April 25, 2012 10:45:38 AM
Jan Swoope - email@example.com
Where's the beef? Look no farther than the Lowndes County Cattlemen's Association steak dinner sale Friday and Saturday. The Kroger parking lot on Highway 45 North in Columbus will once again be site of this annual scholarship fundraiser, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
Sixty or more experienced association members will man grills, plate carry-out dinners and serve the public from the Cattlemen's distinctive mobile trailer near the parking lot entrance.
"This is a real value. Everything has gone up, but we've held the price at $10 for a 10-ounce ribeye, baked potato and salad," said Craig Canull, president of the association.
The group sold about 3,200 dinners last year and hopes to cook up at least as many steaks this weekend, rain or shine. With their grill capacity, they could have as many as 300 steaks in progress at one time, said Canull.
This annual beef bonanza is the association's single fundraiser. Proceeds fund scholarships for graduating high school seniors in Lowndes County. (Applications are available at the Lowndes County Extension Office, 318 Seventh St. N., Columbus.)
A new addition to the steak dinner sale this year is a raffle for a whole ribeye, valued at approximately $150-$180. Tickets will be sold for $1 Friday and Saturday, with a drawing late Saturday.
Dollars and sense
Besides providing scholarships -- and a very affordable, protein-rich break from the kitchen -- the association's sale also brings attention to a vital part of Mississippi's agriculture.
Canull said, "Cattle are a big part of the economy of the South." Canull, of Caledonia, is in the trucking business and works in the beef industry.
According to the Mississippi State University Extension Service, the total value of production of cattle and calves in the state exceeded $155 million in 2011
Canull, like several in the association, doesn't currently own cattle, but has related interests.
Others, including longtime Cattlemen's Association member Doug Yelverton, have herds small and large. Yelverton's numbers several hundred head.
Current prices of cattle are up, he said, "but so are the prices of fertilizer, diesel fuel, and all those input costs."
As everywhere else, cattle operations feel the impact of rising fuel costs.
"You're out there clipping your pasture with your tractor, putting up hay, shipping cattle, and just general use of your pickup; it's definitely affected it," said the cattleman.
To support each other and the industry, the Cattlemen's Association meets several times yearly, hosting informative speakers on everything from vaccines to minerals at their "eating meetings."
"We'll also usually have an Extension beef specialist come every year, and we've had an agronomist, too, to talk about pastures," Yelverton said.
Association members come from all backgrounds but share a common goal: to promote Mississippi's beef industry and provide a voice for its interests and sustainability. Anyone who supports the beef industry is encouraged to join, including affiliate members such as commercial businesses and banks.
"We hope everybody will come out and support the sale," encouraged Canull. "It's hard to find a 10-ounce steak, potato and salad for $10 anywhere."
Enjoy today's recipes from the Mississippi Beef Council -- and let the Lowndes County Cattlemen "do the cookin'" this weekend.
ITALIAN BEEF AND CHEESE CALZONE
Makes 4 serving
Total time: 50-60 minutes
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with onions, drained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 package (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust dough
WITH FRESH TOMATO TAPENADE
Makes 2-4 servings
Total time: 21-24 minutes
2 beef ribeye steaks, cut 1-inch thick (about 12 ounces each)
2 teaspoons course ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
For tomato tapenade:
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 can (2 1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Makes 4-6 servings
Total time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1 to 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (5.5-8 ounces) mushroom or cheese risotto mix
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.