Taking up the challenge(s)

22 11 2013

In the Big Ring/Princess of Pavement household, I do most of the cooking.

Partly because PofP isn’t very comfortable with the culinary arts; her diet before we got together consisted mostly of eggs, eggs and eggs. And partly because, with her long commute, it just makes sense for me to get things going in the kitchen.

Fortunately a long run of self-sustaining bachelordom meant I pretty much had to figure my way in the kitchen. Or starve.

Big Ring cuisine isn’t very fancy; lots of grilling with occasional forays into stir fry, omelettes, and international dishes like paella and butter chicken. I mostly make it up as I go along, sticking to some tried and true techniques. I don’t do recipes.

Then PofP took on her year-long recipe challenge. She wanted to explore the pages of the America’s Test Kitchen recipe magazine subscription she’d received as a Christmas present and expand her own culinary horizons. I was glad to be the beneficiary. At least once a month I got a break from the kitchen and enjoyed some very tasty meals.

This month, I decided to pick up the challenge. The latest issue had a number of recipes that tickled my tastebuds and sounded relatively easy.

When one, chicken in vinegar sauce, was billed as a classic French dish (poulet au vinaigre), I was sold. If we can’t live in France, we might as well eat as if we are.

It also helped that we already had most of the necessary ingredients in the pantry.

Now going in, I’ll admit to some trepidation to basing a sauce on vinegar. Around here we use it to clean the countertops and stainless steel. And the apple cider vinegar in our pantry was only there because of the fruit fly infestation we endured in the summer; it was the lure to attract them into the sticky trap.

But if it’s good enough for the French, it should be good enough for us.

And, son of a gun, it was.

I take on the recipe challenge, with a classic French dish of poulet au vinaigre.

I take on the recipe challenge, with a classic French dish of poulet au vinaigre.


I steamed some broccoli as a side dish, along with toasty baguette and glass of white wine. Vive le France!

In fact, it was a day of challenges, not the least of which was steeling myself against the wintery cold for an afternoon ride. But the sun was out, the roads dry; it would have been wrong not to ride!

Alas, only 38 km at an easy pace, but the exercise felt good and 6 degree air cleared my head for the cooking challenge ahead.

It's the Ride of the Fallen Leaves!

It’s the Ride of the Fallen Leaves!


Break on through

9 11 2013

Suddenly, it’s November.

Well, it is if you happen to set your calendar by this blog.

Yeah, the Big Ring has been a little quiet.

Life has a way of happening. And when it does, it conspires against riding.

September was unusually wet.

October was dark.

The end of the regular riding season is precipitous. They you are in late August; a few thousand kilometres or more in your legs, you’re at the peak of your fitness. Conversations carry on even as the road steepens up. The calories consumed at a snack break disappear around the coming bend.

Then September hits. The leaves start falling, the days shorten, things need to get done. Riding time dwindles from three or four a week to but one, preferably on the flats.

By October, winter sloth is beginning to take hold. Riding is the exception, rather than the rule. Vows to stay fit and active have a way of succumbing to the inertia of television. Excuses are abundant; it’s too wet, it’s too cold, it’s too dark, it’s too cloudy, I’m too tired, there’s a hockey game on TV….

The leaves are all but gone, but a good November sky beckons.

The leaves are all but gone, but a good November sky beckons.

Surprisingly, though, the quick demise of the season didn’t have a huge impact on my overall mileage. Nor did the arrival of Little Ring.

Thanks to some good weather through the summer, the FR Fuggitivi riding group, and a supportive Princess of Pavement, I was on the bike as much as last year.

The colours are worth a cool a fall ride.

The colours are worth a cool a fall ride.

There was no Fondo, and only one ride exceeded 100 kms. But there were plenty in the 80 km range at a good pace and a good amount of climbing. Sometimes it is quality over quantity.

Next season will be a test.

Guy, of FRF, says the first year with a new child is a bit of a “honeymoon period.” Mom is on maternity leave, the kid is not yet involved in extracurricular activities. It’s all pretty low maintenance.

As the season ends, Little Ring is more active, he wants to get out, go to the park to fly on the swings, he naps only once a day. By the time the season starts in earnest, he’ll be walking. And hopefully, scooting on his own balance bike.