The daily routine of my household consists of busy schedules that revolve around work, school, sports, fitness, and social activities. With the exception of Sunday dinners and special occasions, most meals are grabbed quickly and serve the exclusive purpose of providing our bodies with energy. Our lifestyle is fairly typical of many city-dwelling families, yet quite contradictory of the lifestyle I led when I was an integral part of a very traditional Western working cattle ranch.
The extreme differences of city versus rural living are very evident to me, mainly because I was raised in a large metropolitan city. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I spent 8 years on a rural working cattle ranch in Southwestern Idaho. My life revolved around hard work, cooking and entertaining. The isolation of the ranch forced me to quickly develop better culinary skills. Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food and Wine, the Williams and Sonoma Catalog (the internet was just taking off), and the classic cookbooks became my teachers. My lists for the grocery store and local produce market were carefully organized to ensure that I had the necessary ingredients to last an entire week. Breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper became events- they were a time for conversation that usually revolved around the day’s activities. When guests visited, I spent hours preparing meals so as to acknowledge the effort they made in traveling to the ranch. I quickly learned that while cities have an innate ability to entertain visitors, rural living teaches you to share and have pride in the more simple things, including the gift of a truly homemade meal.
Yesterday, while the majority of American households were fortuitous to enjoy a large turkey dinner with extended family and friends, my immediate family was celebrating the holiday with our own unique traditions. We choose to go to Payette Lake, away from distractions of our daily life, and enjoy each other’s company in the pristine mountains of Idaho. Also, Thanksgiving turkey has gone by the wayside. My addition to the family has transformed my husband’s children into emerging beef aficionados. They specially request the cap of ribeye, nicknamed by some as beef butter or beef caviar due to its richness and exclusivity. This cut is difficult to find because it must be removed from a prime rib, but luckily I have my connections! Our non-traditional holiday might be different than the norm, but it shares some similarities with the traditional Western lifestyle I very much enjoyed. It is our time to enjoy together without external distraction. For a few short winter days, our kitchen becomes a central hub of activity and I am able to brush off my culinary skills and once again share the gift of cooking with those I care about.