Are you going to eat that?

I just realized how to personally solve the argument about large-farm safety regulations being applied to small farms.

There’s a small farm here whose beef I once looked forward to, when it appeared in our town co-op.  It was clean, the animals were raised in large, open pens, they were content and well-fed.  There were no hormones or additives involved.  They were grass fed.

Then one day, as I was picking up some chicken feed from their small feed-sale shed, the owner told me he’d caught three young wandering cougars on this land, and with the advice of a forest ranger, shot them and buried them.  True?  I don’t know — but he told me so.

Another person from here is making and selling a beer in western Washington state.  But before he took off to do this, he left his cat in our care.  The cat was left out in all weathers, with access to water from the fishpond or the river, but with nothing left for us but a bag of food, that quickly became moldy in the feed area.  The two weeks I was supposed to care for the cat stretched into a month and a half.  It became clear the cat was always treated this way, and this was a former beloved pet, begging for affection.  Even farm cats get treated better, and this had been a member of a family.

So here’s my question:  if the producer of something I might put in my mouth takes shortcuts with other animals — what else might they do — or put in the food products — to maintain or raise profit?  Out of nothing more than care for my own health, if I find out there’s any sort of animal cruelty or laziness about animal welfare involved, including with wildlife, that’s the end of my doing business with the producer.  If they don’t care about their cat or a young wild animal, they don’t care about me.  I’m not here for them to make money off of, regardless of the replacement of the concept of “customer” with “consumer.”  Sorry about the GNP.

And it’s a pity, because that was damn good beef, and I was one of their best customers.

We ended up adopting the cat, by the way, and he us.  He knows who loves him and will care for him, now.

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Next time venison.

Dead deer 

 This is the young buck deer who got his not watching the traffic right outside the west end of town. The local kids hang out right on that turn. I figure it’s just a matter of time before one of the two-legged youngsters get it the same way the four-legged one did. Their little legs are gonna snap just like that; probably hold together inside their blue jeans, though.  Those logging trucks hit hard and don’t slow down.

This guy was hanging half in the road so I stopped quick — the blue Toyota, Miz Blue, is small enough to squeeze onto the border of the road — and hauled him into the grass. Those little rib bones wouldn’t be good for somebody’s tires.

I thought about throwing him into the back of the truck, but his eyes were looking a little too green.

He’s the first dead deer I’ve seen up here. Realized why, too — usually when somebody smacks a deer, they must hop out and throw it into the back of the truck.  Well, it seems reasonable.  Meat is meat.

Next dead deer I see up here — if ever — there’s venison on the menu. His eyes weren’t that green.

Frying up Trigger.

Part of a conversation with a European friend, who eats horse meat:

While I agree that horses need to be killed humanely before they're worked to death — and that the rules in the 19th century that made that possible had a humane base — is that still a problem in a day when they're seldom used for work animals? 

Horses relate to us as herd members.  Then again, people eat dogs in Vietnam.  "Dragon and tiger stew" is a Chinese dish for longevity.  It's made of snakes and cats.

I think the best argument is hygiene; horses are huge hunks of meat that have to be dealt with somehow at the ends of their lives.  And sick, overworked, and frightened animals are bad for your dining health.

Horses used to let us ride them into battle and to death because they trusted us as herd leaders.  I suppose a gentle killing by a concerned owner or a trained butcher isn't different.

Yes, I like horse meat.  Hell, I like any meat.  I'm an all-around carnivore.  I just can't kill them myself.  Which is why people originally had butchers — somehow it felt like a sin to kill something that had eaten from your hand.  Wild meat took its chances and often got away – it was natural.  Killing your own cow or pig needed to be done by someone outside the family circle.

A friend of mine talked of a milk cow that lived 14 years, long after she'd stopped giving milk, because by then she was just part of the family.  In a good society, there is enough food for everybody, easily, even for the animals.  We humans just construct bad social organization.

Screaming Chicken

Back in the Vietnam era, the 101st Airborne, basing a nickname on its open-beaked eagle shoulder patch, called itself The Puking Buzzards.  Evidently, the present-day 101st is calling itself The Screaming Chickens.

This has nothing to do with the military, or shoulders.  It's got a lot to do with the stomach.

The Screaming Chicken is a little espresso shop and cafe in Yelm, Washington.  It serves nothing unusual or unexpected.  But the dishes it does, it does right.

Friends and I, on a long survey run, were tired and hungry and needed caffeinating.  Everything else on what promises to become the Yelm strip-mall was unappetizing.  The usual McDonald clones.  But we'd passed the Screaming Chicken on the way out, and remembered it on the way in; the advantage of a nutty name.  We'll come to the reason for it later.

Two people ordered coffee, egg salad on a croissant, an omelet burrito and 1/2 an order of biscuits and gravy.

The coffee was just strong enough.  SC doesn't have quite as high an elbow as some mom & pop places we've been — they don't caffeinate constantly — but we had enough to keep us driving.

The biscuits and gravy were admittedly a shock.  I thought they'd accidentally brought me the full order.  A huge split biscuit, crisp on the bottom, brown on top, slathered — there is no other word for it — with lots of tender sausage bits in a smooth, light cream gravy.  And a crescent moon of perfectly browned buttery (I suspect flavored oil, but it tasted fine) hash browns that weren't even mentioned on the menu.  They weren't quite as good as the hash browns I enjoyed at a little hotel restaurant in San Jose, but then what is?  They came in a darn serious second, though.

We always share our orders.  The croissant, whether produced locally or ordered, was very light and high. The egg salad had just the right touch of dressing, and was chopped large.  A potato salad side didn't have too much of anything — not too much dill, not too much mustard.  The egg burrito was light and delicate, and not oily.

Ila Dawn, who owns and runs the place, passes the time with friends and customers at a table.  A cubby-hole den in the back features terra-cotta walls, a (I think) artificial fireplace and two big comfy sofas, and available toys and books.  Ila obviously has no trouble with customers sitting back and sucking coffee as her two lively waitresses keep an eye on things.

And — since we have to eat at these places — nice, clean, one-hole bathroom, too.

Oh, yes.  Ila says The Screaming Chicken is the coffee.  It'll wake you up like a very determined rooster.

Ila Dawn's Screaming Chicken Espresso & Cafe, 203 Yelm Avenue West, Yelm, WA.  360 458 966.

The Red Baron’s Favorite Food

Baron von Richthofen's (The Red Baron's) favorite food was pancakes.

And he put mustard on everything.

His mother — who hated daylight savings time and thought it was stupid — said so in her autobiography.

I posted this because there was no google listing for "The Red Baron's Favorite Food."

Speaking of food references, I was at the end of a long day and indulging in a little entertainment surfing.  Ended up sending this to the Red Baron pizza company (www.redbaron.com):

"Your pizza image is a little odd. The Red Baron didn't look like Tom Selleck.  He looked like Robin Williams.  Compare:

http://www.briggsenterprises.com/bluemax/ with http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000245/

Am I wrong?"