Sunday, March 29, 2015

Slowing down to enjoy the moment, old skool style

Yesterday morning, as I was making coffee, my wife asked me why I was using a hand grinder to grind my coffee beans and not using a machine. I recently purchased a burr grinder and its taken my coffee making to a new level. Her question made me think some - sure the hand grinder is one-third to one-fifth the price of an electric machine, it appeals to my price sensitivity, but there is something more to it.

My answer was that I could take the grinder with me when I go camping or traveling, continuing the idea that I could make great coffee anywhere. But more and more as the day went on, I realized that it was about slowing down to enjoy the moment.

Over the last few years, there are a few old skool methods and technologies that have re-surfaced in my life. I've started to make coffee with fewer machines, just different manual brew methods. It takes more time than just pushing a button on a super-auto espresso machine or popping a K-Cup in the machine and I get to enjoy the act of making the coffee.  The grinder was just another step in that direction, only adding a minute or two to the process, but allowing me time to think about where the beans came from and how they were ultimately turned into the drink I'm about to enjoy.

The same thing with shaving. Yes, shaving, something I've been doing almost every day since my late teens. I've always hated shaving, but I hate been un-shaven even more. I'd shave while I was taking a shower, taking advantage of the fact that the hot water would have already softened my beard (yeah, it grows that fast). It just became one of those things I'd do.

About a year ago, I got a double edged razor for my birthday - old skool, like your grandpa used. It takes a little longer, but the slowing down gives me the time to listen to the sound of the whiskers being cut, enjoy the smell of the shaving cream or feel the soap lathering on my chin and neck. I look forward to shaving now; it's a calming experience.

This year, for my birthday, I got a few cast iron pans. I find it amazing that cast iron pans cost less, last forever and cook better than the modern, copper, stainless steel and non-stick pans. I don't know why its taken me so long to start using them - I love them. The trade off comes in that they need to be seasoned, heating the pan and oiling it down, and entirely dried to prevent rusting. But with slowing down when taking care of these pans, the food browns better and still doesn't stick to the cookware. Fried eggs have crispy bottoms and beautiful runny yolks.

There is something to be said about returning to the classics, the old skool ways of doing things and stepping away from the push button automation or the arms race of how many blades can be squeezed into a razor. Slow down and enjoy the moment even when you're getting things.