The Very First Post I Ever Wrote.
How to Grind Beef.

I have made a spectacularly inspired and spur of the moment decision to take a week off to clean up this wreck of a house of mine before autumn hits.

The only way I was able to do this was to not post for a week.  But that made me sad.

So what I’ve done is quite clever I think.  For the next 4 days I’m going to be posting the first 4 posts I wrote for The Art of Doing Stuff.


I have no idea what led me to the decision that grinding up meat was a perfect first post.  I’m not saying it isn’t … I’m just not sure what led me to believe that THAT was the post to start with on The Art of Doing Stuff, but I think it’s a pretty good representation of what I wanted the site to be and what it eventually did become.

A place for criminals to exchange ethically questionable ideas in a safe and loving environment.

Err, no.

A place for people to learn stuff and be entertained at the same time.  If you don’t care about what I’m doing, chances are you’ll still be entertained by it.  And if you don’t find a post particularly entertaining, I bet it’s because you were so absorbed by how fantastically educational it was.

The one thing, above all else I pride myself and this website on is the fact that I do not recommend anything I haven’t tried myself.  Repeatedly.  I don’t every use the phrases, “I’ve heard”, “I think”, “I once read on the Internet …”.  I particularly hate that last one because as we all know, the Internet is … A BIG FAT LIAR.

It’s appropriate too, I think, that the fella was also in my very first post.  I didn’t realize at the time how big a part of this blog he would become.

The post focuses on our food and where it comes from.  It seems not much has changed in the past 2 ½ years other than my hair and the horrifying development of back fat.

My very first ever blog post, dated March 1st, 2010.

Enjoy …


Originally posted

March 1, 2010

I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie Food Inc., but the other night my fella and I sat down to watch it. If you don’t know what it’s about let me give you a quick synopsis. The documentary revolves around where our food comes from. Apparently it comes from the bowels of the American government and the dirty old intestines of business.

I know! I had no idea either. I thought it came from a farm.  And a pretty one too, with prancing kittens and cows that smile.  The movie takes you on an in depth discovery of how, as North Americans our food rarely comes from a wholesome, windswept farm.  And industries don’t care quite as much about the food we eat as an overall wearing, straw hat donning farmer.

Food is a business that corporations want to make a profit from. How do you make a profit? By producing food faster, bigger and cheaper. This is done with antibiotics, hormones, engineered feed for the animals and packing as many of them into as small a space as possible. The same way Chinese gymnasts are produced.   The point of the film is to get you thinking about where your food comes from and what you can do about it.

Now, I’m freakishly suggestible with food at the best of times. You know when you’re walking along, minding your own business and you suddenly smell a French fry? And then you must eat French fries? I pretty much do that with everything. During the whole Olympics this year every time I saw a Union Jack I’d start gazing off into the distance with my tongue hanging out thinking about Yorkshire Pudding (Martha Stewart’s recipe for this is the very best by the way).

So when we sat down side by side on the couch, and started up this movie I knew I was in trouble. And not just because the large man beside me  had recently finished a stew dinner and was conspicuously draping himself in his “toot muffler” blanket. Uch.

We were smart enough not to watch this movie with a lap full of Chicken McNuggets and special sauce but even with a bowl of Crispers it was enough to make us a bit gaggy. I was in trouble because I knew this movie was going to change my life and I didn’t necessarily want it to. I didn’t want to know where my meat came from, I didn’t want to see the torture and I didn’t want to possibly be put off hamburgers for the rest of my life. Hamburgers are fantastic little creatures that even taste good when they’re terrible. But I did watch the movie and it did change my life.

the grease is what makes it good

BECAUSE NOW I MAKE THE MOST DELICIOUS HAMBURGERS EVER!  I mean, there’s all kinds of other great take away notions in the movie, but for here and now I want to tell  you about grinding your own meat.  Oddly enough, the movie doesn’t mention anything about grinding your own meat, but it does make you think about your food and where it comes from.  Which got me to thinking about what exactly is in my ground beef.  I was guessing there were a lot of things in there I didn’t necessarily want in there, so I looked it up on the trusty Internet.

I found all sorts of crap about what you could do with ground beef but very, very little about what was actually in it.  This was actually more frightening than finding pages and pages of gross information on it.  They’re sneaky those beef people.  And I happen to have it on good authority (Oprah) that they take their business quite seriously. I did manage to find out that ground beef is commonly made out of things that could only be described as “icky” so soon after watching the movie I decided to try and grind my own organic beef.  It sounds like more of an ordeal than it is. Unless you have 3 or 4 kids. Because even putting on deodarant is an ordeal when you have 3 or 4 kids isn’t it? Wanna know how to grind your own meat? Watch the video! Give it a shot.  And revel in the fact that all of us, together, can continue to enjoy tasty hamburgers!



  1. Jenny says:

    I love your cute Canadian accent! (I love accents of all kinds.)
    And grinding your own hamburger does look easy peasy…as my 6 yr. old son says,”Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, crocodile in a pile.”
    Now if I just had the money for a kitchen-aid.

  2. Jettie says:

    I found his method on an episode of good eats (Alton’s burger of the Gods) while searching for the perfect meat combo for a tasty burger. He says you must take precautions to keep your beef from becoming beef moose! Meat should be cubed & chilled then about 10 short pulses. I used my cuisinart & pulsed away. My fella threw them on the BBQ & they were the best burgers we’d ever made! Been making them that way ever since!

    • Karen says:

      Jettie – Well … I’ll give it a shot. Can’t say I’m holding out a lot of hope because I’m a skeptic like that (which is actually a good thing because it ensures I never recommend anything on my blog that I haven’t tried and proven to be true). I’ll let you know how it goes! ~ karen

  3. Jettie says:

    You don’t have to have a Kithenaid to grind meat! You can use a food processor. Alton Brown said so. A couple of pulses & Voila!

    • Karen says:

      At the risk of angering him, I respectfully disagree. That will give you more of a meat purée. The sort of thing you’d stuff a tortellini with. – karen!

  4. karen says:

    Amusing post, but I don’t really get it … ??? I just ask my butcher to grind up the cut I want. Does it for no charge.

  5. kelliblue says:

    ok mymom ground um…fruit and veggies and stuff. But no meat. :-P Don’t think I’ll ever try that myself, but like Mindy (and others) ‘Food Inc.’ changed my life for about a week. No…more than that. Actually, it still does to this day. I follow Joel Salatin and Polyface farm on FB and Twitter, I’m much more conscious about where my food comes from. Lots more organic (or in 1940’s parlance: just plain FOOD), lots more DIY home made goodies.

    y’all now need to see ‘The Future of Food’, which talks about how the ‘Montsanto mob’ is literally and sadly, strong-arming nearly every U.S. and Canadian farmer into using their seeds & products ONLY, and suing them if they don’t. A horrible and shameful way to run a business, while keeping its customers completely in the dark. :(

    • Christina says:

      Though I knew a lot of the info in Food Inc already, it was still horrifying to watch. I agree about the Future of Food, that is an excellent documentary. As is King Corn (a bit of a slow watch, but great information and an inspiring ending).

      I’ve been grinding my own beef with this adorable 60’s manual grinder called the Grind-O-Matic, it’s a lot of work. Just haven’t saved up enough for the mixer attachment yet.

  6. Jen says:

    “Food Inc.” made me a vegetarian. “Earthlings” cemented it. No Kidding.

  7. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I remember my Mom doing this when I was a kid..she would grind up other meats too like leftover baked ham for ham salad..She used one of the old grinders that clamped onto the edge of a table or counter top..Thanks for sharing your first posts with us..When you’re addicted to Karen you will take any fix you can glad to know the Fella has been with you from the start..I would ask how long the two of you have been together but I’m not nosy like

  8. Mary Werner says:

    That chunk of meat looks like it has a tongue hanging out of the middle – what is that thingy? I raised my own beef and chicken and pig and turkey. It was worth every minute of time but I never thought about grinding my own – even though I love raw ground beef (with lots of salt). Don’t trust what is in ground meet until now – thanks for giving me back a way to enjoy something that appears so easy. Your blog is so worth the subscription price!

    • Karen says:

      Hah! Thanks. I think. :) ~ karen

    • Mary Werner says:

      Oh yeah forgot to ask how to clean the grinder – looks harder than actually using it.

      • Mary Werner says:

        SORRY, I see the comment on using bread – great idea. Now as to the cost of the blog subscription, I spend a few minutes of my life EVERY day reading you which to me is worth so much more than money. But laughter, knowledge and knowing I’m not alone on many issues is so worth my time. THANK YOU!

  9. Debbie from Illinois says:

    I have had the meat grinder attachment for a year and haven’t used it. Thanks for the video, now I am “brave” enough to try it!

  10. Amy in StL says:

    When I was a kid my dad ground his own beef – he retired early due to medical conditions so he did lots of weird hobby things. They don’t have a kitchenaid so he used a manual grinder that he attached to the edge of the kitchen table with a clamp. It was work, but it was kind of fun as a kid to turn the handle. Like a play-doh machine but with food. Come to think of it, why not do it manually when you have child labor doing the hard work?

  11. Evalyn says:

    Love this video, and I’m happy to know that the fella has been there from the beginning.

    When you have finished grinding, its helpful to run a slice of bread or a chunk of raw potato throught the grinder – it helps clean out the mechanism by pushing all the meat bits through and makes cleanup easier.

  12. Jan says:

    We buy organic beef and it NEVER has enough fat. I always add some oil, butter, grease, etc. Now I’ll try grinding mine.

  13. Carolyn Boyd says:

    I saw that movie a couple of years ago and have been grinding my own meat ever since. Not only is it better for you, it makes GREAT burgers!…and… you can safely eat them done medium, since this is “clean” meat. Here’s a tip: slightly freeze your chunks of meat before you grind them and you’ll have a better result.
    P.S..I moved to Nova Scotia from the GTA a few years ago and I still remember you from TV. Love your blog!!

  14. gloria says:

    Ooh, I forgot two things: I wonder what the nutritional value of a pinky is? And, maybe you could do a post on kitchen first-aid. No, seriously. There’s a lot of goofy stuff our mother’s (and fathers) told us about first-aid. Like the old butter on a burn thing. Yikes, that’s like basting a turkey to make it brown better. Maybe you could dispel all the weird myths. Thank you for all cool stuff we learn on your blog.

    • Karen says:

      Gloria I did do a post on how bleach takes the pain away from a mild burn (really works!) and everyone was horrified/terrified, lol. – karen!

  15. gloria says:

    I will definitely convert to home-ground beef as soon as I come up with the cash for that lovely machine. But I’m afraid I might be trading noses and doingies in my hamburgers for my own fingers. Well, at least I’ll know they were clean, because I always wash my hands before handling food.

  16. Tamara says:

    I bought a kitchenaid mixer almost a year ago (primarily for all of the potential attachments) and have only used it once. I am so excited to try grinding my own beef.

    Have you ever used it to make ground turkey? would I just use a turkey breast?

    • Karen says:

      Tamara – You have to start using that Kitchenaid! Yes, do the ground turkey the same. I’m more of a ground chicken person, but I haven’t used it yet for grinding chicken. You probably want to add some fat to your ground turkey. Just the fat found under the skin or some dark meat. Otherwise it’ll be dry. Also … the pasta attachment is GREAT. ~ karen

  17. Spokangela says:

    I am so glad I now have a term for the gross bits or gristle or “whatever” you find in ground beef. Thanks for that!

  18. jojo says:

    I lvoe the comment on the gymnasts…. Pack ’em into smaller and smaller spaces… They DO get tinier each year…

    Makes me wonder, when watching the Olympics (I still have 3 nights to finish) why they don’t put the height of all the athletes up on the screen. I mean, knowing that the average chinese gymnast is 4’9″ is pretty darn tiny… but what about the decathaletes? Are they bigger then the average track & field star? Are the pole vaulters taller than the triple jumpers? What is the average height of a distance runner compared to a hurdler?

    (Can you tell that I’m stuck in the Track & Field week? I’m dosing out the remaining Olympic coverage on my TiVO in little bits until the Fall Season starts.)

    These questions are much more compelling to me than what is in my ground beef… and I Never Never Never want to know whats in the hot dogs or brats that I love so much!

  19. Darcy says:

    “icky” stays…lmao! Yea if you want “politically correct”, go to church! err wait…hmmm…That”s boring. I like Karen’s style, it “stays”!

  20. brenda says:

    OK….I still know that your blog makes me laugh out loud most times, but I’m glad I’m odd.

  21. Sally says:

    I found your site one day searching for thai chilli sauce, and can’t help but laugh at your idiosyncrasies-they seem very familiar (as I think most of your readers find). And you are never offensive, always funny-and after seeing this video think you should be posting more of them!!

  22. Debbie R says:

    Check out those arm muscles! Thanks for making things so simple that I want to try them!

  23. gogothrift says:

    You might want to take out the comment about the Chinese gymnasts…kinda icky

    • Karen says:

      If I didn’t say things the odd person thought was icky I’d be just like every other blog, I’m afraid. “Icky” stays.

      • Spokangela says:

        Well I thought the comment was hilarious and very “Karen”. Your irreverent sense of humor is indeed what sets your blog apart, and keeps this gal coming back!

        • Tigersmom says:

          I too, loved the Chinese gymnast comment. It’s what we love about, appreciate and expect from your blog. Irreverance rocks.

        • Tigersmom says:

          Oh, and thanks for not making those of us addicts go cold turkey with no posts of any kind for a week.

      • Kiat Huang says:

        I’m Anglo-Chinese and don’t find the comment an issue. Found this blog because I wanted to find a recipe to make crispy (not soggy) sweet potato food (am on a paleo nutrition plan). Found the ground beef post and video which are both entertaining.

        Great job Karen – keep being you!

    • Nicole2 says:

      Good for you Karen. Stay true to yourself.

  24. Fran says:

    Want to know more of the real story on where your beef comes from (not media hype)? Check out this farm wife’s entertaining blog!

    • Ann says:

      Very little of our beef comes from farms where the cows are born on the land and stay til the bitter end. Most are raised on grass but only for part of their lives. Then off to the feed lot which changes the entire nature of the animal. They are fed corn which is not something that they are genetically meant to be eating. They are over crowded, can’t move around and are under enormous amounts of stress.

      To get the best meat for our bodies, we need to seek out pastured raised, grass finished beef. Organically grown with out hormones or antibiotics. When we buy this, we support our own bodies by properly nourishing them, and also the farmers who raise these animals. The same goes for pigs and chicken.

  25. Karen
    You are my hero. I only lasted about 5 minutes into watching the video. It is a quick way to become a vegetarian or to at least only buy from a local butcher.
    Your blog posts rocked in 2010 and they still rock out loud now.

  26. Laura Bee says:

    Still relevant. I think all of your ventures will be relevant 10 years from now. Except maybe the birds nest Easter thingy. By then the world will be back to covering everything in glitter.

  27. Mindy says:

    I’d love to say the movie changed my life. It did change my week. Does that count? I do happen to have those 3 kids, and you’re right. I haven’t worn deodorant since the second was born.
    Isn’t it funny how our first posts really are the foundation of where our blogs go? Even if we had NO IDEA when we first sat down to write them.
    I think I need to watch the movie again. So I can swear off grocery store meat for another straight week. Maybe even two this time.

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