Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


Would you like some cheese with your wine?

The answer to that question should be 'Yes'. 

A few weeks ago, by doing some easy 'share' and 'like' stuff on facebook, I won a gift basket from Tucannon Cellars, rapidly becoming one of my favorite wineries(and not just because they give me prizes!)

So, there were some cheeses, and crackers, which are tasty.  And then, there were three boxes of Chukar Cherries, and two very nice Reidel Wine Glasses.  Sadly, the wine was not included in the FREE gift basket, but I included it in the picture as an example of the rather fine wine produced by these folks(2011 Bareback Red:50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Mourvedre and 5% Petit Verdot.)

Perhaps the nicest thing included in the basket was two tickets to a Wine and Cheese tasting that Tucannon was co-hosting with Cheese Louise, a local gourmet cheese and wine shop. 

It was a great time, and an interesting learning experience.  Neither my wife or I had even been to a 'cheese tasting' that was much more involved than sampling cheese on a toothpick at Costco, and we didn't know that there was a 'way' to taste cheese. 

So...you pick up the piece of cheese, and you squeeze it...warming it between your fingers and releasing some of it's moisture.  Then you sniff it, before finally putting it in your mouth...but don't chew!  Let it melt and soften(or if's hard, rehydrate), before kind of 'smushing' it with your tongue.  Then you can chew and swallow.  If you are combining your cheese tasting with wine tasting, you have a sip of wine, swallow, then put the cheese in your mouth, and take another sip of wine as you are getting ready to swallow the cheese.

It's always fascinating to talk to someone that has a passion for something, and Bill Kreiger, the head cheesemonger and owner of Cheese Louise, has a passion for cheese.  He brought a wide variety for us to try...actually about three more than are on this list.

We warned before things got started that not all wines go with all cheeses...most whites, especially an unoaked Chardonnay or a Riesling, go good with most cheeses, but Red's are a bit more difficult to match up do to their stronger flavor.

I was kind of surprised to find out that my favorite cheese of the night was the Glacier Blue, a blue cheese made right here in Washington.  It started out slow, but kind of 'bloomed' in your mouth.

My wife's favorite was the Dry Jack...which I had thought would be my favorite when we first read the descriptions.  Jack cheese rubbed with a cocoa, pepper and olive oil paste?  Sounded like something that couldn't lose...it was just kind of dry for my taste.  I agreed with my wife in that the Dry Jack would have gone good in any soup that had called for cheese as an ingredient. 

It was a good night for smiles. 


Glass Houses and all that...but, still....

After grabbing the mail on the way to the car yesterday, my wife was flipping through the new Field and Stream, when she made a strange noise, and then she asked me, 'So...what is the most you would ever pay for a pair of pliers?'

Like it matters, I asked her is she was talking about regular or needle nose, and she just huffed and said to pick which ever I thought was more expensive, so I think I just said something like $15(which is probably more than I would be willing to spend for one paid of pliers). 

She seemed to consider this for a minute, and then asked me why someone would pay $280 for a pair of these Hatch Nomad Pliers.

I almost ran our car off the road when she mentioned that number.

Folks...I am a hunter, and there are times I have spent more money than I needed to on an item of dubious purpose...either paying too much for something I did need, or buying something I just plain didn't need.  It's how we keep the economy moving as outdoorsmen. 

But, still...$280 dollars?!?!??!?!  For a pair of pliers? 

Holy Cow...and I don't even see how they would fillet your fish for you! 


Need to tie a string to my finger...

It's that time of year around here where it's 55-60 when I get off work, and it feels nice to crack a window on the way home, and let some fresh air in the car.

Of course, then I get home, and forget to roll my cracked open window back up again...

And then overnight, the temperature drops down to the 26-28 degree point, and I wake and find that the frost and ice aren't just on the outside of my windshield...it's on the inside of the windshield and the steering wheel...


Everything IS better on the grill.

A few weeks ago, while watching America's Test Kitchen, they had a recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad...but it was different than what I thought it would be. I mean, I have made Caesar Salad with grill chicken before...but this version called for you to grill the romaine lettuce.   

Interesting, and something I filed away as a possible for the summer.

Except, summer(or at least spring) has come early for us in the Northwest, so wanting something lighter for dinner Sunday, I decided to give the Grilled Caesar Salad a try.

It's not very tough.  I marinated some chicken thighs in Italian dressing, then grilled them. After that, since the grill was hot, I sliced up a baguette, and liberally coated it with garlic butter, then made some croutons on the grill, before finally doing the lettuce.  You just take a head of romaine, and split it lengthwise.  Then brush it with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper before throwing it on the grill...not long, somewhere between 3-5 minutes a side.

Once grilled, you bring them inside and chop them up 'salad size', about 1-2 inch strips, and toss them with some dressing.  Throw in the croutons and chicken, and some nice shaved parmesan...and YUM.

My confession is that I didn't make a dressing from scratch, but I did jazz up a store bought one with a little extra oil, some lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. 

This will certainly be made again as we DO get into summer. 

Who woulda' thunk it?

After just kind of making fun of Lady Gaga a few days ago, I need to take back at least 18% of anything negative I have ever said about her, because that lady ROCKED a medley of songs celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Sound of Music on the Academy Award's last night. 

If you can sing like that, why would you hide behind 'Performance Art'?


So what you are saying is, advertising works.

Watching the Daytona 500, and that means watching a fair number of commercials.  Heck...this new 'side by side' thing, where they show the race on a corner of the screen while they still show the commercial means you have to sit through even more commercials than you used to. 

I haven't been excited by a video game since mid-2000, when Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate 2 came out...but, if want to try to convince me to play your video game, there are worse forms of persuasion than Kate Upton in an armored bustier. 

Likewise, if I am going to drink whiskey, I prefer Canadian to bourbon...but I am much more willing to watch Mila Kunis convince me to drink Jim Beam than I am just about anyone else you could think of(although, Christina Hendricks makes a compelling case for Black Label.)


Curse you, restraint!

A few days ago, Commander Zero threw up a post about an interesting piece of gear, the Grabber Outdoors Space Brand All Weather Blanket. Normally in the $19 range he noticed that price had dropped to $10, and was nice enough to share that information. 

Not knowing what I was exactly was getting into, but being forever unable to resist any kind of sweet deal, I made an impulse buy before leaving for work Tuesday, ordering 4 of them. 

Because the internet is amazing, and we live in a world of impressive convenience(despite my complaning at least once a week about how bad the world is) my shipment of 4 was waiting for me Friday afternoon.

Man...I wish I had ordered 8-10 of them instead of just 10.  These things seems like they have the potential to be highly useful, doing the job of several pieces of equipment.  They are waterproof, so they would make a great rain parka.  They are lined with the same reflective aluminum material that many 'emergency blankets/bivy sacks' are made of...but it is much sturdier than most of those items. Finally, because it surprised me by coming with grommets reinforced in the four corners, you could use it as you would a tarp, either as ground cover, or as waterproof covering for a shelter.

Now...don't get me wrong...it's not a tarp...but it is tarp like.  I'm not going to use it to strap down a load of scrap wood or metal in the back of my truck, but, I'm not terrified to unfold it and play with it like those other emergency blankets. 

One thing I did notice...unlike the one on Amazon which is listed as 5x7 feet, my packaging says the one I have is 6x6.  I'm not sure it makes a huge difference...it's plenty roomy.  I think if I was caught in a downpour, I could see myself holing up, and wearing this over my outer-clothing AND a backpack.

The only thing this blanket/parka/tarp is NOT, is quiet.  It is not something you want to be wearing if you are trying to sneak past an enemy sentry.

I just wish I had bought twice as many of them...one for each back pack, one for each car, and a few extras.