From Beef to Book
A TV producer embarks on a quest to learn more about what he is eating and buys a whole cow, ultimately writing a book that changes his life.
One Saturday afternoon, Jared Stone was watching a TV show about food on his prized big screen at his Woodland Hills home. Suddenly, an epiphany: “At that moment, it occurred to me that I knew more about the TV in my living room than I did about the food I eat—the stuff that literally becomes me,” Jared explains.
“Rectifying the travesty” was rather unconventional. The Woodland Hills resident visited a steer ranch and bought an entire grass-fed cow. Raised by a family of hunters, Jared did what his family used to do. Learning unique and new dishes, the cooking enthusiast set out to use every part of the animal—head to toe. And he documented the process, in which he learned to “connect with where food comes from,” in his new book, Year of the Cow.
Tongue, in homemade lengua tacos, was shared with friends. Bone marrow was roasted in the oven and smeared on toast and served alongside a parsley and shallot salad. Heart was marinated, cooked on a griddle and served to Jared’s wife on Valentine’s Day.
“I thought it’d be thematically appropriate to the holiday. Perhaps it was, but she didn’t find it romantically appropriate. Live and learn,” he chuckles.
The steer he bought yielded 420 pounds of beef. “On the ride home from the ranch, the beef filled a Toyota Prius with just enough room left for a passenger, a camera, a bag of nectarines and a frozen chicken,” says Jared.
Even though there’s a big price tag up front, Jared says the per-pound price is comparable to what you’d buy ground beef for in a supermarket—“only with a whole beef, you get filets, rib eyes and cuts that would otherwise cost much more.”
The beef barely fit into a 14.7-cubic-foot chest freezer. “Frozen in seconds, wrapped tightly, treated gingerly and stored in arctic conditions at all times,” the beef lasted the Stone family (he also has a young son) about four years.
Something else—unexpected—happened as a result of buying the bovine. Eating high-quality beef shed light on all the crap Jared had been eating. He started eating “clean,” running again, got in great shape and was inspired to “make bolder choices and embark on new adventures.” One of them was climbing Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States.
Jared’s Favorite Meat Markets
A connoisseur on what, locally, makes the cut
Jim’s Fallbrook Market
I shop there for a lot of my protein needs, especially pork. I love how knowledgeable the staff is. When you’re buying from a top-quality butcher, that knowledge is really what you’re paying for. And it’s worth it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ve found that butchers appreciate the interest.
Whole Foods Market
I eat almost exclusively grass-fed beef now. Whole Foods carries Hearst Ranch beef, which is another grass-fed producer. They don’t always have tremendous variety, but they do dry age in-house, which I really appreciate. Dry aging concentrates the flavor of the beef and tenderizes it.
Vallarta carries a selection of the offal and variety cuts that might not be found in other shops. Not usually grass fed, but good for finding something out of the ordinary.