For the month of April every Friday we are going to highlight a Mom from around the country who will share how they cook with Beef on a Budget everyday for their families. Hope you enjoy learning from women with diverse lifestyle and heritage!

Have a great weekend everyone!

~Anna-Lisa  & Amy

Q&A with Libby Rader-Kassik

BB: Tell us about yourself and where you live

LRK: I’m Anna-Lisa’s Aunt Libby and share Anna’s home town and a very similar heritage.  I think it is really neat the way you girls are keeping true to your cultural roots and cooking traditional foods.  Anna and I live in a very unique part of the country that has a very colorful history.  We are in the heart of the Mother Lode of the California’s 1850’s gold rush.  While it is a melting pot of nearly every nationality from around the globe the Swiss Italians have a very strong influence in our county especially in the cooking of this area.  Most of the old ranching families of this area can trace their roots back to those Swiss Italian immigrants and those that can’t still have old family recipes that they learned from their Italian neighbors.  Many of the towns have old Italian style restaurants which specialize in the Northern style of cooking which is different from the more common Mediterranean Italian style.  I too, am fortunate enough to trace my roots back to those gold seeking Swiss Italians and have many fond memories of my Grandma Annie’s wonderful cooking.  When I think of her cooking she (and the others of her generation) were the ultimate beef on a budget cooks!  They learned how to cook from their mothers who survived the hardships of cooking for their families in the hard mining camps and then they honed their cooking skills cooking for their families during the farming depression of the 1920’s followed by the great depression of the 30’s.  They knew how to cook a meal from nothing!  The main ingredients that Grandma Annie used are garlic, sweet red onions, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, parsley and tomatoes.  All grown fresh in her garden.

Unfortunately I don’t cook many of grandma’s traditional recipes because while the are great and cheap they are very time consuming.  I’m more involved with the raising of the beef than in the cooking of the beef.  So I’m much more interested in Budget Beef in a Hurry!


BB:  How many kids do you have

LRK: One, Coleman Kassik he is 16.

BB: How often do you cook with Beef

LRK: 4 to 5 X week

BB:  Did you grow up eating Beef

LRK: Yes

BB:  What advice do have for other mothers about how to adjust their grocery budget to incorporate using more beef

LRK: Use round steak.  Marinade it if you want to BBQ and be very carful not to overcook! Pound it and make chicken fried steak. Slice it thin and make stir fry. Cook it slow  in tomato sauce and mushrooms to make Swiss steak. 

BB:  What cut do you most often use and what cut do you struggle with most

LRK: I struggle with the chuck and short ribs.  I use hamburger the most because that is what we have the most of.  I make tacos too many times because they are so quick.

BB:  Would you please share your favorite beef recipe that you make regularly for your family

LRK: Basic stew
like my Grandmother Annie use to make!

2# stew meat

1 sweet red onion chopped course

1 small head garlic peeled leave cloves whole

1 qt stewed tomatoes (I can my own w/ garlic and wax peppers or you can use Italian stewed)

3 – 4 carrots cut in 1 inch slices

3-4 potato cut into quarters

In a heavy 5 qt pot, salt and pepper meat and brown well in olive oil. If you want you can also add other herbs like thyme or rosemary or marjoram.  Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft.  Add tomatoes and enough water to fill pot to about 1/2 full. Cover and cook at a slow boil until liquid is reduced by about 1/2.  Add carrots and potatoes and cook until done. Serve with Sourdough bread.  You can also use lamb or venison.

This takes a couple hours so it usually is saved for rainy days.

Total Cost:
2 lbs stew meat $7.10
1 sweet red onion – $0.68
1 small head garlic – $0.60
1 qt stewed tomatoes $1.88
3 – 4 carrots cut in 1 inch slices $1.00
3-4 potato cut into quarters $2.00
Total Cost $13.26 (Serves 6)
Cost per plate $2.21