Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cooking, Shooting and Hitting Your Mark


"Nice," I said to myself, "these reloads are right on."
It was an early Saturday morning which typically finds me at one of my 'happy spots':  the gun range. The sun was beginning to turn the overnight dew to a light vapor; rising above the grasses of the 300 yard rifle range.  Robins and the occasional squirrel taunted me to challenge the crosshairs of my Leupold 24 power scope.  The little boy in me said 'do it', the dad in me said, 'that's against range rules.'  Dad won out...this time.

I started reloading my own rifle and handgun cartridges for fun and some savings.  I also found that the more I reloaded, the more I took target practice.  The exercises were complimentary.  My aim is becoming better;  trigger pull, breathing, grip and sight picture all becoming more scrutinized and corrected.  How else can you put a bullet the diameter of a pencil eraser on a 4" metal plate 250 yards away?  The rifle caliber, .220 Swift, pushes that bullet out of the barrel at 5500 mph.  Yes, it is a racehorse!

Yet, with a precision scope, a fast bullet and a trigger that breaks like a glass rod, I can still miss a coyote at 150 yards!  Why?  Too excited, taking things for granted, rushing the shot, not following my training...

...Came home the other night and had a meal planned out already.  Walking through the door at 6:00 doesn't leave much time for a chicken to roast, so, had the veggies, meat and rice lined up for a quick stir-fry. It's one of those wonderful methods, too, to clean out the crisper section of the fridge and empty those bits of remnant protein in plates and bowls, cluttering the shelves.

"Daddyyyyyy...when's dinner ready?"  Siobhan was in the cat-like whining mode, tucking her head under my left arm while I stood at the stove shaking a saute' pan.
"Soon, baby girl, soon," I whispered, bending over, brushing her hair back and kissing her forehead.
She put her arm around my waist and said,

"DADDY! I need a BIG HUG from you!" in a pouting, Shirley Temple voice.

If you ever want to see me melt like butter left out on a summer grill station, have my daughter give me a squeeze.  Spun the handle of the pan away from me, growled like a bear, bent over and slid my hands under her outstretched and raised arms.  I rubbed her back like she likes and concluded with a smack on the rumpy.  She giggled, told me to stop and kissed me on the cheek.

"Can you go get Brendan downstairs and tell him dinner's ready?"  I asked her, "and then set the table, please."
"Brendan's not home from work yet, Mom says he'll be home in a few minutes...," she informed me.

Crap, I thought, these beautiful sugar snap peas aren't going to last forever; they have about a 4 minute window of goodness.  The sweet peppers and onions will hang pretty tough and the carrots will become a little softer than I like, but, what the hell, we're not all here.  So, I put a lid on the pan and waited for the fourth member of the household to return from work.

When we finally sat down for dinner after an excruciating 20 minutes passed, my once proud and vibrant stir-fry vegetables more closely resembled a color palate for camouflage hunting gear.  The vivid greens had faded to an olive drab, the sauce had permeated the meal, wiping away the contrasting colors and leaving everything in a dull, brown cast.  I needed to save this meal somehow... kicked into gear!  An old Alsatian cooking instructor drilled into us the phrase,
"Yew eet wiz yorrr eyezz firrrstt!"  With that maxim resonating in the back of my head, I reached for green onions and an orange.  The onions were a fine dice in 9 seconds, the outer peel of the orange was zested into fine threads of citrus fragrance.

Layed the plates on kitchen counter, cut a wedge of sticky white rice from the steamer and folded it onto center-plate.  Over that, I draped the stir-fry and followed with a substantial garnish of dark green onions and the fine orange zest.   Pulled the pin on a squeeze bottle of Hoisin sauce for a light drizzle over the top.

Passable, I thought.

All gathered at the table, napkins placed on laps and a blessing was said.

"Smells good, dad..."
"Just bit into some fresh ginger and it cleared my sinuses!" all worked out and good eats make happy peeps.

So, I thought, you don't have to hit the bullseye every time to be successful; you can be in the 9-ring or 8-ring of a paper target and find great satisfaction.

Just because you have a Wolf range, convection oven and a shelf of books, there's no guarantee that it'll be spot-on each time.  Seldom is it and that's OK!  Our success is not defined by perfection; it's measured in smiles, laughter, and the occasional compliment shared at table with each other.
Hell, whether you're taking aim at 300 yards or walking in the door at 6:00 p.m., everyone will be impressed that you hit your plate!

Take care, God bless and remember:
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends; 
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things!"


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