What’s the Beef? T-bone v.s. Porterhouse

As the weather gets warmer, the idea of heating up the BBQ instead of the kitchen becomes more appealing.  On hot days I will put just about anything on the BBQ.   There are the classics like, burgers and grilled vegetables, but I have roasted chickens and even baked bread. However, when I am looking for a guaranteed crowd pleaser nothing beats a great steak.  

diagram-beef-cut-1500Any cut of meat that is tender enough to be cooked quickly can be a steak.  The price of steak varies depending on the cut and the quality of the meat.  Each type of steak is defined by the muscle it is made of.  Generally, the least used muscles on the steer are the most tender and therefore the most valuable. The loin is a group of muscles situated in the back of the animal and makeup all of your most expensive cuts including; the sirloin, tenderloin and short loin.  In the case of the celebrated T-bone and Porterhouse steaks, you are really looking at the same muscles in different proportions.

Both steaks are taken from the short loin of the steer, making them a very tender cut.  They are comprised of two muscles: the tenderloin (or filet) and the strip loin.  These muscles are divided by the characteristic T-shaped bone. If you removed that bone you would be left with two separate steaks: the filet and the New York strip steak. These are the first and second most expensive steaks, the difference comes in the size of the steaks that are found on either side of the bone.  

prorter vs t-boneA T-bone steak is cut from closer to the front of the animal where the cone shaped tenderloin muscle is smaller.  Steaks with a filet from 0.5″ to 1.25″ at the widest point are considered a t-bone steak.  As you move down the tenderloin the filet gets larger, once it exceeds 1.25″ the steak is now called a porterhouse or ‘The King of the T-bones.’  Often large enough to feed 3-4 people!  It is this large portion of the best cut of meat, that makes the porterhouse steak so valuable.  There is also a better meat to bone ratio, which means that pound for pound you are getting more meat on a porterhouse.  With two steaks in one, joined by that classic t-bone, both of these steaks make a great choice for cooking in the kitchen or on the barbecue.

Now you know, What’s the Beef!

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me1 (1280x854)Welcome to my first blog. My name is Heather Newman and I’m sure it won’t take you long to realize that I am not a writer.  I am a mother, a gardener, a farmer, a cook, a taxi driver, a science graduate and many other things, but my writing experience consists of science lab reports and grocery lists.  With that disclaimer out of the way this blog is designed share information about local food.  I better start by sharing why this matter so much to me.  Food is the link that connects the important things in my life.

If you know me, you are aware that food production and preparation is a very central part of my life.  You may wonder why anyone would dedicate time to baking bread, growing beans, or canning when it’s cheaper to pay someone else to do these things for you.  On the hectic days, trust me, I often question my own sanity, but when I look at the bigger picture true value always comes back into focus.  

There is a cost to more convenient foods that we often forget to consider and a richness to knowing where your food comes from that is hard to put a price on.  What I eat and how that food is grown, influence all the valuable things in my life;  my health, my family, my community and the environment that I all live in.

As a society, we might not all agree on the same types of food to eat, but I don’t think there is anyone that is not aware that what we eat affects our health.  If your list of responsibilities includes preparing meals for others, then your food choices affect your family’s health too.  The meals we share are not only connected to the health of my family, but they also connect us as a family.  Daily time spent together around the dinner table, in the kitchen or the garden are spent teaching essential skills and strengthening bonds that I hope will last a lifetime.

I will try not to get too carried away with the lovely picture of everyone laughing and sharing about their day over a perfectly prepared home cooked meal or of four children working peacefully and industriously alongside me in the kitchen or the garden.  On a rare occasion you may find that scene in my home.  More often, like any other parent, my days are spent trying to savour the moments of joy, mixed with the frustration of spilled milk and refereeing petty arguments.  I expect a full range of reactions when I inform one of my children they will be helping me with food preparations.  One day I may get the child that brings new enthusiasm to the job, with their eagerness to learn how to make their favorite dish, the next day my request may be met with resentment that I am taking them away from their favorite video game.  Through those ups and down, which are normal no matter what you are trying to do with your children, we are all learning more about each other and how to get along through the good times and the bad.  I am teaching them about their own health and how to feed themselves.  They learn to appreciate why we don’t waste food, because they played an integral part in the effort it took to get those beans to their plate.  The lessons are endless and the time spent together is invaluable.  Our food choices can affect our health directly and working together on something that we all value helps us build healthy relationships within our family.

IMG_0627Those relationships can extend into our community.  In rural areas like ours, whole towns were originally built around food production.  Even though we are fortunate enough in Bruce County to have other industries that fuel the economy, many small towns are still struggling to maintain schools and communities centers.  With the ability to produce so much of what we eat right here in our backyards the shop local message is very relevant when it comes to our food.  With a little planning, it is cost-effective as well. When we purchase food from our neighbours we are not only supporting jobs for those farming families, we are also supporting the services we all contribute to, like roads, schools and walking trails.  Every time there is another person who can make a living here, life is better for all of us.  We are building a strong economy and tight-knit community.  

Farmers are the caretakers of much of the land surrounding us.  The impact of our food choices on the environment can be seen in your own backyard and on a global scale.  Even a potted herb on a patio deck can improve your space and feed local bees.  Supporting farmers who have a sustainable mindset protects our wildlife, waterways and pollinators.  When our food has less distance to travel it has a smaller carbon footprint.  Less processed food not only takes less energy to produce, it is also cheaper and better for you.

As the pace of life speeds up, food becomes more convenient, but it tends to decrease in quality and our connection to where our food comes from is weakened.  The impact of this is seen in all these important aspects of our lives.  Sometimes we don’t even realize what we are missing.  Less of us are involved in growing our own food and skills that our grandparents would have considered a way of life are being lost.  Fortunately, many people are aware that we are paying a silent cost for fast food and have a desire to see those connections strengthened again.

Those of us who want to see change can start by connecting with each other.  It is important that we start to have a positive discussion around food.  There is no one right way to eat and not all of us have to be gardeners, raise chickens or even be a great cook. Food should be an enjoyable and satisfying part of our day.  After all everybody has to eat, everyday and nobody should have to feel guilt, shame or worry about their food.  If we share with each other and learn together, our food choices have the power to be a positive change for ourselves, our family, community and our environment.  Appreciating the value of quality food and making smart choices about the conveniences we include in our lives means that we can have our cake and eat it too.