I know as grown up adults and non-shallow individuals we’re really not supposed to be all that attached to “things”. Still, being the person that I am, I do get attached to things. For example, at a recent event I didn’t get my exact stainless 28 oz weighted shaking tins back. How different are individual 28oz weighted mixing tins? Not very. (Well, to be honest the ones I got back seemed a bit flimsier than ones I brought to the event.) Still I was disappointed that I let it happen.
Other times I’m just particular, maybe obsessive, about brands. For example, I pretty much will only use DeCecco dried pasta. I started using it when I was cooking at an Italian restaurant. I like it. I see no reason to change.
(Vegetarians may want to stop reading now.)
One of my favorite steaks is the ribeye.
I prefer bone in ribeye, but tonight I was dining alone, so tough to justify a steak that big. And I like Niman Ranch’s steaks. Grass fed and corn finished seems to be the best of both worlds.
I grew up in the Midwest, where beef is king. My parents would often buy a “half a cow” and put it in the freezer. We would eat cow parts for a long time. Summer sausage, steaks, you name it. We ate a lot of beef. A few years back, when “grass fed” beef started being trendy, I had a grass fed steak in a restaurant. When I tasted it, I realized that this was the beef flavor that I had been missing. The flavor of pasture raised cattle, instead of the rich taste of corn fed, lot raised, beef.
But I still like the Niman-Ranch ribeyes a bit better than most of the purely grass fed steaks I’ve tried so far. Mostly because they are easier to cook. It is my understanding that the Niman Ranch cows eat grass or silage for most of their lives in pasture. Which is good because cows have evolved to eat grass. Then, shortly before their demise, they are plumped up for a month or two with feed to allow Niman Ranch to bring a fattier, richer, more marbled steak to market. Compromise, I suppose.
Another thing I am fond of is cast iron. In particular this cast iron pan. When I was shipped off to college by my parents, the first two years I lived in the dorms and survived on cafeteria food and instant ramen made in my hot pot.
The third year, however, I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment. I soon discovered that I had no cookware, the thermostat on our oven didn’t work (landlord never fixed), and that I only knew how to make one thing, scrambled eggs with potatoes and cheese. Seeking to broaden my horizons and cookware selections, I headed down to the hardware store and purchased this cast iron pan.
“Why Erik,” you ask, “wouldn’t it have been better to get a non-stick pan, especially since you only knew how to cook scrambled eggs?” To answer your question, yes, it would have been easier and a lot less messy. I don’t think I got this thing well seasoned enough to cook eggs for about 5 years. But that’s me, I didn’t give up and didn’t give in. No non-stick frying pan for me. Giving away a bit about my age, I’m gonna say that was about 1985. So I’ve had this pan longer than I’ve known many of my best friends. Not that friends aren’t great and all that. But, if you take care of it well, you can always depend on a cast iron frying pan.
I previously mentioned that I enjoy the beers, but another alcoholic beverage I enjoy is wine. A long time ago, being a pretentious git, I figured the best way to learn about wine would be to read The Wine Spectator. At the time, big California Zinfandels were all the rage. Producers like Sky, Mayacamas, Heitz, and my particular favorite Ridge. I read about one of their wines, Ridge Howell Mountain Zinfandel and it was the first wine I had to have. It was described as big, difficult, and needing someone of discerning taste to appreciate. Obviously, this was a wine for me.
I searched and searched the wine stores in town and finally found a bottle of the Ridge Howell Mountain Zinfandel. Can’t remember the vintage, but I’m guessing I spent most of whatever meager weekly paycheck I received at the time on it. Unfortunately, it was one of those things. I carried it around from apartment to apartment, state to state, and city to city. Finally a couple years ago Mrs. Flannestad and I cracked it open. It wasn’t corked, but with all that travel and turmoil it had probably aged faster than it would have in a nice cool wine cellar. We should have drunk it about 10 years earlier.
I still really like Ridge’s wines, though they have bowed a bit to modern tastes and lightened many of their offerings. The little blurb on the back of the bottle talking about making the wine and how long it will probably last in the bottle is always something I have enjoyed. Three Valley’s is basically their table wine.
At around $20 a bottle, it’s a nice treat for those tough weeks at work.
Plus, it goes really well with a steak and a baked potato.
So anyway, there you go. Things. Things and memories accumulate over time. It’s sad when either are lost. But probably the memories are more important.