On the Waterfront…a few photos and a few words

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So in a few days it will be September already. Where has the summer gone? Time goes so very quickly doesn’t it? And with this thought in mind (and the thought that it is predicted that we will receive an early visit from the infamous polar vortex this year) I headed to one of Buffalo’s beautiful waterfronts last evening (even though I didn’t entirely feel like it…though I’m glad I did). I really and consciously wanted to take in a summer evening–to remember it–for three months from now when it will be frigid. There’s a really nice outdoor bar at the Buffalo waterfront so I grabbed a beer and waited for the sun to set. And the Yuba works great as a shelf for food, beer, and other things (see below). Anyhow, it really was a nice evening…feeling the breeze come off the lake while watching the sailboats come in for the evening. I snapped more than four dozen photos and here are a few of my favorites. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Kara Lynn Evancho (1967-2010)

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Kara. Sweet but caustic Kara. It was 4 years ago that you left us too soon. You were one of the craziest people I knew (and I mean that literally of course, and I can hear you chuckling). You drank like a fish, smoked like a fiend, and had the mouth of a drunken sailor. But at not quite 5 feet tall (4-foot 11-and-a-half you always reminded me…that half inch was very important) you had one of the biggest hearts I could ever know. Unconditionally. That’s how you liked people. I almost said love, but I know how you don’t like that mushy stuff. When I was super-stressed out after divorcing and having a young son and moving into a house that was not even fit to live in at the time you showed up with a plastic bag full of sandwiches and loose beers. That’s how you were. But I didn’t appreciate it then. You drove me nuts at work (geeze you knew how to push my buttons) but we also laughed a lot. We talked a lot, too. We talked about how screwed up things were…we talked about how screwed up we were. But you were one of my biggest supporters…I would tell you to shut up when you told people that I was such a good cook that I could even make shit taste good. I still hear your voice at work. A lot lately. And it’s comforting. Thank you for that. But rest in peace sweet Kara. You deserve it.

Urban Simplicity.

Two simple but delicious recipes to use up all those tomatoes growing in your garden…

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Both of these recipes have been posted in the past (or at least variations of them). And whether you grow them in your own garden or buy them from the market or a store, this is prime tomato season. Both recipes are simple to make a bursting with fresh flavor. 

Garden-Fresh Tomato Sauce

 Makes about 3 quarts

4 quarts fresh tomatoes

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 small onions

4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

2 cups chicken broth

1 bunch fresh basil

Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds; discard the seeds and dice the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a heavy sauce pan; add the onions, then the garlic, then the sugar, salt, fennel, and hot pepper. Add the diced tomatoes and the chicken broth (or vegetable broth). Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the sauce for about 45 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened. Stir in whole basil leaves and remove from the heat. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Taste it for seasoning, then puree in a blender. Refrigerate until needed.

Spicy and Smoky Tomato ketchup

Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds ripe tomatoes

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

6 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Remove the cores of the tomatoes, and make a small X-shaped incision on the opposite ends. Drop the tomatoes in the water a few at a time and blanch them for only about 45 seconds, just to loosen their skins. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of iced water. Peel away their skins, cut them in half, squeeze out their seeds, and dice them. Transfer the tomatoes to a small pot with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer. Cook for about an hour, until it becomes quite thick. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth.

A Temple, some Balancing Rocks, Honest Ed’s, and a few other things I Saw While Riding a Bike through Toronto Yesterday…

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So yesterday I was on a quick 24 hour vacation in the beautiful, vibrant, and bustling city of Toronto, which lies two hours north and just around the bend on Lake Ontario from Buffalo. I went there with my son and his cousin, and after dinner they went off to do their young guy thing which allowed me to take photos of this inspiring metropolis. I have ridden a bike in Toronto before (when I brought my folder with me) but on this occasion I utilized Bike Share Toronto, which was really nice and convenient (but more details about that in a later post). Anyhow, with it’s proximity to Buffalo I have been to Toronto more times than I can remember but I am always still thrilled and excited to go there. It was such an incredibly beautiful summer evening, which I spent riding around snapping photos…interspersed with bar stops and good Canadian Beer of course. Anyhow, here a bit of what I saw; click any for a larger photo.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#604)…

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A book bag, a tripod, and a few boxes of food on their way to a local food pantry.

Urban Simplicity.

Ten things I saw while riding my bike recently…

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So I could go on and on about the many reasons I choose to ride a bike–some obvious and some not so much–but these photos explain a lot of it. As many of you know I usually–more often than not–carry a camera with me while riding my bike, and in the evening a tripod as well. It is so easy for me to simply stop and snap a few photos. After a stressful day or evening facing a hot stove, riding a bike and photographing what is directly in front of me–really looking at the natural beauty that s all around us and right in front of us–is in fact a form of therapy for me. Anyhow, I’ll get off my little soapbox now. Click any photo for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Things that can be carried on a bike (#603)…

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A few small logs…

Urban Simplicity.

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