Squash Soup With Apples and Sage

The days are getting shorter, leaves are changing colors, and the weather’s turned cool and close. Which can only mean one thing: we’re definitely headed into fall. Or as I like to call it: how much food can you make out of apples and squash season. Apples and squash are big favorites of mine. I’m trying to do at least some of my eating seasonally and locally and, at least around here, that means lots of apples and squash are on offer. The pic is of soup made with local apples, apple juice, honey, and butternut squash, plus a little salt and sage that I have no idea where they came from. Easy-peasy to cook, chop stuff up, put it in a pot and let it cook down, then hit it with an immersion blender and eat. And as always, the squash and apples were on sale for cheap!

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Curing The Cheap Meat Blues

I usually do The Ethical Meat Thing and buy my meats at the farmer’s market or from a local butcher shop or a food co-op that focus on well raised local meats. But, I can’t always get to those places and I’m a sucker for things that are on sale in bulk for cheap. The last bulk purchase was a big pack of boneless pork chops. The chops weren’t the highest of quality so I whipped up a salt cure with lots of spices, rubbed a couple of the chops down after breakfast and let them sit in the fridge until dinner time. Fried them up and they were yummy. It’s amazing what salt, sugar, some spices and some time to sit will do to a piece of meat. This version came from Good Meat, which is well worth picking up.

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The nights are getting longer and oil’s headed for $100 a barrel

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As gas gets more expensive it makes sense to do some short trips on foot and with the shorter days coming up some of those trips will probably get done in the dark which is, totally, not a problem at all if you invest in a couple good flashlights. Plus, living in America where getting around under your own power isn’t always easy it helps to be able to light your own way sometimes. And, hey, the power goes out sometimes.

Flashlight wise, I seem to have drifted to the brands Thrunite and Streamlight, but there are other makers of similar lights, Fenix and Surefire come to mind. That top light (Streamlight ProTac1L) has logged a ton of use over about 4 years and is still going strong. Well worth the $40 or so that I paid for it and at just over 3 inches long and 2 ounces it’s easy to alway have with you and at 275 lumens it’s plenty bright to help cars see you and for you to see your way home from the coffee shop or corner store.

There are blogs and YouTube channels that completely geek out about the details of flashlights like these, I encourage you to look towards them for the gritty details. I do think a couple higher end flashlights are fairly indispensable pieces of kit for those of us trying to do some of out outandabouting under our own power.

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Sorta Bread

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…

 

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Fall Equinox Chores

Fall is here, so it’s time to dig out the wool socks and Bean Boots and get everything polished up and water-proofed.

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The ride it backwards challenge

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.

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Weather Radio

FC5EC448-FA16-4645-83E2-A22FBAA9D36AA 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.

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Fast Food

40FC3589-3F46-4CB5-9DD2-2C23DD7443B4It’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.

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White Beans and Chorizo

fullsizeoutput_674c.jpegAnother 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.

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A Hearty, Simple, and Local Lunch

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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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