In the Kitchen with Kids

Does the thought of kids helping in the kitchen send you into a fit of anxiety with visions of big messes and broken dishes? Fear not! Though we can’t guarantee the prevention of a mess or two, there are many benefits to having the little ones help to prepare meals. Here are some tips from Katy Wright, Arizona cattlewoman, mom, and survivor of letting her three kids (all under 5) help in the kitchen. And she does it all with grace.

The Wright family: Katy and Kelly, HB, Katherine and Richard.

Memories from my childhood include hot meals on the table and beef on the menu more than anything else. I grew up completely confident that beef was a “no brainer” for feeding families, especially children. I still hold this same opinion today with my own kids and am grateful I can frequently include beef as our protein of choice. I’ve learned some tips for including beef on kid-friendly menus as well as some ideas on ways to include kids in the kitchen.

Tip #1: Cook once, eat twice.

Or three times. Time is valuable, isn’t it? Even if you don’t have multiple small children underfoot, time always seems to be in short supply. One of the best tips I can offer while meal planning, is to plan on cooking your cut of choice and then how you would like to use the leftovers. This saves both time and money in the long run. One of my favorite ways to do this include roasts in the slow cooker (like a Crock-Pot). The slow cooker always makes me look good because I can “set it and forget it” and go about the business of my day with minimal thought about dinner. Just last week I put a top round roast in the slow cooker with a can of beer and packet of onion soup mix. It cooked all day, and I served it with potatoes and a vegetable that night. I made the most of my leftovers by making roast beef sandwiches the next day, and burritos the day after that. Win-win-win.

HB helping cook ground beef. For enchiladas, I lay out the ingredients and HB helps assemble.

Tip #2: Provide safe opportunities for kids to participate.

My kids are at the wonderful (and sometimes chaotic) stage of life where they want to help with everything. Whether it’s washing windows, changing laundry or cutting vegetables, they are often asking if they can chip in. And while it is easier and more efficient at times to charge forward without them, this is the time of their lives to be creating helpful habits for the future. They also take pride in the tasks in which they get to contribute. When it comes to kids helping in the kitchen, slow down, and find tasks that can be completed safely by small hands. In my own kitchen, some of these tasks include stirring ground beef as it cooks, peeling carrots and adding spices.

Katherine helping make biscuits. Stirring anything is a task all three of my kids are qualified for.

Tip #3: Choice is the spice of life.

My kids love getting to choose. It doesn’t matter what the options are, they love having the power to choose. If you struggle with getting kids to eat their dinner, whether it’s just the vegetables or all of it, make choices a consistent part of your dinner time routine. When I’m meal planning, I ask for suggestions from my kids on what we should include on that week’s menu. More often than not they request hamburgers but it still makes them feel included. Another way to incorporate decision making, is to allow your kids to choose what they eat and when. I don’t mean letting them choose cereal over a hot meal for a dinner that you’ve prepared, instead allow them to choose if they’re going to eat their beef or vegetables first. This empowers them and allows them to feel like they have a little control over their own decisions.

Richard does not look particularly helpful in this photo, but he loves “helping” no matter what’s involved. He’s often stationed on the counter next to me while I cook.

Like all things in life, children change and grow constantly, forcing us parents to adapt and grow with them. Intentional choices like meal planning leftovers, slowing down to allow children to help and providing opportunities for choice can make a huge difference in their lives.

A Caterer’s Take on Beef

A very important aspect of the beef community is found in all of the culinary wizards who prepare beef to serve to others. Cattle ranchers do all they can to raise healthy, high quality cattle that will produce high quality beef, and then, ultimately, it is in the hands of cooks and chefs to prepare a delicious meal. Meet Bruce Brown of Phoenix-based Bruce Brown Catering. The Arizona Beef Council has partnered with Bruce to serve beef creations at several events and we’ve also learned a lot from him about the world of catering. We visited him to share about the catering business and beef.

What brought you to catering and when did you start?

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Bruce and wife Susan are a dynamic catering duo.

I have actually been in the food business my entire life. I grew up on the largest commercial hog farm in New York State. When I was seven years old, my mother started a frozen custard stand which also offered bbq, pork and beef burgers which were all produced on the family farm. Before I could see over the service counter, I was offering people delicious food. When I graduated from college, my father had progressed into the catering business, doing mostly bbq chicken, ribs and pig roasts. At that time, we worked together for a few years, and then, with his constant encouragement, I branched off with my own similar business in Upstate New York.

Have you always enjoyed food and preparing food for others?

As the story goes, at the age of eight, I made my first pasta sauce and dinner for the family. I am not sure how good it REALLY was, but, they told me it was and my culinary career was begun. So I have to say with an emphatic YES, I have always enjoyed preparing food for others.

What’s the most fun type of catering event?

Without a doubt, the most fun and rewarding catering that we do each year is the Arizona National Livestock Show (ANLS). We have been honored to be the caterer for the show since 2008. As challenging as providing many different types of services, serving approximately 4500 meals in four days is a lot of work, but rewarding! The people involved in the ANLS make this so rewarding and fun.

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What cuts of beef are best suited to catering and are the biggest hits?

The cut of beef best suited really depends on the event and type of service needed. Our most popular and favorite beef item is hand carved, Arizona mesquite smoked, New York Strip Loin. We like the personal service offered through the carving station and everyone loves hand carved, medium rare beef! For an event which does not allow for a carving station, we like to offer braised short ribs with a California cabernet bbq sauce or smoked brisket with spicy horseradish sauce.

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We’ve asked you to create some wild beef pairings (beef bacon and chocolate chip cookies, beef and beer chili, mini beef Rueben bites). How does the versatility of beef benefit your recipe creations?

One of the things I enjoy about catering is creating so many different items for people to enjoy. We offer everything from an upscale plated dinner with a filet steak to a backyard bbq with burgers. One delicious long and ongoing trend is the gourmet burger…we have had a call for a mixed grind including brisket with sirloin and short rib…a TRUE steak burger! For instance, for a buffet utilizing a chafing dish, we prefer to offer a braised beef. This prevents the concern of serving an over-cooked product. On the other hand, for a nicer offering, we will serve steaks directly from the grill or as a plated dinner where we control the temperature the meat is served.

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Mini beef bacon rueben sandwiches served at Phoenix Cooks.

What are some trends you’ve seen in the catering world?

The trends in the catering world seem to be set by “The Food Network,” celebrity chefs and their shows as well as Pinterest. They say the only thing constant is change and we certainly see that in our business. One of the main trends is Farm to Table and seasonal, local products. It seems like a pretty basic and simple concept, yet it has become a great marketing tool. Small plates and miniature desserts are popular. You see many passing trends such as molecular gastronomy. Happily for us beer lovers, beer and food pairing and gastropubs certainly seem to be a trend here to stay! We have always concentrated on our core value of serving delicious, simple food, prepared properly.

What, if any, changes have you seen in catering and what do you see for the future?

We have seen a great increase in fast/casual restaurants offering catering services. You also see people looking for healthier options to serve their guests.

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What are the most common questions you receive about beef from your clients?

Mainly, our clients ask about the different preparations and which cuts of beef will work best with the menu they are offering. Many times people will want to offer a second protein option along with beef and we offer them a cut and preparation which pairs well together.

Lastly, what is your favorite cut of beef?

Tough question…I am definitely a steak-and-potatoes guy! It is a tossup between a perfectly grilled, medium rare Ribeye and thinly sliced Arizona mesquite, smoked New York Strip Loin with spicy horseradish sauce…sometimes a good grilled Tri Tip, thinly sliced. Maybe some smoked brisket with either tangy bbq sauce or my go to horseradish. I also like a good carne asada taco…sometimes a slowly smoked beef bbq sandwich. Then again…you just cannot beat a thick, juicy burger!

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Red, White and BBQ

The simple initials B, B and Q mean nothing individually, but, when joined together, magic happens. Taste buds start salivating, nose hairs do a little dance at the smell of wood burning and the tickle of smoke, and the stickiness of a tantalizing sauce is felt on one’s fingertips.

Something about summer and the blistering temperatures told us we needed more BBQ in our lives. And, when it comes to food, we don’t need much convincing.

So, off to taste test Phoenix’s BBQ joints we go!

First stop: Little Miss BBQ.


Little Miss BBQ is a little like a trip to Disneyland. It requires a little planning but the experience is worth it and you’ll leave with a smile. They open at 11:00am but BBQ lovers start lining up by 10:00am to ensure a plate of food and a parking spot because once they’re out – they’re out. We arrived at 10:10 and, due to the 110+ degree weather, were handed tickets to hold our place in line, two cold bottles of water, and we were able to wait in our air-conditioned car until a few minutes before opening time.

7 & 8 in line. Cold water and misters to keep us comfortable.

Then the angels sang and the door opened and we stepped into a BBQ lover’s heaven: menu handwritten on butcher paper, smoked meats sold by the pound, savory sides, and a meat cutter handing out burnt ends {drool}.


We got lucky and happened to visit on pastrami day (Thursday). We ordered the fatty brisket and pastrami (because beef, of course) but y’all (we were from the South as soon as the brisket touched our lips), EVERYTHING is delicious. Go all the way and also get a smoked pecan pie.


We could rave on and on, but we’ll let this video of “cutting” the brisket with a fork speak for itself:

Cheers, Lauren and Tiffany

Arizona Team Beef: Cami Cheatham Schlappy

Arizona Team Beef member Cami Schlappy is a mom, rancher, equestrienne, and fifth generation Arizonan. Meet Cami:

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Arizona Beef: What are your favorite ways to live a healthy, active lifestyle?

Cami: Having a toddler at home means I rarely sit down. My daughter, Celine, and I are always on the move. We are outside a lot to explore nature, spend time with our animals, and enjoy the country life.

My way of exercising is riding my horses. Keeping them in shape requires riding them at a walk, trot, and lope to keep their muscles toned. In doing so, I’m toning my muscles and building my endurance and fitness level. This is really great for my core and postural muscles and it really works out my legs. I’ve gone back to team roping with my dad, Foster Cheatham. This month I started back barrel racing. I enjoy competing and it helps motivate me to continue my fitness journey. If I’m in better condition, I can ride at a higher level and my horses will perform better. More importantly, if I’m healthier, I can spend more quality time with my family and be a better example for my daughter.

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How does beef help fuel your active lifestyle?

Lean cuts of beef, using marinades, slow cooking methods like crockpots, and soups have really helped me shed excess weight. I can still eat the beef I enjoy while loading up on vegetables by eating meals like beef and broccoli, fajitas, albondigas (meatball and veggie soup), loaded beef stew, and steak strips over salad. The beef gives me energy and the essential nutrients, including protein, I need to build muscles.

Did Team Beef inspire you to get active/healthy again?

Thanks to Arizona Team Beef and Million Mile Month a year ago April, I lost all my pregnancy weight and then some. I’m down six pant sizes and have more energy than before. The April 2016 Million Mile Month and Team Beef motivated me to get moving and to log my exercise. That led me to buy a FitBit and continuing to exercise after the Million Mile Month promotion was over. I started riding my horses more and returned to team roping and barrel racing. I now try and ride at least five days a week and be active every day. My goal is to increase my muscle and physical fitness level and continue to shed excess weight. I use portion control and lean meats to maintain my diet.

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Team roping, a sport included in rodeo, is fashioned after a real-life practice on ranches. For example – sometimes you need to catch cattle to provide doctoring to an animal when corrals are not near.

What is your tie to the Arizona beef community?

My maiden name is Cheatham and my family helped settle the Phoenix area beginning in 1919. We had a five-generation dairy on 51st Avenue and Baseline in Laveen. We milked a registered herd of Holstein cows and grew alfalfa, cotton, and some produce. My family has always been active in the agricultural community: United Dairymen of Arizona, Salt River Project4-H, Arizona State Cowbelles, Project CENTRL, Arizona National Livestock Show, Arizona State Fair, and Maricopa County Fair, to name a few.

I attended the University of Arizona majoring in Animal Science. My Master’s degree focused on the effect of anabolic implants on the live performance, carcass characteristics, and gene expression in long-fed Holstein steers.

Currently, I reside in Santa Cruz county and am active in my local and state Cowbelle organizations. I help in outreach and educational events such as the yearly Ranch and Rodeo Day at our local elementary school, serving steaks to returning troops stationed at Fort Huachuca, getting beef and ranching information out to schools, and volunteering at local events. I enjoy educating the public about the values and benefits of ranching and beef.

My favorite beef meal or cut of beef?

Prime Rib! Prime Rib has been a lifelong favorite. I make it for holidays and special occasions. Other beef favorites? There are so many! A few of my other favorites are grilled rib steaks, my dad’s beef tacos, albondigas (Mexican meatball soup), biscuits and gravy, and slow cooked ribs.

Meet Your Rancher: Dan Bell

We’d like to introduce you to Dan Bell, 48, of Nogales, ArizonaIMG_2828.

Arizona Beef: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch:

Dan Bell: I am a third-generation rancher with a degree in Renewable Natural Resources from the University of Arizona. I am married to my wife of 23 years, Roxanne. Roxanne is a middle school science teacher and is also the advisor to the Arizona Junior Livestock Association. We have three children – Aidan is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade, Matt is 17 years old and a junior at Nogales High School, and Katie is 20 years old and a sophomore at Pima Community College and transferring to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture in the fall. Our ranch is a family held corporation called ZZ Cattle Corporation. It is comprised of 9 family shareholders, my parents, George and Juby, my uncle and aunt, Tom and Charlotte, my three cousins, Scott, Thomas and Chris, as well as my sister Jessica and me. Management of the ranch is handled by my cousin Scott and me, with input from my father and uncle.

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Dan and Roxanne with Wilbur and Wilma.

The ranch got its start in the mid 1930’s when my grandparents Thomas and June Bell acquired the 61 Ranch which was largely made up of a Forest Service grazing allotment. Over the years, the ranch operation has grown to Forest Service grazing, a State grazing lease, private land and private leases. In the beginning, the cattle herd was Hereford and in the 1980’s we began the transition to the Black Angus herd it is today.

We pay careful attention to our genetics, to enable our livestock to perform in our country, while at the same time providing the consumer with what they desire. We raise our own replacement heifers to put back in the cow herd and purchase high quality purebred Angus Bulls to achieve our desired outcomes. We are Beef Quality Assurance certified and do our best to constantly move forward, improving our cattle and the ranch.

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Photo credit:

We ranch along the border with Mexico for approximately 10 miles. The size of the ranch is approximately 35,000 acres, with a stocking rate of about 1 cow to 50 acres. We are home to many endangered species like Mexican Spotted Owl, Lessor Long Nosed Bat, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Sonoran chub (a minnow) and we have even had Jaguar presence. It is also home to wildlife like Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Javelina, Coatimundi, Mountain Lions, Mearns Quail, and much, much more.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?

The biggest change we’ve probably experienced with regards to technology would be our record keeping. Tagging animals with individual identification, along with the use of computers and spreadsheets has allowed for more information to be collected and stored and is easily reviewed and evaluated for the cattle we raise. Cattle handling equipment has also come a long way, as it provides safer environment for the both the rancher and livestock which enables us, as ranchers, to obtain data and perform Beef Quality Assurance practices.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way you raise cattle on your ranch?IMG_2824

Sometimes it is alleged that ranching has a negative impact on the environment. However, I would submit that the opposite is true. Ranching and raising cattle have positive impacts everywhere you look. They provide open space over large landscapes, enabling wildlife connectivity. We take pride in what we do. We monitor vegetation on a yearly basis to ensure we are meeting resource expectations. Through our water developments, we are providing reliable sources of water not only for the livestock we raise but also because the wildlife has become dependent upon it. The strategic placement of our water facilities allows for more uniform distribution of livestock and wildlife over the entire ranch.
We also utilize rest-rotation grazing management that allows us to graze pastures in a pattern that allows for each of our pastures to receive growing season rest 2 out of every 3 years. As ranchers, we are most interested in assuring that resources we depend on year after year will continue to provide for generations to come. If we are successful in that endeavor, then we know the livestock and wildlife will thrive.

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What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for all to consume?

As ranchers, it is important for us to continually monitor our livestock to ensure the herd is healthy. In regards to our ranch, we are certified in Beef Quality Assurance programs that provide a frame work to follow and implement best management practices for livestock handling, vaccination protocols, and preconditioning our livestock to ensure sickness is not a factor.

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What would you like people to know about you and the work you do to raise beef?

Our family takes pride in what we do. Through our livestock, we take a renewable natural resource and convert it, into a safe and wholesome product, beef! It is an awesome responsibility when you consider that only about 1 percent of the U.S. population is providing the nutritional requirements for the country and a lot of the world.

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If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?


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Matt Bell gathering cattle at dawn.

Lastly, and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?

This is extremely difficult to answer because there is a cut of beef for any occasion. For special occasions and holidays, a standing Rib Roast is on the plate. For gathering with friends, it has to be the Flank and Skirt Steaks prepared Carne Asada style. But, perhaps my favorite cut is the Ribeye.

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Hobe Meats

There are many ways one can buy great beef – from large warehouse clubs to a neighborhood grocery store, directly from a rancher or from a local butcher. We visited with Bret Pont of Hobe Meats in Phoenix to gain perspective about what it’s like to be a smaller butcher shop and meat market, and what services are offered to customers.


Arizona Beef Council: Hi Bret! How long have you been in the meat business?
Bret Pont: I’ve been in the meat business for about 30 years. I started in Oregon working for Swift and Mapelli Brothers in shipping and receiving then worked my way up to the meat cutting room which was a prestigious position. That’s where I got my “ears wet.” 25 years ago, I moved to Arizona and started working for a small butcher shop and found it intriguing and have stuck with it ever since. I love this business because I get to meet people one-on-one. We get to shake hands and get to know each other by name. I enjoy developing friendly customer relationships.

ABC: Where does the name “Hobe” come from? 2-24-2017_hobe-meats-5
BP: The Hobe brand originated with Dave Hobe when he started this business 1962. I acquired it 8 years ago. Dave ran it with his brothers until the late 1970s.

ABC: What is the most common question you receive about beef?
BP: We often receive questions about the beef quality grades and whether it is grass-finished or grain-finished. We are glad to answer our customer’s questions. We carry primarily Prime beef and upper two-thirds Choice graded beef. Most of our beef is wet-aged a minimum of 30 days to increase tenderness. Customers can have the same Prime beef experience at home as one would at a nice steakhouse.

ABC: Do the popular cuts vary year-round?
BP: Steaks for grilling are popular year-round. In Arizona, it doesn’t matter if it is December or July, we still sell Ribeyes, Tenderloins, New Yorks. They are popular all year long. We do see an increase in interested in roasts – Chuck Roasts, Pot Roasts, Short Ribs – in the winter when people want to make stews, roasts, and chilis.

ABC: Do you offer custom cut options to customers?
BP: We do offer custom options and that is one of the things that makes us unique. We have the ability to cut a 4-inch thick Porterhouse Steak or a half-inch thick New York Steak. Whatever size one wants, we can custom cut to the customer’s specifications with just a little bit of notice. We are proud to offer custom options. That service can’t be found everywhere.

ABC: What is the most unique meat you carry (in addition to beef)?
BP: We have several unique offerings that range from wild boar bacon to alligator. Kangaroo is surprisingly popular – it’s a dark meat like venison – and comes in loin steaks and as ground kangaroo meat. We also carry frog legs, pheasant, quail, elk, and bison. We have Arizona’s largest selection of wild game meat.

ABC: What unique perspective do you offer to your customers?
BP: I think we offer customer service. We get to know their names and help them decide which cut is best for their needs. We offer the expertise to explain the cuts of beef and different flavors. People have lots of questions and we offer the experience and knowledge of beef production and of cooking recommendations. We keep materials on hand from the Arizona Beef Council including cut chart handouts and recipe brochures that people can take home to learn more about beef.

ABC: What is your favorite beef cut to recommend?
BP: I like the Ribeye. Some people say it is too rich for them but it is my go-to steak. I like it seasoned with salt and pepper and a little butter on top.

ABC: What does your business bring to the beef community?
BP: From start to finish, we help customers select the cut they want, offer recipe suggestions that we’ve tried, that are in the handouts, and that have great reviews so that they can have a satisfactory beef-eating experience.

From Trash to Nutritional Treasure; Part 3

We’ve learned that, due to cattle’s unique ruminant digestive system, they can eat a variety of feeds that humans cannot, converting them into high-quality beef and milk.

To learn about the variety of feed ingredients available in Arizona, we first visited a dairy, then a ranch, and now we explore the diet at an Arizona cattle feed yards.

Wyatt Scott, of Pinal Feeding Co., showed us the ingredients in their cattle feed.


Pinal Feeding Co. in Maricopa is located next to Pinal Energy, an ethanol production facility, and the two have found a mutually beneficial relationship. One of the by-products from producing ethanol, a renewable fuel, is distillers grains.

Wet distillers grains are a by-product from ethanol production.

Wet distillers grains (there are also dry distillers grains) are mixed into the feed ration and provide fiber, energy and protein to the diet. The wet distillers grains also provide moisture. The consistency is that of thick oatmeal and has the sweet, earthy smell of a brewery.

“We also incorporate used vegetable oil from Phoenix-area restaurants,” Wyatt added, “which adds fat that cattle convert to energy.”

Most of the cattle feed is made up of roughages – alfalfa, corn stalks, bermuda and sometimes sudan grass – that are imperative for the ruminant digestive system. Added to the mix are steam-flaked corn, wet distillers grains, used vegetable oil, vitamins and minerals.

The complete feed mix.

Similar to human dietitians with whom we consult for healthy and balanced meal plans, Arizona’s feed yards all consult with beef cattle nutritionists who formulate a nutritious, balanced feed ration. Wyatt explained, “We also test our feed weekly, analyzing the nutritional profile to ensure we are producing quality feed the cattle want to eat. It behooves us to constantly review our process as it directly correlates to the performance and health of the cattle.”

Aren’t cattle fascinating? The seemingly odd choices of cattle feed from distillers grains to bakery meal actually has many benefits. Not only are cattle able to process sugar into energy extremely efficiently because of their digestive system, but it also keeps by-products like distillers grains and used vegetable oil – that would otherwise be thrown into a landfill – from being wasted.

wyatt-scott“I truly enjoy the idea of constantly looking for ways to improve how we care for cattle and they are the most transparent with the results. They may not be able to communicate like we do, but it is really simple to see how they are responding to a change. They are a visible 3 dimensional reflection of the work you put in,” shared Wyatt.

These ruminant animals can digest forages humans cannot consume and turn them into great-tasting, nutrient-rich beef loaded with zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.

Landfills are the number one source of man-made methane emissions (according to the EPA). Isn’t it great that we can mitigate some of that?

Ultimately, there are many ways to raise and feed cattle. We’ll continue to share interesting stories from the beef community in Arizona.

Thank you for ruminating with us.


From Trash to Treasure; Part 1

From Trash to Treasure; Part 2

From Trash to Nutritional Treasure; Part 2

What do beef and beer have in common?

They are a delicious pairing, of course.

However, they are even better friends than that. Cattle can eat the leftovers from the beer making process and they find it delicious and no, they don’t get drunk.

“Spent grains,” the by-products from the production of beer, are what is left over after the mash is cooked and the “wort” (liquid) is extracted. The sugars go with the wort and there isn’t any alcohol in the spent grains because fermentation process has not yet taken place.

What does a brewery do with spent grains?



We visited with Jacob and Laura Hansen of Saddle Mountain Brewing Company to find out.

Oatmeal and Spent Grain Molasses Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

“We do dry and reuse some of the grains in our restaurant in baked goods such as crackers, pie crusts, cookies and bread. My favorite was an oatmeal and spent grain molasses cookie for ice cream sandwiches.”


These sound delicious. But, when one brews a lot of beer, there are a lot of leftover spent grains so another viable outlet is to feed them to livestock.

The brewery has a partnership with local West Valley cattleman Patrick Bray. Patrick and business partner, Bass Aja, along with their wives (Lisette and Anna, respectively) and their families raise cattle in Rainbow Valley, Arizona, about 40 minutes southwest of the brewery in Goodyear.

The Hansens are thankful for this mutually beneficial relationship because the excess spent grains would otherwise have to be disposed of into the trash. “Instead, we love that there is an environmentally friendly use for the grains so that they aren’t a trash product,” added Laura.


Every time beer is brewed, spent grains are created. Patrick picks up four to six 35- gallon buckets of the spent grains the same day, which is once or twice a week, and is then able to feed the grain to the cattle.


“Having access to the spent grains gives us an alternative feed source for the cattle,” said Bray. “It is nutritionally beneficial providing energy, protein and fiber. I’ve also observed that due to the spent grains, the cows are able to more efficiently convert all of their feed.” The grains are not the main source of nutrition for the cattle but it does make for a nice supplement, helping to keep the cows in good body condition year-round.

An interesting thing has also happened – the cows come running when they see Bray’s white Ford truck coming down the road.


“They love it! It’s like candy to them,” Bray giggled. “It’s fun to see the cows dive into the feed troughs. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to check if the cows are healthy, to make sure they don’t have any problems.”

Sounds like Pavlov’s dog…uh, cow.


Bray added, “The spent grains are a healthy, usable by-product from the community and stay in the community, not going to waste.”

The Hansens also take some of the spent grains home to their chickens. Sometimes the grains even carry the scent of the flavor of the beer – coriander, orange peel, flaked corn for cream beer, or other seasonal flavorings. The spent grains can also be used for composting.


Saddle Mountain Brewing Company and the ranchers have collaborated since the brewery opened in October of 2014. All breweries, from craft-sized to Anheuser-Busch, produce the spent grain by-product and most also have beneficial relationships with ranchers or farmers.

Laura concluded, “It is sort of a full-circle food chain or another take on ‘farm to table’: from farm to grain to brewery to cattle ranch to fertilizer and back to growing more food, we all help each other.”


From Trash to Nutritional Treasure; Part 1

From Trash to Nutritional Treasure; Part 1

Cattle are fascinating animals. Not only do they provide beef, milk, and by-products, but they also are fantastic recyclers and convert feed that is most-times not suitable for human consumption.

The bovine digestive system is not like the human monogastric (single-chambered) stomach. Cattle are ruminants, meaning their stomach has four unique compartments.

These forage-consuming species, along with sheep, goats, buffalo, elk, giraffes and camels, rely on a microbe-based process to digest feed to convert it to energy. The fourth compartment, the rumen, contains millions of microbes (microscopic bugs) that help cattle digest feed.

Thanks to this super-powered digestion process, cattle can eat forages that humans can’t digest. In addition to grass, hay and grains (which are both technically grasses), cattle can be fed leftovers from other industries that would otherwise be trashed in a landfill.

What are some interesting feed ingredients fed in Arizona?

There are lots! Wes Kerr, of Kerr Family Dairy in Buckeye, Arizona, shared that his dairy cows are currently eating a feed mix of alfalfa, oats and sorghum silage, steam-flaked corn, cotton seed, almond hulls, whey, vitamins and minerals. Cotton seeds, almond hulls, and whey are all by-products of other agricultural crops. “We are diligent to provide our dairy cows with the nutrition they need, and sometimes we are able to utilize feed products from other Arizona businesses that one might see as ‘trash’ but, to my cows, they are nutritional ‘treasures,’” Wes explained.

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Wes and Lauren Kerr with their children Madelyn, Caroline and Evan. 

Seasonal variability does affect the by-products available. For example, right now, cotton seed is readily available as a feed ingredient because Arizona’s cotton farmers have just completed cotton harvest. Cotton seed is high in fat, fiber and vitamins – all important for cattle. When cotton goes to gin for cleaning, the seeds, dirty lint and debris are removed. Interestingly, the dairy also uses the “gin trash” as bedding for cows.

Weather, global markets and geopolitical events also affect pricing and availability of different feed products. For example, Wes shared that “2016 was the largest almond harvest* in California’s history, therefore there were lots of almond hulls available at an affordable price.” *California grows 100% of the U.S. domestic supply of almonds.

Though these feed by-products and others are unique, hay, silage and grains are vital. “We consult with a dairy cattle nutritionist to help formulate the proper mix to keep our cows healthy,” Wes explained. “We also regularly send feed samples to a lab to determine the nutrient value of each crop and commodity to monitor protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals.”

From upper left: cotton seeds; steam-flaked corn; pelletized vitamins and minerals; the chopped, mixed and finished feed. 

The Kerrs (and most dairy farmers) grow most of their own forage including corn, sorghum, alfalfa and oats. In recent years, they have switched more to sorghum over corn for silage because sorghum is more drought tolerant (doesn’t use as much water) and is resistant to crop disease.

Wes offered an enlightening perspective that even vegetarians and vegans benefit from animal agriculture: “If one only consumes plant-based foods, like soy products or almond milk, or wears cotton, they are also contributing to the sustainability of all of agriculture. Soy and almond hulls are fed to cattle or they would otherwise go to into a landfill. Everyone wears cotton and we can even utilize the cotton waste.”

The old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is fitting. Or, in this case, “one man’s trash is a dairy cow’s power smoothie.”

Tune in next week for a visit to a cattle ranch and feed yard.

Arizona grows and feeds a lot of alfalfa. It is high in protein, fiber and calcium. Arizona averages 9-10 cuttings of alfalfa from the same crop per year (the national average is 4-5). This is due to Arizona’s warm and temperate climate and summer and winter rains.

Corn Silage
Silage is fermented corn and corn stalks that can be easily chopped and is high in energy and digestibility.

Sorghum Silage
Like corn silage, but from the sorghum plant.

Cotton Seeds
When cotton is harvested (for clothing, textiles, paper…) the seeds are discarded and can be fed to cattle. They are a good source of energy (from fat), fiber, protein and vitamins (vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron and potassium, protein, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese).

Gin Trash
The “dirty” lint, seeds and other plant material can be composted or used for bedding for cattle.

Almond Hulls
When almonds are harvested from the tree, the nut (kernel) is inside a shell which is inside the hull. Hulls provide fiber to cattle.

A grain that is high in energy, protein and fiber.

Soy beans and hulls, the shell around the bean that gets discarded before human consumption, is high in fiber.

The byproduct of cheese making, whey by-products. Human athletes use whey protein for workout recovery. Dairy cattle can be fed the liquid form leftovers, helping cheese makers to waste less, while providing carbohydrates, minerals (calcium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and magnesium), vitamins (riboflavin, vitamins B-6 and B-12), protein and fat.


Other interesting feed products, some of which we will cover in the series: molasses, beet pulp, citrus pulp, cull products from vegetable production, bakery waste, distillers grains, brewers grains

A Marinade You Need In Your Life

Let’s cut to the chase. Some beef cuts are tender (think Tenderloin, Ribeye, Flat Iron, New York Strip) and some are a little more tough (Flank Steak, Top Round, Skirt Steak). They don’t have to stay that way, though. The tougher cuts really are tender at heart – they just need a little more TLC and voilà! You have a juicy, flavorful piece of beef to enjoy.

How can you tenderize and add flavor? With a marinade.

This week I had a Flank Steak to grill so I looked in my go-to beef recipe search engine,, to see what I could throw together with what I already had on hand. This Ginger-Soy Marinade was the winner. It was tangy with a hint of sweetness.

Speaking of Flank Steak, visit Food52 and The Chew‘s Dan Churchill for more easy tips and 3 delicious sauces: The Perfect Flank Steak is Easy—and So Are These 3 Sauces.



Ginger-Soy Marinade


1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

  1. Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Place beef steak(s) and marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steak(s) to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to 2 hours for tender steaks; 6 hours or as long as overnight for less tender steaks, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove steak(s) from bag; discard marinade. Place steak(s) on grid over medium, ash-covered coals or over medium heat on preheated gas grill. Grill according to the chart for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.


  • Pat steaks dry with paper towels to remove excess marinade to prevent flare-ups on your grill.
  • If cooking a cut of beef with long muscle striations (like Flank Steak, Skirt Steak and Tri Tip), make sure to slice against the grain. This is very important! Read why here.


~Lauren4-8-2016_Lauren with tongs