Hooray for easy carnivorous cutting!
I picked up 50lb of assorted lamb parts from a friend who's a shepherd a couple of weeks ago. Some for me, some for friends. It made sense for me to do a bulk buy like that as she's a couple of hundred miles away and I was going to be practically going past her front door on the way home from a road trip. All professionally cut and packed for the farmers market.
Now I have the freezer space, it's lovely to be able to do that sort of thing.
The joys of home freezers...now if I could just power mine with something else when the grid goes down in vary hot weather.
I remember when my mother got our first freezer (it was small) and all of a sudden we could store more food longer. Also, compared to the freezer in the refrigerator (where ice cream stayed soft), it actually froze more than water. Then she got a bigger freezer and most weekends in cool weather she was putting food up for the summer. (Hot kitchen on the west side of a house in South Texas.) Vegetable soup, chicken-vegetable soup, sliced chicken and sliced turkey in little aluminum containers they had back then, chicken stock, turkey gravy, cubed ham, bread, and (since they were new and fascinating) commercial frozen stuff. Bulk meat sometimes, but not often. Mostly chicken and beef pot pies.
I remember in AG we had a band saw that was for meat. They used to process all sorts until some enforcement types said they couldn't anymore. It was as you said, "Cuts like butter."
One of the things I look forward to when I move back home in October is being able to go buy a half a beef or have a freezer full of deer or other meat.
I do like having varied meats and some already-made stuff in the freezer. Do you make soup? One of my favorite things to have in the freezer is homemade chicken stock and packets of cubed cooked chicken. It makes serving surprise company homemade soup really easy.
My mother used to freeze her chicken broth in ice cube trays, then decant into a plastic bag. With the individual cubes she had much finer volume control.
Different people have different cooking styles...and thus different preferred ways of divvying up the broth. If used in small amounts as flavoring in other dishes, the ice cube-sized bits would be great, but I find it most useful in quart lumps, because I'm making larger amounts of whatever. It also depends on how concentrated the stock is...mine's about right for soup when diluted with an equal amount of water.
Fortunatly or unfortunatly, not sure which or how some would view it, but I live alone at the moment, will be moving back in with my mother when I go back to LA. She really needs someone there now. But, cooking is mostly just for me. I do make soups, chicken or beef mostly, noodle, rice, veggie, etc. I usually make a lot when I make it, but I freeze it like that, already made and in individual containers so I just pop it into the microwave and enjoy.
Yup, make in large amounts, freeze in size needed for normal meal (or two), and defrost for quick meal. Because I like varying the chicken soup I do freeze the stock and the chicken separately. Starting with the stock, I usually add a can of diced tomatoes & green chilis, then either (or more than one): rice, barley, (canned) black beans, (canned) white beans, a carrot thinly sliced, a celery stalk thinly sliced, fresh cilantro. Then the chicken. Other canned vegetables can be added as desired (our son likes whole-kernel corn).
Cooking for one is much easier with some freezer capacity to play with.
Cooking for one is much easier with some freezer capacity to play with.
Word. As is _shopping_ for one, because meat Does Not Exist in single portion units. The best I can do when travelling tend to be portions that would last me two days at home (I don't eat a great amount of meat.)
I could not exist without my freezer, and it makes meals so much quicker- I don't need to buy ready meals, I can throw a healthy one together on my own.
How useful are small cattle as opposed to larger cattle? Is there any rule of thumb about what is the optimal size? I'm assuming that for draft animals, you want large and heavy oxen - but if you're after milk and meat, does the advantage lie in one direction or the other? Or is it personal preference? One-cow housholds appear to like small cows, but other than that?
One cow households usually have a milk cow, and go for the quality dairy breeds that produce high butterfat milk in smaller quantities. (Large cows produce more milk, but it's lower butterfat.) Jerseys, my favorite milk in the world, are small cows that produce rich milk. Guernseys are also a good home milk cow. Even one cow can produce more milk than the average family can use. Word of warning for someone starting a small herd: dairy bulls of the small breeds are notoriously proddy. Beef bulls often aren't. A bit sullen, but not as eager to nail you. Dairy cattle *in general* need better feed than beef cattle (partly because it's typical for the meat-intended beef critter to be fattened up a bit on something better.) They must have ample water (to maintain the milk production.) (I took a dairying class years back, when I thought I might want to have a milk cow. The class cured me.)
But dairy cattle aren't as good for beef, as they have less muscling. Off a dairy carcass, the meat yield will be under 50% of live weight. Off a good beef animal, it'll be ~60%. And except for the big Holsteins and Brown Swiss, dairy cows are under 1000 pounds when grown. Beef cattle are bred to produce muscle, not milk (though you want the cows to be good milk producers for calves) and youngstock are slaughtered at around 800-1000 pounds live weight. The 800 pound adult dairy animal might give you 350 pounds of meat; the young 800 pound beef animal will give you at least 100 pounds more. Dual-purpose breeds are better than dairy for beef production, and better than beef breeds for milk production, but not as good at either as the pure dairy or beef breeds.
But let's say you've got two families sharing a cow (because cows give gallons a day of milk.) They expect to grow out a calf a year for meat, and use the milk. If they're smart, they'll know enough to calculate the amount of milk they need, plus the milk the calf will need, and choose the breed that is likely to produce that amount of milk--and have a calf that will grow the size and have the yield they need.
My girls (my mama cows) are Beefmaster, a breed optimized to produce a high yield of beef in adverse (hot, dry, poor forage) conditions. They grow more muscle in the "high dollar" areas (along the backbone and in the hindquarter.) They're very efficient at converting grass (and weeds) to meat. They will graze in hot weather where breeds that can't stand heat will be hiding in the shade. They calve small, fast-growing calves. I have Beefmasters (instead of another breed optimized for our area) primarily because our friends with the ranch have a purebred, certified TB and brucellosis-free herd of Beefmasters. I learned a lot from them in the years before I bought a couple of cows. They are big (not the biggest breed, but big) with the cows weighing around 1500 and the bulls 1800.
There are heavier breeds (Charolais, for instance) with a highly desirable yield pattern, but they don't do well in extreme heat and don't make best use of poor forage. They also produce large calves (which means calving problems, especially for heifers but also for the smaller older cows. For awhile, Charolais were the preferred upgrade bulls for cross-bred operations around here--they will put high-dollar hindquarters on your stock--but the cost in vet bills to pull calves eats up the profit.)
There's always a tradeoff, and it does come back to personal preference (ideally, based on some knowledge.) If I were in Australia, I'd probably go for Murray Greys, which have a lot of the same characteristics as Beefmasters and are optimized for Australian conditions. Some of the same root breeds went into making them, too, as I found out at a livestock show there.
Wow. You win for best subject line of my friends' recent updates. :)
I always knew you were a cut-up. [weg]
Yay for a well-stocked freezer!
Yeah, that's me, capering about in jeans and a T-shirt I don't mind getting blood and bone-dust on...
You're properly trained, so you're not limited to capering. Cavorting and caprioling are also viable options.
Would it offend author sensibilities if I opined that your books are "a cut above?"