define(WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE, true); add_filter( auto_update_plugin, __return_true ); add_filter( auto_update_theme, __return_true ); February 2014 – Welcome to the Ranch!

Archive for February, 2014

A Perplexing Find

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

snake in spider web
My daughter, Kyla, and son, Jake, were straightening up the tack room in the horse barn the other day when they made an interesting discovery high in the corner rafters of the ceiling. It is one of the discoveries that make you look twice. Your eyes see it, but your brain does not compute. Yes, you see correctly. It is a spider web with a snake skin stuck in the middle of it. You look again wondering how in the world that happened.

On a foggy, damp morning a snake crawled stealthily to the horse barn trying to hide himself from the barn cat, Comanche. The cat was a fierce predator always on the lookout for field mice or snakes as it fulfilled his duty of keeping the barn clear of varmints. The snake knew that his only hope for filling his empty tummy was to somehow get into the tack room. It was the only room that Comanche did not have access. There must be mice in there. He thought he could hear their high pitched squeaks in the early morning stillness.

The snake lifted his head trying to find the best entry point. At the very top just where the roof and walls met, there was enough room to crawl through. He enthusiastically tried the sides of the barn, but they were too slick. He could not find anything with which to aid in his vertical crawl. He peered even further up and could only see small slices of the gray sky through the tree branches overhead. An idea dawned in his reptilian brain as he turned around to crawl up the nearest tree trunk.

He landed with a loud thump on the roof as he dropped from an overhanging branch. Carefully, he crawled to the edge. It was a long way down; he would have to be extra careful. He wrapped the end of his body around the head of a roofing screw protruding from the metal sheets. With his front end, he hung over the edge and with great effort slid between the open space below the ceiling. Soon he was resting on the top of the wall.

He no longer heard the sounds of mice. The place was eerily quiet. Tired from his climb, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

As he slept, the spider built her nest exactly where she had had much success in capturing insects. It was a big web in the corner of the tack room. She was so absorbed in her thoughts, she did not even notice the sleeping snake. In fact she had made this web in this exact spot so many times, she built it on automatic pilot. As soon as she was finished, she crawled into the corner of her web. Dozing off she awaited the familiar movement of having caught something in her sticky trap.

Soon her web thrashed like the rolling sea. She sprang into action, biting and spinning a tighter grip on her prey. It was huge. She did not even realize that it was a snake. She only acted instinctively to fight her intruder.
The snake stood no chance against her poisonous venom and tight hold on his body. He grew sleepy as the venom surged through his body. He had no way of escape. Or did he? He would have to wait and fight the grogginess.

The spider triumphant in her hunt knew that she could not possibly eat something so big. So she traveled across the room to invite her extended family and friends to her web for dinner. She wanted to be hospitable and share her bounty, but most of all she wanted to brag about her catch of the day.

While she was gone, the snake escaped by shedding his skin. The spider was left disappointed about missing a huge feast, but she kept her web up proudly showing off her trophy.

Regardless of how it really happened, the real question is this: Where is the snake now? As my dad would say, “Welcome to the ranch!”

Grass Fed Beef and Broccoli

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

I like stir-fry and Asian cuisine, but I do not like the way I feel after eating some at a restaurant. I also hear from customers that they would like more ideas for cooking with round steak. Therefore, I wanted to share a completely healthy and absolutely delicious recipe for grass fed beef and broccoli.

Beef and Broccoli

1 package of grass fed round steak, tenderized
3 heads of broccoli, about six cups
1 sm onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt
black pepper
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp ume plum vinegar
1 Tbsp raw honey
Enough extra virgin olive oil for browning meat

Before cooking, slice the beef in long strips about 1/2″ thick. It is easier to cut when the beef is still partially frozen, but allow to thaw completely before cooking.

Heat up 1-2 Tbsp of oil in a large wok. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Then with a wooden spoon, push the onions to the sides and add enough beef to the center of the wok to brown. After a few minutes, turn the beef until all the strips are brown. Then push them to the sides and continue browning all the beef. When it is all brown, season it with about 2 tsp of garlic powder, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to your tastes.

While the beef is browning, wash and cut up the broccoli into what my kids call little trees. Place in a steamer and steam for 8-10 minutes. You want the broccoli to be bright green and almost fork tender before you place in wok.

Add the sesame oil, ume plum vinegar, the raw honey to the wok. Add the almost cooked broccoli and stir well. Cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Serve with rice or cauli-rice. It serves 6.

This dish not only plated beautifully, but it tasted even better. I should have taken a photograph of it, but by the time I thought of it it was all gone. Please enjoy this dish with no refined sugars or gluten.

Valentine’s Day Preparations

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and on the ranch it has a very homemade feel, which I really like. No fairy tales here; however, it is such a sweet day. The kids really get into the spirit of things.

They have been sneaking off with construction paper and glue sticks all day. I have had to write out “Happy Valentine’s Day!” and “Mommy” and “I love you” for my little boys.

I write love letters to my husband and each child. They enjoy reading them. And, I look forward to my homemade valentines complete with glitter and hearts and their best handwriting.

I also love to make my family healthy goodies. With no almond flour in my pantry because I ran out, I searched for other options. Since so many of our grass fed beef customers try to eat very healthy, I want to share two great recipes. They are quick to make, full of great ingredients, and perfect for soothing a sweet tooth.

The first comes from Shoshanna Easling of Bulk Herb Store. She calls her treat, Chocolate Drops. Check out her recipe and she even has a video where she shows how she makes them with her young son. The only change that I make is that I use a stand mixer and not a food processor to mix the ingredients. And, I have found that 10 minutes in the freezer is sufficient.

One of my favorite candy bars is a Butterfinger. A healthier version is from Erin at No More Crohn’s For Me. She was making an icing and realized its potential as a candy. Therefore she called it Butterfinger Candy. When it says “legal,” it means legal on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which would mean vanilla without sweeteners of any kind and natural peanut butter.

You might wonder how these treats can possibly be considered healthy. What really sets them apart is that they lack refined sugars. Both use honey. Both are grain-free and gluten-free.

I hope that you enjoy these gems. They are so good that you will not miss the typical heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates. And they won’t leave you with the sugar blues.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day. May you be surrounded by those you love tomorrow.

Practical Paleo

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

A good friend of mine recommended the Practical Paleo cookbook by Diane Sanfilippo to me. She thought the book would be right up my alley, real foods, very little sugar, and no grains. I took her advice and have been enjoying her recipes for the last two weeks.

Her recipes are delicious. There are all different types of recipes, but recipes high in protein are commonplace. My family’s favorite so far has been “Spaghetti Squash Bolognese.” Truth be told, I substituted the spaghetti squash with steamed zucchini noodles. So easy; so good!

In addition to her recipes, she is a nutritionist; therefore, at least half of the book is dedicated to explaining why eating real food and avoiding legumes and grains are better for your body. She also has tear-out guides for you to take to grocery stores, restaurants, and/or on travels.

The part of the book that I wanted to share with you begins on page 42. It is entitled, “Paleo at Home: Shopping for Groceries.” In it she has listed the top budget priorities for eating healthy. The first budget priority are fats and oils.

The second budget priority according to Ms. Sanfilippo are high quality proteins, including meat, seafood, and eggs. She talks extensively about the health benefits of 100% grass fed, pasture-raised meats. She even warns consumers not to be put off or worried about the leanness of high quality meat. As a grass fed producer, customers have to adjust their thinking about grass fed beef. It is different than beef at the grocery store. However, you can be confident that the beef is good for you.

The third budget priority are vegetables and fruit. She gives tips as to when to buy organic and when not to spend the extra money. And, she really encourages you to add new fruit and/or vegetables to your repertoire.

As a mother of five, I know what it is like to struggle to balance your high health ideals with your budget. Healthy foods are much more expensive than a diet of processed food. I could feed my family on ramen noodles, boxed macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs quite inexpensively. But at what cost to my family’s health and well-being?

As a producer of grass fed beef, I know that buying a quarter, half, or whole order is an investment any way you look at it. That is why, we are always trying to offer you the best product even if that means having to wait. I struggle with impatience as I try to fill orders as quickly as possible. Often, I have customers waiting for their beef to be ready to harvest. The great majority understand the process and wait patiently, and I thank you. Just know that we have your best interests at heart.

If you are interested in learning more about Paleo cooking, definitely check out Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. She does something with beef soup bones that I never would have considered on my own. In addition, she shares many, many delicious recipes all of which are gluten, grain, legume, dairy, and refined sugar free.

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