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Beef Chat

Oct082014

Planning for the Next Generation

Published by Katie Sawyer at 8:59 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

My 18-month-old son has an affinity for all things cows. I’m guessing this admiration is due to the fact that everything he owns and wears has either cows or tractors on it. He is a farm kid for sure.

 

Still in his Halloween pajamas, my son and a young steer greet one another.

 

Now that he is old enough to not only make the cow sound but recognize and locate cows, there is nothing better than seeing him gaze lovingly at a group of cows and calves and run, with open arms, after a group of steers hoping one of them will decide to befriend him.

 

While I must admit the farm dogs and cats receive the same level of excitement and attention, the cattle are different. They are our livelihood, my husband’s past and hopefully our son’s future and watching my son enjoy them the way I know my husband does makes my heart swell.

 

We care for our animals all day, every day because they are our business - our means to putting food on the table, gas in the truck and money in the bank. And we want to see that business continue to the next generation. We are the fourth generation to own my husband’s family farm but we do not want to be the last.

 

As we bring mother cows and their calves home from a summer of grazing in the Flint Hills, my husband recalls doing the same when he was a boy and recounts the lineage of his cows. He vaccinates and cares for the animals alongside his father and I know he cherishes the day a third generation joins the work.

 

As I watch my son clap with glee at seeing the cows, I pray that he will someday witness the same joy in his children’s eyes. Farming and ranching is a family affair but it takes time, energy and dedication to the land and the animals to ensure the next generation has an opportunity to operate the family farm. We feed, care for and tend to our animals daily to not only ensure our way of life, but to sustain this opportunity for our children to enjoy.



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Oct022014

Cows Aren't Squirrels

Published by Robin Kleine at 5:36 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk

I know that’s a strange title for a blog.

 

 

Image courtesy of National Geographic.

 

But, I’ve been thinking about all of the work happening around our place and I was thinking that our jobs as farmers would be considerably easier if cows could gather their own food for the winter, you know … like squirrels.

 

While cows aren’t squirrels, sometimes I feel like one. It’s up to my family to harvest, protect and distribute the cows’ winter food supply.

 

Here’s how we’ve been preparing –

 

In the past few weeks we’ve been chopping silage, putting up the last cutting of hay and corn harvest is just beginning around these parts.

 

As you very well know, cows graze on grass. They need this grass, or forage, to keep their rumen (one piece of their four part stomachs) going strong. But in the winter … the grass is often dormant and/or covered in snow.

 

The cows still need to keep their stomachs fully functional, so we must provide this forage in other forms such as hay or silage. Silage is usually made from corn or sorghum plants, where the entire green plant is harvested and cut into small pieces. This silage is then put in a silo, silage piles covered in plastic or silage bags (long plastic, sealed tubes). It must undergo a fermentation process before it can be fed. For more information on silage, visit -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silage.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Kansas Ag Network.

 

 

 

After the cows have eaten down the grass in the pasture and the temperature drops, we will begin feeding them big, round bales of hay and a precise amount of silage every day. Together these two feed stuffs (along with minerals we supply to them free choice) will provide enough energy and protein to keep the cows happy and healthy throughout the winter.

 

The corn we didn’t chop for silage will be allowed to dry a little longer in the field, before our favorite farmer harvests it with his big red combine. We then feed the corn to the cattle in the feedlot, to help them get to the “finished” stage/weight and ready for the butcher.

 

Sometimes, we even bale the corn stalks after we harvest the corn. These bales are then laid out for the cows in the pasture. It helps them stay warm in the frigid winter temps too.

 

For today, the cows are enjoying the sunshine and delightful temperatures. Little do they know, we’re working like squirrels to make sure they are properly cared for in the coming months … when the weather won’t likely be as pleasant!

 

Best,

Robin



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Sep192014

Fall Traditions

Published by Heath Larson at 3:32 AM under Beef Team | Coffee Shop Talk | General

We are “fall-aholics” at our house.  Each year, our calendar for the months of September and October is jam-packed with every conceivable fun event and family tradition.  With the start of football season, we can again listen to Mitch Holthus give the colorful play-by-play our Kansas City Chiefs on Sundays.  Football season means there are fantasy drafts to be held and injuries to monitor.  We load up the car early and spend an entire day at the State Fair in Hutchinson, visiting the livestock, watching the shows, and of course, taking a ride on the “Ye Olde Mill” haunted boat ride.  We begin scouring the stores for the perfect pumpkin for our jack-o-lantern.  Speaking of pumpkin, don’t forget to plug in the pumpkin air freshener, get out the pumpkin hand soap, and have a pumpkin spiced beverage or two!

 

The beginning of fall also holds some running traditions for us.  High school cross country season begins, and we usually find time to get out to a meet or two and push our kids at breakneck speed across the course, cheering on the “young guns” in our double stroller.  Our favorite local trail race is this weekend, a 6.5 mile meat grinder featuring 3 water crossings ranging from knee-deep to chest deep, rugged rocky terrain, stout competition, and awesome homemade post-race cookies.  The following weekend, my hometown’s fall festival occurs, featuring a 5k race, organized by my sister. 

 

I began training consistently for the 2014 running season in January, and after the September races, I am headed for a few weeks of sorely needed time off.  It’s been a long season of early mornings, windy days, late night runs to squeeze in one more training run, and of course…interminable time on those awful, punishing machines:  Hotel treadmills. While this may be the end of training season, I can’t shake the fact that running is part of who I am as a person.  I will run fairly regularly, especially when the weather is nice.  However, the pace will be much slower, and the schedule more flexible, in order to refresh my body and recharge my mind in preparation for the training schedule that lies ahead in 2015. 

 

 

Many people also consider fall the end of “grilling season.” I always chuckle at the idea of grilling season, because we grill at least twice per week, year round at our house, and eat grilled leftovers for multiple meals during the week, too.  To have a grilling season, one would have to have a “non-grilling season.”  For our family to have a non-grilling season, we would have to institute a “non-eating season,” and with our family, merely missing a meal is asking for a household rebellion!  At our house, the hardships encountered while grilling year-round are well worth the dividends in taste.  Flank steak fajitas, tri-tip roast, sirloin steaks, and blue cheese burgers are better cooked over charcoal, and that’s the only way we ever cook them.  Firing up the grill forces us to slow down, sit back, and, thankfully, slow down and enjoy life…if even for a moment. 

 

Cheers to fall!



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Sep102014

Make Life Happen

Published by Kassie Curran at 8:11 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

I’ve been told that time flies and it goes even faster as we get older, which I am continually finding out. What makes this idea so hard to accept sometimes is that life is happening all throughout that time whether we are making the most of it or not. Do you sit around waiting for something to happen? Or do you make the most of each day and make life happen?

This idea has really hit me the past few weeks as I think about the Blythe family. Over the past few weeks Tyler Blythe went through a life-changing medical emergency and needed a liver transplant as an 18 year old. This probably happens more frequently than I’d like to think, but this particular case hit a lot closer to home for me as it was some of my friends’ little brother. Although their lifestyle with a big family of 5 kids can get a bit hectic, just like my family, they are a pretty normal family. The Blythe family has a cattle ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas and are active in their community – they are great people who do great things. But life throws challenges your way regardless of who you are, what really matters is what you do and who you are in spite of the adversity you face.

Tyler finished his senior year of high school this past May with plans to attend K-State in the fall, but became extremely sick toward the end of the summer. His condition worsened and he was moved up on the liver transplant list and had to postpone his college plans. It’s hard to imagine that something so extreme can happen so fast. After being diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Tyler received a liver just 20 days later because of how badly his condition has worsened. Luckily, Tyler was blessed with a new liver and will continue to recover thanks to the gracious donation of a liver from a family that didn’t even know him. I know that Tyler will continue to heal and make the most of the gift of life. He plans to come to K-State in January and live his life to the fullest.

If you were given a second chance at life, would you sit around or make life happen? I hope you would choose the latter, but more importantly, why not choose to make life happen every day no matter what?

For more on Tyler’s condition and his recovery, keep up with Debbie’s blog at http://www.kidscowsandgrass.com/. While I don’t wish this tragedy on anyone, it certainly brings up the idea of whether you would consider donating your organs to benefit another life? If you’d like to consider it or learn more check out http://organdonor.gov to become a donor.

Eat Beef & Make Life Happen!

Kassie



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Aug012014

A Summer at Monsanto

Published by Kassie Curran at 8:20 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

Have you ever taken an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone? I can think of many times where I have taken opportunities like this, and they’ve always ended up being significant growth experiences with lasting benefits. I remember the first time I went to a livestock judging contest when I was 7 years old – I was terrified because I wasn’t fully prepared for what I was getting into, but after 12 years of livestock judging I had countless experiences that taught me critical thinking, confidence, hard work, and a love for challenge. The skills I learned back then continue to serve me well as I continue through college and into the workplace. I had a similar experience this summer in my internship as a regulatory food/feed composition and nutrition intern at Monsanto in St. Louis, MO.

 

Although I have a strong agriculture background, it is primarily in livestock so I knew very little about crops before working at Monsanto. As the time came for me to move to St. Louis, I was excited to learn more about crops and biotechnology and learn more about how a company works from the inside, but to say the least, it was out of my comfort zone. Because Monsanto is a large company I was nervous about my contributions, what I would learn about Monsanto, and how people would see me after having worked for Monsanto, a company that some equate to evil. Regardless of your own views on biotechnology, I’m happy to say that I have been impressed by the integrity of Monsanto since day one.

 

In the two-day orientation, I learned that Monsanto utilizes breeding and biotechnology along with agronomic solutions to develop products that help farmers throughout the world produce more while using less land, water, and pesticides. After orientation I was soon assigned projects to work on throughout the summer. Although my projects were a huge part of my time spent with the company, I learned so much more away from my desk.  

 

You know the idea that “agriculture feeds the world?” While my generation of agriculturalists has gravitated towards that mantra, the majority of farmers don’t really set out to feed the world when they wake up each morning. They love farming and seek to provide for their families. Since the global food system is so complex, individual agriculturalists aren’t the ones strategizing how they can “feed the world.” Luckily, there are people who want to support farmers in their efforts and can work together to facilitate increased agriculture production so that we can benefit society by feeding more mouths around the world in a responsible way.

 

I view Monsanto as one of the team players in this effort to help agriculture feed the world and their commitment to this effort has been the most impressive thing I’ve gained from my time with them. They have the ability to organize science, technology, business and communication experts in a way that supports farmers in producing food more efficiently, while ultimately benefitting society.

 

While I was continually reminded of this commitment in conversations with people throughout the company and tours of the facilities, I realized the tangible outcomes of this commitment when I attended the Sustainability Yield Pledge Awards one morning. The ceremony recognized contributions made by Monsanto employees around the world to support communities where Monsanto is involved. Efforts that were highlighted included helping farmers increase their yields in Hungary; re-establishing underground water levels in Peru; helping a community in India improve their quality of life by providing better nutrition and nutrition education in their schools, hosting education programs for farmers, and getting clean water for families; making sure farmers in the U.S. have the right tools to better manage tough weeds; enhancing technology in rural America’s schools; and collaborating with others to provide solutions for honey bee health. I was completely blown away by this snapshot of the ways Monsanto employees were contributing to their communities around the world to support the overall goal of sustainable agriculture.

 

This experience really made me think about the teamwork that must exist within and outside of the agriculture industry for us to move forward in feeding our growing population in a responsible manner. From consumer to farmers and ranchers and everyone in between, we must all be on this team together. Not a single person or even a single company can achieve the feat of feeding the world – no, we must work together and respect the work that each teammate contributes.

 

During my time with Monsanto, I worked on projects that analyze and explain nutrient composition of genetically modified crops, including sweet corn. I attended the farmer’s market on Monsanto’s campus where farmers who grow Monsanto products, including genetically modified sweet corn come to sell their vegetables. Every time I went, there were so many people waiting in line to get these delicious items. I had the very best tomato I’ve ever had and the tastiest sweet corn too!

 

I could go on and on about the awesome work going on throughout the various teams at Monsanto, it’s an impressive organization. After my experience, I am confident that my experience with this agriculture company will continue to yield benefits for many years to come. It was a privilege to contribute to their vision through my projects and I am proud that I was able to work for a company dedicated to progressing sustainable agriculture through its commitment to producing more, conserving more, and improving lives while maintaining integrity and stewardship with its practices.

 

I hope that we can all work together to continue making improvements to agriculture and learn to appreciate the diversity that each team member brings to the table whether from seed production to livestock or anywhere in between that supports them.

 

Go Team Agriculture!

Kassie



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Jul242014

Taste the Homegrown Goodness

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables. If you do not grow your own garden, you can still enjoy fresh, local produce.  And, you may not even have to travel to a farmers’ market or farm stand to pick up your local produce, many grocery stores including Hy-Vee have teamed up with local farms to ensure the freshest, most nutritious choices right where you buy the rest of your groceries. 

The term local often means that the food was grown within 400 miles from where it will be consumed.  While this is not near as close as your back yard, you will find many vendors much closer, all you have to do is ask. At Hy-Vee our Homegrown label ensures that you are purchasing the freshest items from local family farms. The Homegrown signs indicate where your food was grown and how far the farm is from your Hy-Vee store.

According to the Food Marketing Institute’s U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends report, the top reasons for purchasing locally grown foods include freshness (82%), supporting the local economy (75%) and taste (58%).

Local, seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically more budget-friendly because they are harvested during their peak season for you to enjoy. Many popular produce is packed with a nutritional punch!  The fiber found in sweet corn can aid in weight management and digestive health.  Bell peppers and watermelon are loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C to promote immune health.  Zucchini and other squash has been found to contain compounds that may help control blood pressure.  Tomatoes are naturally sweet and a great source of lycopene which may help prevent against prostate cancer. 

Don’t hesitate! Now is the time to fill half of your plate with seasonal fruits and veggies, along with 4 oz. of lean beef and a serving of whole-grain.  Try this refreshing Steak and Grilled Ratatouille Salad to take advantage of the summer’s bounty!

STEAK AND GRILLED RATATOUILLE SALAD

Steak & Grilled Ratatouille Salad --

Total Recipe Time: 45 to 50 minutes

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 beef Top Round Steak, cut 1 inch thick (about 1-1/2 pounds)

1 small eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cut lengthwise into quarters

1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half

1 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise in half

1/2 cup grape tomato halves

9 cups mixed baby salad greens

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Marinade:

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS FOR STEAK AND GRILLED RATATOUILLE SALAD

1.       Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl. Place beef steak and 1/2 cup marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or as long as overnight, turning occasionally. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for salad.

2.       Spray vegetables, except tomatoes, with nonstick cooking spray.

3.       Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Place steak in center of grid over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange vegetables around steak. Grill steak, covered, 12 to 14 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 16 to 19 minutes) for medium-rare (145ºF) doneness, turning occasionally. (Do not overcook.) Grill eggplant and bell peppers 12 to 15 minutes; zucchini and yellow squash 8 to 12 minutes, covered (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, eggplant 6 to 8 minutes; bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash 7 to 11 minutes) or until tender, turning occasionally and basting with remaining reserved marinade.

4.       Cut grilled vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Carve steak into thin slices. Toss lettuce, tomatoes and grilled vegetables with remaining 1/2 cup marinade. Divide vegetable mixture between 6 serving plates. Arrange beef steak slices over vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Sprinkle with cheese, as desired.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION FOR STEAK AND GRILLED RATATOUILLE SALAD

Nutrition information per serving: 334 calories; 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 12 g monounsaturated fat); 61 mg cholesterol; 162 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrate; 5.2 g fiber; 3 g protein; 6.2 mg niacin; 0.7 mg vitamin B6; 1.5 mcg vitamin B12; 4.1 mg iron; 31.4 mcg selenium; 5.4 mg zinc.

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



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Jul102014

Summer Slowdown?

Published by Robin Kleine at 3:59 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | General

For some people, summer is a slower time. They might get to sleep in and stay up late, enjoy a few hours in the pool every day, eat tremendous amounts of cotton candy and watermelon and relax. 

 

At our house, we do a little bit of those things --- but not very often.  

 

Here’s 3 reasons why farmers and ranchers are so busy during the summer –

 

  1. We’ve got to make hay. Because cows are ruminants (their stomachs have four parts), they need to eat forage (like hay) to keep it functioning properly. Hay also provides valuable nutrients and protein to their diet. But, hay is finicky and depends on the weather. We have to have a few day window from when you mow it, to when you bale it without any rain to ensure that the hay is dry and won’t mold easily.

    IMG_1341.JPG
    Image courtesy of www.freerepublic.com

  2. Cows and calves need our attention. After all the cows are done calving in the spring, we take the cows and their babies to a different pasture for the summer along with a few bulls to breed the cows. Every day, we visit the pasture to make sure everything is in place – all the fences are still in tact, do a quick head count, and check over the herd for sickness or injuries. Also, we will run all the cows in to give them a de-wormer and treat for flies – two major problems in the summer – as well as do a pregnancy check to make sure the bulls are doing their job.

    IMG_7416.jpg
    Cow and calf on pasture. Picture taken at my farm.

  3. We’re celebrating our hard work at fairs and cattle shows. For some of us, we show our cattle and other livestock at our county fair or other shows on a state or national level. We work all year for this moment, when we get to present our animals to the judge and spend some time socializing with all our friends too.

    RKK_2896.JPG
    This picture was taken at the National Junior Shorthorn Show in Louisville, KY.

 

While, the summer might not be slow moving on our farm. We still enjoy the time we get to spend together, working as a family and preparing our farm for the winter, when we can’t grow feed for the cows and get to start calving season again! Farming is a cycle, and we’re happy to keep it going!

 

Until next time,
Robin



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Jun052014

Grass-fed vs Grain-fed

Published by Katie Sawyer at 10:18 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | Nutrition

It’s officially grilling season which means Americans are on the hunt for quality beef cuts and possibly a fact or two about where their meat came from. During a recent interaction with consumers, I found myself explaining to more than one person grass-fed versus grain-fed beef.

 

We fed our cattle both grass and grain. About eight months of the year, our cows grazing in pastures, enjoying green grasses in the Kansas Flint Hills. The other four months – during the winter – our animals are on our farm and enjoy a diet of corn silage, dry distillers grain and hay. This is also the time they are calving so nutrition is vital for both mother and baby. By industry standards, this makes our cattle grain fed.

 

To be classified as grass-fed, cattle must only consume grasses. That means no grains, ever. Many people assume that grass-fed cattle produce healthier beef. This has been proven untrue.

 

A recent article outlines two studies comparing the nutritional component of grass-fed beef to grain-fed beef. The results showed a slight different in fats but no significant nutritional difference.

 

Ground beef from grass-fed cattle naturally contains more omega-3 fatty acids than from grain-fed cattle (three times as much), but is higher in saturated and transfat. At the other end of the spectrum is premium ground beef, such as from conventionally produced Certified Angus Beef or cattle with Japanese genetics (available as Wagyu or Akaushi ground beef). Ground beef from these cattle is very high in oleic acid, and also much lower in saturated and transfat, than ground beef from grass-fed cattle.” - Grass-Fed Vs. Grain-Fed Ground Beef -- No Difference In Healthfulness by Stephen B. Smith, Texas A&M University

 

Read the entire article at http://beefmagazine.com/beef-quality/grass-fed-vs-grain-fed-ground-beef-no-difference-healthfulness

 

Consumers must also be aware that grass-fed does not mean anti-biotic-free or hormone-free. Producers of both types of cattle can use both resources to help treat sick cattle.

 

Some consumers believe there is a noticeable taste and texture difference between grass and grain-fed beef and therefore chose one over the other. For those that don’t have a previous bias or favorite, selecting a type of beef based on nutritional components means both are great options. And with both grass and grain fed, you will find 29 lean cuts to enjoy this summer grilling season.



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May282014

2 Ways we “Came Together” for May Beef Month

Published by Robin Kleine at 6:49 AM under Agriculture | Coffee Shop Talk | Recipe

I recently came across this quote from Helen Keller –

 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

 

Immediately I thought about our tight knit agricultural community. Every day, we work on our farm or ranch, working to produce the best beef possible … ultimately something that betters the entire industry. But, in just this past month, we’ve come together to celebrate National Beef Month and promote this awesome protein in two additional ways.

 

1. Sharing beef facts or recipes via social media.

 

My newsfeed as been filled with awesome beef infographics, recipes and factoids about beef … there’s nothing I like more!

 

Today, May 28th in National Hamburger Day! Here’s a collection of 25 gourmet recipes to help you concoct the best burger for your family tonight from Examiner.com - http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrate-national-hamburger-day-free-burgers-and-25-gourmet-burger-recipes

 

2212d540ab7ebdb461ec97631b7d3ed8.jpg

Picture courtesy of Robbie Owen Wahl.

 

2. Educating adults about beef and those that raise it

 

On May 1st, foodies and chefs gathered in Kansas City for “Zest and Zing: A Foodie & Farmer Event” hosted by the Kansas Farm Bureau. The event was a competition for chefs with delicious appetizers drinks and a bag of kitchen goods for all attendees.

 

10313598_654148721300145_4513386929977603976_n.jpg

 Picture courtesy of the Drovers CattleNetwork Facebook page.

 

Singularly, the Kansas Beef Council will continue to promote beef. However, events and celebrations like National Beef Month are a great way to join forces and invite news outlets, schools, consumers and other organizations to learn from ranchers about how beef is raised and the innumerable benefits of beef.

 

Don’t worry, there’s still a few days left in May … go grab a pound of hamburger, a pack of buns and light the grill!

 

Until next time,
Robin



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May072014

Celebrate Beef Month!

Published by Kassie Curran at 7:58 AM under Coffee Shop Talk | General | Recipe

We all have our own traditions for celebrating special times of the year – many of these celebrations include great food! There are lots of weddings, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries this month that provide opportunities to try a fun new beef recipe or share one of your grandma’s old recipes. This month, celebrate Beef Month by incorporating beef into all your special celebrations. If you are feeding a large crowd, meatballs are a great way to serve beef. Check out my family’s meatball recipe below and give it a try this month to celebrate Beef Month. And don’t forget to share all of your favorite beef recipes on social media to spread the word about Beef Month!

 

Mom’s Meatballs

3 lbs. hamburger

½ tsp garlic powder

1 can evaporated milk

2 tsp salt

2 cups oatmeal

½ tsp pepper

2 eggs

2 tsp chili powder

1 cup chopped onion

 

Mix and shape into balls.

Sauce:

2 cups ketchup

½ tsp garlic powder

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp liquid smoke

 

Mix and pour over one layer of meatballs.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 °F.

 

Enjoy all your celebrations this month with beef to celebrate Beef Month!

Kassie



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