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Don't expect words of wisdom or earth shattering revelations, just my thoughts and observations about living in Ottawa, being a public servant and trying to live life every day to its fullest

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meat and vegetables - It is the May long-24, the first official day of the Canadian planting season. I put in a few vegetables last weekend and hope to have home grown lettuce and tomatoes, as well as some herbs and cat-nip. The farmers markets are now open as well, and while I am looking forward to the selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, what I will miss is my monthly meat delivery.

Last fall, a friend of mine and I signed up for to share a cow. We technically didn't get the WHOLE cow, just choice cuts from her friend, Farmer Paul, who spent last summer raising these beautiful bovines, and this year will be raising even more. A few things that rocked about my shared cow:
  • It was honestly some of the BEST beef I have ever had in my life. Purests will tell you that great meat should never be frozen, but I beg to differ. I defrosted a Porter House to open the BBQ for the season, and with very little marinating, the steak just melted in my house. It was fresh and juicy and a moment of pure bliss ... times like that I am glad I am single; I don't have to share it with anyone!
  • Farmer Paul drops it off all through the winter. When I first started looking into whole beasts purchased from local farmers, I found that they often just give you half the animal. How am I supposed to store that much meat? Receiving a drop-off every month, meant that I only had enough to eat through the month and didn't have to worry about losing choice cuts somewhere deep in the bowels of a chest freezer.
  • No tyranny of the cow. I once signed up for a vegetable box and I felt that every week I was beholden to the goodness in the box ... there was just too much to consume and sometimes produce had to be disposed of. It was heartbreaking and a huge waste! With a shared purchase, there is only a small drop-off with a variety of cuts every month for six months. Three-to-five pounds is more than enough to keep someone satisfied for a month without feeling beholden to emptying the freezer before the next delivery and giving me the space to eat other things during the month.
  • No commitment. Paul did door-to-door deliveries once a month, but sometimes I was just not around to receive them ... but with a shared purchase, someone is bound to be home on the cold Saturday morning when the meat is delivered. It resulted in the freedom to enjoy winter to its fullest without having to worry about being around to receive the monthly drop-off.
  • Variety every month. On the whole, we knew what was coming in each box, but as it was shared some months I would get mince - leading to wonderful spaghetti sauces - and just as I was getting tired of that, a new box would arrive and this time I would have a roast and sausages. There is something fun about not exactly knowing what you will get this month, that leads to creativity in the kitchen.
  • Sharing brings you closer to your friend. Winter can be cruel, with people disappearing for months either because they revel in every second of the season or they are holding tight waiting for spring. Sharing meat with a friend means you get to see them at least once a month. You can share recipes, barter over cuts, invite them over for dinner to help devour the roast.
This summer, I hope to actually meet the cows that will sustain me over the winter at Grazing Days farm. And  I plan to share a purchase again this winter. To summer, and the produce it will bring us, the rain, the sun and the cows that will grow healthy over the next few months so that I can make sauces, stews, sausages and steaks through the winter months.

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