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Kitchen Stock | February 2023

Cowboy approved recipes used by our favorite country cooks.

In the kitchen with Blair Caraway of Lexington, Neb.

Tell us about yourself.

"I grew up in central Nebraska where my family was involved in a commercial cow/calf operation and large feedlot. After graduating from college, I met my husband, Jon, we got married, and moved to his ranch in southwest Minnesota. He was taking over the family ranch from his parents who had originally raised Herefords and were now raising registered Red Angus seedstock. We started out with both spring and fall calving herds and offered a limited number of bulls our first few years in his uncle’s production sale. When we had enough numbers, we started having our own sale at our ranch. While we worked to improve our genetics and increase our numbers, both Jon and I worked off the farm. He was fulltime with the Minnesota National Guard, and I worked in commodities. Along with raising quality Red Angus, we now are bringing up our three kids Gabrielle (9), Parker (6), and Meredith (3). In early 2021, an opportunity came up to purchase land in Nebraska near where I grew up and we made the decision to move our family and cattle 400 miles to Dawson County, Nebraska. That year as we finished up calving season, we moved our cows and calves and the rest of the ranch - household, shop, show barn, and equipment to our new home in Lexington. Our kids help with working cattle and are starting to show a few calves and we are looking forward to doing this as a family in the coming years. Jon ranches fulltime and helps with my parents’ cow/calf operation now that he is retired from the military."

What is your favorite cooking tip/trick?

"I meal plan for the week usually on Sunday and try to cook every other night for my family and utilize leftovers into semi-new dishes. An example would be making tacos on Monday and using the leftover meat for quesadillas or nachos on Tuesday. I also like to cook up a bunch of hamburger at one time and then freeze in portions to use in making homemade pizzas, quiche, or other dishes that don’t always require a large amount of meat."

What is your least favorite job in the kitchen?

"Clean up is probably my least favorite job in the kitchen. I am waiting for the day when I know that my kids can help take that over and I don’t have to go back and reclean the kitchen. I am very fortunate that I have a dishwasher now as for the first nine years of my marriage my kitchen was too small to install one."

What is your most requested dish?

"My kids request my meatloaf on a weekly basis, but I try to do it once a month, so they don’t get bored with it. I started with a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, but over the years I have tweaked it to be my own. One thing I do credit her is that I now make my meatloaf on a broiler pan instead of in a loaf pan and it gives the best crispy edge pieces. And if I make meatloaf, they prefer it with my mom’s cheesy potatoes as the side."

Where did you learn to cook?

"My mom is a fantastic cook, and we always had a lot of weekly family meals growing up. She would try new things occasionally, but her classic recipes still are made today and requested now by my kids. Dishes like lasagna, beef stroganoff, or roast in the slow cooker were on repeat in my childhood home. Since I was the oldest, she taught me from an early age what I could help with so that if I was home ahead of her, I could start supper knowing my brother and Dad would be hungry when they arrived home. She is also a fantastic baker, and her love of baking has rubbed off on me. I would honestly rather bake cookies or a cheesecake most days than figure out what to cook for supper. I also enjoyed visiting my grandma who always made sure we had a large home-cooked meal including dessert when we would visit as we rarely would go out to eat when we stopped in to see my grandparents."

Photos courtesy Blair Caraway

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