Saturday, June 25, 2011

Brahma goes to the Library!

In a recent post in my other blog, GreenComotion, I had asked my readers for their suggestions for a good bicycling related book. There were some very good suggestions. Today, Brahma and I went on a very special mission to the Irving Public Library to find some of these books.

When we got to the library, we noticed that there were a couple of bikes parked in the bike rack outside the library. These were probably bikes that belonged to some of the kids. We figured as much from the looks and the brands.

We figured we will take a chance going in as a team. So, I folded Brahma, carried the T-Bag on my shoulder, and with the helmet still on my head, walked right in to the library, rolling Brahma right along on the skate wheels. No one seemed to worry! I know the library officials saw us walking in, but no one bothered us. Part of me wonders if they did not know what to think of it, or if they did not realize that Brahma, in the folded state, was a bicycle.
Once inside the library, we found a computer which allowed us to access the library catalog and began our search for four books: 1-2) Cycling Past 50 and Cyclecraft, recommended by Steve), 3) Two Wheels and a Taxi, recommended by PA, and 4) It's All About the Bike, suggested by Chris. The Irving Public Library system only had Cycling Past Fifty available, but that too was in circulation. I placed a request for it.

Cyclecraft, It's All About the Bike and Two Wheels and a Taxi were only available through Inter-library Loan.
However, due to system glitches, I could not place a request for them today. Not just that inconvenience, but I could not even access a few hyperlinks that were on the landing page. I will be contacting the person in-charge of the Inter-library loans on Monday, in this regard.
Once our business concluded at the library, Brahma and I headed back home. We did not venture out elsewhere, as we had other plans.

Hope your day was a great one!

Peace :)

Tough decision

It is almost a month since Brahma came into my life. I have been trying not to add any widgets to Brahma in order to keep it all pure and original. But, I could not help adding one thing to Brahma's cockpit - the handlebar mount for my Garmin Edge 705.
It took a little bit tweaking, but I think I finally have the handlebar mount for the GPS, in a good location on the Brompton handlebar, where I can see it clearly and also positioned so that it does not interfere with the fold.

If you ride a Brompton, what's in your cockpit? Do you carry a GPS? Do you have a speedometer attached to your Brompton?

I would be delighted to hear from you!

Peace :)

Two Year Review: Snow Peak French Coffee Press

I bought my Snow Peak Titanium French Press two years ago. I have used it on two or three bike camping trips I have taken so far. In addition to taking it on these trips, I have also used this Coffee Press at home many times and I am pleased to report that I am quite satisfied with it.

After two years of use, I wholeheartedly recommend this device!
My observations/thoughts/recommendations:
  1. This is a ultra light Coffee Press.
  2. Use coarsely ground coffee. If you grind the beans too fine, you will likely get some of the grounds in your brew.
  3. Use a very soft sponge to clean the Coffee Press. Abrasive sponges/widgets will scratch the coffee press.
  4. Wash the Coffee Press by hand. I do not wash mine in the dishwasher.
  5. Do not depress the Coffee Press's plunger device too fast as it is likely to make the hot brew spew on your hands.
  6. Use a plastic or wooden spoon to stir the coffee if you use the Coffee Press as your coffee mug. Metal spoons/widgets may scratch the Coffee Press.
  7. The Coffee Press can be used to heat up the water, although I prefer heating up the water in a separate pot.
  8. Store the Coffee Press in its sleeve after use.
Enjoy your java, your cycle and the great outdoors!

Peace :)

Spicy Bean Duo

It is not Chili weather in Texas right now, but this afternoon, I set out to prepare a dish with beans, corn and tomatoes. I wanted the dish to emulate a warm salsa and I wanted it to be spicy.

After some deliberations, I came up with a new recipe - Spicy Bean Duo!

Ingredients:
Diced Tomatoes - 1 large can
Sweet Corn - 1 can
Black beans - 1 can
White/Navy beans - 1 can
Onions - 2 diced
Sambar powder - 3 Tbsp
Sesame seed oil - 3 Tbsp
Garnish: chopped curry leaves and cilantro

Preparation:
  1. In a sauce pan, heat-up the oil. Add the onions and brown them slightly.
  2. Add the sambar powder, beans, corn and tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and the chopped curry leaves.
    Bon appetit' :)

    Spicy and Creamy Cabbage Stew

    I prepared a Cabbage Stew this afternoon. Normally, I would use ginger root for this recipe. However, when I started cooking this afternoon, I noticed that I was out of ginger root. I would normally not be too lazy and ride to the Indian Supermarket nearby and get some, but I had just gone there, prior to preparing dinner this afternoon. I didn't feel like riding out again. So, I experimented with adding black peppercorns to my recipe to add some heat to the stew I was preparing. It turned out that my estimation of the amount of heat put out by fourth of a cup of peppercorns wasn't very accurate. When I tasted the prepared dish, it was extremely spicy. I had to tone it down a notch. I checked my pantry and the only available product that would come in handy was coconut milk. I added a can of coconut milk to the Cabbage Stew and made it "Spicy and Creamy Cabbage Stew". It worked out great!

    Here is my improvised recipe :)

    Ingredients:
    Cabbage- 1/2 head, shredded
    Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp
    Urad dal  - 1 Tsp
    Shredded Coconut - 1/2 cup
    Fenugreek seeds - 1 Tsp
    Sesame seed oil - 2  Tbsp
    Black peppercorns - 2 Tbsp
    Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
    Red chillies - 6-8
    Dal/Lentils  - 2 cups (cooked)
    Coconut Milk - 1 can
    Asafoetida - a dash
    Garnish: chopped curry leaves and cilantro

    Preparation:
    1. In a sauce pan, heat-up the oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Turn down the heat to medium or below.
    2. Add the urad dal, asafoetida and the shredded cabbage. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 minutes.
    3. Cook the lentils until soft in a pressure-cooker or in a conventional sauce pan.
    4. In a sauce pan, roast the black peppercorns, fenugreek, cumin, red chilies. You may use a drop or two of oil if you like to roast these. I dry toast them.
    5. Grind the the ingredients from step 4 and the grated coconut in a blender. Use little water (the mix should be moist/wet but not runny). 
    6. Add the mix from step 5 to the cabbage in the pot, turn-up the heat to medium and cook until the cabbage is cooked, but not mushy!
    7. Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and the chopped curry leaves.
      Bon appetit' :)

      PS. One can eat most of my vegetable stews/curries/chowders by themselves or with rice/chappathi/naan/pita bread!

      Simple Carrot Curry

      I am cooking less and less these days. But I am glad I still am eating healthy, thanks to my lovely wife. I made time today to prepare dinner. I made three dishes and I have posted each in its own post.

      My recipe for Carrot Curry is a simple, quick-to-prepare recipe, which anyone can follow to make a healthy vegetable dish.

      Ingredients:
      Carrots - 6-10 diced
      Mustard seeds - 1 Tbsp
      Shredded Coconut - 1/4 cup
      Sambar powder - 1 Tsp
      Sesame seed oil - 1/4 cup
      Garnish: chopped curry leaves and cilantro

      Preparation:
      1. In a sauce pan, heat-up the oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Turn down the heat to medium or below.
      2. Add the carrots and coconut. Cover and cook on low heat until the carrots are cooked, but not mushy.
      3. Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and the chopped curry leaves.
      Bon appetit' :)

      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      I need your help: I need a good book!

      The last two bicycling related books I read were:
      1. Where the Pavement Ends
      2. The Lost Cyclist
      I am currently reading  Effective Cycling by Forester, which will take me many more months to complete.

      I need a easy to read book along the lines of the first two I have listed above. I don't think I want a technical repair manual kinda book. I want something that is fun to read.

      Do you have any suggestions?

      Thanks in advance!

      Peace :)

      Detour

      I have been going in to work, a bit earlier than usual, this week. When I commute earlier in the morning, I prefer taking the Campion Trail, instead of the usual Valley Ranch Parkway.

      Campion is a desirable alternative to fighting all that traffic, won't you say?

      Hope your week was great!

      Peace :)

      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Ping Pong Friday!

      Brahma watching our buddy Allan showing the opponent how a backhand shot should be played!

      Happy Friday!

      Peace :)

      Thursday, June 16, 2011

      Our Soaps Mentioned in Chic Vegan!

      Here is an article about our soaps in Chic Vegan's blog! We are very thrilled about this!!
      We would appreciate if you share the news about our soaps with your friends and family.
      Thank you.

      Peace :)

      Downtime!

      How do I spend my downtime? This is how!
      Corresponding with friends...

      A fountain pen is like a classy steel bicycle. You are stylin', when you use one...

      Peace :)

      Wednesday, June 15, 2011

      Off the saddle for a few days!

      I have taken a couple of days off, as the allergies finally got a hold of me and brought me down. I have not ridden since the weekend.

      Hope to be back in the saddle soon!

      Peace :)

      Sunday, June 12, 2011

      The much awaited new blog: iBrompton

      Dear all,
      I have a brand new blog for the Brahma. It is called iBrompton.
      Please do check out my new blog. Your patronage is much appreciated :)

      While I may post topics specific to folders/Bromptons, I will continue posting on all my blogs: GreenCoMotion, VegetarianCyclist, iBrompton.

      Thanks for your support!

      Peace :)

      Saturday, June 11, 2011

      Thank you, Christine!

      I ordered a Carradice Long Flag Camper and Saddlebag SQR Uplift from Wallingford Bicycles to add as rear luggage on Brahma. The bag arrived a few days after Brahma arrived. The SQR system is a quick-release system that allows you to attach/remove the bag off the seat pillar, very quickly. This feature is especially useful to have on a folding bike like Brahma. In a Brompton, particularly, it is much easier to attach the SQR system to a telescopic seat pillar than a standard seat pillar. Attaching the SQR to a standard seat pillar prohibits the seat pillar from retracting all the way. If you have a telescopic seat pillar, you can attach the SQR to the telescopic seat pillar and still retract the seat pillar all the way down.

      Rambo practicing his Taguchi : inspecting the goods, to make sure everything is to specification!
      Installing the SQR Uplift on Brahma's Telescopic Seat pillar was a piece of cake. The installation took about 5 minutes, tops
      Yet another view of the Carradice Long Flag Camper, installed using the SQR uplift.
      The bag looks great and is quite spacious. I haven't used it for shopping or carrying stuff to work yet. Between the Brompton T-Bag and the Carradice Long Flag Camper, I bet I will be able to carry all of what I need for a S24O.

      My bag was personally handcrafted by Christine of Carradice. Thanks, Christine, for a job well done!
      Given the 98+ degree temps in DFW, I doubt I will dare do a S24O before it cools off, unless we get some good rains and the temps really drop...Now, that would be a welcome change, if you ask me :)

      Hope your weekend is going well!

      Peace :)

      Tuesday, June 7, 2011

      Extemporaneous or Rehearsed answer?

      Three weeks ago, while riding the same route to work as I do on most days, I experienced something new. I wouldn't say something pleasant, but new nevertheless. I have been wanting to write about this experience since then, but only tonight I finally manged to write it in a post here.

      Where Valley Ranch Parkway East meets the service road to Interstate 635, there is a fork in the road. One branch merges with the service road and the other cuts across the Service Road and joins Valley View Lane, after going under the Interstate. I was headed towards the interstate.



      View Larger Map
      Anyways, there I am riding along, fighting a rather stiff Southwind, riding with my head down, in a sorta aero-tuck. I was in the right-most lane headed in the direction of my travel (which was the left lane, given I was headed straight and not headed towards merging with the Service Road). Suddenly, I hear a little "Beep" and I see this woman in the convertible behind me, saying something (in a non-threatening manner) to me. I figure she is in a big hurry and I say to myself, "The heck with it. I will let her pass me" and signal, and I pull into the right lane, signaling her to pass me. Well, to my dismay, she moves into the left lane and while passing me, yells at me, "Hey Cyclist, get out of my way". Now, I am really puzzled. WTF (What The Fender)! I say, "No, I am not in your way". Then, the woman starts yelling some more: "Pull over, I want to talk to you!". I say, "No", and I continue pedaling down the road".

      While this woman did not seem extremely dangerous, unlike some of the other "gifted creatures" I have had the pleasure of meeting on the road, I couldn't figure out what it is that she wanted from me. Did she simply want to pick a fight with someone? Did she want to prove that she was stronger, faster and mightier, than a 40 pound bicycle and the driver of the bicycle? Was she simply trying to make a point?  Was my answer not precise enough to shut her up?

      After the incident, many thoughts went through my mind. Perhaps, the most important was that the entire ordeal made me wonder if I should have a rehearsed answer for these "bullies", instead of trying to talk logic and sense, extemporaneously, while under duress.

      I want to commit to some answer like the following to my memory and I want to use it as the standard response, whenever I run into these situations again:
      "I am using the roadway in a lawful manner. I am not impeding traffic. I am simply going as fast as my vehicle permits."

      Apparently, there is no shortage of yahoos around Valley Ranch Parkway, during the morning and the evening rush-hour plus or minus an hour window: 7AM-10PM, 4PM-7PM.

      What would you do? What would your answer be? Would you even bother answering these refined, superior humans?

      Peace :)

      Monday, June 6, 2011

      Black-eyed Peas and Egg Plant Kootu (Stew)!

      I haven't cooked anything new in a long time. I have been extremely busy with work and my wife has been doing all the cooking. I finally felt like cooking past Sunday, as I had some downtime. So, I made Black-eyed Peas and Eggplant Stew, which is one of my favorite dishes.Some might call this a "sambar", but I call it a Kootu (stew). The prep is very similar to that of sambar, but slightly different. For instance, I add lots of sesame oil to this dish.

      This measurements used in this recipe will make a batch that will feed one (hungry) person approximately 6-8 servings.

      Ingredients:
      Toor daal (Lentils) 2-3 cups
      Black-eyed peas 2 cups
      Asian Eggplant - 6 quartered
      Tamarind paste - 1 Tsp
      Tomatoes - about 5-6 diced/sliced
      Onions - 2 Large - chopped
      Coriander seeds - 1 Tbsp
      Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
      Red Chilies - 6-8
      Fenugreek Seeds - 1 Tsp
      Shredded Coconut - 1 cup
      Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
      Sesame seed oil - 1/4 cup
      Garnish: chopped curry leaves and cilantro

      Preparation:

      1. Cook the lentils until soft in a pressure-cooker or in a conventional sauce pan.
      2. Soak the black-eyed peas overnight and cook them in a pressure cooker or in a conventional sauce pan.
      3. In a sauce pan, roast the coriander seeds, cumin, red chilies. You may use a drop or two of oil if you like to roast these. I dry toast them.
      4. Grind the the ingredients from step 2 and the grated coconut in a blender. Use little water (the mix should be moist/wet but not runny).
      5. In a large pan, heat-up 2 cups of water. Once the water starts to boil, add the cooked daal, the black-eyed peas, egg plant, and the spicy paste from step 3, to the water. Turn down the heat a notch or two. Add the tamarind paste, turmeric and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir the mix so the lentils don't stick to the bottom of the vessel. Cook the mixture for roughly 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
      6. Add the tomatoes and the onions and cook for another 3 minutes. It is nice not to turn the onions mushy.
      7. Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and the chopped curry leaves.
      The finished product!
      Black Kitty ate too much of the good cookin', he got all tired and went to sleep :)
      Bon appetit' :)

      Quench your thirst!

      My favorite thirst-quencher - Coconut Juice/Water!! It is a great electrolyte drink, sufficient for most activities, IMHO. While some favor sports drink with a higher concentration of sodium all the time while they exercise, I think drinking coconut water and eating some proper food while on a ride, might have some significant benefits.
      What is in your bottle?

      Peace :)

      PS. The white particles floating around in my drink are pieces of tender coconut. You can buy Coconut Wate without pulp too, if one wants to.

      Saturday, June 4, 2011

      Grocery Shopping - Brompton Style!

      Had a few errands, including grocery shopping today. Here we are at Sprouts grocery shopping.
      Can you spot Brahma?
      We didn't buy a lot of stuff, but we bought lots of good stuff. It is amazing how much stuff you can carry in the Brompton T-Bag!
      Chillin' at Starbucks with a hot cup of coffee!
      Brahma doesn't have to wait outside. Hooray!
      Chaco is in love with the Club Soda! Dang :)
      Wrapped-up the day with a delicious Birthday Dinner!
      Hope your day was a fun one as well!

      Peace :)

      Thursday, June 2, 2011

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      Cool Cycling Videos!

      Lovely videos about bicycling touring in England!

      Part 1




      Part 2




      Peace :)

      Long Way Home!

      For the past two days, after work, I have been taking the long route home. As I am still learning the intricacies of Brahma, I decided I will simply ride the Campion Trail (paved trail) in Irving. Riding the trail adds another 6 miles to my route. While I would like more tress along the trail, so the sun doesn't beat down so harshly on the trail users, I still enjoy this trail and the tranquility many parts of it offer. In particular, I like hanging out by the "Bird Watching Area". There are so many Blue Herons and White Cranes along the Trinity River, which flows along the trail. These birds definitely make it worth visiting the Campion.

      View from the cockpit! I don't care for the zoom feature in point and shoot digital camera, especially for shooting nature. I tried to use the feature here, minimally, to photograph the White Crane. Can you spot it?

      Majesty of a White Crane in flight, albeit pictured very small! I need to spend a few hours here with my telephoto lens :)

      Have a great rest of the week!

      Peace :)

      Easy Button!

      I didn't mean to scare you with my hairy legs, but wanted to share some info about the "Easy Button", on the Schlumpf Speed Drive on Brahma, with you.

      The Schlumpf Speed Drive is like having two chain rings, but without actually having two. There is only one chain ring, but the system has planetary gears inside it, which create the benefit of having two chain rings.

      The Schlumpf Speed Drive on Brahma is very easy to use. It has two modes, with gearing ratios of 1:1 and 1.65:1. {Please refer to the picture below for clarity :)} When in the 1:1 ratio, the outer ring is locked to the drive shaft. So, you do not get any additional umpf from the drive. However, when in the 1.65:1 ratio mode, the ring holding the four planetary gears contained inside the Schlumpf Speed Drive is locked to the drive shaft, resulting in overdrive mode.

      Photo: Courtesy of Schlumpf.ch
      But, here is the bottomline. When you want to go from 1:1 to the overdrive mode (go faster), all you gotta do is to click your heel. That's right ,click your heel on the little "Easy Button" on the crank arm. Off you go into overdrive mode!

      Happy Trails!

      Peace :)