Guinea Pig Kitchen: Shakshuka

This is the first installment of Guinea Pig Kitchen. The most frequent questions I get asked about touring are generally related to food. Usually it comes down to, what do you eat? Since my first tour in 2008, I have put down about 15,000km touring and since that first tour everything has changed. Then I was on a track bike with an overloaded backpack eating at cafes and staying in hostels (or under the occasional bridge). Now I have 2, going on three tourable bikes (including that old track bike coming full circle), I own multiple stoves, switch regularly between tent and hammock camping. I would say I have my grub down pretty good.

I like food. I like good food a lot. I fancy myself a pretty damn good cook. When I became a vegetarian, half my life ago, my mom told me it was time to learn to cook. The memory mangled press worthy quote was a long the lines of “I’ve have too many children to cook for one that wants to be different”. So I have some practice.

OK, STFU now and talk about the food.

Shakshuka! This is a recent addition to my arsenal. A friend and fellow Team Moustacher taught me this one about a year and a half ago before we threw the Team Moustache Albany Bulb race.

Shakshouka (Arabic: شكشوكة‎; Hebrew: שקשוקה‎) (also shakshuka) is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoeschili peppersonions, often spicedwith cumin. It is believed to have a Tunisian origin.[1][2]

 

This is as delicious as it sounds. Having realized last year carrying eggs isn’t as hazardous as it sounds I quickly adopted this as a touring food. This is my recent Hawk Overnight rendition along with some prep tips for short trips.

Ingredients:

  • Mushrooms
  • Green Onions
  • Baby Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • seasoned with salt and pepper
  • container
Ingredients
Ingredients.

Since I was just doing an overnight I was only going to cook breakfast, this meant I could prep everything ahead of time.

Dice up all the veg, chuck it into your container, add seasoning and your preferred cooking oil for a light saute*.

* optional, see next step

The veg is contained
The veg is contained.

Next you can optionally saute your veggies. It will be just as good if you wanted to chuck them straight into the sauce and soften them up there. Ideal if you want to minimize your cookware kit. Just leave out some or all of the oil from the previous step and give the veggies 2-5 minutes before adding the eggs.

Veg in Sauce
Veg in Sauce

Put your veggies in the sauce and bring to a simmer. Once its simmering carefully crack and drop your eggs in the sauce.

 

Eggs in sauce?! You talkin’ crazy!

The eggs cook differently than normal poaching. I usually give it about 10 minutes with the lid on and the lowest simmer I can get my stove (MSR Whisper Lite) to do. This will vary between stoves and cookware but the egg should be much firmer than you’d do for something like Eggs Benedict.

Done
Done!

My egg looks like a dumpling. But it is not, so serve with bread or toast.

Last step is find a beautiful view and enjoy.

Brekky
Brekky

 

Morgan Allen: Hedge Hog Whisperer

In my journey through New Zealand I saw my fair share of hedge hogs. Cute little guys they are. Sadly the bulk of them resembled the bulk of… err… disassembled kangaroos I saw in Australia. So when I saw one if these lil’ fuckers rootin’ around the side of the road my protective instinct kicked right in. Right after a squee of joy!

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Be seen, be safe my little hedge hog.

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Now there is a happy and safe hedge hog.

Next!

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Heading off from Wellington where I’ve been almost a week. Three days riding should get me to Taupo where a mountain bike is waiting for me to ride Caters of the Moon! All up 919km to Auckland with a loop leading up to Comomandel and 15 days to do it. Couple big says and a couple casual days and I should be good.

New Zealand Adventures

I’ve been very quite lately as I had been terribly busy in Sydney for my last couple of weeks. Between trying to hammer out as much code as I could, still working full time on the road, moving out of my house, sending things back to California and trying to get some practice in before Nationals writing was the last thing I was about to do. Sorry! Anyhow I’ve been in New Zealand 2 weeks now. Timaru Polo Nationals was amazing! In the 5 years I’ve been traveling to play polo I’ve yet to attend a tournament this well organized. Courts were top notch by any standard and really set the bar for the Australasian region. Read about that somewhere else if interested, I’m retired from polo now.

Been in Queenstown since Monday and this place is beautiful. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, amazing lake and the weather has been fairly nice, although a bit cold. I was meant to start riding this morning but with it raining I decided to put it off a day. Rain is part of bike touring but I’d rather not start the trip in it. 3 days of great weather ahead. Enough to get onto the west coast before the rain starts up again.

My plan is to do a little over 2 weeks on the south island. Headed north-west through Wanaka then to Haast Highway to see the glaciers! I’ll be riding the north island at a bit of a faster pace and spending a bit of time visiting friends in Wellington, Taupo, and Auckland before flying to Los Angeles a month from now. From there I’m going to ride the west coast back to San Francisco, visiting friends in LA, Santa Barbara, visiting friends back home in Santa Maria and seeing my family before continuing on to Big Sur, Santa Cruz then SF! So yup, that’s it. Pictures going up on Flickr at some point.

Followup: Newcastle Overnight

The Newcastle Overnight was an amazing success. The toughest in recent memory would have been Day 13 of Perth to Sydney. I did 186km in a savage head wind. Over night I think this ride was just as hot.

The day started off hot. Ruining my plan to beat one of the challenges of this ride. The plan was simple. Stay up really late as I tend to do and have a nice sleep in. Problem here was that it was so hot, despite the fact I was up well past 4:00am I could not manage to fall back asleep past 9:00am. I prepared a couple of things for the ride and decided to get out of the house for the afternoon and went around for some beers with a friend. About 6 beers and a heap of Indian food later I was back home getting everything together. As is typical for me, I packed too much.

I wish I had had a handle bar bag. Since I was riding my road bike there isn’t much storage space. I decided then to use my Camelbak to hold the bulk of my water as I’d need at least 1 water bottle cage for the light battery. My packing included, rain gear, food (couple sandwiches, nuts, cheese, forgot the crackers), extra battery (not needed), arm/leg warmers, couple other small things. All tools and spares where in a saddle bag.

Once ready I went around to a friends to pick up a loaner light. This is one of the early generation LED lights made in New Zealand. It is a really nice light, very high power but…. it used old NiCad batteries each of which is the size (and shape) of a water bottle. There was concern that the batteries had degraded from there original 8 hours to about half. Fortunately this was not the case and I got a solid 8 with mostly using the medium setting and turning off while riding in lit areas. Unfortunately this meant I had a water bottle shaped (and sized) spare battery in my backpack I didn’t need.

Turned up to Observatory Hill about 8:30, chatted with a couple of folks I knew from Bike Polo and met some new folks, made some really bad jokes and prepared to depart.

The ride started off nicely with a couple of people jamming right off the front. I took my time but was still near the front of the main group. I held in this group for the first hour or so but as the climbing started getting more intense I dropped of a little more each time. Apparently I don’t have climbing legs since leaving San Francisco. This group had been pulling a fairly intense pace so I was probably for the best to back off and join the next group back.

I stuck with this next couple for a couple of hours. At least until the tea stop. This group also had the toughest/craziest guy on the ride. Sporting an old Shogun funny bike converted to fixed gear with a not so sensible gear ratio. He did manage to throw down a Herculean effort but the climbs of Mt. White left him walking. As there was a large gap to the next group back, he’d not much of a light and there was the occasional speeding car, I walked with him until the crest. A small group caught us just after the top and we jumped in with them until the tea stop. The last group I was with was still there and I jump in with about half of them a few minutes later.

Some people rest on descents. I think if you are resting on a descent you are not going fast enough. Sadly this attitude, fun as it is, didn’t leave a lot for the next climb, which I did very slowly. I spent the next hour or so on my own until I decided it was time for a rest. I had a lay down on the lawn outside a gas station until the next group was coming up. Got my shit together and hoped on. We arrived in Swansea together and continued on to the straight flat marsh lands to the North. I was working with one other in the group taking turns on the front. This is when the lack of sleep was really starting to hit me bad. I wasn’t hungry but should have been, my stomach was hurting and I was starting to see spots.. okay I gotta throw up. I jumped out of the group and relieved myself. There was a small parking lot which I used to rest up, took a power nap, ate some food and was feeling largely much better. That is until the next group past.

I didn’t see them until they where just passing, I packed my stuff up quickly and tried to catch them. Bad idea, basically wasted the little rest I just taken. I’d given up on trying to catch when I noticed one (of the three) pulling off to the other side of the road. Water stop or rest maybe, said it he was okay. I then ended up catching the other 2 while they where stopped. I managed 2 big efforts with them but I just wasn’t on the same pace. Turns out heavy weight touring and light weight hammer aren’t really transferable skills, who’d of thought.

On my own again I decided some motivational music was in order. Riding with no hands selecting some music I didn’t see the giant pile of glass until I’d riden through it twice. Before I was even done wiping the front tire down the rear went flat. And turn out matching Mavic tires and rims are impossible to remove without tire levers… which I didn’t have.

About 15 minutes later a lone riding pulled up. I’d recognized him and turns out we’d met through a mutual friend a couple of weeks earlier. He was happy to stop at this point and take a break. We then departed together and were on very similar pace. The company was very welcome at this point. We’d both been having similar nights. We had about 60km to go about this point.

It was still very hot at this point in the night and there was a thunderstorm cracking away on the horizon. Interestingly this is the same place I was absolutely hammered on during the first night on my Sydney to Brisbane tour.

The rest of the ride was fairly routine. Will and I stopped occasionally for rest and food (I was thankfully hungry at this point) and chatted while knocking down the distance. The last 15km where great. We left the main highway and took a Rails to Trails route that was extremely beautiful with natural Australian coastal growth.

We arrived at the rock pools right around 7:00am to a cheering crowd and a croissant. Getting off the bike knowing I was done was an amazing feeling. Everyone around the table looked shattered but with the most amazing smiles of haggard satisfaction on their faces. Through the sharp feeling of pain and exhaustion I felt that look on my face too. We sat around for the next hour sharing our story of the journey, most of the people there I’d riding with at least once through the night. A great bunch of people whom I am very glad I was able to meet and ride with.

I cannot thank the people who organized this enough. Ollie and Garth are super nice guess and did an amazing job bringing us together. If you are in or around Sydney this time next year you must do this ride. It was a truly amazing experience.

No Newcastle Overnight, Thank You.

Going for a little ride

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I found out about it just a couple of days ago and decided to jump on. Tonight is Sydney to Newcastle Overnight. 160km starting at 900pm. We are about 30 minutes off and everyone is quite excited. Should be a great ride, its hot as and quite humid. The dip in the pacific at sun up will be very rewarding. Hopefully I manage to record the entire route.

New things….

While not my typical style of adventure, my latest one is my new shiny job. This will involve cleaning up some of the worst code I’ve ever seen and trying not to hurt peoples feelings.

I’m going to ‘Adventure’ here each day.

But enough about that here. Anything else concerning this will be written on MORGLOG, which is likely to become very WTF Code over the next couple of months.

In real Adventuring news, I’m planning my next tour. Since hot hot summer is approaching dusty ol’ down under continuing north is out of the question. So I was thinking about looping Tasmania in January. The plan is pretty loose at the moment but might even involve shipping my gear to Melbourne and riding unloaded (fast) from Sydney then taking the ferry to Devenport in the north part of Tasmania. That is as far as I have thought. More will be posted on that and a prospective tour of New Zealand March of next year.

Border hopping

Crossed into QLD last night and was surprised to not have armed mounties awaiting my arrival.

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ive come for your syrup

Had a relaxed night. Stayed in a hostel, took a stroll down the beach and cooked myself a nice dinner. Met two students from Southport on their first bike tour headed down to Byron Bay. Helped them fix some problems on their bikes before headed off this morning. Oh yeah, I also totally failed to do a rest day yesterday. Instead of staying in Byron’s Bay (too many hippies) I carried on to Tweed Heads. Today will be my short say. Riding less than 30km to Surfers Paradise where I hear there is a night market on Wednesdays. That should get me into Brisie tomorrow early afternoon.