Saturday, January 14, 2012

What this bicycle needs...

On your bike, how much stuff is too much stuff?

For my commute I have the basics: pannier, lights, bell, helmet. My bike is fairly accessory-light.

And that's fine.
But it isn't easy for me.

I'm a hoarder, aesthetically driven and an impulse buyer, so keeping my bike simple and functional is harder than you might think. I just really love stuff.

Every time I browse a bike fashion blog or a bike gadget website, I risk ending up with something else to attach to my bike. One of my favourite cycling bloggers, Alice from Quaint Living, has a handlebar mounted cup holder.

Do I need a handlebar mounted cup holder? No.
Do I want a handlebar mounted cup holder? Apparently so!

The internet is a dangerous places - I work pretty hard not to bankrupt myself.

I'm such a Mrs Armitage:

"Mrs Armitage sets off for a quiet cycle with her faithful dog, Breakspear, but she just can't help thinking of ways to improve her bicycle. Before very long she has added three very loud horns, a bucket of water to wash her hands, a complete tool kit. And by the time she has also added a seat for Breakspear, two umbrellas, a cassette player and a mouth-organ, Mrs Armitage is riding a very eye-catching contraption. But it is when she finally adds the mast and sail, that Mrs Armitage really runs into trouble. . ."
With a whole world of beautiful bike accessories out there, how much is too much?
Have you ever seen an over-accessorised bike?

Where is the line between basic:handy:luxury:overload

How to: White soda bread to restore the soul

 Bread makes me feel good about myself. Once I've baked bread I can open my door, hold my loaf on high and declare to the street:

''I created this! It's beautiful! What have you done with your time that's half as good as this?"

Bread restores the soul. It's hearty, its comforting and, most importantly, its that little bit tricky, so once you've mastered it you can feel like a proud, productive member of society.

As far as I'm concerned you're winning at life if you can make bread.

The problem is that bread isn't actually tricky at all. Some bread is really easy. A doddle in fact.

Soda bread for instance. Quick, easy, tasty. This recipe makes a small loaf, and can be quite dense.

300g white flour (I sometimes use 100g of either spelt/wholemeal/white bread flour mixed with 200g of normal white flour for variation)
Large pinch of salt
2 tsps of baking powder
Approximately 200-250ml of buttermilk/whey/milk (sour if possible - the acid helps)

- Pre-heat oven and baking tray to 230°C. It's good to have the baking tray hot too. 

- Weigh out the dry ingredients and mix in a large bowl.

- Add most of your chosen liquid and mix with a fork until a sticky dough is formed, adding more liquid as required.

- Transfer dough from bowl to a floured service and shape into a round loaf. Place on the baking tray and score a deepish cross into the top of the loaf.

- Bake for 15-25 minutes. When you remove the loaf from the oven you can either leave it to cool as is, or wrap it in a damp tea towel to form a softer crust.

- Eat, enjoy and be proud.

I've spent many an other wise miserable evening eating this bread straight from the oven, dripping in butter and drinking red wine. I can highly recommend it to lift your spirits.