Spring is a time to retire the heavy stews that kept away the winter’s chill and celebrate the season of the sandwich and nothing says comfort food like pimento cheese. Now if your experience with pimento cheese involves picking up a pot of the processed grocery store stuff, then I can understand your lack of enthusiasm, store-bought spreads are like the movie adaptation of a book, they often share a name and precious little else. Likewise, if you are reading this north of the Mason-Dixon line then there is a good chance you are unaware of this delicacy and therefore “don’t know what you are missing”. It seems hard to believe, to anyone raised in the South, that this ubiquitous potluck dinner/church social/picnic/afternoon tea/school lunch staple is a “regional” dish. To the rest of you I am preaching to the choir, but stick with me and maybe I’ll find some scripture you haven’t heard yet.
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When March rolls around and Spring begins peeking at us from behind the trees, I begin to long for fields of green. Soon enough the flowers begin to raise their heads from their long winter naps and the signs of the turn of the season become impossible to ignore. It is about this time that one of my favorite holiday’s rolls around, when everyone gets to put on the green and pretend that they are one of the blessed people, if only for a day. For me, St. Patrick‘s Day is not about drinking and carousing, although I have been known to do my fair share of that, it is really about the change of the year, a celebration that we have made it through another winter and that the time of bounty is ready to begin again, the polar opposite of Thanksgiving, if you will. A time to consider what lies ahead and what this new year will bring. Of course, if you would like to celebrate that with a raised pint, well as long as the beer is black and stout, then who am I too judge.
Big Agnes Encampment +15° Sleeping System
$159.95 @ REI
When it comes to your sleeping arrangements, you can’t be too careful when it comes to climbing into someone else’s sack. This is especially true, out on the trail, where your choice of sleeping arrangements can be the difference between life and death, or comfort and discomfort in my non-mountaineering world. I have searched far and wide for a truly comfortable cold-weather bag at a reasonably backpackable weight and I now own a rack full of failed contenders. They are all great bags, but they fall short somehow. My 6’3″ more than amply padded frame requires more space than most off the shelf bags allow for, so it has been a challenging search at times. Like a trailbound Goldilocks I would go from bag to bag, this one was roomy and warm but too heavy; that one is lightweight but too constrictive and not warm enough. So the search continued until I finally found one that is, just about right.
It is often said that the best projects come from scratching an itch you have and that is certainly the inspiration for this one. My wife and I love to cook, and we are both gear heads, subsequently we have way more pots and pans than we need, or than our small farmhouse kitchen can store. We considered cutting back on our gourmet accoutrement, but just could not bear the thought of parting with our fajita griddle, extra No. 6 cast iron skillet or monkey-shaped baking pan, so a new storage option was in order. A quick survey of the kitchen revealed that we had some unused space along the wall under our kitchen table so we set out on a quest for a new pot rack. We searched high and low, but could not find anything that used the available space well, except for a $200 dollar model from Williams-Sonoma. So we abandoned that quest and headed over to Lowe’s for some lightbulbs. While picking up a pack of spiral CFL’s, suddenly a metaphorical lightbulb went off and we decided to make our own Pot Rack, custom designed and built for our available space.