Monday, April 16, 2012

Old School Is Cool

The other day, a friend of mine referred to some of my ways as "old school." He's a great guy, and I accepted what he said (and he said it with a good-natured laugh) as a compliment.
   I am, indeed, old school when it comes to favoring some old devices. My favorite old school device is my fountain pen. I've covered the fountain pen in a couple of other posts on this blog, but I'll give you a few bullet points of why it's my favorite writing instrument:
  • It looks cool. Different from most pens in use today.
  • It uses a liquid ink that doesn't smear when my hand passes over it as I write.
  • The first ones came into use a long time before we started using A.D. after the year.
I love the taste and texture of homemade bread. In 1999, I got a bread machine for Christmas and thought it was cool. It was! All I had to do was dump the ingredients in the square metal pan and the machine did the work. It made a decent loaf of bread, but I wasn't that thrilled with the bread because the paddle that kneaded the dough was still in the bread when I pulled it out of the device. I had to dig the paddle out, and was left with a hole in the bottom of the oddly-shaped loaf. I didn't like that. So...I started letting the machine make the dough, then I would pull it out and stick it in an old fashioned--old school--bread pan for the final rise. Then I baked it.
   That bread machine died eventually and I was going to buy a new one. On a lark, I looked at how to make bread old school. What I found (to my joy) was that the bread machine took longer to make one loaf than it would take me to make two loafs  by hand! I ran out and spent $3 on wooden spoons. I already had a rolling pin, for reasons (KARMA!) I didn't understand Started making bread Old School. Now I give away the spare loaf of bread and still have one to eat. Someone gets a nice little gift, and I get my sandwich.
 I make almost all the bread my wife and I eat. I also make rolls of different shapes. My cloverleaf rolls are, if I do say so myself, outstanding! Hard rolls are one of my specialties too, but I don't make them very often. The key to those is letting the dough sit at least overnight, and I don't usually like to wait that long.

I like to shine my shoes, and have always preferred to have my dress shoes look, well, dressy. I used to use the kind of shoe polish that comes in a bottle with a built-in sponge on top. I would squeeze the bottle and smear that liquid stuff all over my shoes. It was glossy, it was easy...and eventually the build-up of it would make the leather crack.
   I got old school with that one and picked up a tin of Kiwi shoe polish. It takes longer to shine my shoes. I have to smear the black gunk on each shoe, let it dry, wipe the excess off, and buff each shoe with a soft cloth until I see a glow I can appreciate. It doesn't crack the leather. It helps keep it supple in addition to shining it. Yeah. I like my old school shoe polish.

   I used to be an electric razor kind o' guy. It was easy. It was electric! I plugged it in and felt the power while I ran it over my face in any direction that suited my fancy. It did an okay job, but I wondered if I couldn't get a better shave some other way. When I was in college, my grandfather gave me an old shaving brush. I had a shaving mug, and would make my own lather. It felt good to put it on my face, and I was able to get a great shave. After I graduated from college and started working as an executive, I went back to the electric razor. I used it every day, and had several of them over the years.
   A couple of years ago, I dug out the old shaving brush. Maybe my electric razors were just getting old (I have three of them kicking around the house somewhere), or maybe my beard was getting tougher. I'm not sure I care what the reason is, but I started shaving with the brush and a cake of shaving soap. The difference is amazing! The brush, the lather (as opposed to the easy stuff that shoots into my hand from a can) makes for a smooth, extra-close shave. I won't go back to the electric razors, and I think I'll save my stock of shaving cream for water fights I want to win. Hint: if you want to use shaving cream in a water fight, just pop the top off a can of shaving cream and replace it with a spray nozzle from an aerosol can. You can turn shaving cream into spray paint that way...but you didn't hear that from me!
   I get a great shave with that old brush. Know what the best part is? The shaving soap I get from Rite Aid for 25 cents, lasts about six months of daily shaving.

I like pizza. I like thick crust, and thin crust, deep dish...and even frozen pizza sometimes. No pizza is bad to this man's taste, unless they do something criminal with it like putting pineapple or dead fish on it, and even then I'll roll with it and eat the pizza.
   Then I took a look at the old school way I make bread dough, and wondered if I could make a killer pizza crust The difference is for a good pizza dough--one that's firm enough to hold any topping--you need to let the dough sit for at least four hours before you add toppings and bake. Even then, using a metal pizza pan or cookie sheet, I couldn't get the crust to be crisp on the bottom (to hold the stuff) and soft on the top.
   Voila! The answer presented itself old school style. I spent ten bucks on a pizza stone. I make the dough, let it sit four hours or so, heat the stone on the bottom of my oven, and build the pizza on the hot stone. Stick it back on the floor of the oven for 10 minutes, and I get one helluva good pizza.
   It looks like this:

That's old school. I like it.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Miller said...

Thanks for the fun read, Dave. You know how much I am also an "old school" kind of guy.