Tag Archives: butcher course

Seasonal Thoughts

22 Dec

wintertrees

There was a time in my youth when it was common to hear my parents, aunts, and uncles talk of how hard things were during the Great Depression. If anyone would know, they would: My mother was one of seventeen children, and my father one of thirteen. 

My mother and father divorced when I was eight years old. Things were pretty tough for a single mother of 10 with 7 children still at home. The food budget was very limited and waste of any kind was not even thinkable. We used every scrap of food. Dessert was a luxury reserved for holidays. Often for days at a time a meal consisted of bread and gravy. Mealtime was a time for family and a time to give thanks for what we did have to eat.

The labor my mother went through to make a dozen loaves of bread on a wood cook stove did not go unappreciated. Today my family honors her memory for all of the effort, hard work, and love that she put into providing for her children. 

Food is the bedrock of our lives, and those who produce it deserve to be honored. In my early days, respect was bestowed on the art of butchery. That seemed to vanish during the 1970s, and my aim – as by now you all know – is to bring it back.  

I have a bumper sticker on my truck that says No Farmers, No Food. I believe that seeking out and supporting local agriculture has terrific benefits. Consumers become more knowledgeable about the food they eat and develop links with the land—a spiritual as well as practical benefit. Farmers benefit through exposure to larger markets and often better prices for their animals. Small local shops that carry local meats develop stronger ties with customers and have a wider range of exciting products to advertise and sell. 

I’m tired of seeing “Oh, that’s good enough” owners who take no pride in what they offer their customers. This is the sort of thing that disgusts a butcher of my generation. If I put time, energy, and expense into raising an animal for meat, I want the best that animal has to offer. I want to honor it by masterfully cutting it to maximize every ounce and use every edible part. I want my cuts to be beautiful and uniform as possible—laying the meat out as though I were painting the Mona Lisa.

So my conclusion? It’s time for a change.

How about this? Let’s not accept second or third best. Let’s not condone cruel and unethical practices. Let’s learn about where our food comes from and teach our kids. Let’s support the farmers who feed us and stop pretending that what happens outside cities doesn’t matter. Let’s try sitting down as a family around the dinner table to give thanks for the food and its producers. And let’s thank the animal it came from, too.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

 

PS: And a special add-on for the person who emailed me about lamb butchery courses. Of course I offer them – occasionally. Just call me at 802 372 – 0681. See what a pushover I am?

BIG LAUNCH – today’s the day!

24 Jan

You folks know that I teach, right?

Have for many years… to farmers, butchers, culinary students, chefs, caterers, restaurant owners and do-it-yourself cooks and foodies.

Over the past two to three years, there’s been a real upswing in the number of people who want to know how to cut their own meat.  Not necessarily because they want to be butchers (although some do), but because they’re interested in the process and want to find out where that cut of meat comes from.

Some want to use the techniques in their work, but others are just interested in the traditional art of culinary butchery.  They want to be more knowledgeable when they order meat.  More power to them.

Well, so many people have been asking me to put my course on tape that …

wait for it…

expectant pause…

I’VE DONE IT!

Today is the official premiere of THE GOURMET BUTCHER… from Farm to Table.  It’s a two-DVD set with my complete courses on beef, lamb and pork.  To make it more fun, my good friend Chef Courtney Contos joins me to turn the final cuts into dinner delicious recipes.

Far as I know, this is the first a culinary butchery course has been captured on film.

Hope you enjoy it… we had a great time making it.