“Our cow,” as we affectionately call the butcher-paper wrapped parcels in the deep freeze, is nearing the end of its useful life. Its breathing-eating-shitting life ended a while back, when a man called The Harvester arrived in the bucolic rolling hills where this beast reputedly lived a fully realized bovine life. The Harvester proceeded to “harvest” the animal, and deliver it in large chunks to our local butcher, who carved it into smaller chunks and gave it to me to cook for my growing, insatiably hungry kids.
Having spent a crucial period of my young adult life as a vegetarian, I’m a little behind the curve when it comes to the heating to essential temperatures and serving of meats, preferring to rely on precooked sausages for a great deal of our animal protein intake. But the hip eco-eaters are all getting their own deep freezes filled with happily harvested meats, and I’ve got to keep up with the Van Joneses if I want to ever claim the elusive title of eco-mom. So I picked up the little flyers on cooking grass-fed meat and sent a big check to the farmer. (The self-same farmer from whom I bought my fabled twenty-dollar chicken. See June, 2009.)
After I picked up the cow in the minivan and packed it into my freezer, I went on a culinary stampede of the simpler beef dishes: burgers, meatloaf, pot roast. These were universally popular, especially the meatloaf which I made from an old Joy of Cooking recipe which might more aptly be titled Fatloaf, seeing as it contains both ground up bacon and a significant dose of heavy cream. But once the roasts and ground beef were gone, I was out of my league. Somehow, despite having grown up with a constant supply of beef from our own cows, my youthful foray into vegetarianism has left me not having the slightest notion how to cook a steak. My kitchen shelf is packed with vegetarian cookbooks, and when you browse the internet looking for instructions, all the recipes involve a grill, which I don’t have. So I did my best, and the innately carnivorous Mr. Mixed Media ate it no matter what, but The (more discerning) Percussionist quickly began saying, “Steak? Yuck. I don’t like cow.”
This all came to a head last week, when I pulled out two parcels labeled “short ribs.” Well, I thought, people barbeque ribs, so as they thawed I bought a bottle of barbeque sauce and told the excited kiddos we’d have barbequed ribs that night. (I thought I could pull it off on my cast iron stovetop faux-grill.) When I unwrapped the packages, the contents didn’t look like what I was expecting, but I gamely chopped apart the chunks of bone and slathered the pieces in the sauce. I had a huge pile of these cooking just in time to feed my son’s friend before we took him over to his soccer game, but when I placed a couple of the better-looking ones on his plate, he politely began dissecting them without ever touching his mouth with the meat. Then I served up Mr. Mixed Media, who gnawed away with delight, and then The Percussionist, who, more intimate with the cook, picked one up and declared it “disgusting,” to my great disapproval. Bright Eyes hadn’t yet flitted toward the table, so I served a plate for myself and sat down. As I picked past the huge chunk of fat attached to my bone, I bit into a frankly repulsive piece of meat. I immediately apologized to The Percussionist and snatched away the plate from his friend, throwing the scraps to the eager dogs.
We had quesadillas. And Mr. Mixed Media asked for some of the ribs in his lunch the next day, the dear. The dogs have been in heaven all week. Sometimes the learning curve is steep. But I have learned this: (almost) everyone prefers pork. So I’ll look into getting a pig. After all, I’m a single mom now, so I have to bring home the bacon. I just have to work through the remaining mysterious parcels of the cow first. Oh, and maybe buy a carnivore’s cookbook. I’m sure the pig will have some mysterious parcels of its own.