I use my bike mostly for function – getting to and from places, shopping, going to dinner, etc. One of the best purchases I’ve made was getting pannier bags, which make it easy to carry items and more comfortable than using a backpack or handheld bag. Pannier bags attach to a basic bike rack (front or rear) and are a convenient way to carry goods, or to carry camping supplies if going for a long recreational trip.
A couple of years ago I bought a used set of Avenir pannier bags for $10 a piece. They have some nice features like:
Reflective trim to increase visibility
Two bottle holders
One large pouch for large items (I’m usually carrying a laptop or papers) with clip straps to secure and expand or shrink height
Small zippered pouch for easy access to wallet, keys, etc.
Clips to secure bag to bike rack and reduce chances of falling off
Waterproof with drawstring tie on opening
I went to the grocery store the other day and took some photos to show what a shopping trip by bike looks like. I sometimes see newspaper articles or comments online about how non-functional it is to buy food items on a bicycle. I strongly disagree – the parking is usually much easier, it’s cheaper than driving, and with a couple of good bags carrying your items home is a breeze.
Here’s my bike with two pannier bags full of groceries – I didn’t put the chips in the pannier bags for fear of crushing them although there was room in the expanded upper portion if I wanted to use it.
On returning home, I unpacked the bags on our table and took this photo to show the amount of food that can easily fit in a pair of bags. We were cooking for a get-together so some of the items are in bigger quantities than usual but overall a pretty good idea of an average grocery shopping trip for me by bicycle.
We’re fortunate to live in an area with a number of grocery stores within a mile. I often walk instead of biking, but often pick up a couple of items in other areas when I’m coming home from work or other activities. Pannier bags are a great addition to any bike and I highly recommend getting a pair.
We often make our own bread, using this great recipe. A bonus to making our own bread is we have the basic ingredients needed for making a variety of baked foods. We often make pizza at home and use the following scratch dough recipe. It’s not the best I’ve ever had – that would go to high temperature Naples-style pizza – but it’s better than buying pre-made dough and only takes 10 minutes. I had a couple of requests for the recipe so am sharing it here – enjoy!
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a ceramic bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
Stir in flour, salt and oil. Mix by hand thoroughly. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Transfer crust to a pizza pan or baking sheet lightly greased with olive oil. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
This recipe is from Allrecipes.com with some tweaks to the instructions. Have another tweak or a topping suggestion? Drop it in the comments or email me and I’ll add.
A number of years ago a friend shared a simple bread recipe popularized by the New York Times. It’s delicious, simple, cheap, and easy to make. Two years ago our family decided to make our own bread for the year and kept a tally on the kitchen wall as part of our New Year’s resolutions. I don’t have the official count anymore but believe it was around 150 loaves baked and 7 loaves bought.
This year we’re refocusing on cooking at home, saving money, and cooking wholesome food with simple ingredients. Making our own bread is a big piece of that and also encourages having basic ingredients on hand (flour, salt, yeast, etc.) that make it easier to make other things like pizza crust, cookies, and more.
Here’s the recipe and a couple of delicious photos.
.25 tsp yeast
1.5 cups warm water
1.25 tsp salt
3 cups flour (I like to use 2.5 cups white flour, .5 cups whole wheat flour)
Put yeast into a ceramic bowl, add water and then salt. I really like ceramic bowls since they are easy to clean up. Mix together and let sit 2-5 minutes.
Add flour and mix together by hand until a consistent mixture is created.
Cover with tea towel or cloth for 12 – 18 hours.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees with dutch oven inside during preheating. Mix risen dough by hand in bowl before adding to dutch oven. Don’t burn yourself, 500 degrees is hot!
Bake covered at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook for additional 5 – 15 minutes to brown, my oven takes about 8 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and enjoy with butter, jam, avocado, or plain.
Feel free to experiment with additional in ingredients in the bread, there are a lot of options. You can add some cheese, which I recommend doing just before putting in the oven. You can add herbs like rosemary which I would do before letting sit so it can spread through the dough overnight.
This bread tastes so good and is so easy you have to try it. We love to start off the weekend with a hot loaf on Saturday morning to enjoy with coffee and a cool morning breeze coming through the window. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and the weekend, too.
If the above directions aren’t enough, I also did a (terrible) video on this recipe a couple of years ago. It also includes my cost estimate of 62 cents per loaf. That price has been reduced since I found a cheaper option for yeast by buying in bulk via Amazon. Below are a couple of links to Amazon for yeast and a cast iron pot like we use. I’m trying out the Associates program Amazon has so yes, I’ll get a dime or so if you buy something but I recommend buying used and/or local first before looking to Amazon.
We like to eat hard-boiled eggs in our house. However, we’ve gone through a number of different instructions on how to make them best. Our issue has been that they are often not easy to peel. Our current method is below, courtesy of Mama Joyce.
Put eggs in pot.
Add water until eggs are covered.
Bring to full roiling boil on stove.
Turn off heat, keep cover on pot.
Let sit 30 minutes.
Remove eggs from water, put in refrigerator.
We enjoy hard-boiled eggs because they’re filling, cheap, and can be eaten plain, in a salad, or a number of other ways. We typically buy organic or local farm eggs for $4.99 a dozen, which is 41.5 cents per egg. Two eggs with a big slice of homemade bread and some cheese or carrots is a great lunch you can easily take to work, the beach, or the park.
Have a better method to cook eggs? I’d love to hear it.
Have a bike? Probably. Maybe you use it, maybe you don’t. You almost definitely know how to ride a bicycle – per a recent FiveThirtyEight article an estimated 94% of Americans know how to ride a bike. Why such a high percentage? Because bicycles are cheap, efficient, elegant modes of transportation that are fun and socially engaging.
If you already bike, you really need a rear rack and a pannier bag or two. What’s a pannier bag? It’s a fancy word for a bag that hooks onto your bike so you can hold stuff. They are awesome and an instant, cheap upgrade that makes takes your bike up about five levels. You have a European man purse to impress friends with at parties. You can carry things like laptops. You can pick up a six-pack of beer or a picnic without having to do the handlebar hang wobble ride.
For a long time I didn’t have a bag but bought the wife one for taking to work on her daily commute. I was jealous so I got the same bag – a Linus “The Sac” canvas pannier bag. The official site lists it at $69 but I think I paid $55. Either way, it’s a nice bag that lasts well so I think a good value at either price. It’s mostly waterproof except for probably in a heavy downpour – living in San Diego I wasn’t concerned on that count.
To show just some of the functionality even a basic bag like this provides I took some photos of my trip to the grocery store today. Grocery shopping by bike is a somewhat frequent topic of conversation at bicycle meetings – non-riders can’t understand how one can carry groceries without an SUV. Basically, you buy groceries slightly more often – probably a benefit if you mostly eat fresh produce and food instead of mega-size boxes of industrial junk. You also use a functional bag to carry your groceries and buy some fancy chocolate as well with the money you saved on not using an expensive car for every minor trip in life.
That’s it. Bonus: you already have a reusable bag wherever you’re riding so you can help to kill less fish, turtles, dolphins, humans, and generally make our planet a better place. Since you’re riding a bike you’re also not giving small children in your neighborhood asthma so feel good about that one too.