Guess how many pictures I took this weekend?  If you guessed 405 you’d be right – gah!  Gotta love digital photography and iPhones!

Because I have so many pictures to share, I am going to be breaking down my Beef Weekend into five pieces – each day you’ll get to see a bit more of my weekend and I’ll do a final recap on Friday.  Thanks again to The Beef Checkoff for hosting and inviting me to this event.

The premise of this whole weekend was to showcase the benefits of beef in a healthy living diet.  The motto was “celebrating food for simple, strong and better living.”


Not only are there 29 cuts of lean beef, but some cuts of beef are as lean as a skinless chicken thigh!  Do you remember the Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner Commercials?


Being from the Midwest, I grew up on beef.   One thing that my grandpa always instilled in my Mom was good food.  I remember having steak at least once a week – asking for the fatty side (yum!) and my Dad buttering up some bread and soaking the bread in the steak juice.  We also made my Dad fix our baked potatoes – it was just butter, salt and pepper, but he would fluff up the baked potatoes and it just made it taste better!

And since being with Tony, I have definitely expanded my horizons, not only on different cuts of meat, but learning how to grill.  I think before I met Tony I might have grilled once or twice a year – now during the summer months, I probably grill just about every night.

Here are just a few of my favorite beef recipes:

My favorite beef marinade:

Classic Chicago Style Beef:

Italian Sunday Gravy:

So I had the whole day off from work on Friday.  Um, let’s just say I could get used to that!  I woke up at 8:30, still had time to run errands, return my books to the library on time which never happens and went thrifting.  My train was at 12:18, which got me downtown at 1:30 – no express trains during the day.

Thankfully it was just overcast and not raining.  I had a mile walk from the train station to the hotel.

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The last law firm I worked at in Chicago was on north Michigan avenue.  I would leave my house at 7:00 to drive to the train, park the car, ride the train to Chicago, then I would have to either walk a mile to my office, or from April through October I could take a water taxi (that yellow water taxi in the picture above) to Michigan avenue, then walk 7 blocks to my office, where I would finally sit down to work 2 hours after I left my house!

The Wit Hotel is right past the Chicago Theater – you can kind of see the hotel behind the L tracks.

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Fascinating design, soaring 27 stories up, with panoramic views of the City, Lake Michigan, Chicago River and Millennium Park.

Once at the front desk I was greeted with a warm chocolate chip cookie:

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In order to use the elevator to get to my floor, I had to put my room key in a slot in the elevator before it would go to the 20th floor.  The first five floors are open to the public.

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The view from my room:

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The rooms were really nice too – I had a 42 inch flat screen t.v.!

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How cool is this phone?!  I never used it, but I loved that it had my name on it. Open-mouthed smile

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I realized I still had enough time to squeeze in a quick workout before our event started at 4:00.  I changed my clothes and headed down to the 5th floor.  I watched field hockey (how cool is that Jacky!) and the view over State street isn’t too bad.

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I was just passing 30 minutes when my daughter called me.  She wanted to know where the hotel was at, and when I told her it was at State and Lake street, she came over to say hi after her work shift ended – just a quick 5 minute train ride!

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I went down to the lobby to bring Hannah up, and she hung out while I showered and got ready.  I bought this top for $2 at the thrift store I went to Friday morning – I think its cute!

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And before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to Hannah – thanks again for stopping by – not sure why I never thought of it, but glad you did!

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And Peggy realized on Facebook when I posted this to the Healthy for the Holidays page that this is in fact a record – FOUR weekends in a row wearing makeup and putting my hair down!

We met on the 2nd floor for the first part of our event.  A meet and greet with wine and appetizers.  I didn’t see many appetizers going around – I had a thai beef appetizer on a rice cake which was good, the picture sucked ass though!

Plenty of wine!  I had white to start the night, knowing I was going to switch to red with the meat I’d be having later that night.

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This part of the hotel was very uniquely decorated – they had photos of people but made it look like books!  I actually don’t know who that is next to Joan Rivers – anyone know?

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We then met Anne Burkholder – who is a Cattle Feedyard and Farming Operator with her 11 year old daughter Megan.

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She has a blog if you want to check out her life on the farm.  She talked about how she promotes beef farmer education in cattle care and food safety.  Once they go to the processing plant, the beef is graded by the USDA and then ages, gets packaged and from there will hit our grocery stores anywhere from 2-3 weeks after the animal was killed.  She’s even worked with Dr. Temple Grandin – have you seen that movie with Claire Danes?

Here is an excerpt from Anne’s blog – someone asked if the cattle knew they were about to be killed, but she said that cattle have no sense of the future, that they live in the “now.” 

I have toured National’s plant and personally watched the process of cattle being unloaded from the truck and then taken into the packing plant for harvest. Watching animals die is never a “pretty picture”, but I do believe that the animals’ death is quick and as humane as possible.  The cattle are taken up onto a moving conveyor and stunned prior to the throat slitting process.  Proper stunning ensures that the animal does not feel pain.  As I watched the cattle move from outdoors and into the packing plant, they moved calmly and showed no sign of distress.  The entire process lasts only a few seconds and it was clear to me that the animals did not suffer.  Dr. Temple Grandin has done an amazing job of improving the care/handling of cattle at the packing plant level of beef production. Most, if not all, of the big packing plants have consulted with Dr. Grandin to ensure that their facilities and their employees understand how to handle and move cattle.

You can get even more insight to how seriously she takes her job in this video.  It was very informative, and I liked that her daughter talked about her life on the ranch as well.


So that’s Part I of V on my Chicago trip!  It literally lasted only 24 hours, but I still have a lot to show you – up tomorrow is our progressive dinner that started at Sable Kitchen. 

And it can’t be a Biz post without some food porn.  I asked Tony what he wanted for his football food – he thought for a second and said “how about nachos!”  So I made taco nachos.  Homemade corn tortilla chips, ground beef with taco seasoning, black beans, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and on mine a bit of sour cream and sliced jalapenos.  I had the will power to only eat two of these – I could have eaten about 10 more!

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Well, turns out I am glad I only ate two of those nacho tacos, because when I went to the grocery store, tomatillos were still on sale so I had to make some more of my tomatillo salsa – I added a couple more cloves of garlic to this batch.  I may have had a few chips and salsa!

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I am making breakfast tacos this morning for breakfast, so this salsa will be perfect on them. Open-mouthed smile

I have no nutrition stats for the weekend – no way I could keep track of all the licks, tastes, and sips of wine.  But it’s a new day, a new week and I will get back on track.  It’s all about moderation, isn’t it? 

My Healthy for the Holidays Facebook page is now up to 93 participants!  I love how active people are, meal planning, sharing ideas – love it.  Not too late to join – just friend request me at Beth Hills Velatini and I’ll add you to the group.

Make it a great day!