5 autographed copies will be given away on Friday, June 19, 2015.
After realizing he knew more about the television on his wall than the food on his plate, award-winning TV producer and amateur chef Jared Stone buys 420 pounds of beef directly from a rancher and embarks on a hilarious and inspiring culinary adventure. With the help of an incredibly supportive wife and a cadre of highly amused friends, Jared offers a glimpse at one man’s family as they try to learn about their food and ask themselves what’s really for dinner.
The new book “Year of the Cow” follows the trials and tribulations of a home cook as he begins to form a deeper relationship with food and the environment. He decides to go beyond Whole Foods, growing vegetables in the backyard and local sourcing. From meeting the rancher who raised his grass-fed cow to learning how to successfully pack a freezer with cow parts, Stone gets to know his bovine and delves into our diets and eating habits, examining the ethnography of cattle, how previous generations ate, why environmentalists and real food aficionados are mad for grass-fed beef, why certain cuts of beef tend to end up on our plates (while boldly experimenting with the ones that don’t), and much more.
Over the course of dozens of nose-to-tail meals, Jared cooks his way through his cow armed with a pioneering spirit and a good sense of humor. He becomes more mindful of his diet, makes changes to his lifestyle, and bravely confronts challenges he never expected—like how to dry beef jerky without attracting the neighborhood wildlife to the backyard, and how to find deliciousness in the less-common cuts of meat like the tongue and heart—sharing a recipe at the end of each chapter.
By examining the food that fuels his life and pondering why we eat the way we do, Jared and his family slowly discover to how live a life more fully—and experience a world of culinary adventures along the way.
Exclusive interview with the author:
1) What inspired you to write this book?
One Saturday afternoon, I was watching a hybrid travel/food show on television. I have a film degree and a career in television, and I know a fair bit about the process of turning pixels into pictures. It occurred to me that I knew more about the television in my living room than the food that I eat – the stuff that actually, eventually, makes up my body. I knew more about my tv than I did about the stuff that actually becomes me. And I found that ridiculous.
To rectify the situation, I bought an entire cow from a rancher in northern California. And I resolved to make the best use of every part of the animal that I possibly could. Learning what each cut does anatomically, what that means to the cooking process, how to cook it in the best way possible, and how to get really good at it.
What I never anticipated, however, how much this would change me.
2) What was your favorite part about researching this book? And least favorite?
The best thing about researching this book was the adventure of the endeavor. I got to cook a lot of really complex, unusual, interesting meals, share them with friends, evaluate them, and then try again another time, incorporating what I learned. I got to eat like a king for a living, and gained an enormous amount of skills in the process.
My least favorite aspect of research for the book is that for some of these cuts, I only had one or two of them on the entire animal. The pressure was intense to get them right on the first try, as I wouldn’t have many chances to try again. For example, if I screw up and botch cooking the tongue – that’s that. Cows only have one tongue.
As a result, I was incredibly reluctant to cook these rare cuts, and in some cases required more than a little good-natured prodding from my wife to get me to finally accept that I’d done enough research, and that it was now time to cook. And let the chips fall where they may.
3) If Oprah invited you on her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?
How to make the most out of a life. In the beginning of the project, that life was the grass-fed steer that died to feed my family – how could I make the most of that sacrifice, and cook beautiful interesting meals?
Toward the end, however, the focus shifted to the lives those meals enabled: my life, and those of my family. What does it mean to make the most of a life, and how can I make the most of mine?
I never expected to ask that question. But I’m tremendously glad I did.
4) If you weren’t a writer, what job would you like to try out?
All of them.
Seriously. My interests are wide and varied and intense and seemingly mutually exclusive. I entered college as a theatre and physics major, changed to psychology and computer science, before finally settling on film and anthropology. I want to do everything, learn every language, go everywhere, and try it all.
Thankfully, writing lets me scratch a lot of those itches. If I weren’t a writer, I’d probably be an unemployed vagabond drifting from town to town, occupation to occupation, always chasing the next heady experience. Who knows, I still might.
5) What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer?
Do it a lot, no matter what, and don’t ever quit.
The romantic notion of writing is that it’s a lone genius in a room, struck by a flash of inspiration, and then the words pour out. While it’s delightful when that happens, it’s also rare. More often it’s ass-in-chair, get some words on the page, and don’t let anything or anybody stop you.
Odds are good, that first draft will suck. That’s normal. Let it suck. That first draft is clay on the table. That’s the stuff you start to work with, not the piece you place in the museum. Get the clay on the table, take a couple days off, and then look at it again. You’ll see what’s good and what’s bad – what you can fix, and what you should trash.
But don’t quit. Don’t get lazy, and don’t get demoralized. Get a schedule and stick to it. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. But it’s a marathon with an uncertain end, an indeterminate number of spectators, an unlimited number of attempts, no set course, and you’re running it simply because you, personally, have decided you have no other choice.
Ready, set, go.
About the author:
Jared Stone is an award-winning television producer who won an Emmy in 2013 for his work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He has worked with several major television networks including ABC, NBC, Fox, The CW, National Geographic, and many others. “Year of the Cow” is his first book. Stone lives with his family in Los Angeles. Visit Jared online at YearOfTheCow.com.
5 autographed copies will be given away on Friday, June 19, 2015.
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