Note to Self:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Crispy Bean Curd with Vegetables and Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce!


I'll start this post with my recipe mantra...this recipe is so easy and so delicious and so nutritious. 

It really is all of those things, and I'm convinced even a person who says they don't like tofu will like this. But, yes if you must, you can add or substitute chicken for or with the bean curd. 

The sauce is also a stand alone recipe in that it can be made as sweet or spicy as you like and used as a dip for raw vegetables. Anyhow, here's the recipes: 


Crispy Bean Curd with Vegetables and Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Makes about 4 servings

1 pound extra-firm tofu
½ cup canola oil
8 ounces mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 small onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
¼ cup water
1 recipe peanut stir fry sauce (see below)
½ cup chopped peanuts

Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Place the tofu between two plates, and allow it to rest there for 15 minutes to squeeze out excess water.

Dice the tofu and heat the oil in a heavy skillet or wok. Carefully add the diced tofu to the hot oil and brown it on all sides. Then remove it to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Carefully pour off half of the oil (save it for future use or discard it). Return the pan to the heat and add the mushrooms, tossing them in the pan or wok. When the mushrooms begin to brown, add the onions and peppers; cook them for a few minutes and then add the garlic and cook a minute longer.

Add the broccoli, stirring it into the vegetables, then the ¼ cup of water. Stir the broccoli for a minute, then add the peanut sauce tossing and stirring everything together. Transfer the stir fry to a large platter and garnish with the chopped peanuts. Serve with steamed rice.


Sweet and Spicy Peanut Stir Fry Sauce/Dip

Makes about a cup

4 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Stir everything together in a bowl until it is a smooth sauce. Cover and refrigerate until needed. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A few things I saw while riding my bike this past week...


“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” — Arthur Conan Doyle

I shot all of these photos over the pasts week. Some in the early morning on my way to work, while others were in the evening. Some are from when I was running errands or getting from point A to point B. Still others are from a quick jaunt to the waterfront. They are not in chronological or any other order. Click any for a slightly larger view.













Urban Simplicity

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Sun Also Rises. A View From My Handlebars.


These photos were shot the week before last, all of them on my way to work in the morning at around 6:30am. For whatever reason the conditions were just right to make each morning's sunrise more spectacular than the next. Even if I were running late, which is often, I would stop to snap a photo or two. Anyhow, here they are, a weeks worth of mornings all together. Click any photo for a larger view.






Urban Simplicity.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Week Without Color...


I think it’s because it was an emotional story, and emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Color is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn’t necessarily reach the heart.”
~Kim Hunter

Last week I was invited to take part in black-and-white photo "challenge" on Facebook. The rules were simple...a black-and-white photo every day with no people in them. I usually carry a camera with me so this was not much of a challenge. Some of these photos were shot either to or from my way to work, others while I was on my bike on a day off. It's interesting, I think, in that last week was not a great week for me. Nothing major, just one of those weeks where I was feeling down. In a sense I was seeing life through a colorless lens, so I really think it came through in these photos. In some ways, I believe, photography--like any art form--can be a type of therapy, I know it is for me. Anyhow, the photos are not in a chronological order, they are arranged simply the way the computer uploaded them. Click any for a larger view.







Thursday, September 7, 2017

This is Mark.


"We're all just walking each other home."
~ Ram Dass

This is Mark. I saw him drawing in the street this evening as I was walking out to my favorite tavern. And when I say in the street I mean it quite literally as he was in the middle of the street. As I love free art I stopped to chat with him. He was drawing a mermaid, he told me. When I asked if I could take his photo he laid next to his drawing. He also told me he loved all sorts of artistic expression and that he wanted to help make Allentown (in Buffalo, NY) artistic again. As we were talking I couldn't help but notice the hospital band he was wearing on his wrist, as if he were just released. I asked him about it and he told me but I won't air his personal issues here. Then it occurred to me that I had met him before and had actually posted about him on this blog (read his story here). We had a nice chat. He told me he was homeless but never asked me for money, though when I offered some he readily accepted. I have to say it was really nice to chat with Mark this evening. We parted and I went and had a couple beers. When I came out his mermaid was complete but Mark was down the street being interrogated by police officers (his drawing below is actually illuminated by the headlights of a police car). I don't know what the police were questioning him about, nor do I know his real story, but what I do know is that chatting with him tonight brightened my evening. I hope he finds his way. Read the previous post about him here.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Frijoles Mexicanas.


A burrito is a delicious food item that breaks down all social barriers and leads to temporary spiritual enlightenment.” 
~Lisi Harrison 

I'm not sure when it happened but somewhere along the way it did. I did not grow up eating beans, legumes, or pulses but have really grown fond of them. All kinds of them. Their flavors mingle with whatever they are cooked in and the result is nothing short of delicious in my humble opinion. Beans themselves are also a super food, two of the many healthful attributes of them in your diet are that they can keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check. And when combined with rice they create a complete protein. When it comes to finances, the cost of beans and the amount of food they prepare for their cost cannot be beat. Thus said, while I post a lot of meatless recipes on this blog I am not  vegetarian (I eat meat on my job), though I haven't purchased meat for home consumption in some time. Anyhow, I'm getting off topic. This is a really simple recipe which can be altered to suit your personal tastes. I ate these (two days in a row) over brown rice and topped with avocado, diced tomato and raw onion. Not only was it a complete protein it was a complete meal, and a filling and delicious one at that. Some of the remainder of the beans will be frozen in increments, and another portion will be turned into refried beans. The simple recipes are below.


Frijoles Mexicanas

Makes about 8 cups

1 pound dried pinto beans
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, minced
2 chipotle in adobo (with sauce), minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt

Place the beans in a large bowl and pour cold water over them, covering the beans by at least two inches. Cover the bowl and allow the beans to soak overnight. The next day drain the beans and discard the water.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot, then add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño peppers. Cook the onion and pepper for a few minutes, until they just begin to brown, then add the chipotle with the sauce, the garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Stir while cooking for a couple minutes. Add the diced tomatoes then bring them to a boil. Cook the tomatoes for a few minutes to concentrate some of their juices and flavors. Add the soaked and drained beans to the pot, along with the broth and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer. Simmer the beans for about two hours, or until very tender. Stir the pot often and skim as needed.


Refried Beans

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Carefully add a quantity of prepared Frijoles Mexicanas to the skillet. Bring to a simmer. Toss and stir the beans until the liquid evaporates and the beans begin to fry in the oil. Remove the beans form the heat and allow them to cool for a couple minutes for safety. Then transfer them to a food processor and process until smooth


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Patience in Black and White.


"The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter."
~  Paulo Coelho

This photo is an example of patience, or more specifically one that showed me patience...which is something I am often sort of supply. But I'm jumping ahead.

Yesterday someone invited me to take part in the week-long black-and-white photo challenge on Facebook, meaning you post a photo a day in b&w. I gladly accepted. Today was day two and I thought I'd stop by Kleinhans Music Hall (pictured) on my way to church this morning and snap a photo. When I arrived at the said location it was somewhat breezy which caused ripples in the reflecting pool and not offering the reflection I had hoped for. I was running late for worship and feeling impatient so I left without taking a photo. To make a long story short, when I left church feeling rejuvenated I thought I'd stop by the music hall again. When I did the wind had subsided enough to snap the above photo. The thing that was missing when I was there the first time was a bit of patience to see what was right in front of me. Click the photo for a larger view.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A New Day...


6am in the rain.
The sound of raindrops on my umbrella.
The sound of tires on wet pavement.
House lights come on.
Street light go out.
The city begins to wake.

I like how the air smells,
How the light looks.
So I snap a photo.
Then hop a bus to work.

Another day begins.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Freedom Wall....is one of inspiration


On my way home from work this afternoon I took the long way home to ride past this free-art project and see the progress. It is titled the Freedom Wall and is sponsored by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. This, to me, in these uncertain times and with all the "wall building talk," it is so inspiring to see a wall such as this with a positive purpose. Here:s an excerpt from their website:

"This space provides the ideal surface for a mural that will respond to the significance of the location as the entrance into the Historic Corridor and that celebrates our nation’s civil rights legacy. The Freedom Wall project (working title) will utilize the design of the wall, divided into sections, to depict portraits of 28 notable civil rights leaders in American history, past and present. The scale of the wall creates a unique opportunity to present a historical narrative that recognizes well-known national activists alongside equally important but less-widely-known local leaders."

I was glad to see there were a few people working on the wall when I rode up to it, and they were all too eager to talk to me about it and tell me about some of what was going on. Directly below is one of the artists, Edreys Wajed, he's working on a portrait of William Wells Brown who spent some time in Buffalo at one point. The photo below is a nice young women who is not one of the artists but described herself as a helper, she helps the artists fill things in, she told me. She also gave me a great deal of information about the project. And in the photo directly below that is a rap artist who was being filmed performing in front of Dr. King. My bike made a cameo appearance in the very bottom photo :)

In all, there are 28 portraits being painted by four artists and the wall stretches around the corner for two city blocks. The project is slated to be completed in the next couple weeks and there will be an opening with a street party. This, to me, is really inspiring and worth pedaling a few blocks out of my way to pass it on my way to work. 

To learn more about the project, the artists, and the list of people being portrayed, visit their web site here. For directions to the Freedom Wall, click here.





Urban Simplicity.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A walk in my neighborhood...


All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Yesterday evening was so nice, and I was feeling somewhat stunned from some meds I was on but still needed to get out of the house, so I went for a walk. I have always loved to walk in cities. I may walk a bit slower than I once did, and it may take me longer to get to a destination, but still I love to walk. Walking in cities is always inspiring to me, and I am lucky enough to live in a historic neighborhood where the architecture itself is inspiring. Anyhow, I simply meandered the streets like a tourist in my own town and snapped a few photos. Here's a few of the things I saw. Click any for a slightly larger image.










Sunday, August 27, 2017

And then this happened...

(Photo taken in 2014)

The beginning is always today. 
~ Mary Shelly 

It was a beautiful morning, and the day still is. On my ride to church I was thinking how beautiful it was. I was scheduled as an usher so arrived a bit early, and I also hadn’t been to worship in a couple weeks so I was looking forward to it. Anyhow, I was locking my bike in my usual fashion...set the opened u-lock on the rear basket while I thread the long cable through both wheels. Then as I grabbed the u-lock to secure it all together there was a sharp pain in the palm of my hand, it caused me to shake it and exclaim. I hadn’t seen anything and didn’t even know what happened. Then I saw a bee—wasp, I think—crawling on the ground and then fly away. It was then that that I realized, with the telltale redness and stinging, that I had just been stung. But still, I stood there for a minute or so in disbelief. The next emotion was one of panic and fear, at least a little. You see, two years ago after being stung by a wasp I discovered in a very scary way that I am allergic to wasps and bees. At that time I had, after two trips to the ER in 20 hours—as the nurse read from her data base today—“an extreme anaphylactic reaction.” I am supposed to carry an EpiPen with me at all times, and at first I did, but I have become lax. Today, as I looked at my hand I knew that I did not have one with me. 

So I calmly went into church and asked another congregant if they would cover my usher duties for the day, and I hopped on my bike to ride the mile or so to the nearest hospital. On the way I was monitoring the reaction my body was having, other than a slight chill everything seemed okay. Unconsciously I began to say a silent prayer that I have said many times prior...Loving God, creator of all things, remove my fear and replace it with your love.  

When I approached the receptionist and told her I would like to see a physician she asked me why, and when I explained that I have been stung by a bee and was allergic they took me almost immediately. After connecting me to all sorts of wires, taking my vitals, giving me medications, and asking me tons of questions, they left me to rest for more than an hour, likely to see if there would be any reactions. Thankfully there have been only minor ones at this point (but they can take up to 36 hours to arise I am told). One reaction was the aforementioned chills, but this was very minor compared to those I had two years ago where I shook so violently it was difficult to stand. The nurse told me she would turn on the TV if I wanted but I told her no thank you.


As I lay there I couldn’t help but think how fragile we are...these bags of skin and bones which house our spirit. I often forget this, that something as simple as an inch-long insect could take me out. And as I was thinking this I thought that I should pray. I tried, but no words would come. But what did come was this sense that I didn’t need to pray, at least not at this time, because the Divine Presence was with me right there as it always was with me as with everyone equally. I stopped shivering and it was as if the sound was turned down. That’s the only way I can explain it. Even though I could still hear the nurses in the hall and the sound of beeps of electronics connected to me and others, everything as quiet and still. It lasted only a few seconds (I think) but it was enough to calm me. Reassure me. My blood pressure dropped. 

Now as I sit comfortably at home, drowsy from Benadryl, I think of the following words that I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago...One of the most incredible things about living is that we can begin again. Not just each day but each moment. I don’t feel this every day, of course, but I do now. So on this day at this very moment I choose to begin again, because it is a choice...a mind-shift. And tomorrow I will likely need to begin again, again.

Earlier when I tried to pray but couldn’t I believe I was in some ways. In the peace and calm that I felt, even if it was just for a few seconds, I knew everything would be okay no matter the outcome. So in some way I believe I was consciously or unconsciously giving thanks. And that may be enough. 

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.  
~ Meister Eckhart