Archive for the 'Let’s Eat! It’s Alimentary, My Dear' Category

Dec 20 2014

Bean Soup for Everyone!

Whatever your winter pleasure—whether it’s snowbiking, snowshoeing, skiing, or just splitting wood for the fireplace—you’ll burn a lot of calories, and not just because you’re using your muscles. Even the simple act of breathing takes its toll in winter. All that frigid air has to be heated up to body temperature, right? And warm clothes, as important as they are, aren’t the whole answer. After spending the day out in the cold, you need to thaw your inner self, and there’s no better way to do this than to sit down to a hot meal. But who wants to work hard at the stove after a hard day’s work? Not me. Luckily, though, there’s an easy way around this impasse. Just prepare your meal ahead of time. The good news? There are very few make-ahead meals better than 

A Pot of Hot Soup

Almost any hot soup will do—even canned soups, some of which are surprisingly good. But whenever there’s time to make a pot of soup from scratch, I turn to beans to fight the chill of winter days. Dried beans last just about forever in the pantry, so keeping some on hand isn’t hard. They’re versatile, too. And then there’s the nostalgia factor. I walked to school when I was a girl. Many kids did back then, even in rural towns, and even when the walk was a couple of miles or more. The school bus was for wimps and sissies. That said, there were winter days when I longed to join the sissies, days when the 30-minute slog back home seemed to last forever. How wonderful it was, on days like that, to open the door and be met with the delicious smell of something simmering on the back of my mother’s huge, wood-burning kitchen range!

Often that “something” was white bean soup. Why white bean soup? Well, beans are cheap, for one thing, and mothers of large families (those without a tiger in the house, at any rate) frequently have to make every penny count. And they usually don’t have time to fuss about in the kitchen, either. Bean soup is one of the easiest of quick-and-easy meals. Don’t be put off by tales of all-night soaking and similar alchemy. Sure, it takes time to prepare bean soup. But that’s stove time. Your active participation in the process is limited to assembling and sautéing ingredients, checking the soup now and then while it simmers, and stirring occasionally. All told, this adds up to about 30 minutes of your day. It’s time well spent.

Skeptical? I don’t blame you. To make certain that I wasn’t being led astray by wistful remembrance, I recently cooked up a pot of bean soup from scratch. The total time from assembling my ingredients to dishing up the first bowl was about three hours. That’s plenty long, to be sure, but I was tied up for only 30 minutes, tops. The rest was stove time. Still not convinced? Then give it a try yourself. Here’s my bean soup master recipe… Read more…

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Dec 09 2014

Manzella Silkweight Windstopper Gloves: My First Line of Defense Against Cold Hands

I like to keep active through the winter. If I didn’t, I’d emerge in the spring ready for the beach—and I’d be the beach ball. So I motivate myself to get out even in rotten weather by making every trip a photo safari, whether I go forth on two wheels or on two feet. But baby, it’s cold out there! So I keep the cold at arm’s length by bundling up in layers of wool and synthetic (not cotton). My hands are a trouble spot. They get cold. Very cold. So to keep my hands warm on winter photo safari, I follow the same principle as when outfitting my body. I layer. And my first line of defense are Manzella Silkweight Windstopper gloves:

Keeping Cold At Bay

They have textured palms and fingers, a soft fleecy interior, reflective accents, and they fit my hands perfectly. Unlike thick gloves or mittens, Windstoppers allow me to work the camera controls without impediment (they’re not so bad for changing a flat tire, either). I also appreciate the D-ring and snap-link that join the gloves together for times when I stow them inside my pack. Another feature I like are webbing loops sewn into the cuffs. A long lanyard connecting the two gloves and threaded through the sleeves of my jacket insures that I won’t drop one along the trail.

Of course, the Windstoppers alone aren’t enough in really cold temperatures. When the mercury drops below 45 degrees or so, I pull a pair of thick fleece gloves right over them. Then, when I need to free my fingers for fiddly work—using a camera, say, or scrolling through the menus on my GPS—the heavy fleece gloves come off again. But the Windstoppers stay put. And they live up to their name. Provided I do what needs to be done quickly, my fingers remain comfortably warm.

So far, so good. But one of the unhappy consequences of accelerated product development cycles—not to mention manufacturers’ growing tendency to confuse fashion with function—is the short shelf-life of many products. By the time I’ve bought something and used it long enough to form an opinion about it, it disappears from the stores. Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered that Windstoppers are still available from some sources even though I got my pair six years ago. Now that‘s something to celebrate.

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Nov 27 2014

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner!

She knows that lasagna’s on the menu. Happy Thanksgiving!

Fed and Free to Roam

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