Matt’s Unbelievable Eggs Ranchers

A hot topic that often comes up daily in dinner conversation is asking one another what it is that we usually eat. For the French, I have found that chocolate is definitely a favorite, along with pastries and bread, in all its many, many forms–baguette, brioche, pain au chocolat, etc.  Cette petite liste that I have tacked onto the end of the last sentence does not even begin to describe the amount of grains that are consumed.

For breakfast, I often eat brioche which is sweet bread with chocolate chips, and I usually coat that bad boy in Nutella before dunking it in a big bowl of warm milk. Otherwise, I’ll have toast with Nutella or jam, and most likely some cereal with yogurt. If one does not have the fortune to eat a nice lunch at home, the boulangeries as well as certain cafés offer a wide variety of sandwiches for a reasonable amount if one is looking to save some euros. Otherwise, I see a lot of people mid-afternoon walking down Rue Nationale with glace (ice cream), pastries, and entire baguettes (baguettes). As far as dinner goes, there tends to be a lot more variety there, but one can always count on baguette being served, along with a cheese bar before dessert. As you can see, the French love their grains.

I do not remember exactly how this came up, but somehow I got to talking about what I usually eat for dinner. Now, I am no cook–that would be my Italian roommate Kristi who makes a mean lasagna, a mean Italian anything really, but I must admit, I would consider myself slightly above adequate when it comes to making egg creations, in particular, my Eggs Ranchers. The bouts of vegetarianism, the high price of meat, and the blandness and loneliness of rice, beans, salsa, and tortilla pushed me to become the father of Eggs Ranchers that I am today. Thinking about what I cook, and definitely something that I miss eating, I told them about this thing that I like to create, and I promised that I would make it for them the next night.

Salsa is a rarity in France, as well as tortillas, black or pinto beans, and, malheureusment (sadly), peanut butter, perhaps my favorite food. One can have all of their needs met at their local Monoprix (mono-prie) or Carrefour (car-foor), the first being where I was able to find salsa, tortillas, and lentils (no black or pinto beans). Now, I am going to unveil my secret recipe. It is going into a future cookbook that I am going to have published with my big smiling face on it, so do not steal it! Merely profit from its culinary worth.

***

Matt’s Unbelievable Eggs Ranchers

“Always good…at any time, in any mental state, during all seasons.”

(Recipe courtesy Matt Barrett)

Total Time: Depends on how hungry you are and, consequently,  how under-cooked you are willing to eat your eggs, how crunchy you like your rice, how warm you like your beans, and how cooked your vegetables.

Prep: NA

Servings: How hungry are you?

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 tortillas
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • beans or lentils
  • red pepper, green pepper, onion
  • cheese
  • guacamole
  • a shit ton of salsa

Directions:

  1. Get your rice going!
  2. Get your beans/lentils going!
  3. Fry up those peppers!
  4. Cook those eggs!
  5. Fry up/heat up your tortilla!
  6. Add numbers 1-5 together on a plate!
  7. *Cover it in salsa, guacamole, and cheese until you can no longer see what you’ve just put on your plate!
  8. Mange ça! (Eat it!)

***

The kitchen was crowded just before I was about to set to work; Joel was making some apple pie and Ella was whipping up some chocolate chip and walnut cookies. As you can see, it was American night. I began cooking 20 minutes before we were to eat. That was alright though. If there is one thing about Eggs Ranchers that you should remember it is that you can prepare them in 10 minutes if you have to. It was a bit of a rush, and I have never cooked 12 eggs all together in the same pan (they turned out to be scrambled with the use of a pie serving utensil because all that was available was a wimpy, skinny spatula), but it all turned out well. The second thing you need to remember about Matt’s Unbelievable Eggs Ranchers is that they are always good. I have made them at the end of an exhausting day, ravenous and crabby, and I have made them while content, wearing my favorite sweater on a cold day in January. They are good any time, in any mental state, during all seasons.

It was a magical night at Les Girault. A bit of partage-ing (partager=to share) of culture, and in what better form could one ask for?–chocolate chip and walnut cookies, homemade apple pie, and some weird thing that I make because I am vegetarian and like to economize, as well as a chance for us–the hosts–to say thank you to our new family. Cheers!

Advertisements

“Rock on freaky bro!”

It’ll be my third day back home today, and I have had a new post forming in my head since the day that I left the ranch–last Saturday, August 11th. I want to talk about the origin of “Rock on freaky bro!” and its significance to John and I.

There’s a little kid, John told me, of the age of five or six whose adopted mantra is the title of this post. I don’t know anything else about him, other than another story John told me about the time he politely asked an old man on the ranch if he could start calling him “Jim Boy.” However, from what I knew of this kid and his phrase, I began to love.

(For all of you LDB staff members reading this, I picture him to look a lot like little Louis. For all of you who don’t know Louis, follow this link to enhance your understanding of this post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUXQhUtMj1A)

From what I have heard, it would seem to me that a kid this happy, who uses the phrase “Rock on freaky bro!” must see life as one big party, and from working at a camp for the first part of this summer, a lot of wisdom can be gleaned from children.

Now, Montana is beautiful. I loved the remoteness of the area where we had stayed. You could stand on any hilltop and not see anything for 20 miles in every direction. It’s so remote, you could go running naked in the mornings while the sun is coming up while carrying a knife in case of mountain lions, if you wanted to.

During the day, however, I would often fall out of love. Imagine sittiing in a window-less, 4ft x 4ft x 5ft square space in 95 degree weather for 10 hours that bounces up and down so violently that you’re coming out of your seat every two seconds. On top of that, the sweat from the heat of the day, and the grease from lubricating the tractor in the morning, have paired up with the dust floating in the air, so heavy that one feels as if they have been transported back to the Dust Bowl of the 30s. You will literally see dirt if you blow your nose. This is the Montana that I do not like.

R1-05649-0005 (1)

It is when imagining yourself in the Dust Bowl days is no longer fun, after you have exhausted all the possibilities for post-graduation plans, or the music runs out on your iPod, that you realize the Montana that you do not love is back, and you have to spend another 4 hours with it. It is in those instances where I would force myself to smile for 5 seconds, to release some Endorphins, and I would raise my hand, form the universal rock-on symbol, and shout, “Rock on freaky bro!” with all I had. John and I would communicate it to one another from the window’s of our respective hot boxes, and we would scream it on the ride home at the end of the work day as the Montana that we loved had come back.

When life gets hard, “Rock on freaky bro!”

The Montana Fiasco

Bonjour friends,

The purpose of this blog is to set my worldly travels a spinnin’. First and foremost, if you have made your way to this blog out of interest of the going-ons of my life–thank you. If you were here with me, I would flash you a smile and give you a hug. Since you are not, know that I do so in spirit. Secondly, you guessed it, I will be travelling to France for four months, and over the course of that period, the experiences that I will experience will be experienced vicariously by you, dear reader, if you choose to read about them. Finally, being a fan of Franglais, and also a dependent, I will be sprinkling these diddies with a word or two in French every now and then, the result being, I believe, a more accurate, educational, and creative portrayal of that which I would like to express.

I have many hopes for this blog, the first being a kick-ass comeback from failed attempts freshman and sophomore year when I couldn’t come up with things to say. My second hope is that it will step in as an effective substitution for the lack of letters that I wish that I could be writing to many of you, but regrettably, I doubt that I will be able to find that time. Finally, as my friend Jared stated in the introduction of his blog for Ecuador, speaking a foreign language can be exhausting, and I know that I will come to appreciate this space to cram in all of the English that my starved, Anglophone soul needs and my fingers can crank out.

In order to get into the swing of things, I would like to share a story with you of an event that passed not 12 hours ago, in fact, it all began at 2:30am in Billings, MT, but first, a little bit of background information on where I currently am and what I am doing.

I left Lac du Bois (“Lake of the Woods”), a french immersion camp in Bemidji, MN, one of the many language camps of the Concordia College Language Villages, the 22nd of July. I arrived at the Seven Blackfoot Cattle Ranch the 23rd of July where I have been working as a ranch hand with a friend from school who needed to fly to Arizona to attend his sister’s wedding. We left straight from work last night, arriving at the Logan Int’l Airport in Billings around 2:30am. After dropping my friend, John, off, I proceeded  with the plan that we had carelessly hatched back at the ranch: we’ll figure it out when we get there. There was some talk about maybe sleeping in my car or at a park “or something,” and then I would just drive the four hours back after spending the day exploring Billings.

The secret ingredient: love

Figuring it out entailed driving in circles around Billings, stopping at random motels for internet access, stopping off in parking lots downtown that were deemed too sketchy, all the while clumsily swiping at the Tom Tom on my dashboard while clinging emotionally out of fear to the women’s voice monotonously spewing out wrong directions to camp sites that didn’t exist. Eventually, I stumbled upon Lake Elmo State Park, parking my car next to a playground under which I was lulled to sleep by the sound of some very concerned dogs across the street.

Ranch Sunset

I awoke two hours later to the shuffling of a middle-aged woman in yoga pants walking her three white poodles. After she noticed me watching her beneath the rock wall, she switched into a higher gear and avoided eye contact. Concerned that she would notify the police, I packed up my things as quickly as I could, and made a beeline for my dirt-encrusted car.

Being on Montana schedule, my body was itching for two things, the first being a run, the second being a poop. Now, you must understand that official bathrooms do not exist out on the ranch. In fact, we spend many days out in the fields, cutting, raking, and bailing hay, sometimes for 12 hours without taking any breaks. Now, for all of you hikers, nature-enthusiasts, and everyone else that has had experience making due with a handful of leaves and perhaps a tree to rest up against, it can either be very peaceful, “natural,” or it can be completely unenjoyable. One’s body learns to go right in the morning and at the end of the workday.

I had to poop immediately after getting to my car. Too far away to drive to the nearest gas station, I walked briskly to the restrooms only to be greeted by large white signs saying that restrooms will be open when someone is on duty. What would you do in the situation? There were middle-aged dog walkers making their rounds, a gang of three tubular teenagers lazying in the lake, and other runners huffing and puffing. I did what anyone in my situation would would have done. I did the most logical thing I could think of–I took a poop in the lake. I’m sorry. I apologize. It turns out that that women in tight pants walking her three dogs had good reason to distance herself from that suspicious, dirty-looking kid sleeping under a playground. However, the fish beneath the surface and the cute little ducklings on top do it, and so did I. Sometimes it can’t be helped, and when that occurs, one might as well embrace it in the form of a lengthy blog entry that can only break down unrealistic expectations of propriety. That was my Montana fiasco.