A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If it's not BEEF, it's not a "Burger"!

Today is #NationalCheeseburgerDay! I have no idea who designated it as such but I saw it on Twitter so it must be true :) And I've seen lots of blog posts on the topic (my favorite of which is 18 Ways to Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day). I love the concept of National Cheeseburger Day but some of the posts also brought out one of my pet peeves -- claims that "other" burgers are "healthier" than beef burgers.

Even though I had a cheeseburger for lunch AND dinner yesterday, I had to have another after learning that today is National Cheeseburger Day!

One particular post from Runner's World caught my eye because of the title, "Grill up a better burger tonight." My first thought was, "What could possibly be better than a good ol' American Cheeseburger?" So I clicked on the link.

The Runner's World article suggests that bison would be a leaner choice. That is simply not true. I covered this topic in detail in a post three years ago, "Is Bison Leaner then Beef? Whatever, Turkey!" which explores claims that so-called bison and turkey "burgers" are leaner than beef burgers.

The Runner's World article does correctly point out that veggie patties are high in fiber but typically have half the protein with more calories than a beef burger. Unfortunately, I often see articles suggesting veggie burgers would be a healthier choice. I wrote about the healthfulness of veggie patties versus beef burgers in  "Exposing the Big Fat (Beef) Lie."

But that brings me to another pet peeve and the actual point of this post. If it's not BEEF, it's not a BURGER! History and entomology support this fact. There are many claims about the origin of the hamburger, but all of them include BEEF. Most experts agree that Otto Krause, a Hamburger (person from Hamburg, Germany), was the first person to serve ground up pieces of beef served between two slices of bread. Clearly, the modern name "hamburger" validates this theory!

So, in honor of Otto Krause, the inventor of the Hamburger, I hereby offer this BEEFMAN PROCLAMATION on National Cheeseburger Day:

WHEREAS the original hamburger was a ground beef patty served between two slices of bread, not a ham patty, turkey patty, bison patty, veggie patty, or any other patty, and

WHEREAS the entomology of the word "burger" is a shortened form of the word hamburger (which refers to a ground beef patty served between two slices of bread),

BE IT RESOLVED that if it's not BEEF, it's not a burger!

Ride on,


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?

In a break from my traditional posts related to cycling, running, triathlons, or BEEF, today's post is about your legacy: what do you want to be remembered for? This past weekend I had the opportunity to pose that question to a gathering of meat industry leaders at the Meat Industry Hall of Fame 2014 Induction Ceremony and Dinner (OK, so it is somewhat related to BEEF).

As we honored the new inductees for their work in improving meat safety, animal care and raising, safe, wholesome and nutritious meat products for consumers around the world, I wanted to challenge the audience to think about what they will be remembered for or, more important, what they want to be remembered for?
I know 16 minutes is a lifetime in this 140-characters-or-less world we live in but I hope you will take time to listen. Whether you are involved in the meat industry or not I think it will cause you to consider your life's legacy.
Ride on!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

BEEFWIFE: Two Mules for Sistah Sara's Short Ribs

Whenever I make my sister-in-law’s Sara's crockpot ribs, I think of “Two Mules for Sister Sara.”  This 1970’s Western starred Shirley MacLaine and Clint Eastwood and the theme song plays in my head because these are “Sistah Sara’s Ribs." 

Too bad I didn’t have this recipe when I met Clint Eastwood (below) while he was filming “In the Line of Fire” at the U.S. Treasury Department in 1992 (where I worked at the time).  He might have swept me away to Carmel if I had cooked Sistah Sara’s ribs for him!

I made these last week before Shelby left for China (you can follow her blog, A Jayhawk Abroad, for the full story).  They are sticky and sweet and savory and fall-off-the-bone tender.  The perfect crockpot rib!

This looks like a lot of ingredients but you probably have most of these in your pantry or fridge (see full recipe below).

You need four pounds of BEEF short ribs; I can never find packages that exactly total four pounds but there is plenty of cooking liquid so if you’re a little over on weight, no worries.

Put the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic or paper bag and combine.  Add the ribs in batches; shake to coat and knock off the excess flour as you take them out of the bag.  In a heavy skillet, brown the ribs in the butter.  I start with half the butter and add more in as I switch out the browned ribs for the un-browned ones.

You’ll want to brown all sides; don’t rush this part, it seals in the juices. Here is my big dilemma with this recipe, do I lay the ribs flat in two layers or do I put them on end in a single layer (bones up)?

I feel like this is something I could discuss with The Pioneer Woman over a cup of coffee and she would feel my “pain.”  Guess what, it really doesn’t matter.  As I said before, there is enough cooking liquid and they cook down some so put them in however you like.

As the ribs are browned, put them in the bottom of your crockpot and drizzle with honey.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup but I just squeeze the honey bear until they are coated well.  While you are browning the batches of ribs, you can get the other ingredients prepped.

I don’t use a lot of gadgets in the kitchen but since this recipe calls for five cloves of garlic, I use my garlic peeler and garlic press.  Pop the cloves in the peeler (a silicon tube that looks like a cannoli) and with downward pressure, roll the tube and out comes perfectly peeled garlic (thanks, Adam Kranz).  I got my first garlic press after having fondue at the Pillsbury cabin in Lake Tahoe back in 1997.  Drop a clove or two in the well, bring the handles together and out comes the minced garlic.  Just scrape the garlic off with the end with a knife and pop in more cloves.  Chop the onion into small dice.  Set the garlic and onion aside.  I measure the remaining ingredients into a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup, gently mix and then set aside.

Once the ribs are all browned, I pour off most, but not all of the liquid from the skillet.  Toss in the onion and garlic and cook briefly (don’t burn the garlic) then gently pour in the remaining ingredient mixture.  Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits of BEEF and butter.

Cook over medium high heat until boiling and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture reduces and thickens (about 20 minutes).  Pour the mixture over the ribs; cover crockpot with lid and cook on low setting for six to eight hours.

Sweet, sticky, spicy and tender, perfect crockpot ribs!  And you can serve the liquid from the crockpot on the side (if you want it thicker, just put in a saucepan and continue cooking until reaching the desired consistency).

Sistah Sara’s Crockpot Ribs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 pounds beef short ribs
1/4 cup butter
1/2 to 1 whole large onion, chopped (I use half an onion)
1 1/2 cups beef broth (I use one whole 14.5 oz. can)
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey, more if you prefer

In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add ribs to bag in batches and shake to coat. In a large heavy skillet, brown the ribs in the butter.

Transfer ribs to slow cooker and drizzle with honey. In the same skillet, combine the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook until mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally; pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.