January 30: 2017: Baking and Roasting; Birds and Bikes

January 30: 2017: Baking and Roasting; Birds and Bikes

American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were seen dining in the neighborhood flowering crabapple tree in significant numbers.

In nature news, the American Robins and Cedar Waxwings have been stuffing themselves on the tiny apples of a flowering crabapple tree in our neighborhood.  Large numbers, sometimes with these two spcies mixed, were seen this past week-end.  The apples have been on the tree for a long time, but are just now being consumed.  Are they a little fermented and therefore easier to digest?  Or are hungry birds just here in greater numbers?


The Sunday meal was filed under extreme cooking and large-meal dining.  We consumed mass quantities of herb and garlic roasted chicken, fresh cinnamon swirl bread, whipped potatoes, and baked pears with brown sugar and cinnamon. Lemon iced lemon donuts were for desert.  The youngest grandchild helped both by consuming and obtaining food through conspicuous, determined shopping.

Determined shopping resulted in food acquisition.

The only culinary hint included here: cook the chicken slow (so the white and dark meat both get done at about the same time), and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing..  In a convection oven, that might mean 2.5 hours or more in a 325 degree oven.  The skin will brown in a convection oven at that temperature, but otherwise start the foul at 500 and immediately turn the oven down so the skin will brown (of course, you need to rub the skin with oil or butter to get it to brown).  When the meat has pulled away from the end of the drumstick, and the drumstick is loose on pushing up and down, the bird is done.   Androp Gerard cannot generally stick an instant read thermometer into the thigh (the slowest part to cook).  A chicken’s thigh is surprising difficult to locate.  A thermometer is an unneeded and often misleading tool for this kind of work. slide3

Under notes for first-time adult bike riders, I would provide the following.

  1. Sheldon Brown’s web site is the best source of unbiased information, even though he passed in 2008. Google “Sheldon Brown bikes” or “Sheldon Brown (insert bike subject).”  Colleagues of his have kept the site reasonably up to date.  His writing was exceptionally clear and his knowledge of bikes was legendary.
  2. Don’t buy a bike at a big-box store. Buy one from a local bike shop (LBS).  Big box stores carry lower quality bikes.
  3. A new bike worth owning will cost about $500. In this price range, the wheel set, tire puncture resistance, and shifters will all be significantly improved over entry-level models that start around $370. Those improvements are well worth the cost.  The $370 bike is going to leave you broken down within 200 miles: a flat or a bent wheel or a shifter that will not work, etc.
  4. Beyond about $550 up to close to $1000, up-grades may relate to the frame (slightly better aluminum, why?), fork (slightly lighter or more rigid carbon forks), brakes (disc brakes are not needed), grips (those are mainly for looks), seats (a nose-less seat should be purchased and installed; seat up-grades are therefore useless), and the shifters (mainly, these go from 21 or 24 to 27 gears, and they get lighter – who cares?). Bells and whistles might also be added like carrying brackets or light sets or fenders.  For some riders, these might be worth the cost.  Not, generally, for first-time buyers.
  5. Each bike maker now has a confusing array of bikes called by different names. The concepts associated with names (e.g. “urban” or “recreation” or “dual sport”) among bike markers don’t entirely overlap in meaning.  The LBS will help.  A few styles far out-sell other types, for good reason.

    Modern bikes come in a confusing array of styles.  The Local Bike Shop can generally help.
  6. Don’t go into the LBS with strong biases. Let them steer you after you let them know how and where you will be riding. Listen.
  7. A few well-earned biases of Androp Gerard:
    1. Bike shorts and gloves improve riding comfort a great deal.
    2. Wear a helmet. Yes, Androp Gerard has fallen on a bike path twice in approximately the past 3000 miles.  Once, his helmet hit hard.
    3. Bike shoes also improve comfort a good deal, especially on longer rides. They are recommended but not essential at first.
    4. Old-fashioned nylon toe clips keep feet from slipping off the pedals when things get damp. This is an important safety feature, but not essential.
    5. Front fork and seat suspension components improve the ride maybe a tad, but they also add weight. Most bike path riders decide they do not want or need the suspension.
    6. An upright riding position appears easier and more comfortable that a ‘leaned forward’ position, but the opposite can just as easily be true.  A rider that is too upright will have a butt that is hurting: all the weight is on the cheeks and none on the arms, shoulders, and wrists.  Pedaling can also be significantly more difficult if the riding position is too upright.  That might not matter for 10 minute rides, but it will for 30 minute rides.
  8. If you like to buy used cars, go ahead and get a used bike. At the LBS, to me, they seem too pricey – at least half but approaching two-thirds the cost of the bike when it was new.  If you are buying a used bike, similar to a used car, take along someone with at least a little bit of experience.
  9. Many LBS’s have at least a couple of styles of bikes for rent. This allows you to try out the style you think you want.  Hint: the styles they rent are the ones that sell, and probably you want one of those styles.

Politics are just too absurd to comment on.  What country on earth would want to emulate American Ideals at this point?



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