Beef Chat


Kansas Agriculture is something to celebrate!

Published by Kiley De Donder at 5:56 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

Kansas has an exciting story to tell when it comes to agriculture. Throughout the month of March, Kansans are celebrating and sharing with neighbors the importance farming, ranching and agribusiness plays in this great state many of us call home.

With more than 21 million acres of land dedicated to harvesting crops and 16 million acres of pastureland, farmland makes up 88.9% of Kansas land. A great place for more than 6 million head of cattle to call home!

Did you know the average Kansas farm is 747 acres?

There’s a lot of exciting activities that happen on all those acres of family farms and ranches across the state. Many ranchers continue to care for new baby calves that are being born and farmers are making final inspections of their planting equipment and deciding what type of seeds to plant in their fields this spring. That’s just to name a few. However, the crazy thing is, spring weather experienced this time of year has a big impact on the timing of many decisions farmers and ranchers make. Being at the mercy of Mother Nature is not always easy. This week was a wild one, all in one day, many farmers and ranchers experienced anything from a massive wild fire in South Central Kansas, tornado risk in two Northeast counties, a blizzard in Northwest Kansas shutting down I-70 west of Goodland and on our farm temperatures were near 80 degrees most of the day. Farms and ranches were in harm’s way this week as the wildfire ripped through more than 70 thousand acres in Kansas, leaving behind the destruction of feed resources, damaging properties and disrupting the livelihood of many rural families. Luckily, fellow members of the farming community around the state quickly lent a helping hand.


Something to celebrate is the fun fact that in 2015 Kansas farmers produced 5.98 million tons of hay!

 Even though the devastating fire temporarily stripped the nutritious grass cattle graze as food, fellow members of the farming community from all around the state quickly lent a helping hand and worked quickly to donate hay to cattle producers in need!

Agriculture is an integral part of the success of our state. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the dedicated farmers and ranchers who work around the clock to provide the safest, most nutritious and sustainable food, fuel and fiber resources for families across the World!

Cheers to Kansas Farming and Ranching!

Kiley DeDonder

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Savor the Flavor of Lean Beef

Published by Amber Groeling RD LD at 2:08 AM under Coffee Shop Talk | General | Nutrition | Recipe

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”.  In order to truly savor your food, it is important to eat mindfully. Mindful eating means paying attention to your actual eating experience – while at the same time enjoying it. It means submersing yourself fully into your meal, without multitasking. This can be tough especially in today’s fast-paced world. Many studies have shown that eating while watching television or doing other activities at the same time can lead to an increase in calories consumed. The overall goal of mindful eating is to base your food intake on physical cues (i.e. hunger) versus emotional cues. Finding time to slow down during meals and enjoy the food you are eating is very important to developing a healthy lifestyle. What are some important tips to incorporate mindful eating into everyday life?


  • Eat slower. Take time to enjoy the food you are eating. Chew your food a little bit longer than you normally would. This will give your stomach time to tell your brain that it is full, and you might even taste new flavors.

  • Enjoy silence. Eating does not necessarily have to be social hour. Meal time can be used as a time for reflection of the day or the upcoming week. Eating in silence may not work for families with children, but it can be a time to slow down from an otherwise fast-paced world.

  • Shut off electronics (i.e. cell phones, television). Life as we know it can be very hectic at times. Make an effort to turn off the TV and put cell phones down. You may even learn something new from a family member or friend from engaging in conversation!

  • Take pleasure in the flavor of your food. When people are in a hurry, they tend to not notice what or how much they are eating. Take time to notice all the different flavors in food. This is the perfect time to try that new recipe that you have been dying to try!


Start today by trying mindful eating in your everyday life by preparing nutritious, delicious meals and then taking the time to sit down and enjoy your hard work with family or friends. Start thinking about how you eat, and that might even change what you want to eat – for the better!


Sirloin Steak and Tomato Salad

Serves 4

All you need:

1 beef Top Sirloin Steak Boneless, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1 pound)

2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon reduced-fat or regular balsamic vinaigrette, divided

1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

12 cups mixed salad greens

4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

Salt and pepper

All you do:

  1. Brush onion slices with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette; set aside. Press chile powder onto beef steak. Place steak in center of grid over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange onions around steak. Grill steak, covered, 11 to 15 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 13 to 16 minutes) for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally. Grill onions 13 to 15 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally.
  2. Separate onion slices into rings. Carve steak into slices. Season beef and onions with salt and pepper, as desired.
  3. Toss salad greens with remaining 1/3 cup vinaigrette and divide among 4 salad plates. Top with tomatoes, onions and beef.



Nutrition information per serving: 246 calories; 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat; 2 g monounsaturated fat); 70 mg cholesterol; 411 mg sodium; 22 g carbohydrate; 6.5 g fiber; 30 g protein; 8.2 mg niacin; 0.7 mg vitamin B6; 1.5 mcg vitamin B12; 3.6 mg iron; 30.7 mcg selenium; 5.2 mg zinc; 110.5 mg choline.

Source: beefitswhatsfordinner.com


The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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I’ve Got My Eyes On MOO This Valentine’s Day

Published by Kiley De Donder at 8:46 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General | Nutrition | Recipe

Earlier this week our local radio station was talking about Valentine’s Day and whether or not the talk show hosts’ had plans for surprising their “Valentines”.  Neither of the two had really narrowed down their ideas, which led into a few interesting facts shared about how many people in America actually procrastinate until the last minute to think of a special treat or adventure for their loved ones. In our house, we don’t typically go-all-out for Valentine’s Day. We might not shower eachother with flowers, stuffed bears and loads of chocolate hearts…but, we do enjoy celebrating our love of BEEF together. I wouldn’t be surprised if every Valentine’s Day my husband and I have celebrated together was commemorated with a nice steak dinner of some sort


In the spirit of Valentines Day I just had to share this sweet surprise our ranch received via email this week. Now, isnt that just the cutest photo ! Clearly this gal did not procrastinate!  For several years now, our farm/ranch has helped sponsor a youth program at the American Royal called the Calf Scramble. So to tell the story behind the photo, this younglady is a participant in this year’s calf scramble program, and lives in Montana! The program gives the opportunity for students 7-12th grades to compete for a heifer to take home and raise for a year and return to the American Royal Calf Scramble Show in the fall. It’s a great agrarian based educational experience for kids across the country and helps them get started raising beef cattle! And that, is something close to our heart. Not only do we love our friends and family, but as ranchers we love to care for and raise our animals too.


If you’re still looking for a few last minute dinner ideas for that special someone, I recommend browsing a number of the awesome Valentine’s Day dinner ideas at http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipecollection.aspx?id=10023

Much love,


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Feed Time

Published by Kiley De Donder at 3:19 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | Nutrition | Recipe

Over the weekend our family wrapped up the final Christmas gathering for the season. It was truly a joyous occasion! Along with the out of town siblings and cousins, came a solid storm of rain and sleet. Precipitation is welcomed 9 times out of 10 on the farm, but lately it’s turning into a nuisance. With the abundance of moisture we’ve received it makes for tougher conditions for the cattle and with shorter days, cold temps and hardly any sun it takes forever for the ground to dry up. We spend extra time feeding and providing shelter to minimize the stress of the conditions. Here’s an inside look at chore time from this weekend.


Cattle lined up at the bunks                         Big round bales of hay are rolled out for      pastured cattle to eat.


 It’s a fun change of pace to have everyone home on the farm during the holidays. There are always tons of fun and never a shortage of food. Another perk of big family gatherings, there tends to be a few leftovers. Not all families love leftovers, but ours seems to eat them just fine. So, I thought I’d share an extremely quick beef and sweet potato hash recipe that uses several common ingredients you’re likely to have on hand following a traditional family gathering on a Kansas farm… Hashes are a great way to use leftovers. The combination of ingredients is limitless and work great morning, noon or night. And at less than 350 calories per serving, you can enjoy it without the guilt of a big dish and all the “fixings”


For additional leftover recipe ideas visit beefitswhatsfordinner.com


Have a happy and prosperous New Year!




12 ounces cooked beef (such as steak, roast or pot roast), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2-1/2 cups)

1 large sweet potato, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons reduced-fat or regular dairy sour cream

1 teaspoon hot sauce

Chopped fresh cilantro


Combine sweet potatoes, onion and taco seasoning in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add water. Cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender and water has almost evaporated, stirring once. Stir in oil; continue cooking, uncovered, 4 to 6 minutes or until potatoes are tender and begin to brown, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream and hot sauce in small bowl. Set aside.

Add beef to potato mixture. Continue to cook 5 minutes or until beef is heated through, stirring occasionally, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water, if needed to avoid sticking.

Garnish with cilantro, as desired. Serve with sour cream mixture.

Nutrition information per serving: 329 calories; 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat); 63 mg cholesterol; 387 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 5.4 g fiber; 26 g protein; 3.0 mg niacin; 0.3 mg vitamin B6; 2.6 mcg vitamin B12; 3.7 mg iron; 26.1 mcg selenium; 5.6 mg zinc; 4.7 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc; and a good source of niacin and vitamin B6.

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Preparing for the Storm: 5 Ways

Published by Robin Kleine at 4:44 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

You may have noticed the slick, icy weather outside. Even if all of your activities were cancelled or postponed, we couldn’t delay feeding and watering our cows or checking over the herd.


Even if we don’t want to get out of our pajamas and leave our mugs of hot chocolate, the animals must be fed.


Taking care of our stock takes lots of planning, careful timing and a little bit of luck – no matter what the season. But in the next few months, lots of extra care will be given to our cattle to make sure they are fed, watered and as comfortable as possible in the harsh Kansas winter conditions … here’s how –


  1. MAKE HAY WHILE THE SUN IS SHINING. Back in the summer, we worked around the clock to make sure we enough hay to feed throughout the winter months. This stock pile will be fed through the winter when the grass is dormant and doesn’t grow.

  2. WATCH THE WEATHER. Any farmer or rancher will tell you that they read, watch or listen to the long term forecast multiple times per day. If bad weather is predicted we make any and all efforts to bed down the cattle, put out extra hay as well as check that every single water source not frozen and working properly.

  3. CREATE WIND BREAKS & CLEAR ROADS. Here in Kansas, the wind always blows. Especially on the open prairie, so ranchers will build wind breaks or plant rows of trees. The cattle can stand behind these structures and group together to get out of the wind. We often clear the roads and driveways on our farms and ranches, but first we tend to those that lead to our pastures and feed bunks.

  4. DO A HEAD COUNT. When feeding and watering, we do our best to go through and count each pasture and make sure all the cattle are where they belong. If not, we will walk, ride or drive through the pastures until we find them all.

  5. NO MATTER WHAT .. MAKE SURE THE STOCK HAS PLENTY TO EAT, ACCESS TO WATER & A PLACE TO BED DOWN. Even in white out conditions or ice slicked roads, the cattle have to eat, and then we can warm up and come inside and maybe have some breakfast ourselves.


If you don’t have cattle or other animals outside to take care of, you probably curl up on the couch with a good book and some coffee. Farmers and ranchers come inside and worry about how their herd is faring in the elements and how soon they can head back out to check on them.


May your herd be warm & safe this winter,


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Published by Heath Larson at 8:15 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

I clearly remember feeling completely out of my element when working my first non-farm job.  Each day began and ended at the time clock, punching my card so my hours could be tracked. 

Conversely, in a farm family, "work" is woven into every single fiber of family life.  Vacations happen when rain forces you out of the field.  Summers revolve around wheat harvest, while winters revolve around twice-daily cattle feeding, periodic cattle drives, and late-winter calving.  Fortunately, during the limited amount of down time, the rewards of farm life can't be topped.  Were it not for family farm ground, I probably never would have had the opportunity to bond with my close friends over duck and pheasant hunts.  I grew up picking and eating sweet corn all summer long, the perfect complement to a fresh grilled, home-raised T-bone steak shared in the company of family after a day of hard work.

Today, I still carry these lessons with me.  I don't have to punch a time clock anymore, but, consistent with what I grew up with, I know I will be at work until the job is done, however long it takes.  Meal time is truly a sacred time for our growing family to relax, re-connect, and enjoy a cut of lean beef that supports the farm culture for which we are so thankful.  Perhaps the greatest rewards come when we take the time to return with our children to the farm to help with day-to-day tasks.

Last week, I took my son Andrew with me to help my father out with hauling heifers out of their summer pastures and cutting milo.  While waiting for "Grandpa Craig" to dump another load of milo on the grain cart, I asked Andrew why he liked coming to the farm so much.  His response?  "I just like being with you, Dad."  Now that is a family work culture worthy of much thanksgiving.

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Preparing for Winter

Published by Katie Sawyer at 9:48 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

It’s still doesn’t completely feel like fall on the farm. Temperatures continue to hoover in the 70s and there is no sign of the hard freeze we come to expect as the sure sign of autumn. But the calendar says mid-October and that means it’s time for the cows to come home.


For the past six months, our mother cows and their calves have been grazing and growing in the Kansas Flint Hills. Because we don’t have enough suitable pasture ground near our farm to graze our cattle, we lease pasture ground throughout the Flint Hills to provide grazing resources to our animals.


But when the calendar reads October, we know it’s time to bring the animals home.

For my husband, that means lots of long days in the tractor-trailer loading and driving cattle from the pastures to our farm. The process isn’t over when the truck reaches the farm. The animals must be unloaded, reviewed and ensured all arrived safely.  Additionally food must be ready in the bunks and water flowing in the waterers.



One of the most important aspects of bringing our cattle back to the farm is the transition from grass to a diet that includes grain. The change is made slowly and for the calves, which have never experienced grain in their diet, it’s a process we take time to review and perfect to ensure the new meal plan is meeting their nutritional needs and working with their still-developing digestive systems.


My husband and his father walk among the cows a few times each day to look for signs of sickness, discomfort or other health-related issues. When an animal does appear to be ill, we administer a dose of antibiotics to help them return to full health. The shot is documented and kept on record.


Finally, we update the cattle on all of their vaccines. Just like in humans, different vaccines are necessary for combatting illnesses that seem to strike at different times of the year. We work with our local veterinarian to provide a comprehensive vaccination program that ensures we are doing our part to keep our animals healthy and keep unwanted diseases and illnesses at bay.


Over the next few weeks, all of our animals will be back home on the farm and will have settled into their new environment and meal plan. When the weather finally turns cold and winter hits the Plains, our cattle will be ready to battle the elements and endure another winter season. Until then, we are all ready for some crisp fall weather and happy to have our livestock back home.

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How We Roll

Published by Heath Larson at 7:08 AM under Coffee Shop Talk | General | Nutrition

During September, I used up some vacation time in order to spend more time at home with my family than ever before.  For many people, vacation is a welcome respite from the "grind" and a much needed chance to slow down a bit. 


But in the Larson household, that's just not how we roll.  We didn't just go camping, we went primitive tent camping for multiple nights, during the hottest weekend of the year.  We didn't just have friends over, we had a whole crowd of friends over, as well as a longtime friend visiting from out of state.  We didn't just watch a football game, we drove across the state to attend the Kansas City Chiefs home opener vs. the Denver Broncos, with our youngest child.  In between, there were birthdays, a baptism, and board games.  Yard work, house work, and homework.  The State Fair, corn harvest, and trail runs.  To say we went "all out" is a massive understatement.


In fact, by the time vacation was nearly over, we were completely exhausted, and more than ready for a return to our normal, (slightly) less hectic routine.  However, with our friend coming to visit from out of town, we needed to come up with a top notch meal that was good enough to be "special," but not a complicated, messy chore to prepare.  Beef to the rescue.  We pulled out a 9x13 pan of homemade ground beef enchiladas from the freezer, along with two lean beef steaks, and served a basic salad and some fruit as sides, and cooked both the enchiladas and the steaks on the grill.  The result?  Predictably perfect.  More time spent sitting by the grill catching up with our friend, less time prepping and cleaning.  And when the steaks come off the grill in our house, they don't last long.  We went from too exhausted to cook to an "all out" celebration (that the kids would still eat) quicker than you can say "tenderloin." 


Now THAT is how we roll.

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Would you pay a premium for omega-3 enhanced beef?

Published by Kassie Curran at 9:39 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General | Nutrition

I recently completed my master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at Kansas State where I was able to work on a research project that is very interesting to me so I wanted to share with you a little bit of what I found. Don’t worry, I won’t get into the econometrics with you, but the title, “Consumer Acceptance of Omega-3 Enhanced Beef in Surveys and Retail Trials” should give you an idea about what I was working on.


Motivation for this research stems from the fact that the retail beef industry will continue to be shaped by changing consumer demand for meat products and their increasing awareness of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as demand for healthier food. Meanwhile, the beef industry and its stakeholders continue to pursue improvements in cattle production practices, beef processing methods, and marketing strategies. One of the opportunities for the beef industry to have a more positive role in the “health and nutrition” foods sector is through further nutrient enhancement with various feeding methods, which can help to meet the increasing demand for healthy foods. In particular, by feeding cattle an algae supplement, in addition to a conventional feed ration, the level of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, can significantly increase (from 16 mg/4 oz. serving for conventional beef to 400 mg/4 oz. serving for enhanced beef in this study). However, the extent to which consumers are willing to accept and pay for the nutrient enhancement can either delay or propel the advancement of this practice.



The research in my thesis measures consumer acceptance and willingness-to-pay (WTP) for enhanced omega-3 steak and ground beef products compared to conventionally raised and grass-fed beef. Data was collected from a retail trial with a small retail outlet in Colorado, and a nation-wide survey which included a choice experiment. The analysis of this data provides a better understanding of consumer acceptance and willingness-to-pay for the omega-3 enhanced ground beef and steak products.


While the retail trial did not provide significant results due to inconsistent sales we did find that for omega-3 enhanced ground beef and steak, higher income is associated with a higher probability of purchase and that males are less likely to buy omega-3 enhanced product than females.

Results from the nation-wide survey indicate that overall acceptance and willingness to pay for omega-3 enhanced beef was below that of grass-fed beef, but above that of conventional beef. When additional information about omega-3s was provided, it increased willingness-to-pay for enhanced omega-3 enhanced ground beef, but had no impact on willingness-to-pay for enhanced omega-3 enhanced steak. Still, grass-fed beef was most preferred. Additionally, there was an evident preference for locally raised product, guaranteed tender steak, and 90/10 ground beef. Regarding food safety interventions with ground beef, steam pasteurization was associated with a higher than average utility, while irradiation was lower than average as expected.


The analysis showed that higher prices are associated with lower utility, which was expected, and females had a significantly higher WTP for grass-fed ground beef than males.  The average willingness-to-pay for grass-fed steak was estimated at $3.69/lb above conventionally raised product, compared to an estimated premium of $1.86/lb for omega-3 enhanced steak.  For ground beef the average premium for grass-fed product was estimated to be $1.27/lb compared to $0.79/lb for the omega-3 enhanced product. 


Though WTP premiums were found for omega-3 enhanced ground beef and steak, the estimates found are not necessarily high enough to justify the implementation of the enhanced omega-3 diet for cattle producers. If it costs less than these willingness-to-pay estimates to produce and market the omega-3 enhanced beef product, then this could be a viable production option for the beef industry. However, further research must be done to come to this conclusion.*


Remember, this is a brief overview of my research so if you are interested in learning more about the study, you can contact me with questions or view the complete document here: http://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/20413


Eat Beef!

*Research on cost of production is currently being conducted at Kansas State University.

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Time Well Spent

Published by Heath Larson at 5:34 AM under Coffee Shop Talk | General | Nutrition

We are beginning our favorite time of the whole year in the Larson household.  For us, the months of September and October not only mean relief from the summer heat, but they also mean much more.  Fall is Church picnics, planting flowers and grass for spring, and football tailgates.  Fall is the State Fair, the first day of school, and carving pumpkins.  Fall is cross country running, our wedding anniversary, and honey crisp apples.  Each year we seem to get a little busier during this season, but each year, we look forward to it even more.  With all this fun and tradition wrapped up into just a few short weeks, our time is a very valuable commodity.


My favorite 10k race of the entire year is held in the middle of September.  The awards are handmade, the mountains of post-race cookies are homemade, and you can even bet a six-pack of your favorite beverage against the race director on how fast you finish the brutally tough course.  Much of the race is run in deep sand, and what isn't sandy is usually steep and rocky!  In between the sand and rocks are 4 water crossings, two of which are deep enough to swim in.  This is not a course where you go to set records!  But afterward, sharing "war stories" from the course over a cookie or two with the other finishers, you realize that you enjoyed every brutal minute in a way that's completely different from your plain old road race.  It's a truly eclectic, yet competitive group of runners that shows up to this race, so you never know who you're going to meet or what story you will hear!  Time well spent.


While we grill at least once per week year round, we especially love grilling during the fall.  Growing up, one of the reasons I loved seeing my father fire up his black Weber charcoal grill was that it took a while to get the coals started and the cooking done.  Why?  Because in those minutes, a game of catch in the yard was easy to squeeze in.  Today, we try to do the same thing with our children while heating up the grill.  There's bubbles to be blown, tag to be played, and some late tomatoes to be picked.  Those precious few minutes of truly slowing down and connecting are what make us who we are as a family.  And the food can't be beat, either!


It takes a great deal of time and sacrifice to train for my favorite race of the year, and there are easier, more accessible races out there, but the reward of camaraderie and challenge is too much to pass up.  On a similar note, it would be easier for us to look for a quick, less healthy, more processed food option for our family meals...but it wouldn't be any tastier, nor would it bring us together in the same way.  Lean beef on the grill is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, a welcome reward after a hard day of over seeding the lawn, and a satisfying, nutrient packed recovery meal after a brutal 10k run.  Now that's what I call quality time.

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