Just a link…

Sometimes–oftentimes–this blog can be a bit idiosyncratic…I am fully aware of this. And I am also aware that people visit for a variety of reasons (some of which are by accident I’m sure…they just sort of stumbled upon this place), but I hope one is for photos. And if this is the case I’ll offer this link as I have just uploaded a bunch to this site.


Urban Simplicity.

Just a link…

Sometimes–oftentimes–this blog can be a bit idiosyncratic…I am fully aware of this. And I am also aware that people visit for a variety of reasons (some of which are by accident I’m sure…they just sort of stumbled upon this place), but I hope one is for photos. And if this is the case I’ll offer this link as I have just uploaded a bunch to this site.

Urban Simplicity.

Two very brief but very real stories…

These are true events and conversations I’ve had a couple of days ago and cannot stop thinking about them.

The first, I was out at night taking photos as I often do, and I saw a women asking for money on the street. I’ve seen her before–and have in fact given her money in the past–as she is often in the same area. I had my tripod set up on the edge of the street and was taking photos when a group of young men passed her…party goers, no doubt as there are a lot of bars in the area. She asked them if they could spare any money. Their response was nearly explosive…”Blow me, then I’ll give you money.” There were other comments and she just stood there. Then another said, “Get a F%&king job you loser.” She simply replied, “I have a job and this isn’t it.” A few minutes later she came over to me and asked the same question. I didn’t have any cash on me, I told her, and I also told her I was sorry the way those guys treated her. “Thank you,” she said, “but it’s ok, I’m used to it.”

That was on a Saturday night, the next morning I had stopped for coffee just after worshiping at church. On my way out of the coffee shop and as I was unlocking my bike a guy came up to me and asked me for some cash. He looked to be just a few years younger than I. And as I reached for my wallet I asked him how he happened to find himself in these circumstances; I wanted to know his story. He looked a little surprised that someone would even ask. Then he told me that most people assume that he is homeless, but he’s not. And that he is also jobless, but he’s not. He went on to tell me that he works full time but only makes minimum wage (which is $8/hr) and it’s not enough to pay the bills, that he has to supplement his income on his “day off” by begging on the street. He finds it really embarrassing, but it’s what he is forced to do.Tears welled in both of our eyes as he spoke.

When I started this post I was going to hop up on my little soapbox and go on a tirade on how screwed up things are that people in our country that work still have to beg on the streets. But I don’t have to. These two stories speak for themselves. Sorry to be such a bummer.

Urban Simplicity.

Two very brief but very real stories…

These are true events and conversations I’ve had a couple of days ago and cannot stop thinking about them.

The first, I was out at night taking photos as I often do, and I saw a women asking for money on the street. I’ve seen her before–and have in fact given her money in the past–as she is often in the same area. I had my tripod set up on the edge of the street and was taking photos when a group of young men passed her…party goers, no doubt as there are a lot of bars in the area. She asked them if they could spare any money. Their response was nearly explosive…”Blow me, then I’ll give you money.” There were other comments and she just stood there. Then another said, “Get a F%&king job you loser.” She simply replied, “I have a job and this isn’t it.” A few minutes later she came over to me and asked the same question. I didn’t have any cash on me, I told her, and I also told her I was sorry the way those guys treated her. “Thank you,” she said, “but it’s ok, I’m used to it.”

That was on a Saturday night, the next morning I had stopped for coffee just after worshiping at church. On my way out of the coffee shop and as I was unlocking my bike a guy came up to me and asked me for some cash. He looked to be just a few years younger than I. And as I reached for my wallet I asked him how he happened to find himself in these circumstances; I wanted to know his story. He looked a little surprised that someone would even ask. Then he told me that most people assume that he is homeless, but he’s not. And that he is also jobless, but he’s not. He went on to tell me that he works full time but only makes minimum wage (which is $8/hr) and it’s not enough to pay the bills, that he has to supplement his income on his “day off” by begging on the street. He finds it really embarrassing, but it’s what he is forced to do.Tears welled in both of our eyes as he spoke.

When I started this post I was going to hop up on my little soapbox and go on a tirade on how screwed up things are that people in our country that work still have to beg on the streets. But I don’t have to. These two stories speak for themselves. Sorry to be such a bummer.

Urban Simplicity.

Lebanese-Style Chicken-and-Rice (yummm!)

So yes, I have posted this recipe before, but not in quite a while. Personally I have not actually eaten meat in about two months, but then I started craving this…it’s a recipe that is derived from one my sitti (grandmother) used to make. It is really (really) delicious, and simple to make, too. One of the differences with the recipe that I grew up with and the one I make for myself today is that I generally make it with brown rice (both brown and white rice are reflected in the recipe). I also (sometimes) add a pinch of turmeric, as I did this time, which gives it a lovely yellow hue (which is not reflected in the recipe below). Nonetheless, the smell of the sweet aromatic spices will fill your house as it cooks. This recipe can easily be multiplied into larger batches (leftovers taste just as good). And did I mention how delicious this is…

Lebanese-Style Chicken and Rice

Makes 4 servings

4 tablespoon olive oil

4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs

1 medium onion, diced

2 ounces vermicelli or spaghetti, broken into pieces

¾ pound ground beef or lamb

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon allspice

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup rice (white or brown; see below)

2-3 cups hot chicken broth (depending on which rice you use)

1 small bunch parsley, minced

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sauté the chicken on both sides until golden brown, then remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and vermicelli to the pan and cook until golden; using a slotted spoon remove it and set aside. Add the meat to the pan (and a little water and/or oil if necessary) and cook until the meat begins to brown. Drain any excess fat, then add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and salt; sauté two minutes while stirring. Add the onion and pasta back to the pan along with the rice, stirring to fully coat it with with the oil and spices. Then add the chicken breasts to the pan, pushing them gently into the rice. If using white rice, add two cups of broth to the pan; if using brown rice add three cups of broth to the pan, then cover the pot with a lid. Bring the broth to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 18 minutes if using white rice and about 30-40 minutes if using brown rice. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with minced parsley.

Lebanese-Style Chicken-and-Rice (yummm!)

So yes, I have posted this recipe before, but not in quite a while. Personally I have not actually eaten meat in about two months, but then I started craving this…it’s a recipe that is derived from one my sitti (grandmother) used to make. It is really (really) delicious, and simple to make, too. One of the differences with the recipe that I grew up with and the one I make for myself today is that I generally make it with brown rice (both brown and white rice are reflected in the recipe). I also (sometimes) add a pinch of turmeric, as I did this time, which gives it a lovely yellow hue (which is not reflected in the recipe below). Lastly–and I almost forgot to mention–I used ground turkey rather than red meat for personal reasons (which is also not reflected in the recipe below). Lamb is the traditional meat, beef is the more “Americanized” version, and turkey is the one I often use. But all are delicious. Nonetheless, the smell of the sweet aromatic spices will fill your house as it cooks. This recipe can easily be multiplied into larger batches (leftovers taste just as good). And did I mention how delicious this is…

Lebanese-Style Chicken and Rice
Makes 4 servings

4 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken breasts or boneless thighs
1 medium onion, diced
2 ounces vermicelli or spaghetti, broken into pieces
¾ pound ground beef or lamb
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon allspice
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup rice (white or brown; see below)
2-3cups hot chicken broth (depending on which rice you use)
1 small bunch parsley, minced

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sauté the chicken on both sides until golden brown, then remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and vermicelli to the pan and cook until golden; using a slotted spoon remove it and set aside. Add the meat to the pan (and a little water and/or oil if necessary) and cook until the meat begins to brown. Drain any excess fat, then add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and salt; sauté two minutes while stirring. Add the onion and pasta back to the pan along with the rice, stirring to fully coat it with with the oil and spices. Then add the chicken breasts to the pan, pushing them gently into the rice. If using white rice, add two cups of broth to the pan; if using brown rice add three cups of broth to the pan, then cover the pot with a lid. Bring the broth to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 18 minutes if using white rice and about 30-40 minutes if using brown rice. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with minced parsley.

New cards…but what’s in a title anyhow?

So here’s an image of my new personal cards that I just created. Just look at all those fancy titles. It’s difficult for me but I’m trying to get better at self-promotion. I’ve never felt comfortable with titles (what are they really?…just a name) but I still managed to list a few on this card, some of which are new for me. The title which most people will identify with (and the one that I suppose most identify with because it is the one which I’ve done the most), is chef. But even that took me many years to feel comfortable enough to say when people would ask, “what do you do?” Even after years of working in the role my most common response was simply, “cook.” After all, that’s what I do everyday–cook. Chef is the French word for “chief,” or “boss.” Hence, “chef de cuisine” translates as boss of the kitchen. It’s only in recent years that I say chef.

And as I type this I can’t help but think of two quotes on titles; one I read a while ago and another just recently. I’m not sure in which book it was but I remember reading something by the late inspirational writer, MFK Fisher, about when she was younger she never really considered herself a writer, even though she had been published (I’m paraphrasing, of course). But then her sister finally reminded her that if she were a published writer and she was continuing to write then she was indeed a writer. And it was from that point on that she considered herself one and actually–in her eyes–became one.

The other quote on this topic that comes to mind is one I read recently, and oddly it was in an obituary for the photographer Leee Black Chambers. He was part of the crowd that hung around at Andy Warhol‘s Factory. He aspired to be a photographer and was told this…”He told Warhol that he aspired to be a photographer; in that case, Warhol told him, he should just call himself one. He said, Say you’re a photographer, and you’re a photographer.”

So with both of these quotes considered, and all of this said, I suppose the titles I claim on this card are true. I’ve been cooking in professional kitchens, and in charge of them, for longer than I care to mention (and also have culinary degrees) so I suppose  am a chef. I was also recently ordained as an interfaith minister so I suppose this is true as well. I have photos hanging in a gallery and have sold some as well, I’ve been published more than 200 hundred times, and I’ve kept this blog active for nearly ten years. So yes I suppose these are all true. Nonetheless, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with any of the titles, even though they may be fitting. I’d rather just be Joe, plain old title-less me. But if I had to place titles on a card that I really felt comfortable with it would read sort of New Age-y….Father, Brother, Son, Fellow Human on Planet Earth, Child of the Divine.

I could go on, but I’ll stop now.

Urban Simplicity.

New cards…but what’s in a title anyhow?

So here’s an image of my new personal cards that I just created. Just look at all those fancy titles. It’s difficult for me but I’m trying to get better at self-promotion. I’ve never felt comfortable with titles (what are they really?…just a name) but I still managed to list a few on this card, some of which are new for me. The title which most people will identify with (and the one that I suppose most identify with because it is the one which I’ve done the most), is chef. But even that took me many years to feel comfortable enough to say when people would ask, “what do you do?” Even after years of working in the role my most common response was simply, “cook.” After all, that’s what I do everyday–cook. Chef is the French word for “chief,” or “boss.” Hence, “chef de cuisine” translates as boss of the kitchen. It’s only in recent years that I say chef.

And as I type this I can’t help but think of two quotes on titles; one I read a while ago and another just recently. I’m not sure in which book it was but I remember reading something by the late inspirational writer, MFK Fisher, about when she was younger she never really considered herself a writer, even though she had been published (I’m paraphrasing, of course). But then her sister finally reminded her that if she were a published writer and she was continuing to write then she was indeed a writer. And it was from that point on that she considered herself one and actually–in her eyes–became one.

The other quote on this topic that comes to mind is one I read recently, and oddly it was in an obituary for the photographer Leee Black Chambers. He was part of the crowd that hung around at Andy Warhol‘s Factory. He aspired to be a photographer and was told this…”He told Warhol that he aspired to be a photographer; in that case, Warhol told him, he should just call himself one. He said, Say you’re a photographer, and you’re a photographer.”

So with both of these quotes considered, and all of this said, I suppose the titles I claim on this card are true. I’ve been cooking in professional kitchens, and in charge of them, for longer than I care to mention (and also have culinary degrees) so I suppose  am a chef. I was also recently ordained as an interfaith minister so I suppose this is true as well. I have photos hanging in a gallery and have sold some as well, I’ve been published more than 200 hundred times, and I’ve kept this blog active for nearly ten years. So yes I suppose these are all true. Nonetheless, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with any of the titles, even though they may be fitting. I’d rather just be Joe, plain old title-less me. But if I had to place titles on a card that I really felt comfortable with it would read sort of New Age-y….Father, Brother, Son, Fellow Human on Planet Earth, Child of the Divine.

I could go on, but I’ll stop now.

Urban Simplicity.