for a long time.

Pour about 1.5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (the real stuff) into the hot skillet and immediately add the onions (which is why you have them already chopped: you want them into the pan before the heat degrades the olive oil).

Put a good pinch of kosher salt over them and let them cook stirring occasionally. Here I do other things, like clean up and put away whatever needs that attention.

Eventually the onions will begin to darken. Add the beef liver at that point.

Here’s what you want: you want to cook the liver relatively slowly for a long time. This is not a quick-fry thing. Slow and steady heat will cook through the liver without overcooking the exterior (and thus no toughness). Patience helps a lot here: not a meal to be cooked when you’re famished.

I put a pinch of Maldon salt on the liver, with a bit on the onions. No pepper, for some reason.

Extremely tasty with a glass of Chilean red wine.

Beef liver is high in purines, so it will be interesting to see whether I have a gout flare-up. My theory is that I just overdosed on purines from canned fish, and now that I’ve cut way back on that, and continued to hydrate well, I have some room for an occasional high-purine food. And I’m thinking of beef liver fortnightly.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2019 at 5:32 pm

Beef back ribs

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I saw beef back ribs at the store, and they weren’t too large and a packet of two seemed mostly bone, so I got them. (Also: not expensive.)

I just put them in my small (2-qt) All-Clad Stainless sauté pan, put on the lid, and left it in a 200ºF oven for 8 hours (or a slow-cooker on Low for 8 hours).

When I skimmed the internet, I saw BBQ sauces used, and I had a little leftover Guiness Sout BBQ sauce I wanted to use up, and it was enough for one of the two.

Since I get up quite early, I didn’t quite grasp that 8 hours of cooking was not exactly “all-day,” and dinner would be ready at 2:00pm. I let it sit for a while, then ate it. — sudden thought: it would be great with horseradish. And the BBQ sauce is not needed. Perhaps a dahs of Worcestershire, then salt and pepper and perhaps some garlic cloves around them. No liquid, no sauce. Put a round of parchment paper in the pan to simplify cleanup, but I don’t think it will be a problem even without. the paper.

Definitely rich. I figure 21 WW points. But definitely worth having again. Just save up for it.

The wine was Layer Cake 2016 Malbec from Argentina. I though I remembered that label from the Sonoma Valley, so I looked it up and the first hit was the company itself, and I learned that their slogan/mission is (and I quote) “One Hundred Percent Pure Wine.” I really wish they had set the bar a bit higher, but it does seem good.


Written by Leisureguy

4 December 2018 at 5:32 pm

What’s that word for when the batteries in all your devices expire at the same time? Plus oxtails recipe.

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My Kindle, my bluetooth headphones (for watching movies), and my iPhone: all batteries currently recharging.

So in the meantime I made up a recipe (still subject to change) for tomorrow:

1.5 Tbsp olive oil
1.2-1.5 kg oxtails dredged in seasoned flour
3 leeks
10 cloves garlic
1 bunch small carrots, sliced
1 cup chopped celery
1 bunch parsley, chopped
4 tsp dried thyme
3 tsp dried savory
2 tsp ground cardamon
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 pt bone broth
juice of 2 lemons
several dashes Maggi
2 tsp fish sauce
2-3  Tbsp cognac

Trim excess fat from oxtails before dredging in flour. (I put 1/2 cup of flour in a plastic bag along with a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of freshly ground paper and shook the bag to coat the oxtails. A)

Heat oil and brown oxtails. I used my 6-qt pot; the 4-qt sauté pan would never be big enough.

Remove oxtails from the pot. Add the leeks and sauté for a few minutes.

Add garlic, carrot, celery, and tomato paste and sauté for a few more minutes to brown the paste..

Add parsley and herbs and cardamon and sauté for a few minutes.

Return the oxtails to the pot and add bone broth, lemon juice, Maggi, fish sauce, and cognac. Cover and put in 200ºF oven for 8 hours, then 250ºF for 2 hours.

Use tongs to remove bones and shake meat off bones. You may need to use a spoon to scrape the meat off. Discard the bare bones.

Skim off excess fat

Eat with great gusto.

If I were making this just for me, I’d include 1-1.5 lbs mushrooms, and also some crushed red pepper.

BTW, I’m finding I really like Victoria Distillers Empress 1908 Gin—the purple one.

UPDATE: I’ve now made it, and I also highly recommend Unruly Gin, made from spirits distilled from mead.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2018 at 5:06 pm

Interesting report from a carnivore

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And I don’t use “carnivore” and “omnivore” as synonyms. I mean “carnivore,” as the blog title will indicate: “Meat Heals.” The post from Charlene Andersen begins:

As per interest and requests I thought I would sit down and talk about my story of approaching and reaching my carnivore diet. Even though I like to never look back or put any focus on my previous ill health, I know that by doing so it may help others. Warning… I’m a number of things, but not a writer. So, read on at your own risk!🤪

I was born March 22, 1973 to an engineer and a physical therapist. My mom’s dad was an M.D. with an emphasis on OB/GYN. He was a great man, but followed the norm of doctoring. He suggested the healthy diet of “cereal and low-fat milk” to snack on in between the standard low fat meals. She was a good little girl and gained just the right amount of weight, ate her “good foods” and prepared for her new baby in a “June Cleaver” kind of way.

I was born quickly without any complications. Things went the way they typically do with hospital births. She nursed me, with the intention of weaning me off breastmilk completely by the 3 month mark so she and my dad could go to FL and leave me with my grandparents. I reacted to every formula and every food they gave me. I guess they ended with the least reactive combination for me.

Growing up, I always had rashes, asthma and allergies. I was allergy tested at 4 after having a scary breathing situation at nursery school. I was sensitive to almost everything. But my diet was never looked at as an option to cure it all. Instead, I got shots for years. I hated every single one. Never got used it. It always seemed wrong to me.

Because I was an only child, my parents wanted me to have opportunities to do things with other kids as much as possible. So, I went to a lot of camps – which I absolutely loved. However, one of the many camp trips is most likely when I was bitten by a deer tick. I remember tick checks every night and removing them with tweezers when found. I don’t remember having a specific rash or period of flu-like symptoms. I had my share of colds, strep and flu every year and would always catch whatever was “going around”, so nothing stood out when I contracted Lyme.

Because my grandpa was a doctor, medications were easy to access and antibiotics were FREELY given to me. I was destined for constant, health failure.

Because of my tendency toward asthma, my parents didn’t enroll me in what I would have loved the most – dance. Instead, homework and optimal grades were pushed (especially by my mom).

And I did succeed in that. I was always top of my class, getting straight A’s and extra credit whenever it was available.

In the meantime, my health kept deteriorating. Beginning at age 8 I developed trichotillomania. Sores on my eyelids and eyebrow lines made me want to rub/pull at the lashes. I had times when I had no eyelashes or eyebrows. My parents saw it as a bad habit that I wasn’t “strong enough” to overcome. This lasted all the way through grade school, middle school, high school, college and my first couple years working.

Whenever I went over to my friends’ houses (everyone had pets), it wasn’t long before my parents would get a call to come and get me because I was wheezing or developing hives.

Once I started to mature around age 13, the acne I developed was cyst-like and extremely ugly and painful. They would look like craters. I had them all over my face, neck, inside my ears, shoulders, back, chest and arms. Between hardly having eyelashes/eyebrows and having this acne, I was very self-conscious. I was not obese as a kid, but I was always heavier than the norm and carried my weight in a weird sort of way in my hips and butt. I remember having cellulite at age 12.

By age 16 my periods slowed and stopped completely. None of the OB/GYN doctors had any answers. My diet was the typical low fat, high complex carbs, high vegetation and low sugar. So, OBVIOUSLY my diet wasn’t causing it.

College days were fun (time away from my parents), but continued my downward health spiral. The extreme fatigue really set in at this point. I started out having a double major of Mathematics (to please my dad) and Studio Art (to please me). My mom didn’t care as long as my grades were as perfect as possible. What kept me from successfully majoring in Mathematics is I could not stay awake in class. I would fall asleep after a couple minutes of class starting and wake up when it was over. I needed naps throughout the day and I would always be the first one to sleep in the dorm by hours. Depression and darkness started overcoming me. I pushed friends away more and more due to my fatigue and depression.

I started working out hoping that would make me feel better about myself (and my floppy physique), but it just made me more tired and angry. I didn’t give up working out until years later. (I even became a PT on the side of my professional job.)

I ended up graduating cum laude with math and psychology minors, and studio art major.

After graduating college, I got a job working in the Industrial Design department at Navistar, which was a dream as an Art major, loving automotive design and working at the same company as my dad, cousin and uncles.

The most dramatic downturn in my health happened next. The stress of working and being around clay modeling, paint spraying and all sorts of chemicals quickly sent me downhill fast. Honestly, at this point life is a blur to me still.

My lifesaver was . . .

Continue reading.

Not really my cup of tea, since I like veggies, and would rebel against being told not to eat any.

Written by Leisureguy

6 September 2018 at 4:02 pm

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