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.

The Beef on AZ Beef Council Internships

In March of 2017 I was just your average college student: persistently bugging my professor for more work with cattle out at the feedlot, telling every high school student (and even some 10 year olds) how amazing college (the University of Arizona, of course) and Animal Science is, working at a cattle sale barn, spending every paycheck on my horse’s never ending credit line, dreaming of being back out on the ranch, and making plans for graduate school and a future in the beef community… ok, so maybe not your average college student. But, I was just going through my spring semester with a page long list of all the possibilities for my rapidly approaching summer when my old agriculture teacher, my boyfriend, my best friend, a professor, and several others all told me to apply for the Arizona Beef Council Internship. I looked it up, saw social media, and closed the screen. But after thinking, praying, and, I admit, mostly persuasion, I applied. A phone call interview, follow-up with references (the plus of working for cowgirls in high school is they are very stubborn, very persuasive, and thus the perfect reference), and a few months later, I arrived at the office in downtown Phoenix. Yes, DOWNTOWN PHOENIX! I said a quick farewell to dreams of cool weather and countrysides, then quickly smiled with astonishment and excitement that it was honestly me being blessed with this incredible opportunity to intern for the Arizona Beef Council. This is how the next nine weeks went; well, a very condensed version anyway. (I invite you to read the past AZ Beef blogs to learn more!)

The ability to work on ranches and be directly involved in the beef community has fueled my passion and understanding towards it.

The first week, Shayla and I were able to join other agriculture leaders and 30 teachers for the Summer Agriculture Institute, a program that teaches kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers about agriculture in Arizona. The intent is to provide the educators with information and resources on how they can incorporate agriculture into their curriculum to educate today’s youth. While I do work with Ag in the Classroom, teaching kindergarten students is very different than teaching adults, and this week further developed my passion for educating Americans about the truth of agriculture and the beef community. Some of the stops included Andy Groseta’s ranch where teachers learned the importance of the relationship between cattle grazing and the health of the environment, a discussion with a forest ranger on the health of our forests, and a dinner with representatives from the Diablo Trust. It was a rewarding experience as we witnessed many of the teachers transform their opinions about agriculture and clear up misconceptions.

Summer Ag Institute teachers getting personal encounters with Holstein steers at Heiden Land and Cattle.

In the following weeks, we worked in the office with amazing members of the beef community. We gained knowledge in communication, including how to utilize social media and online applications to create graphics, find the correct information, and interact with consumers both online and in person. We developed an understanding of the importance of selecting proper word choice and facts to tell the beef story in an honest yet non-offensive way. It was an eye-opening education. I have been involved in the production side of the beef community, including courses at the University of Arizona taught by esteemed professors, and while I continually interact with people not familiar with agricultural production (including my family), I had not realized the importance of reading one’s audience, selecting proper words, and being transparent and objective in telling the beef story. I also was unfamiliar with the full expanse of misinformation, biased articles, anti-agriculture organizations, and other information that is readily available and promoted to lead consumers astray. My passion for the beef community and telling its story continues to grow every day.

Tiffany, Lauren (not pictured), and I dropped off beef jerky bouquets on National Jerky Day to promote beef, one of the numerous ways the AZ Beef Council works to link Americans with the beef story.

In addition to working in the office, Shayla and I were fortunate to attend different events as interns including the Women in Agriculture Conference and the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (ACGA) Convention. At the Women in Agriculture Conference, we learned more about future challenges that the agriculture community will face, the importance of women’s roles both in the family and in production, and how to reconnect with consumers and producers not involved in organizations. One highlight was an inspiring presentation by a couple who were refugees from Africa and now own a farm in Arizona.

The Golos told an inspiring story of faith, perseverance, and dedication to the cause of family and agriculture.

At the ACGA Convention, we were privileged to join many individuals involved in the Arizona beef community. As policies were re-evaluated, current issues were tackled, and connections were made, we saw firsthand how the beef community works to ensure its success along with everyone involved while working to continuously improve how cattle are raised and how we care for rangelands. It was beneficial to hear diverse opinions and explanations for why certain practices are done the way they are done. I also enjoyed seeing current issues that the beef industry is facing and how they handle them. I am very passionate about being involved in, and educating consumers about, the beef community, and this opportunity to work for and interact with numerous individuals in different aspects of the beef community was inspiring and extremely informative. There was a lot of fun, and a lot of education and this experience truly attested to the diversity and team work incorporated into the beef community. I was honored to help contribute to making convention successful.

This amazing internship also gave us the opportunity to meet influential and successful individuals and families in the beef community, which included working tours at beef facilities as well as the rewarding task of representing these families and their stories in Arizona Beef blogs. The first stop on our industry tour was the Kerr Family Dairy in Buckeye, hosted by Wes Kerr. Wes amazed us with his focus on animal welfare and a progressive mentality. He described how his grandfather never imagined the day when all dairies would have shades, and now technology has come so far to include Wes’ work with progressing genetics to have all polled (hornless) dairy cattle. Wes’ dairy was a beautiful example of superior animal care, attention to consumer demands and industry needs, and a progressive mentality. Thank you, Wes!

Wes explained the importance of cattle rations (feed mixes) and how ingredients are selected to create the best results in cattle while utilizing by-products to reduce waste.

The next stop was a week-long vacation (err, long, grueling work week? In case Tiffany is reading this maybe I shouldn’t brag) down in Nogales with cattlemen Dan Bell and Dean Fish. We were blessed to join them in their daily ranch life, including the opportunity to gather cattle; brand, vaccinate, test, ear tag and castrate calves; ultrasound and palpate cows to check pregnancies; and perform other cattle management practices that ensure proper cattle records, health, and care. We also experienced monitoring and caring for the rangeland including proper fencing and cattle grazing rotation systems. We heard incite on the different ways of handling cattle to match individual ranches, including how to reduce stress for maximum productivity. We also attended the Southern Arizona Cattle Protective Association (SACPA) meeting and learned about current issues facing the beef community including the US-Mexico border, disease, and water regulations. It was an insightful opportunity to learn about different ranches and their management plans, and a refreshing break to be back out on a ranch. Mr. Bell and Dr. Fish were inspiring resources, sharing every detail of their work, showing us their challenges and successes, and giving us wisdom and advice for a joyful life. Thank you, Dan and Dean!

Vaccinations are a crucial step in ensuring cattle health and a safe beef supply. Administration techniques are chosen based on ranch facilities and the best fit for individual practices and cattle health, and I was overjoyed to help.

Our next stop on touring the beef community was at Pinal Feeding Co in Maricopa. From the cow-calf ranch to the feedlot, this transition helped us learn about feeding cattle and the details involved. We learned more about cattle nutrition and how rations are made and delivered to provide the best care and results from cattle, including the importance of feeding at the right time of day. We learned about the complexity of technologies in managing and keeping records of cattle, as well as caring for sick cattle. Thank you, Bass and Caline! Afterward, we were privileged to tour the JBS Beef Processing Plant in Tolleson where we saw the care that workers take in supplying us with wholesome, safe, and healthy beef. I was impressed by the information our food safety tour guide explained to us. Every step of the process is carefully monitored with safety procedures, health and quality tests, and employees passionate about their jobs and the positive difference they make. Beef truly is a product we can feel safe, and good, about eating, knowing that it is raised with continuously improving sustainable practices, provided to us by families who care and is a delicious and nutritious source of food for ourselves and our families. Thank you, Maria!

Holstein steers are fed personalized rations to maximize health and gains, with a carefully balanced mixture of forage (hay), grains, and supplements (including minerals and protein).

The beef community tours were not only enjoyable but also an educational look into the Arizona beef community and what the beef story truly is. From the promotion aspect in the office, to a dairy, to a cow-calf ranch, to the feedlot, to the packing plant, and with several stops to look at policies, regulations, issues, and development, I loved experiencing every piece of the beef story and hearing insight from a variety of farmers and ranchers with different backgrounds, scenarios, and ideologies. This experience increased my ability and desire to share the beef story and how cattle are raised by families, for families, in the most sustainable way, ensuring the health of cattle, the environment, and families.

An important management practice on a cow-calf ranch is checking cattle pregnancies, and one method for this is palpation.

Overall, I cannot begin to express how rewarding my internship with the Arizona Beef Council was. I am incredibly blessed not only to have the amazing experience to learn from and interact with numerous individuals, families, and businesses in the beef community but also to be able to give back and assist in outreach and education to consumers. I gained endless skills and fueled my always growing passion for the beef community. And to top it all off, I was able to work with some of the nicest, most intelligent women in the beef community. One final thank you to everyone who encouraged me to apply for this amazing internship, to the committee who selected me, to my fellow intern and partner in crime Shayla, and to Tiffany and Lauren, my outstanding leaders, who I had seen present several times and never could have dreamed of the amazing opportunity to work with. And of course, thank you to the beef community. Eat beef, it’s what’s for dinner.

Lauren, Shayla, myself, and Tiffany, the Arizona Beef Council summer team (family).


The Dog Days of Summer-Ranch Edition

If you have ever spent any time working cattle, you know that it is a team effort. Who is in the starting lineup? It isn’t always just cowboys; a rancher’s company is usually made up of a trusty horse and, you guessed it, hard working Lassie! Dogs have been used to help humans since they were first domesticated, and a main use for them is helping ranchers. Cattle dogs herd, gather, sort and protect, both out on the range and in chutes and holding areas. Our canine friends are perfect for this job due to their quick speeds, smaller size, and agility. They are also prolific barkers, effective in directing even the most stubborn cattle. There are many breeds favored for ranch jobs including Collies, Border Collies, Blue Heelers, Australian Shepherds, Catahoulas, Pit Bulls and more, including the all-American favorite: the mutt. The best cattle dogs usually have strong loyalty, high energy, and solid training; so the Arizona Beef Council went out in the beef community to find them!

A horse and a dog are sometimes the most important part of a rancher’s team, with skills and characteristics that humans don’t posses including endurance, speed and agility.

Out in Santa Cruz County, amidst the beautiful Santa Rita Mountains, you can find Salero Ranch. If you’re lucky, you might also find Mari Hudson out working cattle with her trusty partner, Sage, by her side. A two-year-old Border Collie and Hanging Tree cross, Sage is learning how to help around the ranch. Her favorite jobs include helping sort off neighboring cattle from the herd (so they can be returned to the neighbors without the Salero Ranch herd going as well), trailing cattle to keep them moving in the right direction, and keeping lazy cattle moving (if they stop, they might turn back and lead the herd astray or double the time ranchers must spend working.) Sage’s owner, Mari, speaks very highly of her furry friend, “When I’m out working cattle alone, she’s a huge help. Especially with cattle trying to shade up (cattle will stop moving forward when tired of being moved and continually turn around to try to go back to the treeline).” Mari also spoke about ranchers she knows who have outstanding dogs for working and stopping wild cattle. Without the dogs, their job would be much harder and more dangerous. Although she doesn’t have very wild cattle, Sage is still an excellent hand, and a cute one too!

In addition to working cattle, dogs can help ranchers train horses. If a horse is acting up, a well-trained dog can bark and apply pressure in a manner that causes the horse to stand quietly or go where being directed. An example of how dogs can help includes encouraging a horse to walk forward instead of fighting against a halter when being halter-broke. By using dogs, tasks involving livestock and horses can be done with less man power and stress.

Dogs can apply pressure from behind to move animals with low stress.

Dogs are called “man’s best friend,” and cattle dogs work hard to prove it. When gathering or checking cattle out on the range, there are many great reasons to bring along the pup so desperately wanting to go, including their help in moving cattle, companionship, and safety. Safety? Yes, a story from a rancher down in Nogales attests to this reason. Maco, a hand at ZZ Ranch Cattle Co., always takes his mutt when out on the range. One day, he was attacked by a mountain lion. Without a moment of hesitation his dog stepped in, warding off the predator and saving Maco’s life. While the hero did suffer injuries, Maco stitched him up, and he healed quickly, ready to go back out again. Now that is a best friend.

Dogs serve as companions, helpers and protection out on the range.

Not every working cattle dog works out on the ranch, and a perfect example is Sis (Sister) at Marana Stockyards. This tough little stockyard employee lives to work. According to Karen Parsons, she works so hard that when the weather is unbearably hot, Sis must be left at home because her work ethic is too strong and she won’t quit! If you venture out back around the cattle pens, you will see Sis hard at work pushing, stopping, and holding cattle. She is stubborn and agile (often jumping through fence panels sideways), and a dependable helper. She is dedicated to her work, and it does not matter who is out there checking and moving cattle, she will come and help.

Sis helps push the cattle and keep them moving to the desired pen.

While dogs are great companions at home, they are also an essential tool for many ranchers and cattlemen in the beef community. They can reduce the number of cowboys needed, work cattle with lower stress, handle wild and unruly cattle, give protection to people and livestock, and bring a smile to your face. Man’s best friend, and man’s best worker.

Working cattle dogs are trained to push, gather, hold, and stop cattle. They are also great protectors, a true asset to a ranch.

Blog post by Nicole Van Eerd, Arizona Beef Council 2017 Summer Intern.

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

Springtime in Arizona

Arizona is a beautiful place, but spring happens to be one of the prettiest. This is the time of year when the desert comes alive. Flowers bloom, the grasses make a feeble attempt to grow, random rain storms erupt, and calves are born. Enjoy this collection of photos from various locations across our state.

A special thank you to Dean Fish, Cassie Lyman, Tina Thompson, Arizona Ranch Reflections, and Dan Bell for letting us share the views you have on your ranches.

AZ Ranch ReflectionsAZ Ranch Reflections2AZ Ranch Reflections3CassieLymanCassieLyman2DanBellDanBell2DeanFishTinaThompsonTinaThompson2TinaThompson3

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

Behind the Scenes: How Food Gets Around

An often unknown segment of the food business involves distribution. How does food get from one place to another? From whom do restaurants buy food? By a foodservice distributor, that’s how! The Arizona Beef Council is fortunate to work with Arizona food distributors for educational opportunities to further educate chefs and restaurateurs about beef and how it is raised in Arizona. Meet Brent Olsen, US Foods Arizona, whose job is to connect the food growers with chefs and restaurants.

7-8-2016_Brent_US Foods_cropped

ABC: What is US Foods and what does it have to do with beef?

Brent Olsen: US Foods Arizona is a full line distributor of over 11,000 items serving the hospitality and restaurant industry in Arizona. There are 62 US Foods locations across the United States. Stock Yards is a wholly owned subsidiary of US Foods and operates 14 USDA inspected production facilities across the United States. In geographic areas not served by those locations, we contract with other facilities not owned by us to produce product for us. It may be of interest to know the US in our name actually stands for Unifax-Sexton, part or our heritage company portfolio. We have two Stock Yards production facilities in Arizona – one in Phoenix and the other in Tucson. The Phoenix location stocks and fabricates a wide variety of fresh proteins for the Arizona market and we supply products to other US Foods houses as far east as Little Rock, Arkansas. Stock Yards Phoenix focuses on domestic cattle and we deliver packer boxes of fresh beef as well as fresh cut steaks to the Arizona market 6 days a week. Stock Yards Chicago, one of our sister locations, is credited with being the first business in America to offer a cut steak program to Chicago area restaurants in 1893, almost 125 years ago. Our Tucson location produces a wide range of cooked items, including a wide range of pastrami, corned beef, roast beef, and pot roasts, in a wide variety of beef quality grades.

7-8-2016_Brent_Stock Yards


ABC: When did the food distributor segment start and how much has changed?  

BO: The food distributor started in the late 1800’s and has basically moved from a group of small, regional, segment-specific companies to a huge network of much larger, full line suppliers offering anything a restaurant owner could need or want (anything from canned tomatoes to Prime Ribeyes). US Foods, as it is today, is the culmination of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place over the last 100 years. Stock Yards was also formed from a variety of specialty meat companies across the United States. Stock Yards is really fulfilling an emerging need for portion control, cut steaks, the talent pool of qualified meat cutters out there, whether at retail or foodservice, is rapidly disappearing.


ABC: How is foodservice different from retail? 

BO: There are some big differences between the two industry segments.  First, we market to restaurants, companies that are preparing the raw material for their customers to consume. Retail is marketing to household consumers. Secondly, a retail store will typically offer one grade of beef, whether it be USDA Select or USDA Choice. Foodservice is considerably more diverse with our offerings. On a strip loin steak, for example, Stock Yards Phoenix has 7 different and distinct offerings for that item. Those offerings range from USDA Prime cattle to an enhanced, ungraded, fed Holstein cattle line. Third, there are significant volume differences between retail and foodservice. Foodservice does not run weekly newspaper ads featuring beef, but we do create and promote special pricing and product offerings on a regular basis.


ABC: Who are your main customers?

BO: Our customers range from a single location, owner-operated café in a small Arizona town to multi-unit regional and national footprint customers that are state and nationwide. We supply products and services to schools, hospitals, Indian gaming locations, convention centers, caterers and restaurants across Arizona.


ABC: What are some of the common questions about beef you receive from customers? 

BO: There is a dramatic increase in interest from consumers about where food comes from. Food safety is at the forefront as well. As a USDA Inspected facility, we interact with the local USDA inspector on a daily basis to insure we’re providing safe, wholesome food to our customers. We are also GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certified, the first facility of our type to have this certification in Arizona. There is also increased interest in quality grades, animal welfare, and “natural” offerings. Part of our goal is to help all of our customers understand what is available, and help them determine what works best for their format, customer base, and dining segment expectations.


ABC: Is there anything else you would like to share with Arizona’s rancher audience as well as consumers?

BO: Keep raising high quality beef. It’s the back bones of what we do, collectively, to provide a great eating experience for the restaurant segment we service. I’d really like to see more frequent, meaningful interaction between the ranchers, growers and our side of the business.


ABC: Will you share a little of your background?  How long have you been selling beef? 7-8-2016_Brent_headshot

BO: I started my beef career in a small mom-and-pop corner grocery store in Utah in 1969. We sourced our carcass beef from a small, local packer, and that’s where I picked up the trade. I’ve had a wide spectrum of positions in grocery retail, grocery wholesale, as well as foodservice. I’ve always worked with beef, and I love this industry and the people I’ve met wherever I’ve worked. With my current role, I travel the western United States and promote beef with a wide range of customers, and train about our products and promote our industry whenever possible.


ABC: What is your favorite cut of beef?

BO: I’m a strip loin man, through and through. It’s all about the flavor, and I’m never disappointed with a nice New York cut. A nice, juicy burger is at the top of my list as well. Keep it simple, with high quality there’s no need to hide or mask it with spices or toppings.


Brent is a journeyman meat cutter, beef lover (that shouldn’t be a surprise), and promoter of the cattle industry. He’s a pretty good water skier, as well.


No Cookie Cutters in Ranching

One of the beauties of ranching is that it takes all kinds of kinds to raise beef and to care for the land. Some folks are born and raised on a ranch and stay there their whole lives. Others take a different path to this way of life. Regardless, the passion and dedication is the same. Meet Pamela Griffin, Arizona cattlewoman and current Arizona State Cowbelle President.Pamela Griffin

You never know when you may find yourself in the beef industry and I’m living proof. I was born in Anaheim, California surrounded by orange groves and strawberry fields. We moved to Arizona in 1974.  We had sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, horses, a steer, my pheasant named “Peeps” and a few dogs. I left Arizona twice, but returned and was never able to shake this beautiful state. I spent most of my working life managing large scale communities with multimillion dollar budgets in the infrastructure and construction phase of those communities through transitions. You wouldn’t think that would easily translate into becoming a beef rancher, but it in fact does. I rearranged my tool box and used my tools in a different way.

As I fast forward to today, I’ve found myself as an Arizona cattlewoman. Not in a tremendous scale, but a rancher nonetheless. I met my husband about a decade ago, and he convinced me he was the one, and his family’s historic ranch was the place. The family business has been in operation for over 100 years, passed down through generations. He and I began our own smaller venture raising beef in hopes to provide some additional benefits for our combined children in the future and to subsidize our income.

John Griffin, Pam’s husband. Photo by Chris Couture.

Having some livestock growing up and being on a full-time beef ranch are two different worlds. There is never one day that’s like the other and each day provides opportunity to meet new challenges and situations head on. There must always be a plan “B”.  Personal plans sometimes cannot be kept due to a change in circumstances at a moment’s notice and vacations are sometimes few and far between. I do learn something new every single day on the care of the cattle, the wildlife, the land and its resources. My husband is a great teacher and a wonderful resource.

My participation in becoming a rancher came with some added responsibilities and some passions. It was important for me to participate in organizations that work hard to provide scientific and proven strategies for management of the cattle, the wildlife and the land. An additional responsibility is sharing information as often as possible on our practices, how we run our ranch and how we care for everything living on the land. We are providing a product for customers who in many cases 3-4 generations from the farm or ranch. We cannot expect that they know or understand what we do or how we care for our product and its resources, or what our days are like unless we share that with them.

6-24-2016_Pam's flowers
Pam has quite the green thumb and grows beautiful flowers in her garden.

When you love what you do, the sacrifices you make to live remotely, not having some of the modern conveniences, to be flexible in plans, work long days, get up before the sun, and to bed well after it’s down, are priceless things. I love my life. There is beauty everywhere. You learn to turn work moments into an adventure and it’s always a treat. A late afternoon of checking waters can become a lovely nighttime drive home. I do get in some gardening, some canning and a little quilting. It is definitely a choice you must love and I wouldn’t change a thing…except for more fishing, I could always do some more fishing, in Alaska!

Cookin’ with Cathy: The Blazing Saddle Burger

I love burgers. Seriously, I think a great big fat burger could be my last meal on earth. Along with a rib eye, a porterhouse, and prime rib…all together on one plate. Yes, I am an unapologetic Arizona beef eater and I like fooling around in my kitchen dreaming up new beefy masterpieces…and most of them involve a burger. Everyone should learn how to make a great burger. There are lots of resources on the internet to teach you – websites, blogs, YouTube, and, of course, right here, at the Arizona Beef Council and also at Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. Learn how to grill or fry a great burger, then experiment with flavors and techniques. I’ve eaten some crazy restaurant burgers that look like a science experiment with 25 toppings, but none of them are as good as the ones I grill at home and with my own crazy toppings. Get the basics down and you’ll be the hit of the backyard barbecue.

So why is this burger named “The Blazing Saddle Burger”?

Three words: beans, cabbage, and jalapenos. You do the gastronomical math.

I bet more than a few of you have seen the classic 1974 film Blazing Saddles. It’s silly slapstick, slightly embarrassing, very politically incorrect, but ultimately a hilarious parody of the old west and of life, in general. If it came out now, it would probably be protested and banned. Political correctness, sadly, is replacing our ability to laugh at ourselves and that particular topic belongs in another blog, so for now, I’ll just say this burger honors one of the funniest films ever made.  At least I think so!


The Blazing Saddle Burger
(Cheese Burger with Cilantro-Jalapeno Slaw, Pinto Bean Mash, and Salty Red Pepper Glaze)

6-3-2016_Cathy burger 6

Don’t be put off by the multiple steps in this recipe. All are fast and easy and the slaw can be prepared 2 hours before the main event. The main event being all your family and friends complimenting you on this awesome burger.


Cilantro-Jalapeno Slaw6-3-2016_Cathy burger 4

  • 1/2 head medium sized green cabbage, core removed and sliced thin
  • 1/2 head medium sized purple cabbage, core removed and sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup chopped pickled jalapenos (from a jar that everyone should have in their refrigerator.  No one should live without pickled jalapenos)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid from the pickled jalapeno jar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro
  1. Mix the two cabbages and chopped pickled jalapenos in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk the milk, mayo, jalapeno juice, sugar, and salt together in small bowl.
  3. Pour the dressing over cabbage and stir until well-combined. Refrigerate for no less than 2 hours. Add the chopped cilantro before serving. You will have leftover slaw, but that’s a good thing, right?


Pinto Bean Mash

  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained, well-rinsed, and drained again
  • 1/3 cup jalapeno flavored cream cheese (I can find these tubs of deliciousness in most every supermarket)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion or white, it doesn’t matter – you just need a little onion crunch – add more if you like onions.
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I mean this. Taste as you add your salt and pepper to get the right amount. Beans can take quite a bit of salt.)
  • A drop or two or three of your favorite hot sauce, if you’re so inclined
  1. Place the beans in a small saucepan and mash with the bottom of the empty bean can (clever, huh?) until beans are semi-mashed with a few whole beans remaining.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and add the cream cheese and mayo and mix well. Stir in chopped onion, cumin, and briefly cook until cream cheese melts and everything is nice and blended. Start tasting and add salt, pepper, and hot sauce if you’re feeling sassy. Make it your own!
  3. Set aside, with lid on to keep semi-warm until ready to assemble burgers. You may want to re-heat if mash gets too cold.


Salty Red Pepper Glaze6-3-2016_Cathy burger 5

  • About 1/2 cup red pepper jelly
  • Flakey sea salt – NOT table or kosher salt (I use Maldon salt, which I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT. I buy it off Amazon and also it’s stocked in some supermarkets.)
  1. Mix the jelly and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Again, add the salt according to your taste.

Mine was so salty that it was like my tongue dove into a salty ocean of red pepper jelly. But I love salt. Ease up, if you don’t.

Personally, I don’t monkey around with ingredients INSIDE my meat. I prefer to get creative with the fixin’s that go ON the burger. More important is the meat itself and how you handle it. I used pure ground chuck for these burgers, but my new obsession is ground hangar steak for burgers. Try it – it’s terrific. Many butchers and chefs prefer it for their own hamburgers. It’s difficult to find in most markets, but I have a feeling a few of you have access to a great butcher. It’s becoming “a thing” in the culinary world. If you have no idea how to cook your burgers, please refer to first paragraph in this post. You have lots of options and I feel it’s best to let YOU decide how to prepare your burger, but I’m betting if you are reading this blog, you already know how to cook a burger better than anything I could explain, so I’ll just stop blathering! I cooked this burger on my trusty cast iron griddle, inside, because it was raining. No complaints whatsoever about rain from this Arizona native!

  • 3 pounds ground chuck (with 20% fat content – fat is GOOD, people!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 12 slices good ol’ American or Cheddar cheese
  • 6 good-quality sesame seed buns, sliced open, lightly buttered on both cut sides. Not the flimsy ones that fall apart like tissue paper with your first bite.
  1. To make burgers, divide beef into 6 portions (these are big burgers!), gently making each portion into a patty. The less you handle it, the better the burger! Make a well on top of burgers with your thumb, so burger doesn’t swell up when you cook it. Salt and pepper each patty with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. Grill or pan fry as you like.
  3. Drape two cheese slices over the top of each burger after the last flip and let the cheese get all melty.
  4. Toast the cut sides of the buns on edge of grill or in oven while burgers are finishing up.


To Assemble Burgers

Spread warm pinto bean mash over cut side of bottom of buns. Top with burgers and a big heap of slaw. Spread cut side of top of buns with salty pepper jelly and place on top. Done!

Serves 6…or 1 Mongo

6-3-2016_Cathy burger 3

And good luck at the campfire!



Cathy Wilkinson is an amateur, untrained and reckless cook with occasional, accidental, totally random bouts of culinary brilliance. Over the years she has appeared on both the Food Network (America’s Best Recipes) and The Cooking Channel (The Great American Steak Cook-Off), participated in many cooking competitions and demonstrations and is a avid beef industry supporter. A few of her cooking competitions include “Best American Lamb Recipe”, Cake-Mate “Best of the Bake Sale”, Tillamook Cheese Cook-off, Gilroy Garlic Cook-off, as well as beef cooking demonstrations for the Yavapai Cowbelles. She is a 5th generation Arizona native, great-granddaughter eastern Arizona ranchers and farmers and daughter and sister of central Arizona hay growers. 

Arizona Team Beef: Trisha Grant

Arizona Team Beef member Trisha Grant is a sports enthusiast, agricultural loan officer, University of Arizona Wildcat, and dog lover. Meet Trisha:

5-13-2016_Trisha cropped


Activity and fun have always been an important part of my life. I grew up in an active family whether it was playing sports, riding horses, or water skiing. As I’ve gotten older, staying active has become even more important – it’s what keeps me going physically and mentally. I can tell a difference in my health, focus, and mood when I’m not as active as I should be. Now the activities have changed to more running, hiking, and biking with friends and family. It keeps me young and happy. When halfway through a half or full marathon training program I may say that it’s a chore, but I really love it.

I wouldn’t be able to stay as active as I am without high-quality protein in my diet. It is just as important to my physical and mental health as staying active. Beef provides the fuel and energy I need to get through a long run or difficult hike. In fact, the protein beef provides helps my muscles recover more quickly, which is important when training for full marathons. My favorite lean cut is the tenderloin – we can grill one night and have steak salads to take to work the next day. I also appreciate that beef contains essential nutrients that help me get through the day including zinc, iron and B vitamins.

Beef is also the best part of my post-race routine! Nothing taste better than a big juicy burger (and maybe a cold beer) after a big race. Many of us joke that the during a long and/or hard run, the only thing that keeps us going is looking forward to that post-race meal.

My favorite race so far would have to be the Big Sur Marathon. It also happens to be the hardest race I’ve done. The views running along the coast on Highway 1 are amazing and breathe taking. Likewise, the elevation changes and wind are also “breathe taking” and brutal. There are all kinds of neat things along the course, including a grand piano at the top of Bixby Bridge at the halfway (13.1 miles) point. If you are looking for a challenging, beautiful, and adventurous marathon this is it! Now, if you are looking to PR (personal record), this is NOT the race for it. I’m so happy I ran it in 2015, and I will probably never run it again.

As for local races, there are so many good ones. One of my favorite half-marathons that we run every year is the Fiesta Bowl Half in December. It tends to be a smaller race and is a nice flat course, great for running a PR. The Phoenix Marathon and Half-Marathon are also great courses.

5-13-2016_Trisha John Dave_cropped.jpg
John Lillie, Dave Wood and Trisha after finishing the 2013 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix. Dave really did run the whole thing in his cow costume!