Last week, I attended PCC Foundation’s annual President’s Club Social and dinner at Baldwin Family Farms in Yanceyville. Following a tour of the farm, with Mac as our guide, we sat down to a BBQ dinner on the lawn and heard PCC administrators unveil PCC’s new Agribusiness Technology program. Exciting stuff!

This Associate in Applied Science degree program in Agribusiness Technology starts this fall at Piedmont Community College. According to the brochure—it will “prepare students for employment in a variety of agribusiness jobs such as store management, farm operations, wholesale and retail produce management, and environmental and agricultural education. Students will learn the fundamentals of agriculture, with emphasis placed on entrepreneurial and field training, as well as the basics of our economic system and government policies and programs relating to agriculture.”

At the dinner, FFA students with their sponsor, Kin Watlington, spoke of this new program and what it could offer the community. They were a delightful group of bright young people, all headed out to parts unknown in the next few weeks to compete in various FFA events.

The evening’s experience filled me with hope and appreciation. Hope that the young folks in our community will move Caswell into the 21st century, as well as appreciation for their mentors and educators, like Kin Watlington, helping direct their paths. I have hope that our county will recognize its rich resources, establish its identity, and increase the quality of life for its citizens. The experience also deepened my appreciation for cattlemen like the Baldwins and the Broadwells and other area farmers who are keeping our strong agricultural history alive.

Grilled Romaine with Flank Steak.

A number of years ago, I prepared a farm-to-table luncheon at Baldwin’s Farm for the Caswell Medical Center. At the event, one course included a grilled romaine salad with thinly sliced, grilled Baldwin flank steak, fresh tomatoes, and Sleepy Goat feta cheese.

The first step in making this healthy, 300-calorie Grilled Romaine and Steak Salad is to purchase the highest quality flank steak (or other cut of meat) and apply a rub.

Here is a Mexican rub that I played around with last week. Mix together 1 ½ tsps. Ground ancho chile powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. cumin, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 3 TB apple cider vinegar, ¼ C fresh orange juice, lime zest and the juice of one lime, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper.

Rub the wet mixture into the steak and let it marinate for about an hour, bringing the meat to room temperature. Grill until medium rare (130 degrees).

Remove from the grill and wrap in foil for 10 minutes.Next, marinate the one lb. steak in your favorite marinade. Mine was a composition of soy and Worcestershire sauces, garlic, ginger, olive oil, black pepper, and a glob of dusseldorf mustard, which I then poured into a ziplock bag with the meat and marinated it for 2 hours.

While heating the grill to 500 degrees, bring the meat to room temperature. Do not put cold meat on the grill or it will stick and toughen.

Begin with 3-4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Use your instant-read thermometer and remove the meat from the grill when it is rare to medium rare (around 130 degrees). Baldwin’s beef is lean and grassfed, so you do not want to over cook it.

Upon removing the beef from the grill, lightly cover in foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.As meat cooks, muscle fibers firm up and water gets pushed toward the surface. If you slice the meat immediately, the liquid pools out and the meat dries. Resting allows the moisture to redistribute back through the meat.

Slice the steak against the grain in thin, angled slices.

To grill the romaine lettuce, cut the head of lettuce in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil, season. Begin by grilling cut side up until lightly charred, then flip. It usually takes a minute or two on each side.

To plate, place one half romaine, sliced side up, on the plate. Top with beef slices, locally-grown tomatoes, feta cheese, and other toppings, such as bacon and/or bell peppers. Drizzle with a little dressing.