It ain’t here, sadly.

We’re almost down to the last of the 3/4 beef we bought, oh, about a year-and-a-half ago. I’m looking to buy one on the hoof here sometime, but s/he won’t probably be edible for another couple years. We’ve got a handful of fine steaks (well, fine is relative, and when you thought round steak was shmancy as a kid, what’s in the freezer may not be “fine” at all…) and I think that’s it.

Considering my already-suspicious attitudes towards grocery store meat, the latest slaughterhouse expose’ hasn’t made it any easier to buy at the market. Look, I’m sure it’s probably fine, but … do you know what the incubation period is for Mad Cow disease? That is, the time between when you ingest some nasty little prions and then show symptoms? Forty years. No, I’m not kidding. And it’s not pretty. My (step) grandmother “felt funny” on June 1, 1996, and by July was acting very strangely (somewhat alzheimer-ish). Before August was over, she was gone. What happened? Eventually they diagnosed her with CJD (human form of mad cow) that she must’ve picked up in England when her husband was stationed there in 1956!!

Sorry, that’s not what this post is about. But while I’m at it, I’ll just state that I really don’t think grocery-store hamburger has this stuff going on at all. I am saying that I prefer the distance between the ‘moo’ and my mouth to be as short (and visible) as possible.

No one local has any beeves for sale, but my favorite organic grass-fed dairyman a few hours from here has some available. A $40 lb box of mixed cuts was a mere $260. Which, if you do the math, comes down to $6.50/lb….*gasp*.. *choke*.. *sputter*. Don’t get me wrong, it’s SO worth it… if you have it.

So what to do? This is Day 1 on Hubby’s Crazy Diet, and Day 1 is traditionally Beef Day. It’s also Haddock Day and Whitefish Day and Other Crazy Fish Day that we don’t recognize, but here in the desert those things are hard to come by. I had some organic baby spinach in the fridge (don’t worry, I always wait a few days before we eat it to see if an e. coli outbreak happens*) and thought taco salad would be tastey. Not tastey enough, however, to grind up T-bone steaks. So I used beans! Yes, yes, I know, you use beans anyway in taco salad (personally, we use garbanzos more often than kidney beans). I used some black turtle beans in place of the beef, and you know what? It was great.

So –

Earlier today I put the beans (they were the dry kind) in water with a bit of vinegar (if you have 3 hours, read about why here). While I should’ve started them soaking yesterday, it was better than nothing. At about 3:45 or so, I poured off the water, put fresh water in them, and simmered them 2 hours or so. I removed enough beans to replace ‘the beef’ (I cooked a bunch so I could freeze them for later, of course), added taco seasoning, garbanzos, salt – then served it over baby spinach with some sliced olives, taco sauce, ranch dressing, cheese, sour cream – whatever. Affordable, healthy and good.

*Ok, I’m just kidding. Usually it takes several weeks for health officials to put the pieces together enough to pin an outbreak on any one thing.