W4DW: Autumn Pork Chops with Parmasean Rice

This is my favorite time of year (next to Christmas).  The leaves are changing into a brilliant backdrop of color, the days and nights are delightfully cool, and there simply is no better weather for climbing.  And one of the best parts of a great day of climbing (besides the time spent with good friends) is having a nice, hot meal that mirrors the season.

For this dish, I looked to the Maven of Domesticity, Ms. Martha Stewart, for a nice pork recipe that would really celebrate the season.  Say what you want about the woman, she has some great recipes that are relatively easy to put together.

Autumn Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops, about 1/2″ thick
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage, finely shopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine

103_00701.  Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Cook the pork until each side is browned, about 3-4 minutes for each side.

2.  Remove the pork chops and cover them with aluminum foil to keep them warm.  Add the shallot and simmer until soft, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the103_0072 sage, thyme and wine and reduce until about 1/3 of a cup remains, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the juices from the pork.

Serve the pork with the sauce drizzled over top.

A great side dish (as recommended by Martha) is Parmasean Rice.  It’s very simple: cook about 1 1/2 cups of rice, and when it is all finished add 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of Parmesean cheese and mix until blended.



Virgin Gets Drilled

Please, watch this video, then we shall discuss below.

First, the climbing here, wherever it is, looks absolutely brilliant.  I have never really climbed sandstone as a “mature” climber, but this looks nothing short of awesome.  I also have to tip my hat to the production values, something that sometimes gets left in the snow fence on the side of the road of video production, what with the easy access to editing software and publication (via You Tube and Vimeo, as well as others).  As someone who started his career in video production, I have to appreciate when someone takes the time to do it right.

That being said, there are two glaring issues in this video, however, which are but examples of a larger epidemic: there is the scene of a drill being taken to the rock (around the 2:05 mark), and a brief scene of one of the climbers sitting next to a fire lit directly beneath the rock.  Both of these are such blatant disregards for Leave No Trace norms, and serve no purpose other than the selfish ones of the climbers.  I cannot fathom why, in any scenario, a hole must be drilled into the rock at chest height.  And lighting a fire under the rock just takes away from the natural beauty of the place.

(I am slightly less upset about the giant flake that was thrown off of the top of the boulder just before they are shown drilling it.  If it was very loose and was going to be an obvious hazard in that it would have come off under simple body weight, than…well, to me, it falls in that gray area, drifting towards being OK.  But seeing that they are drilling immediately after that makes me wonder how the flake was removed…)

The problem that these actions represent is one of respect.  To be put simply, boulderers (by that I mean those who participate exclusively, or almost exclusively in that discipline), and to some extent some sport climbers, lack a certain respect for their environment.  I blame the gyms.

Here is my theory: it is, by and large, very unlikely that someone who climbs trad to enter that discipline without being mentored by someone.  That person learned their craft from someone else, and so this relationship of mentor/apprentice goes on.  Because of this relationship, the attitudes and approaches of the older climbers gets passed on to the newer generations.  There is a fairly large “entry barrier” as well, as getting into trad climbing involves a substantial investment in gear (’cause cams ain’t cheap!), so unless the climber is serious about pursuing their craft, they more than likely will not stay involved.

Boulderers, on the other hand, need only their shoes and a soft place to land.  There is no need for a partner, and frankly, just about anyone can figure out what needs to happen to finish a problem.  Granted, there are limits depending on a climber’s strength and technique, and I wholly believe that bouldering can only make you a better climber, but bouldering is not hard to start.  A climber doesn’t require much instruction, it is way more accessible, and someone can get the gear they need for less than $200 (as opposed to the $500-700 required to get outfitted for trad).

So here we have a whole subset of climbers who don’t have that same connection to the traditions of their forefathers who have now been turned loose on the rock of the world.  Those traditions, in some respects, may be too constraining: there are certainly old heads who look down on the concepts of sticky rubber, dynamic rope and camming devices as blights on the face of “pure climbing”.  But sometimes those traditions can manifest as restraint, or as a conscience.  They can be that little angel on our shoulder who makes us stop and think about our actions.

Boulderers, I think, don’t have that angel; hence the drilling at ground level and lighting a fire at the base of the rock.  Things have started to improve some, but only because of access closures.  Once the rock is taken away, then people start to listen.  Perhaps at that point, it should be too late.  But, through the work of local organizations, the climbers start to clean up their act (and clean up their crags).  Until they develop that conscience, though, until they develop traditions that are in the best interest of the land they use for recreation, they will continue to be the source of so much angst for the climbing community at large.

Now, this isn’t to say that all boulderers are soulless crimp monkeys who fling their crap at the world…far from it.  I think that the majority of climbers who participate in that discipline do have respect for the environment and the rock.  But then, I would also hazard to say that the majority of them probably participate in other disciplines as well, and take a more balanced approach to climbing.  I would also hazard a guess to say that the problem “children” probably wouldn’t know who John Gill was if he fell on them.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am not against drilling for sport climbs when the climb is not protectable by traditional means.  I am not for climbing every rock I see, but I also don’t see a problem with responsible development or aschew the ideal of nailing a first ascent on a premium problem.  These opinons are obviously up for debate.  But regardless of your thoughts on the ethics of climbing, I think that we can probably agree on two things: 1) that the drilling incident in the video above is way out of line, and 2) that it is our shared “heritage” that, despite all other arguments, holds us together.

One last thought about protectable lines: if it is going to be drilled, it really shouldn’t be able to take any protection.  Check out this video for an awesome example of a really clean ascent.  Oh, and I would never want to take a fall like this guy did.  That is the definition of hard core.

Mute Monday: Authors

Writer’s Block


Check out Troll’s blog, The Troll Report, for the original Mute Monday.

Friday Fill-Ins

Sorry…none too creative this week.  Be sure to check out Janet’s site!

1. So are we going to do this, or what?

2. Game 2 of the NLCS is what’s up ahead.

3. I love to relax on rainy days and just enjoy the solitude.

4. Isn’t a cruellar just a danish of some sort.

5. I walk a fine line between humor and bufoonery.

6. Philadelphia tap water is the true elixir of life!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to the Phillies game, tomorrow my plans include more cleaning and a trip to Goodwill, and Sunday, I want to sleep in!


Please note: I do not work for Mad Rock, nor do I receive any kick-backs or any kind of pay from them.

Mad Rock posted this on their Facebook page today…they always seem to have some good deals going on over there.

fukubukuroFree mystery stuff is always cool.  Unless it’s poop.  Then it is decidedly not cool.

This also leads to an interesting point:  Mad Rock’s gear is on par in terms of quality with all of the other companies out there (FiveTen, La Sportiva, Metolius, etc), yet they are able to charge a significantly lower price.  Could it be that our beloved climbing companies are, dare I say, charging more just for the name?

It is simple economics: the price will reflect whatever the market will bare.  If FiveTen can charge $135 for their Anasazi Velcros, and people will buy them, well, then that’s the price.  They don’t really do anything differently than, say, the La Sportiva Katanas, or the Mad Rock Demons.  True, there are different fits, but is the fit really worth paying $30 more?  (Note: my first pair of velcros was the FiveTen Anasazi, a pair that I wore to death and love.)

I find that the amount of money I am willing to budget or spend on climbing is in a direct-inverse relationship to how much money I make and how long I have been climbing.  When I first started, I had no problems dropping $70 on Petzl’s Corax harness, or $135 on the aforementioned Anasazis (which I purchased on pro-deal, to be fair).  As I have climbed more and moved forward in my career, I have found that I am less inclined to drop a large amount of money on gear.

It’s not because I don’t like the gear, or like climbing less.  I think that 1) I am trying to take a minimalist approach with the amount of stuff I bring with me, and 2) don’t believe that I have to spend a lot of money to get quality gear.  Mad Rock is the perfect example of this.  If a carabiner is rated to 23 kN, what does it matter if it costs $10 or $15?

W4DW: Mascarpone Pasta Sauce

This week for What’s For Dinner Wednesday, I decided to take a look at what I had laying around in the fridge that I couldn’t find another use for.  I decided to venture into making risotto a couple of weeks ago, and the recipe called for mascarpone cheese.  It is very soft and has a very mild flavor, even more mild than mozzarella.  I had almost the entire 8 ounces left over, and was looking for a way to use it in another recipe.  I adapted this from something I found on the internet.  (The risotto was a smashing success, by the way, and got rave reviews.  Hopefully Ramsay would have approved.)

The resulting sauce is very similar to an alfredo in texture and taste.  A would warn you that the parmesan really kicks up the cheese flavor, so if you are not a cheese fan this may not be the recipe for you.  The next time that I make this, I will be making a few modifications to layer in some different flavors and dial down the cheesiness.

Mascarpone Pasta Sauce

2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 small Portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
8 oz mascarpone
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup water reserved from pasta pot
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped chives

103_00401.  Cook the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the water when finished.

2.  In a large sauce pan, melt the butter in the olive oil.

3.  Add the garlic and simmer for 1-2 minutes until they are golden (not brown).

103_00414.  Add the Portobello mushrooms and simmer for 3-4 minutes until soft.

5.  Add the mascarpone and the heavy cream, stirring until smoothly blended.

6.  Continue to simmer, adding the reserved water a little at a time until the sauce is at the consistency you desire.

103_00437.  Add the Parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste.

8.  Add the pasta and toss until evenly coated.

9.  Serve immediately and sprinkle with the fresh chives.


Bon Appetito!