Things that can be carried on a bike (#631)…

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A canvas bag, a camera, an extra lens, a laptop. two books, and a journal.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#630)…

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$219.67 in groceries, sundries, and dog food.

Urban Simplicity.

You are here…two photos, a few words, and ten quotes for Earth Day

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Okay, so a couple things before the quotes. The above photo is from the Rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars looking at planet Earth. Does it make you feel small? It does me. The photo at the bottom of the page I took last night from my front porch. It’s of the moon, of course, and is zoomed in a cropped. When I took the photo both Venus and Mars were visible to the human eye. Amazing. I thought about the above photo while taking the below one. It helps me in a way…my stupid problems–which seem so paramount at times–and the never-ending thoughts that race around my head, are really so miniscule in the grand scheme of things. Not to sound morose, but it makes me remember that we are but a blip on the radar screen of time and life as we know it. These photos–and when I look in the sky–put things in perspective for me, it helps me appreciate the hear-and-now. But enough about what I think and feel, here’s the quotes…

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

“The only thing that scares me more than space aliens is the idea that there aren’t any space aliens. We can’t be the best that creation has to offer. I pray we’re not all there is. If so, we’re in big trouble.”

― Ellen DeGeneres

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

― John Muir

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

― Henry David Thoreau 

“I would request that my body in death be buried not cremated, so that the energy content contained within it gets returned to the earth, so that flora and fauna can dine upon it, just as I have dined upon flora and fauna during my lifetime”

― Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”

― Gary Snyder

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”

― Jacques-Yves Cousteau

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

― David Brower

“What have they done to the earth? What have they done to our fair sister?

― Jim Morrison

“Waste is Criminal.”

― Kristin Cashore

Urban Simplicity.

Mediterranean-Style “Golden” Rice-and-Beans

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Okay, so first a couple things. The recipe for this exact dish pictured is at the bottom of this post, but what I really wanted to show here is the method in which to make this; the flavorings and seasonings are interchangeable. Rice-and-beans, of course, are a staple in many cultures around the world. What makes this version truly bursting with flavor is it’s use of sofrito, a sort of seasoning blend made with caramelized onion, peppers, tomato, garlic, and spices. And versions of sofrito can be found in many areas of the world as well, but what makes this Mediterranean are the spices that I used…turmeric, Lebanese seven-spice mix (click here for the recipe), smoked paprika, and saffron. The combination of all of these things gives this dish not only an intoxicating aroma, but also it’s beautiful golden hue. Rice-and-beans on their own are a complete protein, this is how so many people around the world survive of various combinations of this, and this is why this is also a valuable combination for vegans and vegetarians. While the recipe below is not vegetarian (I used chicken broth) it can be if you use vegetable broth. Inversely, one can easily add chicken, seafood, pork, or even lamb to this dish. I also used brown rice rather than white so it contains more vitamins, but this is also why the longer cooking time. Anyhow, here’s how to make it…

Begin by making the sofrito, Heat olive oil in a pot and add diced onion and pepper. Cook them somewhat slowly until they are very cooked and begin to brown slightly. Then add minced garlic and cook that for a few minutes.

Then add whatever herbs or spices you may be using.

Then add tomato. This time of year I use tomato paste because it is already concentrated, but in the summer when my garden is full I often us fresh ripe tomato but have to cook it a bit longer to concentrate the flavors.

Continue to cook the vegetables and spices over moderately low heat until everything is soft and cooked and concentrated. Below is the complete sofrito.

Add the rice and stir it to coat it with the oil and sofrito.

Then add simmering broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook the rice for 30-50 minutes (depending on the brand). Do not stir the rice. If using white rice, cook it for 18-20 minutes. 

Check the rice, and about 5 or 10 minutes before it is finished add cooked beans or lentils without stirring. After the rice has cooked, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest (without stirring) for about 5 minutes.

Just before serving, fluff the rice and gently fold in the beans.

Golden Brown Rice-and-Beans 

 Makes 4-6 portions

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 red bell pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pinch saffron threads

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup brown rice

2-3 cups chicken broth (hot)

1 (15 oz) can white beans, rinsed

Heat the olive oil in a heat pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook slowly for about 10 minutes while stirring. When the onion and pepper is very soft and just begins to brown, add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Lower the heat, then stir in the seven-spice mix, turmeric, paprika, salt, and saffron. Cook the spices for just a few seconds then stir in the tomato paste. Cook the vegetables, spices, and tomato paste over low heat for about 5 minutes while stirring. Then add the rice, stirring it into the seasonings, then add 2 ½ cups broth, stirring it in as well. Raise the heat until the liquid boils, then lower it again to a slow simmer. Cover the pot and cook the rice for 30-50 minutes (depending on the brand), or until it is almost done. If the rice needs more liquid, add the remaining broth. Without stirring, add the beans on top of the rice, re-cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and allow it to rest for 5 or 10 minutes. Just before serving, fluff the rice and gently fold in the beans.

Silo City…Inside and Out

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Yesterday evening I rode down to Silo City in Buffalo’s Old First Ward to take part in Boom Days. It was such a lovely evening I went to watch some of the bands, particularly the Alison Pipitone Band (pictured below), and to take some photos. Well shortly after I arrived the beer truck ran out of beer (egad!). Luckily I knew one of the bartenders and she was knid enough to find one beer for me. Anyhow, after watching the band for a while I walked around and took some photos of the grain elevators. I was surprised that they were open, so I went inside as well. And as I was in their I couldn’t help but think of the generations of men and boys that worked their lives away in these elevators, and indeed, in some cases even lost their lives there. I took dozens of photos but not all came out as it was evening and progressing into night. I did have my tripod but only set it up twice. So most of these photos were shot hand-held. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Buffalo-Style Tofu Nuggets!

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Okay, so I have posted this recipe before, but not in quite a while. Anyhow, I made this for lunch at work the other day and was reminded how good this is and was prompted to post it again. This is so easy to make, and yes (before you ask) the nuggets can be baked rather than fried (I’ve tried it both ways), the nuggets will be equally delicious just not as crispy. They can be eaten as a snack hot, cold, or at room temperature, or on a salad or in a sandwich. But you’d better make a double batch because they won’t last long…

Buffalo-Style Tofu Nuggets

1 (14 oz.) extra firm tofu

1 cup Franks hot sauce

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons granulated onion

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

oil for pan-frying

Drain the tofu and remove it from its package. Place the tofu between two plates and allow it to gently press out some of its moisture for about twenty minutes. Then dice the tofu and place it in a shallow pan. In a separate bowl, mix together the hot sauce, cornstarch, onion, and garlic, making sure that the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Pour this mixture over the tofu and gently lift and move it to insure that is fully coated. Allow it to marinate for about 20 minutes. Then remove the tofu from it’s marinade to a clean plate. Heat about 1/2” vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. And when the oil is hot carefully add the marinated tofu. Fry for about 5 minutes, turning as necessary, or until golden and crispy. Transfer the crispy tofu with a slotted spoon to absorbent paper.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#629)…

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A new rake and a push-broom.

Urban Simplicity.

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