Enough Already

Ok, I love winter…but by the second week of March I’m a little tire of the snow. Within the next two days we may get another foot of the white stuff dumped on us. It makes it a little difficult to bike to work. On the flip side, my son and I went to the Market Arcade Theater tonight to see the movie, 10,000 BC (It was just ok…not great…pretty hokey, actually). At any rate, we walked downtown in the snow and took our usual shortcut through the passageway next to St. Louis Church…it was beautiful.

On an entirely different note, if you feel like getting a little scared or depressed about the future of our earth read this article from British paper, The Guardian.

>Enough Already

>Ok, I love winter…but by the second week of March I’m a little tire of the snow. Within the next two days we may get another foot of the white stuff dumped on us. It makes it a little difficult to bike to work. On the flip side, my son and I went to the Market Arcade Theater tonight to see the movie, 10,000 BC (It was just ok…not great…pretty hokey, actually). At any rate, we walked downtown in the snow and took our usual shortcut through the passageway next to St. Louis Church…it was beautiful.

On an entirely different note, if you feel like getting a little scared or depressed about the future of our earth read this article from British paper, The Guardian.

Day Off Ramblings

My (somewhat) new job offers me to have a weekday off, something I haven’t done in years. I really enjoy having a weekday off. It’s a day for me to do nothing or do errands at my own pace.

One errand that I accomplished today was apply for a new passport. My old one was outdated by at least a decade and I wanted a new one for many reasons, but mostly so it’s still relatively easy to cross over into Canada. It was a painless process and I had a chance to walk downtown on a beautiful winter day and take in some of Buffalo’s architecture, which is something you’ll miss if your trapped in a car.

I really had a nice walk…leisurely and inspired. I said my mantra, silently, for most of the walk.

After having passport photos taken at city hall I left through the back entrance in search of the new post office. I knew it’s general location but not the exact address. I asked a woman, as I passed her on the street, if she knew where it was. When she pointed I could see it, it was a few blocks away. She said, “It’s a bit of a walk, how far’s your car?” Was she joking, I wondered? By the time I got in a car and warmed it up I’d be there.

Afterwards I went to the JCC for a quick steam and swim, then came home and made dinner.

I’ve given up meat for lent, which is actually a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I don’t eat a great deal of meat, but I’m realizing that I unconsciously eat more of it than I thought. On my way home from my walk downtown today I was really hankerin’ for a gyro sandwich when I remembered the whole meat abstinence thing (came home and had a vegetable burger instead).

It’s not really that difficult to give up meat when you work in a whole foods store, which makes me question myself. Is it really a sacrifice if it’s not that difficult?

Then I justify it by the fact that when I eat, and consciously do not eat meat (because it still is a conscious act), I am remembering that I am not eating meat and thus remembering (tuning into) the divine in my usually busy day (even if it is for just a brief moment.

At any rate, I came home from my swim famished. I did what I often do, and that is rummage around in my refrigerator, see what I have, chop it up, saute it in olive oil, garlic, and hot peppers, and toss it with pasta.

Here’s the recipe in pictures:



>Day Off Ramblings

>My (somewhat) new job offers me to have a weekday off, something I haven’t done in years. I really enjoy having a weekday off. It’s a day for me to do nothing or do errands at my own pace.

One errand that I accomplished today was apply for a new passport. My old one was outdated by at least a decade and I wanted a new one for many reasons, but mostly so it’s still relatively easy to cross over into Canada. It was a painless process and I had a chance to walk downtown on a beautiful winter day and take in some of Buffalo’s architecture, which is something you’ll miss if your trapped in a car.

I really had a nice walk…leisurely and inspired. I said my mantra, silently, for most of the walk.

After having passport photos taken at city hall I left through the back entrance in search of the new post office. I knew it’s general location but not the exact address. I asked a woman, as I passed her on the street, if she knew where it was. When she pointed I could see it, it was a few blocks away. She said, “It’s a bit of a walk, how far’s your car?” Was she joking, I wondered? By the time I got in a car and warmed it up I’d be there.

Afterwards I went to the JCC for a quick steam and swim, then came home and made dinner.

I’ve given up meat for lent, which is actually a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I don’t eat a great deal of meat, but I’m realizing that I unconsciously eat more of it than I thought. On my way home from my walk downtown today I was really hankerin’ for a gyro sandwich when I remembered the whole meat abstinence thing (came home and had a vegetable burger instead).

It’s not really that difficult to give up meat when you work in a whole foods store, which makes me question myself. Is it really a sacrifice if it’s not that difficult?

Then I justify it by the fact that when I eat, and consciously do not eat meat (because it still is a conscious act), I am remembering that I am not eating meat and thus remembering (tuning into) the divine in my usually busy day (even if it is for just a brief moment.

At any rate, I came home from my swim famished. I did what I often do, and that is rummage around in my refrigerator, see what I have, chop it up, saute it in olive oil, garlic, and hot peppers, and toss it with pasta.

Here’s the recipe in pictures:



Wind Storm and Whole Wheat Bread

The other day the wind blew in like nothing I’ve seen in years. Gust were in the upwards of 60mph. Schools and businesses were closed; many were without electricity; windows on some homes and businesses blew in. This photo doesn’t really do it justice, but here’s a picture of my street. It was garbage day.

I happened to have off work that day, and stupidly (I can say in retrospect) I chose to run some errands on my bike. Weeha!!! is all that I can say. Between the wind pushing and pulling me and dodging flying debris I really do think it was a stupid thing to do.

None the less, when I came to my senses and returned home I did what I often do on days off…baked bread. I recently purchased Peter Reinhart’s new book, Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor, and have to say that like his other books it is really excellent. I made the basic recipe, which all the recipes in the book based. I’ve never made bread with 100% whole wheat flour (I usually use 50% whole wheat and 50 % unbleached white bread flour), and I have to admit that I was more than a little dubious from the onset. I’ve always found bread made with 100% whole wheat a bit heavy, but this was really wonderful.

Two methods he uses to create both lightness and flavor are the pre-ferment (which is common to most serious bakers), and a “soaker,” which is what I believe created lightness in the whole wheat. A soaker is nothing more than soaking the whole wheat flour for a period of time (hence it’s name) to soften the whole wheat.

I made a double batch and used
half of it to make pizza for my son and I.

Stuff


Sometimes I think I’m a little nuts…I really do. Is it “normal,” I wonder to myself, for a guy in his mid-forties to want to ride a bike when he has a vehicle…and in all types of weather? Then I come across guys like this. Bob Barrett, who is 64, and not only rides a traditional bike to work everyday, he also commutes by water bike across the Puget Sound…and he’s been doing it for seven years. Here’s a link to an article about him in the Seattle Times.

Then I come across pictures like this and I get inspired.

At any rate, I managed to do all my errands by bike today…even though the temperature never got above 20F. I rode to the JCC for a quick swim (and a nice hot steam), then to the Himalayan Institute to sign up for a class. Then did my grocery shopping on bike. Here’s a photo of “the mule” fully loaded, and towing my BicyleR evolution trailer.

I installed the “hitching post” a couple of summers ago. I got the idea from seeing old horse hitching posts that still dot the Buffalo cityscape.

I also managed to bake bread today (it was my day off). The rear of my house (where the kitchen is) is cold, as my small wood burning stove is in the front of the house. This offers ideal conditions for slowly risen bread, which translates to flavor. I let the dough rise and ferment while I was out doing my errands, and baked it in the evening; it was ready for dinner. It tastes as good as it looks.

This is more like it

Finally it’s actually cold and snowy in Buffalo. When this photo was taken it was 6F. I ran some errands on the bike and kept somewhat warm, but it was freekin‘ cold!!


This morning on my way to work I miss-judged a turn in the snow and wiped out (haven’t done that in years), and when I did someone in a passing car rolled down their window and bellowed “HA, HA, HA.” I couldn’t believe it. My first impulse was to “flip him the bird,” but then I felt compassion for him, that he felt compelled to do that and also that he was tethered to his vehicle.

It had snowed some more today, and this evening when leaving the house for my meditation meeting I thought of taking my truck (mostly out of safety), but opted against it. I just rode slow. I’ve also been noticing that if you stand and lean slightly forward during particularly deep and/or slushy sections of the rode, you’ll have more controlled steering abilities.

Just One Skillet

Hungry…scoured the fridge/freezer…this is what I came up with.

Wiessewurst (white sausage), Tilapia, Potato, and Broccoli Ragu.

Here’s how to make it.

Heat a large skillet with olive oil, then add sliced sausage and diced, cooked potato.


Cook and Saute until browned.


Remove the sausage and potatoes from the skillet and set aside. Add a little more olive oil to the skillet, then add diced fish (which has been lightly floured), diced onion, and minced garlic. Cook until the fish is browned, but take care not to burn the garlic.


Add the sausage and potatoes back to the pan, along with some broccoli florets. Add a little white wine and fresh tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer. Cook covered for a couple minutes, then uncovered for a couple more. Enjoy.

stuff

It’s been a week since going to Toronto and I’ve logged only about 20 miles on my vehicle, this includes errands, work, etc. It rained a lot this week…the only element I don’t ride a bike in.

Here’s what I made for dinner this evening: pasta (made with brown rice flour) with tilapia and organic tomato sauce; also had a side of broccoli sauteed in virgin olive oil with garlic and hot pepper. This constitutes a perfect meal to me: pasta with tomato sauce and fish, and spicy, garlicky broccoli.

Crazy Weather

What is up with these temperatures…60F in Buffalo in January just doesn’t seem right. I’m enjoying it, yes, along with most other Buffalonians, but something about it being so warm when it is traditionally sub-zero is a little scary. I wonder if we’ll pay for it later in the season. But it is easy to live simply in this weather…barely had to turn on the heat…just enough to take the chill off the house…no need to fire up my wood burner…did all my transportation today either on bike or foot while wearing only a light jacket.

Toronto Bike Culture

O.k., first let me clarify something. I love biking but am not a “distance” rider. I ride mainly as local, urban transportation. I’m a commuter/utility/cargo biker. So when I go to cities such as Toronto with a great bike culture I get excited. I hadn’t been there in a while and did a quick two day vacation with my son. I dragged him to a couple of my favorite Toronto Bike shops: Curbside Cycle and the Urbane Cyclist, which both specialize in two wheeled urban transport. Curbside stocks a lot of Euro bikes, including this Dutch delivery bike:

Toronto also has thousands of these bike posts around the city, which makes it easy to park a bike anywhere.


And where in Buffalo have you ever read a sign that said this:


Here’s a photo of a sidewalk parking lot:

My favorite bike on Queen Street:

Day 2

The temperature was a little better today…around 25F, didn’t need as many layers when I rode the bike.

I did a bunch of errands on the bike today: went to and from the health club, did a small grocery trip, stopped at the bike shop, went to work to pick up my pay check (my last one, as I start a new job next week…yikes!), to the bank, coffee at Starbucks, then to pick up my son from school, we walked home. All in all it only tallied (I’m guessing) about 10 miles.

Tomorrow I’ll be driving my vehicle because my son and I are going to Toronto…about 100 miles from my house, well outside the two mile challenge. I haven’t had to put gas in my vehicle for a couple of weeks and was shocked when I saw the price at the pump: $3.44 for regular! $40.00 did not even fill up the tank of my little Ford Ranger. Just one more reason why I should ride more.

I’m in the midst of reviewing the book, How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman, for ChefTalk. It’s a good book. I made a recipe for homemade vegetable burgers, they were delicious. I ate them on this bread (honey-oatmeal bread).

Resolutions…My Two Mile Island…Day 1

I’ve never been one to make (and successfully keep) New Years resolutions, but I did make one this year. I made it sort of generic and sweeping, this way I’ve got lots of leeway. The resolution I made is to “get simple,” meaning to simplify my life as much as possible. Consciously and unconsciously I’ve begun this journey some while back… a few years actually. But I want to make a more deliberate effort at this and keeping this blog will hopefully aid in this: by writing my thoughts I will be reviewing my actions on a (somewhat) daily basis.

Another thing (besides the new year) that prompted me to actually start writing on this blog rather than just thinking about it was coming across a site called Clif BarTwo Mile Challenge (www.2milechallenge.com). Basically, it’s suggesting that if a trip is two miles or less (which is the majority of urban travel) that you should ride your bike rather than drive a car. You can even type in your zip code and it will highlight on a map your two mile radius. Interestingly, last summer I was going to change this blog name from Urban Simplicity to My Two Mile Island, and try to do the same thing but take it a step further and purchase only goods within my two mile radius. Well…that never happened, of course, but i am going to give this a shot.

I tend to be too difficult on myself in general so I’m going to give myself a lot of leeway. But basically, before I leave the house each day I’m going to ask myself If I need to drive or can I ride one of my bikes (or walk) instead.

So here’s day one: nothing too eventful, other than the fact that the day I decide to actually start this thing the temperature never made it past 17F. I had the day off so the only time I actually left the house was to go to the health club, which is about a mile or so away. I had enough layers on that by the time I got to the health club I was actually sweating. As usual, it felt great to be on a bike.

Random Thoughts On Cooking, Bike Riding, and The Sacred Journey of Everyday Life