bison – it’s what’s for dinner (aka FRET 10)

January 9th, 2009 · 54 Comments

i present, a well grilled strip of grass-fed bison on a bed of steamed spinach with a sauté of caramelized red onions, golden raisins, granny smith apple and a splash of sherry vinegar. my version of a decadent dinner for the current ’09 regime…

because, here’s the deal. ’08 was quite the interesting and wonderful food odyssey. but when the year shook out, despite my paltry self-thwarted attempts at some kind of balance, i am somehow about 20+ lbs up. not 10. not 15. but 20+. and that is not pretty. not even a little. plus i feel both unhealthy and stupid. and i’d call that a rather pathetic combo.

oprah, how did we let this happen – again?

© Copyright 2006 Kevin Ebi/Living Wilderness.

i feel quite sure that faced with this animal in an uncompromising situation there’d be very little room for understanding or negotiation. bison are like the elephant men of 4 leggeds – WITH a punk hairdo, making them look even that much more disturbing.  (and really, i think they’re pissed about it.) but despite the aesthetics of the beast, i am a fan. and if only a bison’s mother could love the face, then i am content with loving the rest of it’s body. and here’s why…

assuming these numbers were correct, i went ahead and signed up to the tune of 6 filets and 8 ny strips of the grass-fed persuasion. because dear readers, let me share this bit of news with you. the party is OVER. but i’d still like a steak on occasion, and this seems to be a viable way to go. now, is bison akin to a super prime lobel’s steak, dripping with beefy goodness? honestly no, but we both liked the flavor. cooked rare and in all its leanness, it scratched the red meat itch. and i can live with that quite happily, if not smugly.

i’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks now, trying to come up with a way for ceF to continue on while i lean down – without boring you to tears. and i think that really, all i can do is to :

cook dinner
stay within my guidelines
talk about it

i will admit to you that i feel a bit desperate. i have an entire wardrobe – and it’s a damn fine one, currently unwearable – at least by me. i’ve been relegated to the "stretchy and baggy" section of my closet.  quite frankly, i’m much more than a little embarrassed.

and because i’m now closer to 50 than 40, and because of my (in)activity level, it’s going to take super low calories to get me where i need to be. there are no special diets or pills. no rocket science. no secrets. it’s calories in vs. calories burned. and it’s getting as many nutrients into those calories as you can. which means sugar and fat grams have to stay lower then i like to entertain the thought of…

ok, so that’s where i am. i hope you’ll still stop by while i shift my focus to the leaner side of the food spectrum. obviously the fat epidemic is a national problem and those of us who are affected handle it in different ways. all i know to do is to take it a day at a time and cut back on my caloric intake, try to move more – and breathe deeply.

oh, and to buy a new car. because if i can’t eat pork belly, cheese and chocolate then in the interim i want to ride my fat ass around in some shiny german steel with serious horsepower.

because i am after all, merely a silly little human.

Tags: beef · FRET

54 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Becky and the Beanstock // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Espelette. Lots and lots of espelette. It makes everything taste better. : ) Okay, but seriously? You could be writing about tax reform and I’d read your posts first when my Google reader is brimming with new things to read. I love your voice. I must — you cook with meat about 85% of the time and meat is just as confusing to me as public finance so…. just keep talking to us. I for one don’t much care what you’re talking about.

  • 2 Jennifer Hess // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Living in New England in the winter, without a car, has reminded me just how I lost 65 lbs. when I lived here before. Walking through snow is HARD. But it’s good, and I’m happy with the results I’m seeing. But we’re still on the cutting back/paring down/doing-more-with-less track, for many reasons in addition to getting healthier.

    This meal looks lovely, and it’s making me miss our bison guy in NYC. I can’t wait to see what other light-but-indulgent treats you come up with.

  • 3 maggie // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for writing about thiswe all need to think about these goals, especially food bloggers who are feeding the blog all the butter it’s asking for…but are really interested in cooking/eating mindfully…I may visit the bison seller at the greenmarket this weekend, you’ve inspired me! Keep at it! We want to read about the healthy and delicious things you cook!

  • 4 krysta // Jan 9, 2009 at 10:35 am

    you, if anybody, would make low fat and low calories good! so i’m reading no matter what and might get skinner in the process.

    when my mom quit smoking she saved all the cig money and bought herself a baby grand piano. you could save all your money that you would have spent on expensive butter and buy yourself a gorgeous piece of german engineering.

  • 5 Peter // Jan 9, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Ummm, love bison. As long as you’re careful not to overcook it…a wonderful tasting meat.

  • 6 Mari // Jan 9, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I’ll read whatever you write dear lady and I can totally commiserate with you on the weight gain, baking on a weekly basis has taken its toll on my waistline. Here’s to a slimmer 2009!

  • 7 Melissa // Jan 9, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I actually really like bison, quite a bit. I need to remember to get it more often.

    I too can’t wait to see what you come up with, especially since I need to eat lighter too, but don’t want to skimp entirely on pleasing my taste buds.

    i have an entire wardrobe – and its a damn fine one, currently unwearable – at least by me.

    Oh honey, me too. And I HATE it. But you’ll get back into it! You already know that though. 😉

  • 8 Donald // Jan 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Where do I sign up?

    I have been on a 4lb/mth avg loss. I’ll be fifty b/4 I reach my goal. :-)

  • 9 The Italian Dish // Jan 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I’m totally looking forward to your new posts because I try to eat pretty lean about 85% of the time so that I can have fun and indulge the other 15%. So I’m really interested to see what you will be cooking up! It will be good whatever it is. Just like this meal.

  • 10 Rachel (S[d]OC) // Jan 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Cool. I like a good bison steak. Maybe it lacks some of that melt-in-your-mouth quality you get from a well-marbled piece of beef, but it’s a pretty tasty thing regardless.

    I hear you on the weight thing. I started 2008 hoping to lose 20 pounds and instead I gained 5. I’m back to square 1 (or above it). I’m a pretty good gym rat and have my dance classes and horses, but I just EAT TOO MUCH and that is what I need to work on. A paltry few hundred calories at the gym really doesn’t take weight off.

  • 11 Maffy // Jan 9, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    With all the baking and goodies and drinking over the holidays, I expected worse, but I went up two…but I was already up 13, so now I’m with Rachel – “back to square 1 (or above it). I’ll keep reading your posts to try and stay encouraged to keep going. I’m a great starter, but not so good on what my mom called “stick-to-it-iveness”. One day at a time…Where’s the instant gratification in that? :)

  • 12 jim voorhies // Jan 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Even if you hit the low fat and calorie bandwagon hard you’re still at the far end of epicure from country cooking.

    You’ll always be an exotic to us, just not covered in a butter and cream sauce.

  • 13 Judy // Jan 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Love bison! It is an incredibly lean meat. You’ll get the extra 20 off no problem. I’m rooting for you!!!

  • 14 pogo // Jan 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Good luck Claudia — less cooking, less eating, more fretting in 2009!

  • 15 Brooke // Jan 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Oooh, bison. Thanks for the tip. I have been trepedatious of it for a while. I’ve used it in meatloaf before, but mixed with other meats you can’t really differentiate one dead animal from another. I’m in the same boat as you, trying to lose weight, so this will help me get my carnivore fix every once in a while. And those buggers really pissed me off in Yellowstone; taking up the whole road with their big fat asses. Majestic, yeah sure, but stay clear of my car.

  • 16 Steph // Jan 9, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    That bison looks delicious! There is a man at my gym who talks to me a lot and raves about bison steaks. I keep meaning to try it, but so far I’ve not taken the plunge.

    I’m sure you are way too hard on yourself, my dear. You are beautiful!

    Hope to see you in person when I get my arse to Nashville in early Feb! And good for you for buying a new non-American automobile!

  • 17 Jack // Jan 9, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    A friend of mine used to raise bison. It is a bit lean, but makes a great burger. Dont fret too much. Nearly everyone I know has added a layer of “winter fat” this year. I just wish that I could have gotten rid of my summer layer first! Wynonna has even turned to Alli (pity for the poor soul behind her in the line to the restroom) for hers! The German car strategy sounds very theraputic!

  • 18 Peter // Jan 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    But worrying burns calories, right?

  • 19 Heather // Jan 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I’m getting my healthy regimen off to a somewhat slow start, but I’m right behind you, ladyfriend.

  • 20 Robert // Jan 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm


    This is a conspiracy right. I leave the sawbones warning of gloom and doom this morning and now everyone here is resolving to be healthy. Just nowhere for the fat guy to go……..

    So then I see your post and I’m inspired. Pull a huge 99.9% lean Venison backstrap out of the freezer and thin slice it and put it to a light cure. It will hit the smoker to dry into jerky, and that is all I will ever eat again.

    Well, for as long as it lasts anyway.

  • 21 Abby @ mangerlaville // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    That bison is the cutest and yes, kinda pissed off. I have been on my health kick…and don’t forget Oprah’s Best life week ever…she is trying to get back on track. Maybe you should tell her about the virtues of bison.

  • 22 democommie // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Claudia–and everyone else who thinks they need to shed a few pounds>

    I am pleased to announce the “democommie frigid friggin’ north weight reduction plan”

    Here’s the ingredient’s list:

    One, old, gutted house.

    One extra lean bank account.

    A whole lot of dawdle.

    and the onset of winter, precisely when it was supposed to be here–but way sooner than you expected.

    I have found that eating off of smaller plates, while an admirable strategy, doesn’t hold a candle to cooking on a one-burner (well, it was two, but the skwerl shorted one out gnawin’ on the wires) hot plate. Mindful eating, pfeh! It’s all about mindful cooking–slow and deliberate. I burn more calories making dinner than it contains.

    Add to that the unexpected, but highly appreciated, bonus of losing weight by doing nothing more than sitting in a cold house while blogging. I’m thinking of doing a CD, ala Richard Simmons, called “Shivering To The Oldies!”

    And, lest you think that you can’t make all those wonderful foods you love, let me offer to help out there. You cook it, send it to me and I will “dispose” of it in an ecologically beneficial way; mmkay? That Bison would be a great place to start. Give me Buffalo, the burger, over Buffalo, the city, any day.

    Hey, for any of the men who feel the need for a little “control top” action, check this out.

    (hat tip to Ms. Amber at “Heartbreaktown”:

    I gotta go, my candle’s almost burned out.

  • 23 democommie // Jan 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm


    I almost forgot; can I test drive your car for you, from Munich to Nashville?

  • 24 Marc @ NoRecipes // Jan 10, 2009 at 12:39 am

    I’m always skeptical of cooking magazine like “cooking light” or really anything with “light” or “lean” in the title. This looks fantastic though, and if you hadn’t mentioned it I would have though it was dripping with full fat goodness:-)

  • 25 Sara // Jan 10, 2009 at 10:12 am

    This looks great, I’ve never had bison before. Bring on the healthy recipes!

  • 26 maris // Jan 10, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I’ve never had bison before but I would try this meal in a second – between the caramelized onions and fresh, steamed spinach I’m already sold!

  • 27 katie // Jan 10, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’m with you, in fact I can’t wait! And if this is any indication then it is going to delicious.

  • 28 Pam // Jan 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    I hate to say it, but what really helps is exercise. I know…I know…sad, but true.

  • 29 Maggie // Jan 10, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Claudia, great great piece. I’m doing the exact same thing, trying to stick to a healthier regime. Geez, I actually started exercising 3x/week and have kept it up for 4 months! Gots to do something while I’ll indulge… Hugs from your friend in fat who’s fretting as well!


  • 30 Marie // Jan 10, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I’m right with ya! I certainly need to “lighten up”!! Here’s to a healthier 2009!

  • 31 Brittany // Jan 11, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Clearly, you are not alone in your quest to slim down.
    I’ll throw myself in that camp too, as sometimes I think my profession prevents me from ever being skinny ever again.

    I have never tried bison, but I’ve been meaning to. And If you say it’s yummy enough, then I’m on board.
    (I’ll do whatever you say, you know).

    BTW- you’re still a hottie.

  • 32 Choosy Beggar Tina // Jan 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Claudia, best of luck to you. I’ve got the same struggle on my hands right now. I lost about 70 lbs in University, gained 30 of it back by the age of 24, lost it again at age 27, and gained it back this year. It’s a constant struggle, and I’ll be joining you with the leaner and lighter posts for 2009.

    After all, bacon and butter are pretty darn awesome, but so is being able to walk up a flight of stairs without panting….and not having to buy pants that are ‘a number’ of sizes up from what you thought you were.

  • 33 joycooks // Jan 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Hey, I’m a huge fan of bison, being from Colorado where we eat it almost as much as beef. And I truly believe there’s no better tasting burger than a bison burger! You should try it!

    And, of course I am with you on the leaner, simpler life that awaits us in 2009. Just maybe not the sportscar :-)

  • 34 lo // Jan 12, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Sounds like a perfectly splendid plan to me… I might be crazy, but sometimes I take on the concept of eating more healthfully as a welcome challenge. After all, you really CAN make food that tastes great and doesn’t pack on the pounds… it’s just requires branching out a bit.

    Love the bison concept. Great for the cholesterol… try ground bison for great meatballs!

  • 35 SpinachTiger // Jan 12, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Great post. You will Still be fun to read. I’ve been on a diet for a year trying to lose 10 pounds. I am the same exact weight I was one year ago. So I know how to do the maintenance thing, but I want more, I mean less.

  • 36 The Culinary Sherpas // Jan 13, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I am with Claudia. Time to shed some unwanted weight. BUT that Bison strip sure does look good. Doing a grass fed NY strip tonight, with a little brocolini. Hey, it’s better than chantrelles gratin.

  • 37 Lynn // Jan 13, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Where do I sign up for this sportscar diet? I am certain something fast and shiny would help motivate me!

  • 38 michelle @ TNS // Jan 13, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    whoa…i was NOT prepared for that picture of the bison after the jump.

    that dinner still looks awesome to me. i’m going to have to investigate this bison thing, because food blog + scary prescription meds = more that a 20 pound gain chez moi.

    i’m all for getting healthy and feeling good and eating in balance. but everyone has different healthy weight points, and i think it’s time for oprah to accept that hers is not 110 pounds.

  • 39 democommie // Jan 14, 2009 at 6:08 am

    I tried that “eating a piece of protein no bigger than the palm of your hand” thing and I just kept putting on the l.b.’s. Then I realized that they didn’t mean this one:

    So, now I’m eating more realistic portions–but I still use it when I want “Three fingers of Ol’ Paint Stripper”!

  • 40 Christine // Jan 15, 2009 at 3:54 am

    I recommend reading the newish book by Mark Bittman, in which he details a newer (actually older) way of eating. The book is Food Matters.

    He lost quite a bit of weight by changing the way he ate, without much deprivation at all.

  • 41 lifeinrecipes // Jan 15, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    As soon as I saw the bison platter, I thought, Claudia is going all healthy on us. Then I looked again and thought, DAMN does that ever look delicious and satisfying and not at all like deprivation.

    You can do it!

  • 42 TaratheFoodie // Jan 15, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Girl, I am WITH you. Where do you think I’ve been? In the gym. I should probably just move in and workout all the time. This is the slippery slope that is the love of food I guess. But I’m here to tell you that I will CERTAINLY stick around to see your healthier options as I will need some ideas for my healthier dinners!

  • 43 democommie // Jan 17, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Perhaps the best way to deal with a love of food and a desire to be healthy is to cook with electricty–electricity generated by riding a recumbent bicycle or a striding on some other exercise device that has a flywheel hooked to a generator. That way you could expend say 900 calories in a very vigorous workout, while that love rib eye is on the Lean, Mean, Grilling Machine. Wadeaminit, steak on an electric grill, ok, maybe not such a good idea.

  • 44 chefectomy // Jan 17, 2009 at 11:27 am


    Nice post and an eternal struggle. I don’t see the need to “Fret” however. Have a read of my latest post and perhaps you can find some inspiration in that while keeping the calories low. Looking forward to more of your posts this year.


  • 45 Ethel // Jan 17, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    My significent other has been ordering bison burgers for ages and likes it better then the fatty drippy burgers I eat and shouldn’t. To bad there’s no recipe for willpower and discipline. You’ve lost the weight before so I have faith in you to get back to the side of your closet with all the skinny clothes.

  • 46 yveala // Jan 19, 2009 at 12:22 am

    ahhh..the “other” red meat – no fret red meat….I order mine online and although it needs more marinate time to achieve tenderness, it’s delicious stuff.
    i’m right there with the extra fluff, let me know when you figure out why we don’t stop ourselves at 5 lbs?!?

  • 47 cc // Jan 21, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Oprah, how could we let this happen again? – I am still giggling

  • 48 ntsc // Jan 24, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Website ate my comment, but I’m where you are, but down 30 since March. Much of it because I no longer eat daily lunch in the company cafeteria. Losing a job can be a good thing.

    We eat well: but carefully. One thing that does help me is an unlimited amount of air-popped popcorn, nothing added.

  • 49 we are never full // Jan 24, 2009 at 10:44 am

    claudia, because i loves ya and i don’t want you to be so desperate to lose weight soley based on a low-calorie (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!) dies ONLY, i want to just encourage you to start moving. it is harder to change your eating lifestyle and love/passion for food, good food, than it is to try to start a real exercise routine. you can eat what you want and still lose weight (i sound like a friggin commercial). but seriously, it makes me sad to think that you’ll be denying yourself of delciious food. please say it ain’t so.

    of course, portion control is my prob. and i’m working on that, but i still need good food in my life, but they gym is the only key to me being able to do this. the gym sucks the life out of me in the winter, but it is the only thing that justifies what i allow myself to eat on weekends. it’s a trade-off. so i hope you can move around a bit more and maybe gym-it so you can find your own balance w/o eating low fat every day.

    you go girl! i hope you can still visit websites that make fattening stuff.

  • 50 naomi // Jan 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    How about exchanging that new vroom vroom for a super turbo charged carbon framed bike? won’t cost a fraction of the gas guzzler and might get you back in your body again….

    I love everything you write, whether it’s indulging in calorie laden feast foods or musing on a lettuce leaf – you have a beautiful mind Claudia, and that is what counts at the end of the day, isn’t it?

    x x x

  • 51 Kristie // Jan 24, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I had meant to comment on this when I first read it, but was reading it from my phone. You should lift weights and bulk up about 10 pounds. It will not only decrease your osteoporosis risk, but also allow you to eat 500 extra calories per day and still lose weight. Which is awesome. Muscle bulk is WEIGH (ha!) better at assisting with slimming down than exercise like cardio-style. I’ve tried it.

  • 52 The Expatresse // Jan 26, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Wow. I stumbled on this (came to it via Ruhlman’s site). You describe me perfectly: closer to 50, not happy with the scales, love food. I only have 6 kg to lose. But, dare I say it? You may have the answer. Damn it.

  • 53 Hillary // Feb 6, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Yum, bison tastes good especially knowing it’s healthier! I had a good bison burger at Ted Montana’s.

  • 54 them apples // Feb 26, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I spent some time in Nepal a few years ago where, as the country is basically Hindu, they don’t eat the Sacred Cow, but eat a lot of bison instead. When in Rome…

    I ate a lot of bison, or ‘buff’ as it’s known over there, during that month. It’s a sensational meat – lean, tender, and – dare I say it – much tastier than comparable cuts of beef.

    Bison isn’t very widely available in the UK, but it is farmed in small poskets here and there. i remember going for a walk in the country along the south coast, down a pretty, typical English country lane. We turned a corner and were confronted with a herd of bison. They looked so very out of place in England, but so, so beautiful. Stunning animals.

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