Category Archives: Let’s Eat: Provisioning, Food, and Cooking

Food and eating for active folks.

Road Food for Cyclotourists: No-Cook Black Bean Wraps by Tamia Nelson

If you don’t want to bother cooking a meal on the road—and I often don’t—you needn’t head straight for the Last Chance Café, let alone settle for a Bacillus Burger with a side-order of Fubar Fries. You have other options, and here’s one you may not have considered: the no-cook, black bean wrap. The basic wrap couldn’t be much easier to prepare. (Provided you didn’t forget to bring a can-opener!) Here are the essential ingredients:

  • One 15-ounce can of black beans (or substitute), drained
  • A little grated cheese
  • A few tortillas or “dippers”

All HyperMarts have canned black beans on their shelves, but if you’re dependent on the uncertain bounty of a rural convenience store, take heart. Kidney and pinto beans work just as well as black beans. Refried beans are OK, too. Tortillas are so versatile and so easy to pack that I consider them a staple food, and I almost always have some in my panniers. But they, too, are easy to find on the road. If you’re having a bad day, however, … Continue reading »

A Sports Drink You Can Make at Home: Newt Nectar by Tamia Nelson

Newt NectarStrenuous exertion can take a lot out of you. Literally. You sweat, and in doing so you lose both water and salt. You also burn calories. And over the long run, you need to offset these losses. Enter “sports drinks.” You know the stuff I’m talking about. HyperMarket shelves groan under the weight of thousands of bottles in dozens of shapes. And the contents come in every flavor of the rainbow, from berry red to very violet. Basically, though, each and every one does the same two jobs: they replace the water (and trace amounts of salt) lost in sweat, and they replenish calories. What they don’t always do is taste good. OK. Maybe that’s too harsh. Let’s just say that they’re an acquired taste, and I’ve yet to acquire it. Now, however, I make my own. That makes all the difference. I call my home-brew sports drink Newt Nectar. Why? Well, as it happens, the spring-fed cistern from which we used to haul our water boasted a thriving population of newts. They always seemed plenty … Continue reading »

The Fine Art of Foraging: Convenience Stores and the Hungry Cyclotourist by Tamia Nelson

Life on the road has its ups and downs. That’s especially true in the lives of cyclotourists. I’m not talking mountain grades here, however. I’m talking food. The general store has all but disappeared from the rural landscape, and the few that remain are mostly—there’s no polite way to say this, I’m afraid—tourist traps, trading kitsch for cash. The locals all drive 40 miles to the nearest HyperMart to buy their groceries, leaving the general store to visitors willing to pay champagne prices for three-year-old maple syrup put up in tiny plastic dispensers shaped like log cabins.

But the picture isn’t quite as bleak as I’ve painted it. In some places, the void created by the demise of the general store has been filled. Sort of, at any rate. Many rural hamlets now boast convenience stores. These are the modern counterpart to the once ubiquitous ser-sta-gro, enterprises that formerly dispensed the two fluids without which life in rural America would be impossible: cheap gas and cut-price beer. The ser-sta-gros were usually mom-and-pop businesses, and … Continue reading »

Found Food: What Treasures Lie Waiting to Be Discovered in Your Fridge? by Tamia Nelson

When dinner hour is fast approaching and you’re very hungry, but you just don’t feel like cooking, what do you do? Some folks head for BelchaBurger, but I raid my refrigerator, searching for any leftovers that can be recycled into meals with a minimum of time and trouble. On just a such a foraging foray recently, I turned up a small container of brown rice and another of leftover roast chicken, legacies of past meals. But even when I combined the two, they didn’t look like they’d add up to dinner for two—until I bulked them up a bit, that is. This is what I used:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Two green onions, sliced thin
  • One garlic clove, minced
  • Two eggs
  • Leftover steamed brown basmati rice
  • Leftover roast chicken pieces
  • Fresh lime
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and (freshly ground) pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped fine

The resulting meal came together quickly—less than 30 minutes from prep to plate—and I liked it so much that I now budget for leftovers whenever I make chicken and rice for … Continue reading »

Fire in the Bowl! A Cautionary Word About Jiffy Pop by Tamia Nelson

Some time back, in my weekly column, I wrote a glowing review of Jiffy Pop popcorn—a favorite food of my childhood—in which I extolled its virtues for backcountry travelers and other peripatetic souls in search of a quick and easy campfire treat.* The column was entitled “Popcorn Blowout,” and I’m afraid the title proved prophetic. Just the other day, my old favorite showed its ugly side. What I had intended as a relaxing end-of-the-day treat in camp turned into something very different—a mini fireball. Subsequent forensic investigation of the offending Jiffy Pop disclosed a pinhole in the aluminum foil pan that forms the base, lying almost hidden in a newly developed crease. This allowed liquified fat to ooze out and drip onto my stove, where it almost immediately caught fire and flared up, adding an unexpected (and unwanted) element of high drama to an evening in camp. Happily, the cook (me) wasn’t hurt and the fire didn’t spread beyond the immediate vicinity of the stove, but it really was a close-run thing.

The moral of my story? … Continue reading »

New! Improved! Better Than Ever! Hundred-Mile Plus Oatmeal Bars — Accept No Substitutes! by Tamia Nelson

When I made my first batch of Hundred-Mile Oatmeal Bars I figured I had a winner. And others apparently thought so, too. The article describing their creation has proven to be one of this site’s enduring attractions. It’s even received the ultimate accolade—being copied verbatim and published on a website that bills itself as “the largest online diet and healthy living community,” albeit without credit or attribution. It would have been nice to see my byline attached to my words, of course, but I suppose I ought to be flattered that someone thought them valuable enough to steal.

I’m not, though. Still, the matter is now moot. Why? Because I’ve just developed a new and improved version of my old favorite. Call them Hundred-Mile Plus Bars. They’re as chewy, filling, and flavorful as their predecessors, but they now have—wait for it—added fiber. No, that won’t do, will it? It’s too reticent. Too understated. So let’s make it “Added Fiber!” instead. And this extra fiber is the real thing: wheat germ, wheat bran, oat bran, flax, … Continue reading »