Category: Ranch Life

Easy Beef Stew: Year of Beef

It’s been a little, or actually, a lot busy around here, so I was thankful for some beef in my freezer and my dutch oven the other day. I was able to prepare an easy and delicious Tex Mex-inspired beef stew for my family. I’m usually pretty good about meal planning for the week, but last Monday I found myself working at the computer first thing in the morning and didn’t think about dinner until lunchtime. As I was prepping lunch, it dawned on me I better also get a jump start on dinner! We had a 4-H meeting with our three oldest children each giving oral presentations that night and had to be out the door by a certain time. We would also get home just in time to get ready for bed and school the next day, so dinner needed to be eaten before we left. I pulled a package of Beef Stew meat from the freezer because it can be used in a variety of ways. Unlike a frozen roast or steaks that would have taken more planning time to use, stew meat can make a meal come together quicker.




Braising is searing meat on a high temperature then finishing it in a covered pot set at lower temperature with a variable amount of liquid.

Meat for stewing should be lean and can be less tender because we’re going to use braising to create the tenderness. Cuts from the chuck or round are great for stew meat. You can buy it precut at the store or as a larger roast that you cut into chunks yourself. I appreciate that our butcher precuts bite-size chunks into packages for us. It’s usually the scraps after steaks and roasts are cut. Stew meat can be a more affordable cut that still creates a delicious and hearty dish.

I pulled the package, probably about 1 1/2 pounds out of my freezer and defrosted it in the microwave so it broke apart easily. Normally when I’m planning ahead I defrost meat in the refrigerator the day before I cook it. Safe cooking tip: Never thaw meat on the countertop.

I put a little canola oil (around 1-1 1/2 TB)  in a heavy stock pot and browned the pieces, making sure not to crowd them. I wanted them good and brown. As you can see there were lots of bits and pieces stuck to the bottom. After the meat was finished cooking, I added a can of stewed tomatoes and about a can and a half of water. Stirring the liquid helps deglaze the pan and gets all those yummy bits off the bottom. The acid in the tomatoes also help tenderize the meat. I also added in seasonings, including a tsp. of beef bouillion, 1 TB. of taco seasoning, some black pepper, cumin and minced Easy Beef Stewgarlic. This is where you can get creative—add seasonings your family enjoys. I also added one chopped chipotle pepper in adobe sauce. It adds some heat and smokiness. Smoked paprika is another option to add flavor.

I set my temperature to low, which on my stove maintained a low boil/high simmer, then I checked the pot about every hour to see how the meat was tenderizing and if I needed to add additional liquid (I didn’t). It simmered about 3 hours. This braising method helps break down the meat so it pulls apart and is super tender. About 30-45 minutes before I wanted to serve it, I added chopped green bell pepper and chopped onion. I also added a cup of frozen corn and a can of black beans (rinsed). I cooked the stew until the veggies were tender, but still had a little bite to them. I topped the stew with chopped fresh cilantro. Other optional toppings could include shredded cheese, crispy corn tortilla strips, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Or you can leave it plain as it has plenty of flavor.

Easy Tex-Mex Beef Stew
1-2 pounds stew meat (chuck or round cut into cubes)
1-2 cans stewed tomatoes plus 1-2 cans of water
1-2 tsp. of beef bouillion
1 TB. taco seasoning
Other seasonings to taste (ie. salt, pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, chipotle pepper)
Green or other bell peppers
Medium onion
1 cup frozen corn or 1 can corn
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

*If you want to use this in your slow cooker, you can brown the meat in a skillet, deglaze pan with some water or broth, then add it to the slow cooker with the seasonings and veggies. Cook on low heat 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.

This Beef Stew is super easy because you can take the meat in different flavor directions. I went with more Tex-Mex Seasonings because I had more of them on hand, but you could easily do a traditional stew with potatoes, carrots and celery or instead add Italian herbs and spices. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

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In addition to a full week of kid activities, it’s calving season on the ranch. Lots of new babies are hitting the ground every day and it’s fun to have pastures full of cows and calves.

I’m sure many of you have busy weeknights also, but still want to get a great tasting and healthy meal on the table for your family. Don’t be afraid to keep a package or two of stew meat in your freezer because this Easy Beef Stew is a great option for a weeknight family dinner.

~ M

Maggie and her husband raise their four children and registered cattle on his family’s southwest Idaho ranch. As a family, they enjoy sports, showing cattle, 4-H, church and other activities when not working on the ranch. She likes to experiment with recipes in the kitchen, shares her love of sweets through baking with her children and has been known to start a DIY project every now and then. Sometimes she actually finishes one.



Categories: Beef, Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

O Bone (Chuck) Roast: A Year of Beef

Welcome! Today is the first day of our Year of Beef series.

Before we get into the actual cooking beef part, I want to make a few things clear.

  1. I am not completely inept when it comes to cooking; however, I am far from a professional. I don’t own any fancy cooking devices, know what a balsamic-reduction is, or know how to fold my linen napkins into little origami swans. So if you’re reading along thinking to yourself “I don’t know if I can do that,” the answer is “Yes! Yes you can!”
  2. Very few of the recipes I use this year will actually be of my own creation. I plan on using a few of my favorites, things I’ve found, and recipes that you’ve submitted! So when I say “next week I’m going to be using a Rib Steak,” feel free to send me your best Rib Steak recipes! You can fill out the contact form on our website, email us (info(at)idahocattlewomen(dot)org), or send us a Facebook® message!
  3. We wholeheartedly welcome your feedback!! That being said, we want to keep this a positive place. The point of this series is to help women feel more comfortable when cooking beef, and give new ideas to those who already do. Feel free to leave tips or tricks that you have found helpful when cooking beef or ask any questions you have about cooking beef!

Moooooooooooo-ving on…let’s get cooking!!!

The roast cooked today is an O Bone, named because of the small, circular bone within the cut. This is a type of bone-in Chuck Roast. A Seven-Bone Roast or other bone-in chuck roast will cook the same. meatdiagram

As you can see, Chuck cuts (highlighted in yellow) come from the high shoulder area. It’s naturally a tougher cut of meat so cooking it low and slow yields a tender texture and delicious taste!

If you’re someone who is going to be looking for one of these bad boys in a grocery store, you’ll find them to be moderately priced—so buy away!

The recipe I’m using came from The Wicked Noodle and is one I will definitely be using again!


2-3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

4 pound Chuck Roast

1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth

2 bunches small carrots

1 pound baby potatoes, white or red

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

**My additions/substitutions: Neither of my local grocery stores carried fresh thyme, so I chose to forego that ingredient. I like rubbing meat in a product called “Spade L Ranch Beef Marinade and Seasoning,” and thought this would be a good opportunity to do so (which I will explain about below). I also had a couple sweet potatoes that I wanted to get used up, so I substituted those for the 1 pound of baby potatoes.


  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over high heat. Season roast well with salt and pepper, add to pan and brown well on all sides (a few minutes per side). Remove roast and set aside.
  3. Add chopped onion to drippings in pot and reduce heat to medium. Sauté onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, increase heat to medium-high and boil until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in Dijon.
  4. Set roast on top of onions in pot. Pour in 2 cups of beef broth and add thyme sprigs. Cover and place in over for 2 ½ -3 hours, or until very tender.
  5. Add carrots and potatoes to pot and return to oven. Continue cooking until carrots and potatoes are tender, somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes.
Isn’t a rubbed roast just beautiful?!

Isn’t a rubbed roast just beautiful?!

Spade L Ranch Beef Marinade and Seasoning is one of my favorite products, so I decided to put it to good use. Although the original recipe doesn’t call for adding a rub, I chose to rub my roast the night before, and let it sit overnight in all that delicious flavor.

Rubbing something like this is super simple…I added a small amount of water to a shallow baking dish, got all sides of the roast wet, and then went to town rubbing Spade L anywhere it would stick. 


Fun Fact: My house and I both survived the browning process, intact!

I’m not going to lie, the browning process made me real nervous. I remember one time when I was younger my mom was making a friend and I homemade finger steaks, and accidently had a small grease fire. Ever since I’ve been leery of beef and oil together….so you can only imagine what went through my head the moment I put my roast in the pan. “Here I’ve promised everyone that I wouldn’t burn my house down, and chances are it’s gonna happen right now!”

After the browning process, I continued on with adding the chopped onions in and probably sautéed them for a good 5-6 minutes. Then I boiled down the balsamic vinegar and added in the Dijon. It was at this point where I wondered if I had picked the right recipe. Hot onions, boiling vinegar, and spicy Dijon–my eyes started watering with all the fumes and there was a small part of me that wondered if I still had time to turn back.

Remember when I told you that I didn't own any fancy cooking devices? Case in point...I borrowed this Le Creuset dutch oven from my Mom, and it was the perfect size!After everything was browned, sautéed, dijoned,and brothed it was finally ready to go in the oven! I love this part because it gave me time to get a few things done around the house, which included washing all the dishes I used! I’m the kind of person who loves sitting down to a meal with an already-clean kitchen!

At the 2.5 hour mark, I took the roast out, and added the carrots and potatoes. I cut both up pretty thin, because I wanted them to come out really tender. I kept the roast in the oven for another hour before pulling it out and slicing it up!

O Bone Roast


This, my friends, is O Bone Roast heaven! The guys had to unexpectedly run to Twin Falls the same day I made this, so Justin didn’t come home for lunch. Since I didn’t want something this fresh-out-of-the-oven to go to waste, I called my Mom and had her come over for lunch. She gave it two thumbs up, and told me she wants to use this recipe on her own cut of Rafter T Ranch O Bone!

Next week I’ll be cooking up a Rib Steak, so if you have any good recipes be sure to send them my way!

Categories: Beef, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life, Recipes

Women in Ag: Rancher and Everyday Agvocate, Linda Rider

Linda Rider and her husband, Robert, live on a ranch 10 miles east of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and have been married 42 years. They have three grown daughters, two graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in Ag Science and one graduated from Boise State University, and they are married. The oldest, Sharla, lives in the area and is the 4-H Program Coordinator for Kootenai County. She has a son, Jay who is 13 years old. Middle daughter, Cece, lives on the ranch with her two little boys and firefighter husband. She is often her Dad’s helper while Linda enjoys “Grandma duties.” Their youngest daughter, Cassy, lives in Boise and is a graphic designer. Linda is serving as a board member of the Idaho Cattle Association, representing North Idaho.

Linda shares her love of ag and her ranching lifestyle with visitors to her ranch.

Linda shares her love of ag and her ranching lifestyle with visitors to her ranch.

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today? My husband operates the family ranch where we run a small herd of Red Angus cattle, manage the timber grounds, and put up some grass hay. In 1986, we also started a trail ride business, taking tourists and others on horseback rides through our “horse pasture” and sharing our lifestyle with them for a brief time. This business has grown during the years to include multiple activities such as rides during the day, evening dinner rides, children’s birthday parties, activities for young and/or multiple generational families, interactive farm tours for children, bus tours, family reunions and weddings. The best part of the business is getting to visit with the folks while they are here. Helping them enjoy themselves and taking the opportunities to share about agriculture and the food and products that farmers and ranchers produce. Hopefully they take away an agriculture knowledge base that they will use when they read/hear about issues and perhaps filter out some of the biased flavorings against agriculture and users of the natural resources. “Agritourism” is now a buzzword within our industry, but it is what we have been doing for 30 years.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? I grew up in the area close to where I still live. As I grew up we had many folks with 40-80 acre type farms who ran small herds of cattle as part of their livelihoods. My father was the local cow trader who visited up and down the area, buying a cow or two here, perhaps trading it to someone else up the valley, putting it into our herd or taking it to the sale yard. I was an only child and my Dad’s boy, so I traveled a lot with him, chased cows, sorted cows, hayed, etc., from the time I was very small. I married Rob, who’s family lived about 15 miles away, and had land and some cattle as well. Soon afterwards Rob and I began running a combined herd of his family’s cattle and some out of my Dad’s herd. We still run on his family’s place and an adjoining Forest Service allotment. We have raised three daughters who are good “hands.”   When I help chase cows now, I usually have “Grandma” duties and help our grandkids participate.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? Those folks that I know who are willing to give

Winter trail rides through timber and pasture for ranch guests.

Winter trail rides through timber and pasture for ranch guests.

time and energy to serve on boards, committees and/or speak up for agriculture.

How do you provide encouragement to others?
I’d like to think that by setting a good example others will follow.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I would like to tell them that ranchers produce a quality, healthy food product while being good stewards of the natural resources. I would like them to put the romantic image of the cowboy to the side and understand that we are family businesses run by educated people who use computers, science and common sense as tools to meet each day’s challenges. We deal with lots of rules and regulations, often established by non-ag interests, and are challenged by the weather, but keep on going. I would want people to see we are real and sincere, and provide a valuable service to our land and country.

What are you most thankful for? Freedom. The freedom to pick a lifestyle and occupation that enables us to work as a family unit and work on our own timeline. To live a lifestyle where we can enjoy a grand view of nature every day, whether it is from our kitchen window or the back of a horse. While some days are hard, sad or miserable, they are balanced by the richness of an eagle soaring, elk on the hillside or baby calves playing in the meadow and sharing it with the next generations.

What is you favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? It is always hard to beat a good steak, baked potato, homemade bread, salad and a Dutch oven dessert—a meal we cook for our many dinner ride guests all summer long. As a standby I often cook a “5-hour Beef Stew” that was an Idaho Beef cook-off recipe from the 1980s.

A beautiful view from this North Idaho cattle ranch.

A beautiful view from this North Idaho cattle ranch.

What is the first thing you do when you walk into a grocery store? Marvel at all the junk that people are willing to buy instead of buying basic, healthy ingredients and actually cooking.

What is your favorite childhood memory? All the time I got to spend with my Dad chasing cows, riding in the truck hauling cows, and just being his helper. He always saw the good side of people and the bright side of a bad situation.

Favorite store to shop in? My checkbook book would say that most of my “shopping” is done at Costco and the locally owned Super 1 grocery store. Otherwise I like to shop at thrift stores to look for “treasures.”

You can contact Linda at!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

Women in Ag: Cattle Industry Champion, Ramona Karas

Ramona Ridley Karas was raised on a farm in Marsing, Idaho. Upon graduation Ramona participated in the Lions Club exchange program and spent two months in a rural town in Australia. After returning home, she attended college at Boise State University while working at US Bank for 10 years. She met and married Buster Ridley and had a daughter, Sierra.  Living on the ranch is when she began working at Simplot Livestock, where she’s worked for almost 24 years, holding various positions, but now serving as Marketing Solutions Manager of Simplot Land & Livestock. Ramona now lives in Nampa and is married to Brandon Karas, who also works in the agriculture industry. During Ramona’s tenure with Simplot, she has served our local communities in many capacities, volunteering with Canyon County Boys & Girls Club; Canyon County Festival of Trees; Agribusiness Chamber Member and class volunteer for the Grand View Grade School.

We would also like to point out that Ramona has served on the Idaho Cattle Association’s Board of Directors for the past 21 years, where she has held the position of Feeder Council Chairman; Cow-Calf Chairman; Director at Large; Allied Industry Chairman; PAC Committee; CALF Board and Convention Committee.

How are you involved in agriculture today? I work for one of the largest agribusiness companies in Idaho—Simplot. I am currently the Marketing Solutions Manager for Simplot Land & Livestock. We have one of the largest cow-calf operations and feedlots in the U.S. and farm approximately 70,000 acres. We also distribute animal health products, seed, supplies, equipment, and manufacture feed and mineral for the dairy and beef industries. I’m proud of our commitment to help every aspect of the cattle industry raise quality animals

How has your life been shaped by agriculture? I grew up on a farm, where we raised mostly corn, alfalfa seed and pasture for grazing. We ran some yearlings in the summertime and I participated in 4-H with a steer until I graduated from high school. I loved horses, but my father always said they were “hay burners,” so I couldn’t have one. Finally I had a bet with my dad that if I won All -Around Showman of the Owyhee County Fair, he would have to buy me a horse! I loved that horse for the rest of my high school years, and even ended up taking Horse 4-H as well! Being raised on the farm, you learn to rise with the sun, work all day and sometimes not go to bed until long after the sun has set. We sat down to the table at meals as a family and talked—no cell phones, no TV, just family talk. We were very scheduled: Lunch was always served at noon, dinner was at 6:30 and at 3:30 when we got off the bus, Grandma had something baked and everyone took a break for baked goods and coffee. Being raised in an agriculture environment taught me to be a dedicated worker, not looking at a clock to see if it was 5:00 and time to end the work day, but rather to look at a job and see what was needed to complete the task, timetable aside. It taught be to be flexible, that Mother Nature will be consistent—consistently changing. It taught me to have patience; good things come to those that toil.

Ramona and her daughter, Sierra Ridley-Palmer, during the 2014 ICA Annual Convention and Trade Show.

Ramona and her daughter, Sierra Ridley-Palmer, during the 2014 ICA Annual Convention and Trade Show.

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? When I started at Simplot I knew much more about farming than I did cattle. Tom Basabe (President of Simplot Land and Livestock), my boss, took the time to teach me about feeding cattle: limited feeding method; rations; conversion rates; average daily gains, trials, and many other things I’d never heard of before. It was also the first time I ate a steak that was cooked medium and oh how great that was! My family had always cooked meat well done! Tom gave me responsibility to do my job, but always let me know he was there if needed. He helped me with my decision-making skills, taking responsibility, and being dedicated to the agricultural industry.

How do you provide encouragement to others? Laughter! As I’ve aged, I realize life isn’t that complicated.  My advice is don’t be too serious, and try to find humor and goodness in life’s everyday trials.

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I would challenge them to understand where their food really comes from. Not the grocery store, not the convenience store, but from the farm and ranches—both family and corporate owned. They need to realize that as the population increases we need to continue to improve our footprint to provide sustainability for future generations.

What are you most thankful for? I am most thankful for God who has blessed my life with so many wonderful things: a career in agriculture, a supportive family, an abundance of friends, good health, a sweet daughter and a loving husband.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? Well, I love cooking, so that’s a hard one. I guess it would have to be that perfect New York steak, cooked medium rare, pan-seared in a cast iron skillet, finished in the oven, smothered with white wine cream sauce, caramelized onions and a bit of blue cheese sprinkled on top. Add a wedge salad topped with red onions, diced tomatoes, crisp bacon, blue cheese crumbles with a ranch/balsamic vinegar glaze and you are in heaven! And don’t forget the glass (or bottle) or earthly red wine. You don’t even have to have bread with this meal!

Ramona and her husband, Brandon, were married 11/12/13, in Sun Valley.

Ramona and her husband, Brandon, were married Nov. 12, 2013, in Sun Valley.

What is the first thing you do when you walk into a grocery store? I walk around the perimeter starting on the right (which is usually the fresh veggies), then dairy section (gotta have my cheese! And half and half for my coffee), then to the meat section, ending at the wine. I only go down the center isles if I need something else.

What are some of your favorite pastimes and/or hobbies?  I love cooking, traveling, camping, fishing, riding the Harley, skydiving, zip line, most anything with an element of danger.

What are three little known facts about you? 1) I took ballet lessons for seven years (hated every minute of it!). 2) I was a pro marksman (beating all the boys) in Junior High. 3) I love looking like a badass, wearing my leathers and riding the Harley!

Be sure to follow Ramona on Facebook!

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

Women in Ag: Rural-Loving Ranch Wife, Tay Brackett

Today’s Women in Ag feature, Tay Brackett, is a born and raised southern Idahoan! After graduating from the University of Idaho, Tay became somewhat of a Jack of All Trades—working as a firefighter, veterinary assistant, horse trainer, horse trader, and at one point, even sold insurance. Tay and her husband, Jared, recently welcomed their first child, Tap, earlier this year.

How are you involved in agriculture and/or beef industry today? I help out on my husband’s ranch, wherever I’m needed. I spend most of my time moving cows from one allotment to the next, administering vaccines at branding, or sorting yearlings, which happens to be my favorite.

How has your life been shaped by agriculture and/or beef industry? I have always loved animals! Like most girls, I was horse crazy as soon as I could say the word. When my sister and I were growing up, our aunt had cows; so that gave us the chance to ride, rope, swim horses across the Snake River, and even feed cows with a team of Belgians in the winter. All of that gave me a different perspective than other kids my age. I was always one to measure my success on how well I could move cows or train my horse, not by having the coolest clothes or the shiniest gadget. It gave me an independent spirit—I’m still never someone who is satisfied with the status quo or by staying indoors!

Who inspires you or serves as a mentor? I know it sounds corny, but my husband is my biggest mentor. He has worked cows his entire life, but continues to look for ways to accomplish a safer, more efficient, and less stressful way to manage cattle. He volunteers his time and resources to cattle industry supporters like the Idaho Cattle Association and Cattlemen’s Beef Board, organizations that shape the policies that will impact the future of how my family, and my son’s family, will continue to grow food for this nation.

How do you provide encouragement to others? Encouraging by example! When you’re happy, others will ask where that joy comes from! I also love making people feel better by making fun of or laughing at myself. And nothing can cheer up someone’s day like bringing them out to the ranch during branding season

Tay's husband, Jared, is a graduate of Texas A&M University, so the couple try to make it back as often as possible to catch a football game. Go Aggies!

Tay’s husband, Jared, is a graduate of Texas A&M University, so the couple try to make it back as often as possible to catch a football game. Go Aggies!

If given the chance, what message about agriculture or the beef industry would you share with a large group of people? I would want to remind people that agriculturalists were the first conservationists! We utilize a renewable resource, that would otherwise be wasted, to efficiently make thousands of products that are used by millions of people! If that isn’t good for the world, then I don’t know what is!

What are you most thankful for? I love that we get to live 40 miles from town, and are surrounded by cows and God’s Country! I see beautiful sunsets, harvest moons and countless bird’s right outside by front door. I’m thankful for getting to raise my son next door to his Nana, and that I get the chance to spend every day with my husband, doing what we both love.

What is your favorite meal to cook yourself or for others? Take-Out! Whenever we get the chance we usually grab pizza or good Thai food.

What is the first thing you do when you walk into a grocery store? Look for the exit.

What is your favorite childhood memory? Riding horses with my sister.

What are your guilty pleasures in life? Buying dog beds and eating Swiss rolls.

This gorgeous girl loves the fact that she and her husband live over 40 minutes from town!

This gorgeous girl loves the fact that she and her husband live over 40 minutes from town!

Favorite store to shop in? Brass Monkey! It’s downtown Twin Falls.

Favorite place to visit? McCall! I love the mountains and the smell of the forest.

What are three little known facts about you? 1) My nick name growing up was Tater Tot. 2) My first horse was named Nevada. 3) I flunked my 9th grade Astrology class, thinking I would never use it. Now, I look at the stars and wonder what their names are.

Categories: Beef, Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life