Archive: July 2014

Boots by the Door

Moving cows
When I married my husband, I knew I’d never live in town or drive a beetle car. I’d need four-wheel drive and it’d be easier to see across my field than into my neighbor’s window. I knew there would be dirty boots by the door. On our honeymoon, we bought a sign that reads, “Please remove your spurs before getting into bed.” We anticipated cattle and hard work, but we pictured it with the bliss and naivety with which every newlywed couple enters into marriage.

Enter reality. No matter what time of year it is, there is always a potential for hay slivers in the sheets. I learned how to cook on a budget. I made a lot from scratch. Actually, it’s been sixteen years and I’m still doing that.


Showing the kids how shots work.

The reality is that we all have dreams and ideas of what life will look like. We imagine how it will transpire and it is beautiful!! Everyone is healthy, the work gets done in record time, and nothing ever breaks down or slips past a fence. Dreams are good for creating a hopeful platform as they propel us to keep going. Yet, I certainly never pictured tractors breaking down, bailing hay through the night to beat a storm, or feeding cows while having the flu.

On the flipside, I also didn’t imagine that ranching would rope me in and dally itself right to my identity. I had been raised in town. Please don’t stop reading. City girls can go country!
I met my husband in college at a country dance that someone coaxed me into attending. I gave him my number and didn’t think I’d hear from him, but I did and we started dating.
He took me riding, moving cows, and showed me everything I never thought I’d know about ranching. He didn’t get embarrassed of my lack of knowledge or ability, but kept encouraging me to try. It wasn’t until later that I realized this was in his favor, as now all my training came from “his” way of doing things.


Our girls heading out to help move cows.

So I married him and he carried me off to our first little trailer home.
Older than most of the dirt that held it together, it felt like a mansion.

Then something unexpected happened. Instead of me working for years alongside my man to get ready for a place of our own…we had a baby. Ahhh. Yes, it was wonderful. She is wonderful. But it is hard to ride pregnant, especially while still a beginning rider. Then we had another baby and another. Motherhood is the most amazing thing that could ever happen to a person, but also a fair amount of work. We didn’t have family around, so it was up to us to bring these babies everywhere we went. Our oldest daughter spent much of her first birthday in her daddy’s saddle, on his lap, while working cows. (That was a good horse.) I’ve ended up growing up in ranching along with my kids.

True, I never really knew what I was getting into, but I wouldn’t change it. Well, not most days. Guess what? Those dirty boots by the door? They aren’t going anywhere. They are mine.


Marci is a city girl gone country. She married her cowboy and never looked back. While life may be different than what she first imagined, it’s also better than expected as well. She and her husband are raising their three kids on the ranch, and she has grown used to all the boots by the door.


Categories: Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch kids, Ranch Life

Steak Fingers…

…not to be confused with Finger Steaks if you’re from the West. I’m from the Midwest so I didn’t know what Finger Steaks were until I moved to Idaho. Technically these aren’t the traditionally Finger Steaks recipe, so I’m sticking with calling them Steak Fingers. These Steak Fingers use Cube steak, whereas I believe Finger Steaks use Sirloin steak. Okay, best to just get to the recipe…Finger steaks

If you do an Internet search for recipes for Cube steak, a lot of times you’ll come up with Chicken Fried Steak. I call these the junior version of that.

Cube steak is tenderized, rectangle in shape and thin. It’s also economical and relatively lean as it comes from the round. I’ve actually been experimenting to come up with some other recipes to use this cut of beef. I admit, it’s one of the last used in our freezer, but it’s worth giving it a try.

Chicken Fried Steak can seem a little thick and bulky to me at times, so one night I decided to slice up the meat before breading it. It was definitely a good choice. These turned out delicious!

Cube steak

Even though this cut comes tenderized, slicing it helps break down the cut even more. I found the Steak Fingers to be really tender and easy to eat.

sliced cube steak
I dipped the meat in a egg wash. I used a 2-3 eggs with dashes of seasoned salt and pepper. You could throw in some cayenne or any other spices you like. This is how I love to cook. A little of this, a little of that. Fortunately this is a recipe that you don’t need exact measurements.

egg wash for cube steak

Next I dipped the meat into flour and the same seasonings. Then back to the egg wash and into a third bowl of Panko bread crumbs. You don’t have to do the second dip, but I love the crunch the Panko adds.

flour mixture for cube steak
Into the oil they go. Try not to put too many in at once as adding the meat lowers the temperature. You don’t want to crowd them either and have them stick to each other. I just kept an eye on them and turned them when they were golden brown.

frying cube steak fingers
Oh my goodness; just looking at this photo makes me hungry again! They were so, so good.

steak fingers
I usually buy large bags of potatoes, but as a busy mom of four, sometimes convenience is the winner. I’ve found these Steamables on sale a few times and decided to give them a try. They were really good, and I did love how quick they were. 6-7 minutes in the microwave. Can’t beat that! They are easy to throw some seasonings on and serve right after cooking. I’ve also smashed them after they were cooked and put them in the oven to crisp them up a bit.

red potatoes
Feel free to pin!

Steak finger dinner_2
If you haven’t tried cooking with Cube Steak, I suggest you give it a try. I’ll have a few more recipes to sharing using this cut of beef too. So whether they are Steak Fingers or Finger Steaks to you, these are definitely good to eat!


Categories: Beef, Recipes

Cereal for Cows and 4th of July Travels

Hello! I’m Laurie, a 4th generation rancher from south central Idaho. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend and are staying cool this summer.

Western Nevada Cattle Feeders

4th of July weekends are always very busy for Idaho’s farming and ranching families, and ours was no different. With second cutting hay a week or two off, we marched off to Nevada and the Silver State International Rodeo, an invitational rodeo open to contestants from their respective states who placed 5-15 and did not qualify for nationals. This provided not only an opportunity to spend time with other rodeo families, but also to brand a bunch of cattle on the ranch we have in Nevada. We also visited Western Nevada Cattle Feeders in Lovelock.

While many families reach for the cereal box for breakfast, this feedlot uses cereal in their feedlot rations, or more simply put, they feed it to cows. They take a product, Fruit Loops in this case, that cannot be used by the company or the consumer, and feed it to a cow. A cow’s feed ration is specially formulated by a nutritionist. They decide what ingredients can be used based on availability and nutrient level. The cereal replaces traditional grain or carbohydrates sources and provides energy for the animal. In turn, that cow ultimately provides a healthy source of protein for people—beef! That’s pretty amazing if you ask me!


Laurie and her family farm and ranch on land homesteaded by her husband’s family in 1908. She is passionate about the industry and the Western lifestyle. Stay tuned to hear more about her family and their adventures with hosting a foreign exchange student.


Categories: Idaho Cattlewomen

Grilled Skirt Steak


One cut of beef that isn’t talked about a lot, but is delicious and easy to prepare is skirt steak. This cut is sometimes called Hanger steak. In fact, it’s one of our favorites of the less utilized cuts of beef. Skirt steak comes from the plate or the belly of the beef animal. It’s great for making stir-fry or fajitas, or just slicing thinly and eating. Skirt steak isn’t super tender, but it’s flavorful. It works best if it’s marinated prior to cooking. Most of the time I just pour some things together to form a marinade—some spices, a little oil and some sort of acid like juice or vinegar. This time I asked my daughter to look up a recipe and see what she could find. She found one on the Food Network and it basically is everything I already used, but it gives some actual measurements. Here are the ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil (I don’t use this much-more like 1/4 c.)
1/3 cup soy sauce
4 scallions, washed and cut in pieces
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar (I used light because it’s what I keep on hand)
2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into two equal pieces

The directions say to mix all ingredients then blend until smooth. We’ve actually made this recipe twice so far. We really like the combination of flavors in this marinade. It has a little sweetness, but with a kick. *The second time I made it I didn’t blend the ingredients, which I really do recommend. They combine better and give the meat even better flavor.*


This is what the skirt steak looks like. I usually slice it in two pieces. It makes it easier to fit in the plastic bag to marinate and it fits on the grill better. In the essence of full disclosure, we have a freezer full of beef, so I don’t have to buy meat at the store. I do, however, enjoy looking through the meat counter to see what they are offering. I did look at one of the local groceries this week and skirt steak was selling for $6.98/lb. I saw packages ranging from .87 lb. to 1.28 lbs. Two pounds of meat easily feeds our family of six.


After meat is split, I drop it into a large plastic baggie then pour in the marinade. I close it up tightly to get all the air out, move the bag around to coat all the meat, then place it on a plate in my fridge to marinate.


I usually marinate meat either all day and sometimes overnight. I try to plan meals so that I thaw meat first thing in the morning, then it can marinate in the fridge during the day so we can cook it that night. Sometimes I’ll prep a few meat dishes at the same time then all I have to do is grab them from the fridge each night and they are ready to cook. This recipe said to marinate at least one hour.

We have a gas grill so my cooking method was different than the original recipe. I took the bag out of the fridge to come up in temperature while I lit the grill. You don’t want very cold meat to be thrown directly onto a hot grill. I light the grill and let it heat up to 375-450 degrees. If you can hold your hand about five inches over grill for about 4-5 seconds, it’s hot enough. I put the meat on then I DON’T TOUCH IT! I want to wait long enough for the meat to get a good sear on the first side and not stick to the grill before I turn it. This usually takes 7-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. Once it is nice and brown, turn it over and repeat on the other side. You can use a meat thermometer to get an accurate measure. (For rare, remove the steak(s) at 120°F – 125°F; medium rare 125°F – 130°F; medium 130°F – 135°F.)

If the meat is browned properly on both sides, but not quite cooked enough in the middle, I’ll place it to the side and shut off one burner then close the lid to let it cook a little longer.

Once it’s ready (we like our meat medium to medium rare), I’ll take it off grill and let it rest on a platter so juices can redistribute. Then I slice it thinly and against the grain of the meat. (If the meat gets long and stringy, chances are you’re cutting with the grain.) Now you’re ready to enjoy!

skirtsteak_0011  skirtsteakonplate_ICW

I hope you try this recipe and enjoy!


We found the original recipe here at this link, and we adapted from it.

From our ranch to you, we wish you a fun weekend!

Categories: Beef, Recipes

Meet an Idaho CattleWoman ~ MJM

Black Angus cow and calf at sunset.

Black Angus cow and calf at sunset.

Hi! I’m Maggie. So glad you stopped by! If you come back often, you’ll get to meet many different women and families who share a passion for the Idaho cattle industry. Our stories are similar, but unique. There’s a lot of diversity in our industry and our people, but one common theme—a passion for raising cattle, eating beef and living this lifestyle.

Hereford cows grazing on summer pasture.

Hereford cows grazing on summer pasture.

I grew up in a small Kansas community as a farmer’s daughter. Agriculture is in my blood and I always knew I wanted to be a part of the food and fiber industry. I just wasn’t always sure about how I would be involved. My interest in language and fine arts led me to study agricultural communications while in college. Now, my work involves telling the story of agriculture—and the people who raise our food—through writing, photography and design. My husband and I met in college and after graduating, we decided to return to his family’s operation. Now we’re raising cattle and kids in the Gem State. We feel very blessed to live on a ranch taking in God’s beauty every day, raising our kids to work hard and doing exactly what we love. It’s certainly not easy, but definitely worth it!

Love raising our kids on the ranch. Playing on the hay bales...

Love raising our kids on the ranch. Playing on the hay bales…

Our ranch raises registered Black Angus and Hereford cattle. Basically we are raising cows and calves, but our cattle are all purebred or seedstock. We breed the parent stock (females and bulls) to sell. Our bulls are sold to cow-calf producers to raise beef for our dinner tables. Most of our females are sold to other purebred breeders raising seedstock as well. Basically, we are raising the parents of the cattle that becomes the beef on your plate.

As a family, we enjoy showing our cattle. It's a way to advertise the genetics we offer. We also like seeing our kids take responsibility for an animal and work together to get things done.

As a family, we enjoy showing our cattle. It’s a way to advertise the genetics we offer. We also like seeing our kids take responsibility for an animal and work together to get things done.

Our lives are busy and a little chaotic at times, but I am trying to simplify what I can and embrace the rest. I’m a mom like many of you who also juggle work and family life. It’s important my kids learn how to work hard, but we have fun too. Sports, showing cattle, 4-H, church and other activities fill up most of our free time when we’re not helping on the ranch. I love to cook, our oldest daughter loves to bake and I’ve been known to try a DIY project every now and then.

Our baby girl checking out the mamas and babies in the pasture outside our yard. Not going to lie—I love looking out our windows and seeing pastures full of cows.

Our baby girl checking out the mamas and babies in the pasture outside our yard. Not going to lie—I love looking out our windows and seeing pastures full of cows.

So, if you stay tuned, I’ll be sharing some recipes and a little bit more about our life on the ranch.

Categories: Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen