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Small Pleasures

I think it’s important to take the small pleasures in life seriously. 

Sometimes that involves short ribs. 

We try to have Friday night as date night. We eat out, or I cook dinner, usually something that doesn’t require much skill.   

A few days ago, I noticed a package of short ribs tucked in a corner of the freezer and thought they’d make a swell Friday night dinner. When I looked for recipes, a picture online showed a plate of short ribs and risotto, and I thought, “What the hell, I bet I can do that.” 

Yeah, that kind of thinking has gotten me in quite a bit of trouble over the years, but there’s an occasional win.   

Then, Friday morning we found out that Number Four had her first softball game of the year, so the Friday menu changed to a hot dog and popcorn, and one of us had a little ice cream on the way home. 

That left a package of thawed short ribs in the fridge. I pivoted easily, because I’ve had quite a bit of practice at that, and decided on an early dinner Saturday night.  Saturday morning, we were chatting with our favorite barista, and it dawned on us that the package of short ribs was too large for two people, so we asked her if she wanted to join us. 

Then my wife thought of a friend she hadn’t seen in a while and, baba-bing ,bada-boom – it was a thing. Good friends, reasonably good food, great conversation, plus the evening wrapped up early enough for me to get an entire night’s sleep.   

That last item is way more important than it used to be. 

It had been a good week already. The softball game with Number Four, my wife toured a college with Number One and earlier in the week we’d had dinner with friends during which we discussed the eternal question: What do you do when you’re out for dinner with old friends and have a desire to talk about things that matter, but the restaurant music is too loud to hear any of the conversation? 

In a few minutes I’ll stop writing and head outside to light the grill for the first burgers of the season for our weekly Sunday dinner. 

While I’m grilling, I’ll no doubt be thinking of the article I saw about a $6,000.00 hamburger. It’s that expensive because, among other things, the bun is covered with a thin layer of gold leaf. 

And that one sentence explains so much about what is wrong with this world.   

I realize this whole column has been mostly about food, but I’d also like to point out that none of the pleasures of the week depended on how much the food cost. As I was taking a bite of my hot dog, Number Four stole second base, then cruised into third as well. It was a fine hot dog, but at that moment it could have been made of sawdust and still tasted swell.  My risotto recipe was titled, “Easiest Risotto Ever!” and I did not have Vialone Nano rice imported from Italy and the parmesan cheese wasn’t freshly shaved, but no one complained. 

There’s nothing new about people thinking money is needed for a good time. After all, the ancient Roman emperors ate peacock tongues and over the years some of the other meals the upper crust dined on would gag a goat, if a goat could afford them. 

I’m going to wrap this up and get out to the grill. There’s no gold here on the shores of Olson Lake. Never has been, never will be. 

But we understand taking small pleasures seriously, and gold has nothing to do with it. 

Copyright 2024 Brent Olson 




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