Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reason #14 for Bike Commuting: A Second Helping of 4.5 Star Chili!

Winter arrived a bit early, at least for me, this past week with the arrival of frigid temperatures and snow. I was only able to ride to work twice this week and the therapeutic benefits of my morning and evening ride home. I saw this bit of yard art early in the week and thought it looked perfectly eerie against the stark, cold sky. Since I worked late several nights this week, I took the Element into work most days with the Planner Guy, who has yet to get a new tire for his Schwinn. Unfortunately, the snow melts during the afternoon and refreezes shortly after 5 making things a bit treacherous for those inexperienced at pedaling over ice. I'm not sure what I'll do when we start getting heavy snow. I'm considering getting studded tires but wonder if it is worth the expense. Maybe some SRAB readers can give me some wisdom.

While I missed my bike rides, I looked forward to Halloween night on Saturday. The weekend for cast predicted temperate weather, and I planned to take advantage of it by taking the Expedition to Bashas Grocery to pick up ingredients for Chef Bob's latest kitchen project - 4 1/2 Star Chili from Allrecipes.com. Nothing suits passing out candy on the front porch like world-class chili and a glass of red wine. We began this little tradition two years ago and deemed it worth keeping. When one bikes to the grocery store two helpings of 4 1/2 Star chili can be eaten with no guilt.

Bob gave me an extensive shopping list, causing me to wish I had a good bike trailer to carry it all home on. Two panniers and a wicker basket would have to do. The ingredients were especially intriguing as they called for brewed coffee, a dark beer, and unsweetened coco. Bob only needed one bottle of dark beer but none of the dark varieties could be purchased as a single so, despite worries about how my pannier would manage the weight, I purchased the six-pack. Surely, Bob would put the other 5to good use. I collected the coco, beef tips, and spaghetti (yes, we were going Cincinnati style) and headed to the Expedition to load up. (Check out Chili I at allrecipes.com and try it yourself!)

The weight of the six-packed proved challenging and my bike nearly toppled over a couple of times until I got all the groceries properly distributed. Oh, how I wished for a bike trailer! Soon I was on my way and one pedaling the added weight was surprisingly a non-issue.

Upon arrival home, I found Bob already in the kitchen carefully arranging ingredients, crock pot and other necessary cooking needs on the counters. As I unloaded the groceries, he immediately began inspecting my purchases and quickly set about preparing the chili. Soon the kitchen was brimming with an incredible mixture of aromas. Within the hour, as we waited for our first Trick-or-Treaters I was sampling the chili from the crock pot. I could taste the coco and the beer in particular. But the chili would have to wait. The Trick-or-Treaters were arriving.

Our neighbor Angie joined us on the front porch after a time. Few kids seemed to be out this year, as compared to the last. Most arrived in vans and SUV accompanied by parents. In fact, at one point they almost completed lined our street. Apparently, parents drove from street to street and collect candy rather than walking the route as I remembered doing as a child. Somehow traveling by car seemed like it might take some of the fun and fantasy out of Halloween night. Even as a young child in my costume with my plastic pumpkin laden with candy and trailed by my parents as I walked door-to-door, the darkness, sounds of the night, and the ghoulishly decorated doorways fed my already active imagination and I became someone else. The enclosed environment of the car seems like it might take away from all that.

By 8 p.m. our street was silent and we still had a nearly full bowl of Twix, Milky Way and Snickers. What I would have given for such bounty as a child. No matter though. The chili was ready. Bob topped 2 bowls of spaghetti with generous helpings of chili, then topped each with cheddar, diced onions, and sour cream. The flavor was amazing. Who would have thought coco would be so perfect in chili?

We opened an inexpensive bottle of Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir to wash it down. I loved the opening text on the back label of the bottle "Red Bicyclette offers the chance to slow down and enjoy life"; my priorities exactly. A better day, I couldn't have had: marketing on my red bicyclette, Halloween on the front porch with my husband and a friend, wine and great chili.

6 comments:

bikeolounger said...

Not able to help on the studded tire question, but I'll toss out an idea on the shopping trailer issue: I found a used kid trailer on Craig's List for $50. It wasn't a great brand (Safety 1st sells for $130 or less new), but it connects to the chain stay rather than the axle (easier to move from bike to bike, and easier to attach to my 1974 Raleigh 3-speed), and it's fine for three- or five- or ten-mile round-trip shopping expeditions. I'm not sure I would haul kids in this one, and certainly wouldn't tote them far, but for groceries, it's worth the money.

Best results in the common car-reduced efforts! I'm not able to go car-free right now, but respect those who can and do.

cycler said...

Red chili with beans in Arizona? I was getting excited for a green chile recipe until I scrolled down :)
It's definitely soup and oatmeal weather around here!
One way to increase stability with loads is to add a double leg kickstand. I recently added a plechner one, but if I were going to do it again, I'd get one of the adjustable ones as they're less finicky to install.
Can't tell how your basket is supported, but a front rack under your basket will make carrying stuff in front a lot easier.

She Rides a Bike said...

Cycler: I find green chili merely "okay". We're still relishing this red version and loving it. I think it would be amazing atop a slice of cornbread as well.

Switching gears, I saw a double legged kickstand today and thought it would be the perfect thing for the Expedition. My current kickstand is just a bit too short so heavy load require careful balancing. My basket is supported by two rigid wire hooks over the handbar. I probably needed a heavier duty basket. I've been thinking of a baker's basket supporte by a front rack but the large traditional Basil basket is so appealing. So many decisions . . . .

CynthiaC54 said...

I agree, being taken trick-or-treating in a car has to be missing something... my first guess would be exercise! Sad - taking the kids riding around to collect candy, rather than encouraging them to walk it off. Is it just me, or are some parents really so over-protective as to be scary?

Can't wait to try the chili recipe - although I never did understand the spaghetti thing! And Red Bicyclette is the perfect wine to go with chili. We had Bus Stop White the other night with chicken and dumplings. :-)

She Rides a Bike said...

CynthiaC54: Yes, I think many of today's parents are very over-protective. We live in the fear culture. Be afraid of everything - bicycling without a helmet, walking alone in the dark, going anywhere without carrying a cell phone, attending church unarmed! I've been a victim of crime, as have friends and family of mine but I hardly think that I live under the threat of constant danger.

You will love the chili! We ate it all week. It took me a while to get used to chili w/ spaghetti (I always preferred mine over rice or a good slice of corn bread) but regardless, it is the best I've ever tasted.

Beth said...

I tried the Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir and it was quite tasty. I wasn't a wine drinker but now I am thanks to this nice recommendation from you. I am saving all of the bottles because I can't bear to throw out an image of a bicycle. How's the container building coming along?