Remembering My Birthday Dinner in Virginia

Steaks and Sticky SauceCarol would call this one a Back Track … one of the hardest things about trying to blog about our travels is trying to keep everything current when there is so much to see and do. Hell, there is still stuff I could write about from way back in Colorado. At least this one only goes back a few weeks to my birthday dinner.

Rene got off easy this year. I was a cheap date. All I wanted was a to take the day off from driving and do nothing, other than barbecue myself a steak. So the day before – on Halloween – we went to the Blacksburg Farmers Market for some fresh produce, in search of some local meat. Having never seen cattle ranchers at a farmers market until we got to the East Coast, I was feeling lucky. And I struck gold, or black rather, as in Angus.

Shadowchase Farmer PhilPhil from Shadowchase Farm was there with a cooler full of cuts from his livestock and a table full of information about his naturally raised grass-finished beef. I was in the mood for a good rib-eye, of which he had plenty. But I just couldn’t bring myself to get the two pound slab which was his smallest. A great looking steak indeed, but too much for this carnivore when Jerry is the only one in this family who would enjoy sharing it with me.

I had never heard of the Mock Tender cut, so Phil showed me a package and explained it is from the top beef shoulder chuck. It was a good looking piece of meat, and less expensive so I went for it. I only wished he had mentioned that slow moist cooking methods like stewing or braising are best for this cut. There’s a reason they call it Mock Tender.

birthday barbecueThey also call it:

  • Fish Steak
  • Chuck Fillet Steak
  • Chuck Tender Steak
  • Shoulder Tender
  • Petite Fillet
  • Tender Medallions
  • Chuck Clod Tender
  • Shoulder Petite Tender

Steak for JerryDon’t get me wrong, it was a very tasty steak. It just might have been better if I let it marinate over night or poked it with a fork about six hundred more times. But anything is good when dipped in some sweet Carolina barbecue sauce.

To my surprise though, what I thought was one large flat steak was actually three nice little medallions. Enough to go around so Jerry enjoyed it too. And the leftovers – thinly sliced – made for a great steak sandwich, which I enjoyed on our little picnic outside the Floyd Country Store hoedown the next day.

Birthday Bike RideI grilled a big Portabella mushroom for René along with some fresh peppers. And she baked me some super rich chocolate brownies, complete with ice cream and a candle. We picked up some local brussel sprouts at the market and roasted some local potatoes we got at another market somewhere along the way.

Claytor Lake Deer at DuskEarlier in the day we went for a bike ride through the woods around Claytor Lake. Deer would run off as we approached around every other bend. But they came out in full force in the evening. It’s no wonder more and more communities throughout Virginia and North Carolina are resorting to contracts with Deer SWAT Teams for population control via the sharpshooter method.

Another reason this post took so long, is that I forgot the name of Shadowchase Farm so I couldn’t find their website. I finally found them through this Virginia Directory of Grass-Fed Food & Facts on

1 thought on “Remembering My Birthday Dinner in Virginia”

  1. Jim,
    Looks like you had a darn good dinner! And Brownies to Boot:) Hey, Happy b-lated B-day!!! Hope you enjoyed your day…

    Elaine & gang


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