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Monday, February 23, 2015

Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast

When I wasn't huddled around the heater trying to stay warm out here on the arctic plains this past weekend, I was catching up on my Pinterest recipe collection and cooking. I stumbled across what may be my FAVORITE beef roast recipe. Bonus: it called for ingredients I already had on hand and was super easy.

Buzzard's Crockpot Balsamic Beef Roast

2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
~ 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tbsp soy sauce
~ 2 tbsp honey
~ 1 tsp red pepper flakes
~ 4 cloves garlic, chopped

Assemble all of your ingredients, including a beef roast. The amount of marinade will work for a roast up to 3-4 pounds.
Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast
Gather your ingredients

Mix together all of your ingredients. Place beef roast in your Crockpot and pour mixture over the beef. Our roast was about 1.25-1.5 pounds and it was the perfect medium-rare doneness after about 2 hours on high. If you have a larger roast (3-4) pounds, you could do 4 hours on high or probably 6 hours on low.

Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast
Pour the ingredient mixture onto your roast. Look at all that garlic, yum!
When done, place beef roast in a serving dish and spoon gravy and beef bits over the meat to moisten and infuse with deliciousness.

Hunk of Meat Monday: Balsamic Beef Roast
Robust flavor and so very delicious!
Please, for the sake of all things holy, don't cook your beef to well-done! You only need to cook the roast to 145F!

If you try this one out, let me know how you liked it. We LOVED it - the flavor was robust and the roast stayed very moist. This will definitely be a repeat in our house.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Friday, February 20, 2015

I'm Not a Runner

Snowy road in Kansas
 Kansas is pretty even when it's freezing and snowy!
My running path on Monday - it has since snowed two more inches.
I read a lot of news and while skimming for beef related articles, I come across a lot of health related news as well. And as someone who has initiated a lifestyle change, it's hard not to be drawn to these kinds of articles:
- 7 Things Runners Do On Long Runs (But Probably Won't Admit)
- 10 Running Goals You Should Make for 2015
- Do you give things up during #Lent? As #runners, here are some things we should never sacrifice
- 5 Core Workouts for Runners 

These pieces all have great tips for runners.

Keyword: runners.

Key note: I don't really consider myself a runner.

I feel very cocky when I utter the words "I'm a runner" and I feel super awkward when someone calls me one. This doesn't mean that I think those folks who say, "I'm a runner" are cocky, I'm just describing how I feel.

Cold? Run anyway.
The thing is that I feel like throwing the word "runner" around indicates that I do this for a living. Similar to people who say that they're writers, engineers or teachers. I feel like saying "I'm a runner" elevates me to a new level of professionalism and I definitely don't feel like a professional. Especially when I'm not breaking any speed barriers or winning half-marathons.

However, in the course of a week (2/15-2/21) I will have ran five times for a total of 20 miles and all of it in below-freezing weather. So maybe I am a runner after all, because a big part of running, training and racing is just getting out there and DOING IT. Nike is right, just doing it is a big accomplishment. There is no shortage of runners in the spring, summer and fall when the temperatures are warmer (although I despise hot weather more than freezing) but there are not near as many folks pounding the pavement/gravel when the ground is covered in snow and the wind is howling. So I guess Just Doing It is the qualifier for being a runner.

Just the thoughts of a "runner" who is FREEZING out here on the Kansas tundra prairie and really wishing for the temperature to get above 40°F for several days in a row.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

* If you are wanting to train for a half-marathon and are looking for a training schedule, check out the Hal Higdon's programs. This is the one I'm using for my next race.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'm Pretty Good At This, But I Pretty Much Hate It

Running shoes on gravel road
I'm not one for selfies - I'd rather be in group photos so here are my lovely kicks.
I ran long distances in middle and high school and I was pretty good at it.

Let's not confuse the above statement for "I love running" because that is inaccurate.

Being good at something doesn't necessarily mean you love it, which is why after I graduated high school I stopped running long distances for an entire decade.

Fast-forward to 2014 and a lifestyle that no longer had me riding two horses a day, practicing for basketball/volleyball/track/cheerleading/roping, walking all over campus or working 20 hours a week doing manual labor at a nursery (that's a tree nursery, not a kid one) and Buzzard was looking kind of frumpy. Picture that - a frumpy Buzzard.

I have some really smart, beautiful and talented friends who run and one of them, Kylee, unintentionally motivated me to run a half marathon. I don't think that was her intent but, if so, bravo to her because it got me off the couch, out of my office and onto the [gravel] roads of Kansas. I signed up for my first half marathon, the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo on April 27, 2014, and the next step was to find a training program. I'm a big fan of Hal Higdon's programs - he'll whip you into shape and you won't even realize how hard you're working because it's gradual and planned. There's even an app for that!

Out into the wild I went, pounding the gravel in my Nike Free 5.0 runners.* I ran four times a week and finished well under my goal time of 2:11:00 (10 min/mile). After that emotional high of, "Holy crap I ran a half marathon" I signed up for another and ran the Sioux Falls Half Marathon with my close pal Becca and we both finished under 2:00 (new PR!). I started training for my third race that was to take place two days after Christmas but then I was an idiot and went skiing two weeks before the race. I played softball for 12 years and have bad knees - skiing is not such a great idea for me. My idiocy forced me not to run that race but since I am adamantly opposed to buying larger pants, I have recently started training for another race.

So I told you all of that nonsense to tell you this: I don't like running. What I do like is how I look when I'm in shape (bikini season is coming). Additionally, and probably most importantly, is my extreme love for food and equally as strong lack of moderation. I like ice cream. And donuts. And cookies. And Cheetos (crunchy, of course). And a whole lot of unhealthy fried things. Basically, I love carbs.

In short, I run to look good and eat whatever the hell I want. So if you see me chowing down on a chicken fried steak covered in gravy, it's probably because I ran 7+ miles that day and dammit, I earned it. Also, if I'm being honest, I'm very competitive and running allows me to set a goal and then exceed it. That gives me a "competitor's high."

Over the next ten weeks, I'll be posting my training schedule and, more than likely, food patterns for my next race in April, the Garmin Half Marathon in KC. I'm running it with my good friend Kelly and she too will be blogging about her training. Even though we are training for the same race, the posts will be different because we are different people with different food interests and goals.

The whole point of this post is that people run for different reasons -- their heart health, their body image, to eat what they want, to clear their head, to listen to their favorite tunes for hours on end, etc. Regardless of why people do it, the point is that we are all running the same race but for different reasons. And that's something to be celebrated.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

*Don't run long distances in Nikes. My chiropractor calls them sandals, so that should be your indication of how supportive Nikes are when running more than 10 miles on a regular basis. I was at the point where I could barely walk but for some reason, I kept running. Use your head, people. Invest in good running shoes. The cost of the shoes will be offset by the money you'll save from NOT going to the chiropractor twice a week.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Every Day is Kansas Day for Kansans

Old and new wind energy on the plains
New and old wind energy peppers the plains of beautiful Kansas
Whoopee - it's Kansas Day! And this born and bred native is going to take advantage of the opportunity to brag on my home state.

For those of you who don't live in The Wheat State, we joined the Union on January 29, 1861 as a free state after a lot of violence and chaos with neighboring Missouri. And every year, I get super jacked up to celebrate the birthday of this fantastic state I love. I've actually sort of been celebrating this whole week of Kansas' birthday, because honestly, every day is Kansas day for Kansans. That's just how much we love it here.

The sun and the moon both visible on the plains of Kansas
I think it takes a special kind of person to love and appreciate Kansas. Rolling hills covered in native grasses, wide open skies, roaming buffalo, spastic weather and the completely enthralling feeling of being able to see a vast nothingness for miles are just a few of the exceptional facets Kansas has to offer.  
Hay seasonWindmill during a sunset in Kansas
I love everything about this place: the emptiness, the scenery and, most importantly, the cathartic feeling of inhaling two-lungs worth of fresh, wild air that is untouched by the side effects of a metropolis. I love this land so much I have permanently altered my body to reflect my Kansas roots.
Cattle race across the plains before a summer storm in Kansas
I know I'm not the only prairie dweller to experience these feelings. I have friends in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Oklahoma who feel the same way about their home states as well. We aren't crazy for preferring the vast emptiness of the plains over the hustle and bustle of the city - we're just a different breed of people. And, as we all know, the world needs all kinds of kinds.
Kansas plains
So here's to you ole girl. May your Flint Hills remain inhabited by bison, your winds blow strong and uninhibited by skyscrapers and your heritage continue to be rooted firmly in wheat and beef.
Kansas is the centerpiece on our mantle right now - a gorgeous silver sunflower platter.
Always a Kansan,
~ Buzzard ~

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

FroBuzz Goes to the Yak Show

Who else can say they spent their four year anniversary at a yak show?!
The National Western Stock Show just wrapped a few days ago - it's a great experience for anyone who loves livestock, rodeo, fun times and no humidity. Just be sure to bring your chapstick and your party pants.

I hadn't been to the National Western in five years but was stoked to make the trek this year because the Ninja was judging the International Yak Association (IYAK) show. 

This also happened in conjunction with our wedding anniversary, which I talked about last week. So our anniversary weekend was spent strolling through the stockyards, judging the show (him) and taking pictures of yaks during the pen show and the halter show (me).

Yaks are multipurpose animals - they produce fiber and meat. They originally are from Tibet so many of the breeders will sell or feature Tibetan clothing or accessories made from yak fiber. I got to try yak meat while I was there - yakburgers, yak sticks (similar to a pepperoni stick) and yak jerky. All three were delicious and very lean. Yak burgers are 93/7 meaning they are 93% lean and 7% fat - this is the same lean to fat ratio as 93/7 ground beef so if you are looking for a ground beef alternative, here ya go!

A lot of people have asked how a yak is evaluated and at this show they were judged on their fiber and on their conformation and muscling. The Ninja judged on the latter and there was another judge present to judge the crimp of the fiber; it's very similar to wool judging. I know the Ninja put a lot of emphasis on structure and function, which is similar to what he does with other livestock species in market shows.

Champion Senior Showman

Champion Outfitter

One of the yak champs

Congratulating the Reserve Champion female

A yak escaped but never fear, the Ninja is here!

Evaluating the fuzzy yaks!

No caption does this photo justice - just enjoy!
This whole experience was completely outside the realm of anything I had ever experienced before. Yaks aren't an overly common livestock animal in southeastern Kansas, where I grew up. But I learned a lot about yaks, their fiber and yak meat production. All the producers and ranchers we met were super friendly and willing to go out of their way to accommodate us.

If you want to learn more about yak production in the United States, you can visit their website. Next time you're in Denver, go to the yak show during the second weekend of the National Western.  You won't be disappointed!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Four Years of Fighting

Thrilled to be on this journey of a lifetime with the Ninja.
Photo courtesy: LaBrisa Photography
Two [trailer] houses. A totaled car. Burst pipes. Two weddings. Four Ohio State fairs. Two Masters of Science degrees. A shattered crockpot filled with gravy. Zero babies. Most of a PhD in Animal Science.

Believe it or not, we have shoved all of those amazing experiences into 1,460 wedded-days full of celebrating, accepting, loving, fighting, laughing, compromising, competing, stressing, [blatant] honesty and joy. Today, I reflect on one of the most important items in that list: fighting.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, "Marriage is one long conversation chequered by disputes."

Accurate, Mr. Stevenson.

It's truth time, peeps. Here are the many ways we fight in marriage.

- With each other

This is the obvious one. For those of you who aren't married, take it from me. The arguments don't stop once you say 'I do.' Little things like taking out the garbage can, under the wrong circumstances, yield just as big of an argument as the decision as when to buy a house. God made us all differently, which means that we all have varying opinions and when thrown into a small space with another human, we inevitably will have disagreements. But how you handle these disagreements will be the true test of your relationship. Can you learn to compromise and move on together? Or will you fail to learn from past experiences and let resentment fester? The choice is, as cliché as it sounds, up to you.

Let's not forget, that arguments are a form of communication. And if you aren't communicating, it's going to be hard to plan your life, make decisions, move forward and grow. So it's ok to get in a heated discussion about when the next chapter of your life will start or how many candles you need in your house or what brand of salsa to buy. But let's just try to keep it civil, people. Above the belt and no snarky comments that can seriously cause damage to your relationship. That whole "sticks and stones may break my bones" shtick is a crock of Crisco. Words can, and do, hurt - so be nice and play fair.

- With ourselves.

You might wonder how I fight with myself in my marriage. And, building upon that, how does winning a fight against myself help my marriage?

I'm a competitive person and I like to have the last word. I especially love to have the last word when I'm right and someone else is wrong. All of these compounded together can make me an especially unpleasant person in the heat of an argument. It's a constant struggle for me to beat back my snarky side when I desire to make a point, and instead let the sweeter voice of reason win, hence allowing peace to come to our humble little trailer.

By fighting with my inner demon, and winning, I am making a conscious effort to be the best version of myself that I can be for the sake of my marriage and my personal wellbeing.

- For each other.

This is the most important fight you will have in your marriage. No I am not talking about throwing punches in honor of your betrothed - although I would not hesitate to do so if provoked. I am talking about a spiritual and emotional fight for each other.

There is a huge enemy to your marriage and his name is Satan. The enemy will fight to plant doubts and fears in your marriage. The enemy will make you think that one disagreement is a sign to end your commitment. The enemy will tempt you and your spouse with other men and women, with ideas of "bigger and better." Ignore that bastard, link arms with your spouse, get down on your knees and work together towards a strong marriage that is rooted in faith and prayer. If you don't fight for each other and put each other first, no one is going to do it for you. It's up to you and your partner to find strength in your faith and make the commitment to work through the crappy days and relish the exciting ones.

As I've mentioned before, marriage is far from easy. It's the most challenging, yet most rewarding, endeavor I've ever undertaken and is equally as frightening as it is enthralling. A loving, gratifying marriage is worth fighting for but both people have to be engaged in the fight. I am a firm believer that a few bad fights are the fee you pay for the most exhilarating experience of your life. Suck it up folks, make some sacrifices in order for a lifetime of happiness with the one you love.

Alright, here's where you come in - do you think I'm completely off-base? What are your thoughts on marriage and making it last?

Until next time
~ Buzzard ~

p.s. I want to stress the "zero babies" part of this blog post. The eggo is not preggo. That is all.

The Ninja did not contribute to this blog post but he did review and edit so anything embarrassing has been approved.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: My Favorite Rodeo Pictures

There's a picture challenge going around on Facebook to share your five favorite horse/rodeo pics. My boo Michelle tagged me to do it but I ended up sharing seven because it was too hard to narrow it down and if I only did five then barrel racing and goat tying were going to be left out! I posted it on Facebook so I'll post it here too!

Goat tying at Hays, KS
Tying goats at the Hays college rodeo on Michelle's awesome steed, Stitch. Muddy as all get-out.
Barrel racing at Ottawa, KS high school rodeo
The horse that helped me make my comeback into rodeo after a 5 year hiatus - Ace
Breakaway roping at Colby, KS
My first college rodeo as a Wildcat - made the short round at Colby and broke the barrier (surprise).
Breakaway roping at Alva, OK
NWOSU college rodeo in Alva, OK.
I worked my ass off for two years at Fort Scott Community College - practicing six days a week, shredding straw bales and running thousands of miles down the road - so I could step up my game and be competitive with the great ropers in the Central Plains region. Under the guidance and coaching of Chad Cross and Larry Irish, it worked! I was a FSCC Greyhound before I was a Wildcat and I am forever grateful to my coaches for all they did for me and Doc!
Breakaway roping at Pratt, KS
Good Lord, he was an amazing horse. Doc is a pasture pet now, until we have kids.
Breakaway roping at Pratt, KS
Short-round at Pratt Community College rodeo. Won the long round and finished third in the average (broke the barrier again - surprise).
Breakaway roping at Hays, KS
Hays College Rodeo - probably my favorite picture of Doc and I. This one hangs in my office and he hangs out in the barn
What are some of your favorite rodeo and horse memories? Have you shared something similar on your Facebook page or blog? Leave the link in the comments below!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

photo credits from top to bottom: Dale Hirschman, Kent Kerschner, JJJ Photo, Dale Hirschman (4x)