Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giro Privateer shoes

Earlier this year I got a pair of Giro Code mountain shoes and I love them. Unfortunately riding every day, doing a lot of walking off of the bike and generally punishing them, has worn them out. Far more fortunately, I am still riding for Blackburn Design, so Giro sent me a new pair of Privateer mountain shoes. While technically for trail riding, mountain biking shoes are ideal for getting around in dense urban environments when you need to be on and off of the bike but still want the performance of a dedicated cycling shoe.

After a couple weeks in the Privateers, I can say they live up to the Giro name and while different and lower priced than the Code shoes, I wouldn't exactly say they aren't as nice. The Privateer lacks the EC90 carbon last of it's up scale twin, leaving it more flexible and not offering quite the same efficiency. However, this also leaves the shoe slightly more comfortable off the bike as it has a bit more flex when walking. The hardware and fit are essentially the same with very few cosmetic differences side by side. All said and done, it's probably a better(in some ways) urban and short distance shoe than the Code but it would be hard to go wrong with either.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Refrigerator pickles

It's fall, even in the bay area where it is never really winter. The wild berries are all but gone, root crops, cabbage and other late season crops are coming in. Apples are still in full swing but today we made refrigerator pickles. The kind my grandmother feels is a cop out but we all still eat them, including grandma, with side of Midwestern guilt for not going the full measure and canning them. I hadn't done refrigerator pickles outside of her kitchen before, I was short on time and needing to pickle the cucumbers or lose them soon. The unexpected realization was that even if I can only lay hands on a few cucumbers we can put up a jar or two without much effort. Small investment of time and resources for a fairly big payoff in the pantry, that's good right?

There are lots and lots of various brines and an array of vegetables to get creative with if you want to try pickling but an easy starter project is basic cucumber garlic dills. Most grocery stores carry dill, though not pickling dill, but you can grow it from seed if you can't find a place to buy it. It grows easily without much attention and you can dry it for later use.

You will need:

About 3 or 4 medium to large cucumbers
6 tbsp distilled white wine vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
3 cups water
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 bunch of dill

This will give you 3 to 4 16oz jars of pickles

The cucumbers should be washed and may be left whole or cut into any shape you like. If the skin is unbroken you may have to let them sit an extra day or so to pickle.

To make the brine, mix vinegar, salt and water until the salt is dissolved.

Sterilize your jars with hot water and place a single pealed clove of garlic and sprig of dill in each before packing with cucumbers. You will want to put as many cucumbers in each jar as will fit without smashing them and be sure to leave an inch or so open at the top so you can completely cover them with brine.

Once the jars are full top them off with brine, put the lids on and wait a two to three days. They are safe to eat at any time but won't be fully pickled for at least 48 hours and it will take at least that long for the taste to develop. Your pickles should keep in the refrigerator for 3-6 months or more.

I have had success using this brine with several kinds of cucumbers, okra and shallots. It's a great way to save garden produce and farm market treasures.