Climber's Ranch, cast iron and butter.

Dear readers,

I am long due for a post. So much has happened this summer, and I want to write about it all. Now I finally have internet connection, which is a good start. After 3 months of gritty 3G, true net feels like butter. 

Due to events in my life, which can be easily noticed by my change of name... I had the fortune to stay for several weeks at The Climbers Ranch, at the Grand Teton National Park in WY. 

I was told, before I went, that life at the climbers ranch was like glorified camping. So I arrived there with a small backpacking stove, and many packs of Via and Indian ''heat-up-in-5-minutes'' food. 

I quickly found that there was much, much more to the climbers ranch than just freeze-dried food. After shaking their heads in disapproval of my cooking ways, the good folks at the ranch showed me the 2 single electric burners, and a pair of kettles that live in the communal kitchen for desperate folks like me. ''Why use butane, when you can use these?!'' I quickly obliged, since the Indian food packets didn't even fit into my stove anyway.

Dinner time at the ranch
Every night the communal cooking area turned into a party, as folks pulled out their Coleman gas stoves and cast iron pots, and made everything from steaks and lots of bacon, to brownies, pasta, eggs, omelets, tacos, stir fries, couscous, and lots of vegetables, all washed down in lots of beer. Everyone shared and borrowed food and utensils from everybody else. Whatever I didn't have, I'd declare, and it would pretty much appear from one of the metal bear boxes. It was unbelievable. 

After watching the ways of the ranch for a couple nights, I borrowed a cast iron pan, some silverware and a couple plates from a friend, and I was set for the summer. You know you have a good friend when they give you their own cast iron pan. That pan can take on just about anything, and produce. It didn't matter that the heat from the electric coils oscillated, or that I overheated the pan pretty much every time... I was able to cook beans, eggs, heat up tortillas, make couscous, and sauté just about anything... in butter. 

Garbanzos, veggies and butter on cast iron...
The butter part happened one evening, when this gentleman called Jason Morgan showed up with a box of butter, and declared he had a lot of butter. I had forgotten my olive oil, so I happily helped him get rid of his butter and make my meal. I happened to have kale that night- courtesy of another 2 gentlemen, Ryan Nelling and Angelo Urrico. So that was what got sautéed in the butter. Dry kale (we didn't bother to wash any vegetables before cooking, as it was too much work to walk over to the communal sink and back...) in butter becomes crisp when it almost burns- it tastes amazing. 

Dinner negotiations w/ Ryan
Butter became my fat of choice for the summer. It gave a great taste to anything I cooked in it, and it didn't get destroyed as easily as olive oil in burners that seemed to have just about 2 settings: ''super fucking hot'' or ''off.'' It kept really well in the cooler... which was what we had for a fridge at the ranch.  It made for a great breakfast, along with bread and honey- again, courtesy of yet another gentleman, Bill Figeley, who brought, to share, a jar of honey form his own beehives back home. And it was an incredibly nutritious, and filling, condiment for all the sandwiches that I took in my hikes: butter and cheese, butter ham and cheese, butter and salami, butter salami and cheese... what condiment could ever taste as good as butter after hours of being heated and smashed in a pack? 6 butter and cheese sandwiches kept me going for 3 days driving home WY to FL.

Dirty, hungry and happy
So I learned, after being spoiled in my old house with a big kitchen and powerful gas stove, to cook with one electric coil burner. I learned that it's all perspective. It doesn't matter what you cook in (as long as you are not poisoning yourself with Teflon, and its evil axis cousin Calphalon... ), what matters is how you cook, how you share it with your friends, and the joy that you create. 

I will miss the many cooking days that I shared with friends this summer... and will commit to continue to create and share that happiness wherever my home may be. 

The Ranch Provides!

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