Today marked our first cool fall weather day of the year. With overcast skies and the occasional drop of rain there was none of the second guessing about heading out of my apartment without a windbreaker and long sleve shirt that I’d been doing for the last couple of weeks.
Soda breads aren’t something I make very often, but today’s cool weather and our recent turn towards fall had me in the mood for some nice warm bread. Soda breads are great as not only are they tasty, they’re also rather foolproof and quick and dirt cheap to make. Fool proof as in today’s soda bread was whipped together in a rather ad-hoc fashion, came out of the oven looking more “sorta bread” than soda bread, and still managed to be light, tasty, and wonderful.
As with most things on this blog there are already tons of recipies and resources out there for soda breads, so I’m not going to rehash all that here. But, if you’re looking to give some home baking a try soda breads are a good place to start. And please don’t be shy with the caraway seeeds…
Fall is here, so it’s time to dig out the wool socks and Bean Boots and get everything polished up and water-proofed.
Hello blog, I’m back.
I’m a big fan of the blog Guitar Ted Productions (he actually updates his blog regularly!) and a while back he mentioned liking to sometimes ride his tried and true routes backwards. I gave that a try tonight with this loop west of town. I usually ride the northern section, which is full of rollers first. That puts you on the dead-flat Chippewa River Trail for an easy 12 mile cruise back into town.
Riding this backwards was a trip. You think you know the route, but with everything backwards the hills hit you differently, the views are different, and where you normally know, without thinking about it, when to burn energy and when to conserve it you now have no idea. I rode a lot slower and used a lot less energy than I could have as I was worried about having a bunch of climbing at the end of the ride. Riding routes backwards is a good little trick for keeping things simple and fresh ride wise and I think I’ll be using it more in the future.
A weather radio or two is good piece of kit for anyone that that’s doing their outandabouting via bicycle or feet or might need to get official updates about the latest outbreak once the zombie apocalypse kicks off.
My dad was a commercial fisherman when I was a kid and we usually had weather radio on on the boat if we were heading out and WR was usually in the background off and on wherever fisherman gathered. Later on in life I always checked in on the forecast while helping to lead sea kayaking trips. Nowadays, living in Wisconsin, it’s nice to have my radio set to “alert” when the weather starts looking dicey or when I’m out on a bike ride, so I get a warning that I might need to start looking for a bit of shelter.
I use my phone for most weather checks these days, but strong storm cells can knock out cellphone reception, data reception can be iffy in the more out of the way places in the Midwest, my phone battery has a habit of dying right when I really need it, and, of course, severe weather can knock out cell towers, so it’s good to have a backup. Weather radio operates on very high frequency wavelengths and can transmit over long distances and though anything Mother Nature might throw your way and the batteries seem to last forever, so chances are it will be there and working when you need it.
There’s lots of info available about weather radio and the different kinds of receivers available on the internet; I encourage you to check it out. The little pocket sized receiver in the photo (Midland model HH50B) seems to hold up well and works for me.
It’s been hot and crazy humid here the last few days, so I really haven’t felt like cooking. The other night I thought I didn’t have anything quick and easy to cook and was thinking I’d walk to one of the fast food joints (I’m generally not a fan) near my apartment, but walking home in the heat and humidity with a belly full of fast food didn’t appeal either. So, what to do…. Then I spied a banana that needed to be eaten up and realized I had a bunch of fresh, local strawberries in the fridge. Add a few pecans and some whipping cream to the mix and you have yourself a tasty, healthy dinner in less than five minutes.
Another meal for the Simple, Healthy, and Hearty file. White beans and Chorizo is super simple to make. Sauté chorizo in olive oil with some onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Dump in white beans, a can of tomatoes, and maybe some bay leaves. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon, put a lid on the pot and let it barely simmer away on low for 15-20 minutes. Eat. Add a salad or some crusty toasted french bread and you’re golden. Simple, cheap, healthy and it fills you up.
As an added bonus if you’re looking for things to eat while the zombies are roaming during the apocalypse, this can easily be made from dried, shelf stable ingredients.
Eating local, healthy, and hearty (gotta fuel those bike trips) doesn’t have to be a big deal, expensive, or anything complicated. This is a pretty typical lunch for me. The potatoes and onions were grown somewhere here in Wisconsin, I picked them up for dirt cheap at my local corner store. The sausage came from a local butcher shop that works with local farmers and is a pleasant 10 minute bicycle trip out of my way, their meats are always top notch and reasonably priced. Some salt, dried parsley, and sweet vermouth that I braised the sausage and onions in are the only parts of lunch that aren’t local. Most of time it took to cook this was just it simmering away on the stove and me making sure nothing dried out or burned. With a little label reading and hunting around this sort of thing becomes second nature and it beats eating fast food or microwaved crap.
I hadn’t figured on covering cross country skiing as part of my whole getting around your hood under human power deal, but we had a pretty good dump of snow last night so I took a spin around the neighborhood on skis. Most of the handful of people in cars I saw were either spun out or having a hard time getting around. But, there I was having a grand time of it and getting around just fine. There might be something to this whole not needing a car for short trips business. 🙂
There’s not too much to talk about for this post. But, if you’re going to be doing your outandabouting via walking and pedaling you’re probably going to need a couple pair of good, sturdy, comfortable, walkable, shoes. For the kind of commuting and errand running via bike we’re talking about here you’ll probably want platform or flat pedals on your bike as well. There’s lots of resources about pedals and shoes on the web, so we won’t obsess over the details here.
You can bike in most shoes that are also designed to walk in (why they design shoes for reason other than to walk well in is beyond me). As long as they don’t have a built up sole and offer your feet some injury and weather protection you’re solid. We’re getting to the end of the snow season here and starting into the mud and muck season, so I thought I’d post a pic of the shoes I’m doing most of my outandabouting in these days. High tops help keep your feet stable on unsure footing and help keep the muck out. The ones on the left have some sort of waterproof membrane and a gusseted tongue that make them 100% waterproof. The shoes on the right are just thick full grain leather with a good coating of clear shoe polish on them. The shoes on the right can wet through, but you’ve really got to work to do it. Being made of thick leather if you wear wool socks underneath them your feet should stay warm even if your feet get wet. My feet have staid warm the couple times I’ve gotten them soaked in the 3 or so years I’ve owned those shoes. And, of course, neither of theses shoes look like you’re off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, race in The Tour, or are a member of the local swat team, which is nice.
With a few tweaks you can do all your around the neighborhood type tasks, going to the library, the grocery store, the coffee shop, via bike and foot while wearing normal looking clothes, shoes included.
I’m a big fan of stews and braises as they’re cheap and easy to make and can be quite nutritious and flavorful. This chicken stew was made with half a bottle of cheap red wine, a fairly inexpensive “stewing hen” from my local food co-op, a couple handfuls of cheap veggies, and a whole bunch of tarragon and garlic.
Brown the chicken on the stove in a 50/50 mixture of olive oil and butter. Pour off the excess fat once you’re done browning the chicken. Drown the bird (mine was quartered) in wine topped off with enough water or chicken stock to cover the chicken, throw in the garlic and tarragon and shove it in a 250 degree oven for 2.5 hours. At the 2.5 hour mark add veggies that have been lightly sautéed in some of the excess chicken drippings, shove it back in the oven for another half an hour. At the 3 hour mark pull the chicken meat off the bones and skin and skim the excess fat from the broth. Eat.
If you’re like me and your human engine powers most of mobility, you need good quality food like this to properly power that engine. A stew like this just couldn’t get any simpler or be more tasty and it’s a great source of fuel for your engine.