Year of the Cow: How 420 Pounds of Beef Built a Better Life for One American Family
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This is the story of a man, a cow, and a question: What am I eating?
After realizing he knew more about television on his wall than the food on his plate, award-winning TV producer and amateur chef Jared Stone buys 420 pounds of beef directly from a rancher and embarks on a hilarious and inspiring culinary adventure. With the help of an incredibly supportive wife and a cadre of highly amused friends, Jared offers a glimpse at one man's family as they try to learn about their food and ask themselves what's really for dinner.
Year of the Cow follows the trials and tribulations of a home cook as he begins to form a deeper relationship with food and the environment. From meeting the rancher who raised his cow to learning how to successfully pack a freezer with cow parts, Stone gets to know his bovine and delves into our diets and eating habits, examining the ethnography of cattle, how previous generations ate, why environmentalists and real food aficionados are mad for grass-fed beef, why certain cuts of beef tend to end up on our plates (while boldly experimenting with the ones that don't), and much more.
Over the course of dozens of nose-to-tail meals, Jared cooks his way through his cow armed with a pioneering spirit and a good sense of humor. He becomes more mindful of his diet, makes changes to his lifestyle, and bravely confronts challenges he never expected―like how to dry beef jerky without attracting the neighborhood wildlife to the backyard, and how to find deliciousness in the less-common cuts of meat like the tongue and heart―sharing a recipe at the end of each chapter.
By examining the food that fuels his life and pondering why we eat the way we do, Jared and his family slowly discover to how live a life more fully―and experience a world of culinary adventures along the way.
We head inside, dropping our gear in haphazard piles on the floor. “So yeah. ‘Mount Whitney—Come for the Summit, Stay for the McGriddles,’” I say. “To be fair, they were delicious,” Uriah opines. “What’s a successful summit attempt compared with a quality breakfast sandwich?” Summer laughs. “Sandwich, schmandwich. I have a surprise.” She gestures to the kitchen, where she’s laid out possibly the largest cut of beef I’ve yet seen. It’s a mammoth thing, three or four pounds, easy. A squat, fat
high-quality produce—I made a special trip to the store just for the occasion. The ingredients, which will go into said broth, are simple. The broth itself—that’s where I can mess things up. “Alright, Stone,” I declare with some degree of brio. “The boy occupied?” “Legos,” she responds. That’s a big, fat yes. “Ready to make some soup?” “Pho sure,” she responds. Pronouncing the name of the soup correctly in that phrase—“fuh” sherr!—she has never sounded more like a Valley girl transplant than
know. But it just doesn’t seem like Christmas if I don’t have to shovel out a car.” I crack my sore neck. Desk jobs, man. “There are worse places to spend the holidays than California. Besides, we don’t want Dec’s earliest holiday memories to be of airports.” She stands up to take her glass to the kitchen. As she does, she points to a corner of the room, near a tall window. “I thought that’d be a nice spot for the tree. We’ll be able to see it from the outside. Cozy.” I nod. I’ve never been
dinner. Because of the texture and flavor of this meat, there’s no question whatsoever that we are eating an animal’s heart. Joining us at the table is the unavoidable reality of the sacrifice that puts this meal on the table. Off-putting? Maybe. That depends on your point of view. Appropriate for a lighthearted and romantic Valentine’s Day meal? Perhaps not. In my opinion, if we take an animal’s life for a meal, we owe it to that animal to make the most of the sacrifice. In this case, we’re
so I slice some up. I do likewise with some cilantro and put a fine dice on some gorgeous red onions. Then, that’s it. Nothing more to do. Summer’s tidied up the place and sat down to practice the piano. In front of me, I have a wait on a braise and a moment to reflect. I feel the familiar urge to “do something,” be productive, make a dent in my day. However, I can’t argue with chemistry, and chemistry (hopefully) is what’s making this tongue into something lovely over the course of the next few