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Plus d’oiseaux…

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This is really a continuation of a previous post where I described riding past a tree and some bushes loaded with these little birds.  Well I was riding past this same location today and heard them chirping away again. And this time I had a better camera with me so I thought I’d take a few more shots. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while walking home from work on a really cold night…

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Urban Simplicity

First Friday…

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Okay, so this is another Buffalo specific post and a bit of shameless self-promotion (sorry). But if you happen to find yourself in Western New York during the month of December and like galleries you may be interested in visiting the College Street Art Gallery and Co-op. It’s a teeny little space at the corner of Allen Street and College (244 Allen Street). The gallery is part of the Allentown First Friday Gallery Walk. Anyhow, the above photo is one of four of mine which will be hanging there through the month of December. The opening is Friday December 6th.Hope to see you there.

Urban Simplicity.

The View from My Handlebars…on a really incredible morning commute

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Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes I Gotta Use My Feet…

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If you’ve been to this blog before then you know that I like to ride bicycles as transportation. A lot. And I often comment on how much more a person sees while on a bike rather than being stuck in a plastic and metal shell more commonly known as an automobile. Many of my photos, in fact, were taken while on my bike, which would be nearly impossible if I was driving a car. Well, to drop this down a few octaves further, sometimes I just have to walk…sometimes I just gotta use my feet. Walking, especially when there is no actual destination or time-frame, can be meditative for me; a great way to clear my head and/or think about things. Last night was such a walk. Armed with a camera and an iPod for music, and slightly fortified with a few beers in my belly, I went for a really lovely late evening autumn walk. And here are a few of the things I saw a long the way.

Urban Simplicity.

Squawkin’ for Momma, and What are You Lookin’ at? (and other things)

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(More shameless self-promotion…sorry in advance.) So I know people view this little blog from all over the globe, but a few do view it from the very same city in which I reside. So if you happen to be in Buffalo, NY  during the month of November I’m just saying that these are two (out of four) of my photos that will be hanging in the College Street Art Gallery. The show will open on Allentown’s First Friday Event. Hope to see you there. Peace. 

Urban Simplicity.

After the equinox…

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Urban Simplicity.

Harvest Moon…

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This is the view of the harvest moon from the end of my street in the middle of a medium-sized city on the eastern side of America. I find it really interesting and truly amazing that no matter what part of the globe you are reading these words sometime within a 24 hour span you too will see this very same image in real life. While autumn does not officially start for a few days the harvest moon unofficially ushers it in. A change of seasons; summer is behind us and autumn ahead of us. Time to move forward.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to harvest.

Before the party…

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I was the first one in the kitchen today. This is not always the case but it was today. I enjoy it; I find it soothing. It was a busy day today–I knew this before I arrived–but in the early hours of this hundred-year-old kitchen by myself I find it tranquil. And as usual, I had a camera with me so I snapped a few photos. It relaxes me, at times, to look through a view finder. Anyhow, I thought I’d share a few of the photos.

Urban Simplicity.

Two Views from My Handlebars…

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 It was such a beautiful autumnal day today…cool and not a cloud in the sky. Idyllic. A great day to be out on a bicycle. I took these photos as I rode to-and-from the health club this evening.

Urban Simplicity.

Just some bees doing their thing…

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Urban Simplicity

The View from My Handlebars (and a song)…

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The artist (Matt) covering the side of a building at Allen and Park Streets, announcing (screaming) this year’s Echo Art Fair. And yes, I’m dating myself, but whenever I hear the word “echo” (OK, maybe not every time, but often), I think of the song Echo Beach, by Martha and the Muffins.

Urban Simplicity.

First Snow…

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Urban Simplicity

"Tis the Season…

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Yes, whether we like it or not, it is that time of year again. The weather is getting colder. And with it lighter foods give way to heartier ones, and one of my favorites is soup. I’ve posted this recipe before, or at least variations of it, but it is so delicious and easy to make I thought I’d post it again (it is a crowd-pleaser). The recipe–and the picture above–both utilize butternut squash, but this recipe works great with nearly any hard squash…it’s great with pumpkin. I add a bit of sugar in the recipe, but if you stay away from sugar simply omit it (or add more if you’d like it sweeter). A fresh chili or two is great also (but not included in the recipe)…spicy and sweet and creamy compliment each other. I also used heavy cream in the recipe, you can make it lighter with the use of milk or no cream at all, but it wouldn’t be as rich. And lastly, if you want to make this vegetarian or vegan , substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth (don’t use water, it would be too bland) and soy milk to replace the cream. Anyhow–and just to reiterate–this recipe is delicious and easy to make…and it’s a great one to experiment with as well.

Butternut Squash Bisque with Apple and Toasted Walnuts
Yield: 6 cups
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoonsflour
2 tablespoonssugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds peeled and diced butternut squash
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2 cup small diced apple

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat and add the onions. Sweat the onions over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they are translu­cent. Add the flour and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and diced pumpkin; sauté another minute. Add the stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Add the cream and simmer for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Puree in a blender or food processor. After ladling the soup into warm bowls, garnish it with the toasted walnuts and diced apple.

Urban Simplicity.

A Few Things I Saw While Riding a Bike

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Yesterday was such a beautiful day, idyllic really. Bright sun and slightly hotter than I’d like, but really nice. And for whatever reason, I was feeling a bit melancholic. Not sad, per se, but just askew. Annoyed. Something was missing. I didn’t make it to the health club for a power-swim, which is always a mood alteration. So instead I went for a rather long (for me) and lazy bike ride through some of the city and to the waterfront and back. Looking at things through the lens of a camera–and before and after taking a photo–and contemplating the view in front of me, is also a good uplift. Because I’ve found that if you look at something–nearly anything–it is interesting and attractive in it’s own way. Sometimes I don’t see it and some things are more overt or obvious than others, but it’s all just in front of us. After the ride–and having a couple beers at the waterfront–and snapping a bunch of photos, I felt better. It’s amazing what a little physical exercise, a little contemplation, and being a little creative can do for a person and their soul. Anyhow, here’s a few of the things I saw while riding my bike yesterday; I thought I’d share.

“…the kingdom of the father is spread out over the earth, and men do not see it.”
The Gospel of Thomas
Saying 113

Urban Simplicity.

Le Nouveau Tarte Tatin

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This recipe is a play on the classic Tarte Tatin, which of course is normally made with apples. I’m currently researching and testing recipes for an article I’m writing about Tarte Tatin for Buffalo Spree Magazine and thought I’d try a couple savory recipes (the poor Tatin sisters must be rolling in their graves); this one is made with portabello mushrooms, figs, and brie cheese. It’s sort of a savory rustic pie that is baked upside-down then turned right side-up to serve (and isn’t that what the original is only made with apples and caramel). Anyhow, it’s really delicious and easy to make…and you’ll likely impress your friends with it as well. When the article is published–with history, lore, and more recipes–I’ll post the link.

Savory Fig, Portabello, and Brie Tarte Tatin
Makes one 10” tart
3 ounces unsalted butter
2 medium portabello mushroom caps, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
½ pound dried figs (about 8), sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces brie cheese, sliced
1 sheet puff pastry
Preheat an oven to 350F. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a 10” oven-proof skillet. When the butter begins to bubble add the mushrooms, then the onion. Stir and cook the onion and mushroom for about five minutes, or until most of their juices are released and evaporate from the pan and the mushrooms just begin to brown. Stir in the sliced figs, the salt, then the cheese. Remove the pan from the heat and gently lay the puff pastry across the pan, trimming and folding it as necessary to fit. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake it for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden-brown. Rem0ove the pan from the oven and allow it to rest for a couple minutes, then loosen the edges of the pastry with a knife and gently but carefully invert the tart onto a plate. Lift the inverted pan from the plate slowly, guiding any pieces of tart onto the plate that may have stuck to the pan. Allow the tart to cool for 5 minutes before slicing. It is delicious warm or at room temperature.



Urban Simplicity.

"Tis the Season…

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Beautiful isn’t it? The first tomato of the season. Within two weeks I’ll have a bushel of them. And the season seems especially early this year. Like much of the nation, Western New York State has been sweltering this summer and the garden plants are loving it. We–WNY–have a relatively short growing season, but I anticipate a longer one this year. And the efforts of planting a garden–in the front and rear lawns, or what once were lawns–is paying off…I shouldn’t have to purchase vegetables until the fall.

It is such an excellent feeling to walk out my front or rear door with a plate in one hand (and often a glass of wine in the other) and pick food for dinner. The last few nights I have been eating pasta in my favorite style of preparation…aglio e olio. And given the heat I’ve been cooking my dinner in my makeshift outdoor kitchen in the back yard and eating it under a grapevine. There is something really special about eating food in the very spot that you grew it. Anyhow, here’s a few photos and a basic recipe.

Pasta and Vegetables with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Chicken Broth 
(Old School Style)

Dice any vegetables that you have at hand, keeping onions, peppers, and others that you want to caramelize (brown) separate from the softer or more delicate ones. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for which to cook pasta. Heat a liberal amount of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add any vegetables to brown, such as onions, peppers, carrots, or zucchini. Cook for a few minutes, tossing and turning in the oil until they begin to brown. Add a clove or two of minced garlic and a pinch of hot pepper if you like; continue to cook for a couple minutes. Add a cup or so of chicken broth to the pan  and allow the vegetables to cook and soften as the broth reduces and concentrates. Meanwhile cook whatever pasta you like in the boiling water (slightly under cook it). Add softer vegetables to the pan–those that you don’t wish to caramelize–such as broccoli, green beans, spinach, tomatoes. Add a small addition of broth if necessary, along with a pinch of salt. When the vegetables are cooked and soft, and the broth has reduced and made a flavorful sauce, drain the past and add it to the vegetables. Gently shake the pan to toss the vegetables, broth, and pasta together. Allow the past to finish cooking and absorb some of the broth and flavors. Just before remove the pan from the heat stir in coarsely chopped basil leaves and grated Parmesan cheese.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#458)

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Eight Glass Blocks.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#433)

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48 live vegetable plants, 120 lbs/54.4kgs top soil, 2 bags (5 lbs/2.2 kgs each) organic vegetable fertilizer, a jean jacket, 2 lbs/.91 kg brown rice,  2 lbs/.91 kg boneless chicken legs, 3 liters of red wine, a quart of milk, and 1 lb/.45 kg fresh spinach. 

Four Photos of Flowers (and how they inspire me)

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It’s interesting. I like many adults have suffered from sleep problems for most of my life. It’s rare for me to sleep more than 6 hours. But every so often I do. My body crashes. Last night was one such instance. I went to bed around 1:00am–which is late for me–and didn’t wake until nearly 11:00am this morning. It was disorienting to say the least. And I’m not sure what it was–the long sleep or the grey and rainy day–but I woke with a feeling of melancholy. Not anything too heavy, just enough to put me in an introspective mood. Seeing that I woke too late to go to church, I read the NY Times on line while I had coffee and then went out for a long walk in the drizzly weather and took photos. I took a bunch of them–of all sorts of things–but am only showing some of my favorites; the flowers. I find it interesting in that when taking photos it forces me to look at–contemplate–the thing I’m pointing the camera at. The one above, for example, is a flower on a tree…who knew that inside its white leaves was hidden such beauty. Or the one directly below–a dandelion–on any other day these are the nemesis to my garden, but when viewed up close, through the lens of a camera, it is beautiful. Anyhow, it’s likely that the brilliant color of these flowers on such a grey day has added color–inspiration–to my spirit. And I thought I’d share. Click any for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

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