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Category: tourism

05/29/11 10:30 - ID#54377

The perils of a Niagara Gorge Hike

I had really fun time with (e:Paul) and (e:Terry) at the Niagara Gorge Trails yesterday. But it was not without some perils. The trail was tame enough to start with.
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I was lazily enjoying the beautiful colours of the gorge from the top of the trail.
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But then, things started to get rough.
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They got rougher and rougher and suddenly there were rocks taller than me that I had to scramble and climb across.
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Some of them were MOVING under my feet!!
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This sign should have given me a clue that it was not some tame walk in the wilderness but I was busy trying to keep up with my 6 ft+ tall comrades without breaking my neck.
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They made it to the rapids rock basin long before I could scramble over and probably waited an eternity before I got there.
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The rock basin has these little pools worn down by the water into the rocks, lined with rust. I guess the rocks must be rich in iron deposits.
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Alas, these pools are not untouched by human carelessness bringing in aluminium into the iron stronghold.
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(e:Terry) was our bellwether on the trail. You can see him deep in thought mapping out our strategy.
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On the way, we met up with some wildlife natives from the Gorge. I chatted with this Victorian smiley from back in the day.
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(e:Paul) rescued this little snail from frying on the rocks.
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There were a million millipedes all through the trail.
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(e:Terry) took some pains to get acquainted with one and in return, got a nice palm massage from its million legs.
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At one point on the trail the only way to move forward was by traveling upside down. (e:Paul) reminded us that that there was no time to just sit and eat and to keep alert!
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He was right. Suddenly things started happening. We were were upon the upside-down stretch! (e:Terry) leapt into the frenzy.
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(e:Paul) soon followed.
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They joined the legions who have braved the toughest part of the Niagara Gorge upside down. My shoes and socks were soaking wet by that time so naturally, I couldn't stand on my hands. (Note that the lack of upper body strength had nothing to do with my giving up.)

While (e:Paul) and (e:Terry) completed the trail upside down , I photo-documented our awe-inspiring surroundings. We had clambered all the way down from that top ledge where (e:PMT)'s car was parked down to the basin with crazy rapids.
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The rapids itself are pretty interesting.
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(e:Paul) and (e:Terry) pointed out how, in spite of a very fast river gushing forwards, there were all these small counter-currents that just kept moving backwards.
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Trying to imagine the neutralizing forces that made these counter-currents possible was mind-boggling.
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I looked up and saw this nice little cable car system that was giving tourists a bird's eye view of the entire gorge without facing its perils (well, they could have crashed into it, but at least they didn't have to climb over rocks bigger than them).
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I really want to ride in that cable car sometime. (e:Paul) told me that he was not interested in that adventure because apparently, heights weird him out. I was pretty surprised that we managed to come back home in one piece. (e:Matthew) was happily rocking in the porch enjoying the weather while (e:Terry) recounted out brush with the devil at the Niagara Gorge Trail.
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Permalink: The_perils_of_a_Niagara_Gorge_Hike.html
Words: 644
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/29/11 10:30


Category: eating in

05/28/11 11:35 - ID#54374

Oven-Baked Spicy Cranberry Open Sandwich

I was absolutely obsessed with the smell of cranberries all week and was determined to have a cranberry-themed dinner today so I created this eccentric-combination warm open sandwich from scratch. I also went slightly crazy at the coop and bought many new things including a mango and ginger cheese that I melted on this sandwich.

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It is out-of-the-world delicious! I wish there were more... It's been a while since I went this elaborate in Buffalo. (I need to blog about the 5 day housewarming cooking marathon I indulged in NYC later...) Before I forget, I need to write down what I did.

1. Finally baked the super-sour-almost-alcoholic bread today using up the 12-grain & quinoa sourdough starter from around a month back. Didn't throw away the top layer of alcohol that had formed on the sourdough starter. As a result the bread was caramelized in places and the flavour is pretty intense. The sourness of the bread equals that of an extremely sharp cheese crossed with sour cream or maybe feta. I also added cranberries and raisins into the dough during the 2nd rising because I thought the sourness might be overpowering. It's quite amazing at how well these dried fruits go along with the super-sour bread.

2. Sliced and toasted a couple slices of the bread in the oven at 350 deg F till the surface went a slightly darker brown (the bread itself was super brown to start with).

3. Added an even layer of super-thin sliced ripe heirloom tomatoes over the toasted bread, followed by a layer of thinly sliced mango and ginger cheese and thin slices of garlic.

4. Put it back in the oven till the cheese JUST melted over the tomatoes, sprinkled a slight hint of rosemary, and drizzled a whisked dressing of extra virgin olive oil and tamari soy sauce (bulk from the coop).

5. Added a whole thinly sliced jalapeño and green bell peppers, thinly sliced red onions and finely chopped cilantro followed by another layer of the mango and ginger cheese and a generous number of dried cranberries and a good sprinkle of hand-ground celtic sea salt (part of the crazy run at the coop).

6. Back in the oven till the cheese completely melted and browned in places and semi-caramelized the red onion.

7. Added even more cranberries after serving on plate. Sprinkled with a dash of pepper and nutritional yeast (Another crazy new trial from the coop. It was slightly funny at first but it kept on getting better and better after a couple bites... Went really went as a dressing to this open sandwich)

Enjoy with Earl Grey, Hot*. ;-)

====
PS: Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Grey*: Not really my favourite. Actually, I think it tastes pretty weak and does not come up to my standards of what Earl Grey should be like. Next time, I will stick to Ahmad's or Hedley's.

PPS: The Mango and Ginger cheese is an excellent find!

PPPS: (e:Paul), they are discontinuing the Herbmare original flavour salt at the coop and have the medium bottles on sale for $5 if you haven't noticed already. I kept thinking that I should probably get a bottle but forgot in all the excitement of the "crazy coop run"
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Permalink: Oven_Baked_Spicy_Cranberry_Open_Sandwich.html
Words: 534
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/29/11 11:15


Category: eating in

05/28/11 04:17 - ID#54365

Norpro Krona Stainless Steel Saucepan

Soups are perhaps my most favourite kind of food. I really want a deep three-quart saucepan because I want to make them really fast and more often. When a soup is really thick, the large shallow all-purpose frying pan I use for soups now does nothing to prevent splattering all over the kitchen wall near the stove. I end up having to wipe down the entire kitchen in addition to other cleaning up. It's such a waste of time even though it does keep the kitchen cleaner than it would be if not for this unfortunate soup-pan mismatch.

I am a bit torn over several awesome saucepans on Amazon. I definitely want an all stainless steel body and interior. So all anodized, non-sticks and enamels are out. I am not a very careful or gentle dishwasher so glass lids are out. I am pretty sure I will eventually break them and slice my hand open or maybe both.

I am attracted towards cast iron saucepans but I don't think I actually have the patience to do all the maintenance that a pre-seasoned finish requires. When I see a cast iron pot in any sink, my cleaning OCD kicks in. I know I will end up scrubbing all the seasoning out every time. That sort of defeats the purpose of having a seasoned cast iron pan. And of course, I doubt if I have the muscles to handle the weight of a 3 quart cast iron pot.

So after some elimination, I am staring at this: the 3 quart Norpro Krona Stainless Steel Saucepan:
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But sigh. It has only two rather non-specific vague reviews. Do you think this saucepan is worth $35?

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Permalink: Norpro_Krona_Stainless_Steel_Saucepan.html
Words: 289
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/28/11 04:30


Category: music

05/28/11 03:49 - ID#54364

Westlife

Don't you know that....dreams come true
Westlife are the best boyband there can ever be?!
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And I will take no arguments about NKOTB or Backstreet Boys or Take that or this or whatever other crappy band. Just take all the tunes that have ever been stuck in your head from each of these bands and do a t-test. You will find that Westlife's rate of sticking in your head is by far the MOST significant, heads and shoulders and totally irrational cowlicks above all of the other so-called "boybands".

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Permalink: Westlife.html
Words: 92
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/28/11 03:49


Category: eating in

05/28/11 02:30 - ID#54361

#1 Bestseller in Kitchen and Dining Sales

at Amazon is apparently this weird looking thing called the Trudeau Bottle Cap Catcher:
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REALLY?! Since when did the people shopping for kitchen stuff on Amazon find the desperate need to catch beverage caps top of their priorities? There is not a single review for the #1 bestselling item in kitchen and dining on Amazon. Was some company responsible for the bulk of the sales and gave these silly things away as corporate gifts to their entire workforce... And everyone was like "eh?" so they didn't bother reviewing?

What's even more unbelievable is that it was just released on 15th March this year and beat out every saucepan and frying pot on the site in 3 months? Does that sound reasonable?


Totally ludicrous.
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Permalink: _1_Bestseller_in_Kitchen_and_Dining_Sales.html
Words: 142
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/28/11 02:55


Category: eating in

05/27/11 07:43 - ID#54358

The BEST roasted almonds recipé EVAH

You might think roasting almonds is no big deal, right? You just toss them in a skillet or pan on high or medium heat, wait till they are slightly brownish or maybe put them on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes at 350-400 degree F and they are done.

But you are dead WRONG. Neither of those methods will EVER give you the tastiest roasted almonds EVAH at home.

THIS IS THE SECRET RECIPÉ!!!!! Tattoo it on your arm if you must.

1. Get a stainless steel cookie sheet. Yes, these are seriously the BEST kind, as I am finding out.
2. Spread natural unroasted raw almonds in an even layer on the stainless steel cookie sheet.
3. Crank up the oven to a low 200 to a max of 220 degree F.
4. Set the oven timer to 2 hours. NO less than 2 full hours.
5. Toss the almonds somewhere around the midway 1 hour mark.
6. Wait for 1 hour more and turn off the oven. Don't take the almonds out. Let them cool in the oven on the cookie sheet.
7. Devour the TASTIEST roasted almonds you will have EVER eaten!!

I read this technique in some vegan cookbook long back but I always went the impatient route. I realize now (having slow roasted them on low heat) just how many pounds of non-awesome roasted almonds I must have eaten over the years.

Non-awesome roasted almonds NO MORE!!!
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Permalink: The_BEST_roasted_almonds_recip_EVAH.html
Words: 228
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/27/11 10:31


Category: buffalo

05/27/11 06:56 - ID#54357

Found any cool stores in downtown Buffalo recently?

I live in downtown Buffalo, but I don't think I know about many small useful stores within walking distance of my flat. What about you? Have you found some new useful stores around your neighbourhood recently? And no, restaurants and eateries don't classify as "small useful" stores. There are too many around anyway.

I found two:
1. Did you know that we have a full-scale upholstery store in downtown Buffalo that sells just about ANY upholstery fabric you need? It is called "Country Upholstery" and has slightly odd working hours: Monday thru Thursday: 6am - 3pm, not very much unlike the Amtrak station on Exchange Street. Country Upholstery also has a website: It is located at: 475 Ellicott Street

2. There is a leather scrap store on the 700 block of Main Street a few doors north of Chow Chocolat. It sells small leather scraps and resoles shoes that are worn out from dancing. I forgot its name though... But I am sure it also has weird working hours.

I found these two because I was looking for somewhere to find microfiber fake suede for my shoes to silence the heels. I think I will find it at one of these stores, as soon as I make it to them in their weird business hours.

Now, do we have any thrift stores around at walking distance? Found any cool stores in downtown buffalo recently? This is a suggested title now. Start posting!


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Permalink: Found_any_cool_stores_in_downtown_Buffalo_recently_.html
Words: 244
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/27/11 07:52


Category: eating in

05/27/11 06:38 - ID#54356

Chef's opinions on Cast Iron Pans

How many of you cook in cast iron pans and pots? What do you cook in them?

My parents have always made their flatbreads and dosais in cast iron skillets. I always thought they were too unwieldy, uncomfortably heavy and have never wanted them. But my mum pointed out recently that she has nice biceps and I don't, possibly because I cook in light cheap cookware. I don't think that is the sole reason though... but I want to give cast-iron a shot anyway.

If not rippling muscle-building, they might atleast help me brown vegetables and tofu more efficiently and give me some extra iron that I always need.

So what do you guys think? Do you have cast iron pots that you use in your kitchen frequently?

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Permalink: Chef_s_opinions_on_Cast_Iron_Pans.html
Words: 128
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/27/11 06:40


Category: office

05/27/11 03:25 - ID#54355

Freecycle@Work

Thinking of starting a freecycle community at Roswell...



I wish Roswell were more responsible about throwing things away in general. I have heard all the arguments about IT security etc. etc. but apart from hard disks, there is really not much security risks in freecycling peripherals. The quantity of IT-related peripherals, non-IT-related reusable "garbage" and other furniture that Roswell throws away into WNY's landfills on a regular basis is ridiculous and environmentally unconscious, especially for a cancer centre.
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Permalink: Freecycle_Work.html
Words: 86
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/27/11 03:26


Category: the odes

05/26/11 06:46 - ID#54348

An experience in logical illogicality

Something about shuttling from NYC to Buffalo finally did my immune system in and I got some serious allergies earlier this week. I woke up with blood shot burning eyes, highly irritated upper airways and sneezed a million times. I had a meeting later in the day and I decided to take the most logical course - a scaled-up dose of benadryl.

25 mg hardly made a dent in clearing my bloody conjunctiva, so I somehow persuaded myself to go up to 50mg and then 75mg. An evil little voice kept telling me that it was important to not look murderous during the meeting and the drug was just blocking some unseen little histamine receptors somewhere on the surface; how bad could it possibly be?

It was bad.
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In fact, it turned out to be the most colossally illogical trippy mistake of the year. I had to write a paragraph-long email to cancel the meeting - a feat that took nearly 1.5 hours to compose. Not only was I nauseous for 4 hours, I was convinced at some point that the everyone in Buffalo downtown was dying. A detail-oriented pedantic voice was telling me that it was important to note that ONLY people with a roof over their heads were dying. I went to the kitchen to wash my face and get rid of the voice, but I could see there was was some REALLY significant p-value to back up this argument in the plaster-cracks just above the sink on the walls...
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It followed logically then that I should at least try and bail out of my window. Luckily for me I couldn't get the screen out in a coordinated fashion so I gave up after a while, drank as much water as I could and went back to a sleep-pee-drink-some-more-water-pee-sleep-drink-even-more-water-cycle till I was finally persuaded that everything was fine with my world (well, except for the missed meeting) late in the evening.

No more benadryl for me. I now know what to list under medications to avoid. (e:metalpeter) had a valid point when he pointed out that my low body weight could have had a role in the overdose... I don't think I was even paying attention to the whole body-weight overdose issue once I started on a single-minded mission to clear my bloodshot eyes.

This was probably the single most scary experience after the one where I was pinned immobile to my seat in an automobile collision on an extremely foggy day. I could clearly see my driver with his skull bashed-in by the windshield slumped right in front of me, but I couldn't do anything to help till the police/emergency folks arrived and wrenched me out.
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Permalink: An_experience_in_logical_illogicality.html
Words: 452
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 05/26/11 06:52


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