My girlfriend Chris owns a seven acre farm. They have had cows, chickens, ducks and a miniature horse all at various points. She is the daughter of a vet and a nurse and has the most kind and lovingly tender heart that I have ever known. For some reason, the animal kingdom (and kids) just naturally gravitate to her. She has even taken in a stray pigeon, nursed it back to health and then set it free. But she is also practical. She gathers eggs for breakfast and would milk the cows if she still had them. Animals are meant to be providers.
Being more of a city girl myself I have a warped sense of the food chain. My food comes from the grocery store or if I'm feeling fairly adventurous I head for a farmer's market.
So when Chris told me that they had a cow that they were taking to the market and did I want half I naively said "of course!"
As I took my kid to the slaughter house to pick up our meat, a strong smell hit me. I'm not sure what the smell of death is but I think that might have been it. I thought about turning around and heading back to Winco's meat dept for something that was recognizable and not so scary. I felt a little pang of guilt for not even knowing it's number, gender or if it had any next of kin to notify.
Unfortunately, our slaughter guy must have sensed "newbie" all over us and grabbed my son to take him "in the back" to see the behind the scenes action.
Five minutes later, Spencer returned a little greener than when he had unwillingly left my side. Quietly he whispered that he had seen pigs, cows, sheep and even a horse hanging fleshless on huge metal hooks.
We quickly gathered up our four boxes of meat and sped home. As I opened up the goods, I began to sort and determine what cut was what and how I might prepare a feast for dinner. We seemed to be filling up the freezer rather rapidly and as I mentally started counting out the packages of hamburger I found that I had slightly underestimated.
One hundred and twenty pounds of ground chuck later I began nervously laughing.
So if you ever get up here to Oregon, stop on by for a spell. I have an extra bedroom and plenty of food. I'll make you anything you'd like...as long as hamburger is in the recipe.
I highly recommend the Cheesy Meatball soup.