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Five or fourteen quotes about bread…

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So first a couple things. One is that I was likely prompted to post these quotes because (a) I love bread–eating it and making it–and (b) I just came across the photo below which was taken in ’08 or thereabouts. That was my first official cargo bike, when I graduated from carrying all sorts of things rather precariously on a “regular bike.” I still had a car at the time but didn’t use it very often and was testing the waters to see what it would be like to live without one (it’s great, by the way). And also, why this photo is relevant to this post, is that it was just a year or so prior that I started this blog. And in the early stages of my blogging I was uncertain as what to name it. One of the names in the ring at the time was “The Biking Baker,” because I baked a lot of bread and was gravitating towards going car-free. Ultimately I found the title too limiting, and later settled on the current name of Urban Simplicity. Because of a job change last year I don’t have the opportunity to bake bread as often as I once did or as often as I’d like. But as I sit here in a coffee shop typing these words on a beautiful spring morning there is a wonderful and fragrant loaf fermenting and rising on my kitchen counter. That’s likely the real reason I was prompted to post these quotes. With this said, if you’d like recipes for all sorts of bread (but mostly made with 100% whole wheat flour), click here. For more in the Five Quotes series, click here.

“No yoga exercise, no meditation in a chapel filled with music will rid you of your blues better than the humble task of making your own bread.”

~MFK Fisher

“Bread is an object of unparalleled worship and decorum. It embodies the full cycle of life and seasons, from the death of the wheat kernel in the earth to the resurrection as a stalk, from its ordeal in the mill to its journey through the oven and its offering at the table. Bread is a part of all major events in many lives, from birth, to betrothal and marriage, to death and resurrection.”

~Bernard Dupaigne

“God made yeast, as well as dough, and he loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I don’t preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, “Now is that political or social?” He said, “I feed you.” Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.”

~Bishop Desmond Tutu

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.”

~Ursula K. LeGuin

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.”

~Aesop

“There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

~Mahatma Gandhi

“We have learned to see in bread an instrument of community between men—the flavour of bread shared has no equal.”

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk.”

~M.F.K. Fisher

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”

~Robert Browning

“Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It’s not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life.”

~Lionel Poilâne

“Bread and water—these are the things nature requires. For such things no man is too poor, and whosoever can limit his desire to them alone can rival Jupiter for happiness.”

~Seneca

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

~James Beard

“Without bread all is misery.”

~William Cobbett

Thoughts on gratitude…

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Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

~Psalm 139:7-8

In Your Midst

There is so much,

just so much to be grateful for.

But some days I don’t see it.

Mind-made problems cover me in fog.

Asleep.

Mind narrows.

Heart hardens.

My world becomes small.

Some days,

even in your midst,

I don’t see you.

But I catch glimpses.

The veil is lifted.

However slightly,

and briefly.

And then I remember.

I am humbled,

and tears well.

In gratitude.

Beauty overwhelms.

I have everything.

You are closer to me than I can imagine,

closer than my very breath.

There is so much to be grateful for.

In the midst of everything.

In the midst of you.

Every day; every hour.

Each second.

Right now, in fact.

All I have to do is look.

Urban Simplicity

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.

Yup…it is cold and snowy (and a few things I saw on my walk)

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The above temperature is what we woke up to here in WNY. I know it is not nearly as cold as the Mid-West, but geeze ‘o man it is cold. I went out in it only briefly today (to split some logs for the wood-burning stove and then to the store fore a bottle of wine…necessities on both accounts), and no I did not ride a bike; I walked. It’s not that there is that much snow–we’ve had far more than this–but it’s the wind, the incredible wind, that makes it difficult when it is so cold. But at the same time it can be so very beautiful. Anyhow, on my short walk to the store I took a few photos and thought I’d share. And yes, as is usual custom in Buffalo, the bars stayed open and were quite full of revelers. So I stopped in for one on my way home.

 

Urban Simplicity.

Fish Balls!

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Ok. So I can hear you snickering. And also wondering…why fish? Well the simple answer is that I don’t eat a great deal of meat–almost never at home–and I really like fish. Anyhow, these are really delicious. I’ve posted other variations of these here (the tuna and chickpea meatballs are one of my favorites). Anyhow, I hope you try these. You’ll be glad you did…

Fish Meatballs with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

 

Makes about 2 dozen small meatballs

1 pound fish, diced

½ cup diced sun dried tomatoes

2 large eggs

2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed and diced

1/2 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a coarse paste. Transfer to a clean bowl and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Shape into meatballs (if it feels to wet or loose add more bread or a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour, then allow it to rest for five minutes again). Cook the meatballs in a skillet, in an oven, or poach them in sauce.

La Neige…

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Urban Simplicity.

Brrr…

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Ok. So we are not alone in this. Like much of the north eastern US, we here in Buffalo are gripped with cold and snow. Did I mention cold? For my friends across the pond 7F translates to almost -14c. Anyhow, it is cold. And it’s gonna get colder (check out tomorrow’s low). It’s interesting though, even though I had to get off at a few points and actually push my bike (even with the studded snow tires) it still felt good being on a bike and out in the elements.   

Urban Simplicity.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cashews, Garlic, and Hot Peppers

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So I have to start this post with what seems to be my mantra when it comes to recipes…This is so easy to make and it’s super delicious and nutritious, too.

But it is.

I really urge you to try this. It can be served as a side dish or if you want to go meatless it would be great as a main course over brown rice. And if you want to make it a carnivores meal add chicken or shrimp.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Cashews, Garlic, and Hot Peppers

Serves 2-4


4 tablespoons olive oil

12-16 Brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced

½ cup cashews

¼ teaspoon crushed hot pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water if you want to keep it vegetarian)

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then add the Brussels sprouts. Cook the Brussels sprouts for a few minutes until they begin to brown at their edges. Then add the cashews, hot pepper, garlic, and salt. Cook and stir the Brussels sprouts for a couple more minutes, or until they and the garlic are browned. Add the chicken broth, and then the lemon juice. Simmer the broth for a few minutes, or until it is nearly evaporated and the sprouts are cooked and glazed.

Urban Simplicity.

New Years Day (two photos)…

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 It has been cold outside. Really cold. In the teens and single digits Fahrenheit. Snowy, too. Anyhow, after doing a bunch of errands today I bundled up and grabbed a camera and tripod and went for a brief but contemplative walk (which ended with beers at a bar). Anyhow, these are a couple pics of the neighborhood in which I live. In the top photo I am standing on the north east corner of Allen and Elmwood looking west down Allen. And the bottom photo is Days Park. Click either for a slightly larger view. 

Urban Simplicity.

Curried Split Pea Soup!

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Ok, so here’s another recipe that is super easy, really delicious, nutritious, and also satisfying in a cold day. Yellow Split pea soup with curry. The basic recipe is below but you can also add or subtract to it as you like (it’s equally good without curry, for example, but I happen to like the spice). Tonight, in addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe I also added a diced green pepper, a diced tomato, and a bit of tandoori spice. The is also good if mad with red or green lentils rather than split peas. If the recipe is too large cut it in half; this soup freezes well also.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Curry and Caramelized Onions

Makes about 3 quarts

Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil or clarified butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add a diced onion and cook it—stirring frequently—for about five minutes, or until it start to brown, then stir in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Lower the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons (or more) of your favorite curry powder, and add any of your other favorite spices as well (such as extra cumin, turmeric, coriander, or chilies; all of which should be in the curry powder already). Stir the spices for a minute or so in the hot fat to bring out their flavors, then stir in 3 cups of yellow split peas and about 10 cups of chicken broth (if you want to keep this vegetarian use vegetable broth). Season the soup with a teaspoon of kosher salt (being careful if you are using canned broth which is already salted) and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Allow the soup to boil for a minute then turn it down to a simmer. Cook the soup for about an hour—stirring it frequently—and add more liquid if it becomes too thick. Just before removing it from the heat stir in about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon or lime juice and—if you have it on hand and enjoy it’s flavor—also stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.

Things that can be Carried on a Bike (#557 & #558)

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#557 (above)…Construction debris on its way to a dumpster.

#558 (below)…$110 in groceries, sundries, and dog food.

Urban Simplicity.

There’s more than one way to cook an egg…

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Eggs. They really are incredible aren’t they. They have so many uses in cooking, and they are of course a food itself. There is a lot of lore behind them, including that of the old fashioned chefs toque…which is said to have 100 pleats in it representing the 100 ways a chef knows how to cook eggs. Well, being a professional cook myself, I don’t know if this is true or not but there certainly are a lot of ways in which one can cook this incredible food. The repertoire of baking them alone is extensive. The most common being quiche, shirred, strata, tortilla espagnola, and of course the frittata (just to name a few). But frittata is the recipe I am focusing on for this post. I made this for my son and I this morning. It is so easy but also really delicious. As with many (most) of the recipes I post on this blog, this is just a suggestion–a guide, if you will–you can really use whatever ingredients you like (within reason) so long as you follow the basic formula.

Broccoli, Sweet Potato, and Two-Cheese Frittata

Serves 2


4 eggs

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 small onion, sliced

1/2 green pepper, sliced

1 small sweet potato, par-cooked, peeled, and diced

1 small head broccoli, par-cooked and cut into florets

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat an oven to 375F. Combine the eggs, Parmesan, milk, red pepper, basil, and salt in a small bowl; whisk together and set aside. Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof skillet. Add the onion, green pepper, sweet potato, and broccoli; sauté the vegetables for a couple minutes, or until they just begin to brown. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables then top it with the shredded cheddar. Place the skillet in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That can be Carried on a Bike (#556)

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A poinsettia and a few other miscellaneous items.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#555)

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A Camera bag. A new book (this one, which I’m really excited about). Two new pairs of pants. Eight wood panels measuring 2ft by 4ft each (two full sheets of 1/2inch plywood quartered), and four 6ft boards.

Urban Simplicity.

Five or Ten Quotes from Dr. Seuss

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(aka…Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, Theophrastus Seuss)

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” 

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

“Only you can control your future.”

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

More in the Five Quotes Series.
Urban Simplicity.

A few thoughts about riding a bike in the winter, and the view from my kitchen window…

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The above image is the view from the kitchen window from where I am employed. It was snowing rather heavily and when I looked out the window at one point I thought that it was as pretty as a picture…so I took one.

Anyhow, as mentioned in a previous post, I’ve actually driven a car for the past two days (car share). So today when I go back on a bike it felt good, really good. I really love being out in the elements (ok, rain…not so much); I love the feel of the cold winter wind and flakes falling. I also love the fact that I am both the motor and the cargo. And having new studded snow tires made it even more fun.

Urban Simplicity.

Buffalo Creek on Christmas Day

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Yesterday and the day prior I drove a car (yup, it’s true…Buffalo Car Share). Two of my sisters live about 25 miles from me and this is the best way to get to them on a cold Christmas day. Anyhow, I used the opportunity to snap a few photos along the way. All of the photos are of Buffalo Creek. The two immediately below were taken from the bridge pictured above which crosses the creek on Blossom Road in Elma. When I was a kid (teenager) friends and I would swim in this creek in the summertime and have wild parties there at night (the stories I could tell). And the bottom two photos were taken on the bank of the creek at Charles Burchfield Park in West Seneca.

Urban Simplicity

Christmas…

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I’ve posted this Christmas prayer/mediation by Paramahansa Yogananda for the past few Christmases. I find it so beautiful that I thought I would post it again. But the difficult part, the nearly impossible part (at least for me), is living up to it…but it’s good, I think, to have something to aspire to. Merry Christmas. Peace. 
 
A Christmas Vow

I will prepare for the coming of the Omnipresent baby Christ by cleaning the cradle of my consciousness, now rusty with selfishness, indifference, and sense attachments; and by polishing it with deep, daily, divine meditation, introspection and discrimination. I will re model the cradle with the dazzling soul qualities of brotherly love, humbleness, faith, desire for God-realization, will power, self-control, renunciation, and unselfishness, that I may fittingly celebrate the birth of the Divine Child.”
–Paramahansa Yogananda

Urban Simplicity.

Things That can be Carried on a Bike (#554)

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A case of red wine. Four slices of hot pizza. $112 in groceries. A second bike.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#553)…and how to go Christmas shopping on a bike in the cold rain.

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On the bike…Christmas presents.

How to go Christmas shopping on a bike in the cold rain…bring heavy plastic trash bags with you to wrap purchases in. Bring a plastic tote to carry items in. Even if you think the tote will not leak it likely will (it did)…hence the plastic bags. Accept that you will get wet. Really wet, if it is raining hard (it was). Be prepared to be cold once wet. Acceptance, I find, is key here. But also, be prepared to see some beautiful rainy/foggy city scenes along the way, such as the photo below.

Urban Simplicity.

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