14 December 2006

Elk Steaks, Cornbread, and Thou

My wife Jan is out of town this week. This gave me time to replace the mixing valve on the old Sears washer that started acting up at the beginning of hunting season, clean up the skull from the big buffala (aka bison) I shot two years ago for the high school history club and that I've been meaning to give to my friend Don back east, and to take a turn at chairing the film series at the Venus Rising Cafe (my flicks were Lucas' "THX 1138" and Lynch's "Eraserhead"). But I get lonely, and hate sitting down to supper with just Roly The Dog and Phoebe The Cat drooling over my plate.

And so I took three or four packages of elk steaks out of the freezer. My apologies to Rebecca and Sarah over at http://women4wildgame.blogspot.com/ -- I have not the patience to age my elk 4 weeks and I worry about temperatures in the mud room where I hang my game climbing over 40 degrees what with global warming and all... Anyway, I thawed the elk steaks and plunked them in my favorite marinade of red wine, olive oil, juniper berries, garlic, thyme, parsely and some other secret ingredients I can't recall just now.

And then I emailed a bunch of friends. Most of my friends are fellow faculty at Montana Tech and they are in the death throes of finals week. Grades are due tomorrow, I think--though I'm not really sure since I'm on sabbatical this semester and don't look at the calendar much. I was sure to invite about twice as many folks as what I had steaks for, knowing that some colleagues wouldn't have time to check email and some would be sitting in their office every night 'til 1 am grinding out those grades (sorry, Bill).

And sure enough about half showed up: Chad, the newest member of the Tech Comm Dept (he's a homeboy who went off to the big leagues and decided to return); Henrietta my Department Head & her pardner (a "wanna-be" hunter himself) Howard Smith; Don & Andrea ("DnA"--they are biochemists who have discovered a couple of cures for cancer) from chemistry; David from chemistry (he's a computer modelling chemist who also pioneers innovative teaching methods); and Simon, a visiting multi media artist in my department (he's the one that drives the huge old campervan with the 4-cylinder engine he rebuilt himself from an old block with a rifle slug in it).

Folks found me in the kitchen dooryard grilling steaks; as they cooked we huddled in for warmth, drank beer, and watched the stars come and go between the drifting clouds. Steaks done (or some close enough: seared on both sides) we moved inside.

What a feast! David brought his southwest style cornbread baked in a cast iron pan with flecks of jalapenos throughout; DnA a tossed salad with cress and other greens I ought to have a name for; H&H a couple of quarts of ice cream to go with that peach pie I thawed out. The junior professors brought themselves (they were hardly even late to supper), an admirable feat since they are doing exactly what junior faculty should do and that is to stimulate students into producing far more work than any single professor can possibly handle). And somebody brought a pile of brownies. Wow, talk about magic. We ate and talked and ate and talked some more, and only reluctantly did I let my guests go home. But they left a few things.

Two days later: today was one big rush--order a Montana leg of lamb from the butcher for Christmas Eve dinner; sit for a television interview for a book I published nearly 6 years ago but that still seems to arouse interest as a holiday gift; bring my partial plate to the dentist to fix that tooth that popped out when I was eating an elk steak sandwich yesterday (no jokes about tough meat, Sarah & Rebecca); visit George Grant at the nursing home (we watch a movie together once a week); and host THX 1138 at the Venus. Drank lots of coffee (which is why I'm up past 10 pm).

But when I got home at the end of all this, HAH! A half-pound of antelope steak went into the cast iron fry pan. By the time I unwrapped the slab of David's cornbread that I've been hoarding and poured a glass of wine the steak was done. I sat down to this meal, toasted the memory of good friends and antelope, and savored the taste of life worth living. Afterwards, I had a bowl of cherry vanilla icecream. Then topped that off with a scoop of pecan praline and the last brownie. Life is good. Too good to live alone. Hope Jan gets home soon.


Anonymous said...

why are these personal musings on the internet?? (maybe send a family news letter)

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymouse, lighten up! Seems like cooking them elk steaks is what all that earlier hunting stuff was all about. Some of like reading about food. Especially elk steaks. Mmmm.... - Butte Guy