White Beans and Chorizo

fullsizeoutput_674c.jpegAnother meal for the Simple, Healthy, and Hearty file. White beans and Chorizo is super simple to make. SautĂ© 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.

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A Hearty, Simple, and Local Lunch


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.

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When Hell Freezes Over

IMG_3749I 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. 🙂

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Let’s talk about shoes

fullsizeoutput_672dThere’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.

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Chicken Stew


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 sautĂ©ed 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.

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Dressed for success


This is what dressing for success for a 1.5 hour recreational ride at 15 degrees looks like (I have no idea who’s ugly toes those are ;-)).

Continuing with the Getting Around Using pedals theme. I really hate the term “weather wimp” some people just don’t like being cold. However, there do seem to be a number “cold curious” people out there and living somewhere where the winters are long and cold I think looking at “cold positive” attire is warranted. And, of course, once you get the clothes right your not cold anyway.


Just a quick note to start things off, wearing layers and clothing that wicks moisture is key here. There are lots of good options here and tons of info on the web about this, so I’m not going to rehash it here.

Starting on the left. Lightly insulated cycling boots and wool ski socks to keep the feet warm. Those boots are actually made for temps that are a little warmer than 15 degrees, but they’re fine for an hour or two of riding where there are plenty of places that you can stop for a warm-up if you do get too cold. If I was going out in the boonies I would have worn insulated hiking boots instead. Cross-country ski boots aren’t ideal for riding, but they’ll work in a pinch.

On the lower half I’ve got wool bib-knickers (about the same warmth as medium weight long underwear) that overlap with my ski socks and a fairly windproof wool stretch tight over the knickers. On this afternoon’s ride that was perfect, neither to hot or too cold and since I was wearing wool with some breathability to it I didn’t get sweaty.

Moving up I had a lightweight long underwear top with a hoodie, which I wore under the bib-knickers. I love these “hoodie shirts” they help block the wind from getting next to your neck, which will cool you really fast, without being bulky. Hoodie shirts are also great as depending on how cold you are you can wear the hood under a hat, just your hat, or just your hoodie A heavy-ish weight bike jersey goes over the top of the hoodie shirt and bib-knickers. The jacket I was wearing is bike specific, but any of the lighter weight quilted jackets that outdoor clothing companies are making would work just fine. Over the top of it all goes a windproof shell. Like everything else that shell, which doesn’t appear to be made any more (drat!), is a bike specific jacket that works just fine for other things, but you could do it the other way around as well. On the faster and cooler sections of the ride my torso would get a little chilled, but it’s just a little chill not like your getting hypothermia or anything and after a couple minutes I’d be working harder, getting warmer, and starting to unzip my shell to cool off a bit. This set up worked really well.

On my head I went for a lightweight wool beanie with my hoodie under it and a bike helmet on top of everything. At first I thought I might have gone too light on my hat choice, but my head heated up in a couple of minutes and was fine for the rest of the ride.

For my hands I went with a windproof and lightly insulated pair of gloves with liners underneath them. These were just barely warm enough, if it was a longer ride or had gotten colder I would have needed a warmer glove. But, it’s not like I would have lost a finger to the cold or anything, I would just have had hands that were a little cold. And, again, I was riding in the city with all sorts of places to warm up and get a bite to eat if had started to get too cold.

The key here is heat management. You never want to be so cold that the cold is a problem or really miserable, but you don’t want to get so warm on the climbs and places where you’re working hard and start to “sweat out.”


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Picked Mustard Seeds

fullsizeoutput_6705I’m a big fan of uncomplicated cooking and pickling, which can be summed up as: Vinegar, salt, sugar, soak, is pretty darn uncomplicated.

Pickled mustard seeds have a lovely sharp and bright flavor that helps get me though the long and cold winters around here. I usually use it as condiment with meats or on sandwiches, but do your own thing and what you like best.

There are all sorts of recipes for pickled mustard seeds on the web. The one in the picture came from Food52.com and uses honey and turmeric giving the mustard seeds a warm North African taste.


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Let’s Talk About Gloves

IMG_3724Since there are a ton a resources about selecting a bike for yourself out there I’m going to skip over that part of Getting Around Using Pedals. I do want to talk about some of the kit that could come in handy whilst Getting Around Using Pedals, however. So, Gloves.

Note: I cross-country ski and use these same gloves while skiing.

If your goals for Getting Using Pedals are fairly modest, say a 4 mile round trip to the library and coffee shop in good weather with temps above about the mid-50’s you really don’t need any gloves. However, I find that I get a better grip on my bars with gloves on and gloves have saved me from a few cuts, scrapes, and pokes over the years so I almost always wear them. If you’re going on longer rides gloves do help with comfort, grip and help keep the sun off. I recommend wearng them.

For temps over the mid-50’s the lightweight gloves in the upper right of the photo (Giro D&D) work grand. Look for good straight stiching, seams that aren’t poky, a light leather palm and breathable back. I wear these in all but the hottest weather. These sorts of gloves make a good general purpose outdoors glove as long as you’re not doing anything too aggressive. General purpose outdoors gloves from manufacturers like Outdoor Research work just fine for these conditions as well and tend to be a little more rugged.

If things get a little cooler or it starts to rain below about the low 60’s, you’re probably going to be better off with gloves even on short trips, unless you’re fairly exothermic in these conditions you’re going to want a glove that blocks the wind completely and is waterproof. If you tend to have cold hands you might want a lightly insulated glove. Low 60’s and rain or high 50’s and dry conditions I go with Cross Point gloves from Showers Pass  (2nd from left of top) which have a wind and waterproof barrier fabric and lightweight insulation. I’ll wear these gloves down to around the freezing mark. I have longish, thin fingers so I can easily fit liner gloves (Bottom right in photo) on under my regular gloves. On cold days I’ll put liner gloves on under the Cross Points for a little extra warmth. Note the longish “gauntlet” on the wrist of the Cross Points. Gauntlet’s are super important for sealing with your jacket and locking wind and rain. Make sure whatever cool or cold weather glove you get can seal well with your jackets.

Next up we have freezing to a little above zero degree conditions, with the right kit rides up to about 5 miles one way with a warm destination at both ends are easy and fun in these condations. For these you’re going to want a windproof and well insulated glove with a long gauntlet that seals well with your jacket. For these I go with the Cross Points neighbor to the right. However, the gloves I have don’t have a long enough gauntlet for me and I tend to have issues with air leaks. If I’m going on a longer ride I either wear the lighter weight Cross Points with liners or switch to the warmer still lobster claws. If it’s a short ride I’ve found the air leaks aren’t that big of a deal, but I do plan of replacing these gloves in the future.

For conditions that are a little above zero to OMFG IT’S COLD! ARE YOU INSANE? I’ll go with heavily insulated lobster claws (bottom right). The lobster claw works similar to a mitten, but it’s split design allows you to work the brakes and gears on a bicycle. They go quite a way over my wrists and the gauntlet is insulated. Lobster Claw gloves also work well while cross-country skiing. I wear liner gloves in these conditions so that I can sweat into the liner glove not the main glove. If my hands “sweat out” I can just swap liner gloves and keep my lobster claws drier. Liner gloves also help keep your hands a little warm if you have to take the lobster claws off  (in my case usually taking a picture). If you have to fiddle with something the liner gloves protect you from directly touching cold metal and leaving a little gift to the gods on the metal when you pull your finger away. I’ll go out for short jaunts down to about -15 degrees (Eau Claire’s one of the coldest cities in the continental U.S.), but below zero I don’t ride very far and stick to walking and cross country skiing at anything below -5. It’s pretty cool (heh) knowing that you can get around under your own power at -15.





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In Through The Out Door

Lots of out of towner’s around this weekend as it’s graduation day at the University today. Which means lots of people walking in the bike paths, people (driving) using entrances as exits and exits as entrances, and just generally not being used to being around so many people on bikes. It’s not a big deal or a problem, but you do have to be a little more aware of what’s going on around you.

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Getting Around Using Pedals: To The Grocery Store

The grocery store a stones throw away from my apartment is undergoing a change in ownership and is currently closed. So, for the time being most of my groceries are fetched from stores 2.5 & 4.5 miles away. In my neighborhood there’s a little co-op that sells things like yummy eggs from local small farmers and a corner store where I pick up apples and bananas, but for all my bigger trips I bike it out of my neighborhood.

I checked the time before heading home from the store 2.5 miles from me with 4 big bags of groceries this morning; the trip took me 13-14 minutes. Cycling was at an easy, non-sweaty pace and, other than crossing one busy arterial (zero cars on it this morning), was on neighborhood streets with little traffic. Clothing wise, I was just wearing normal street clothes (50 degrees out) with the addition of full finger cycling gloves and a helmet.

For 4 bags of groceries you need more than just a backpack and handlebars to hang sacks from. I have a smallish set of panniers for my bike’s rear rack and a small front basket. The groceries filled all of it, but were easy to balance and weren’t a problem to get home.

For this size of trip you do need to make a little bit of an investment in bike racks and bags, but this sort of trip is easily doable and at sub 15 minutes each way the time investment isn’t a big deal.

Rating: with a small investment in gear, easily doable.


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