Szechuan Tofu with Green Beans

Last week I bought some spices for a Szechuan pork dish that I was creating and I decided to put those to use in this vegan friendly dish for lunch today.


  • 14 oz extra firm organic tofu
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp hot broad bean paste
  • 1 Tbsp ground chili paste
  • 2 Tbsp chili oil, divided
  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Fresh ground ginger root to taste
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/8 cup cold water

Drain tofu and cut into 1/2″ pieces. Place in a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, bean paste, and chili paste. Drain any excess water from the tofu bowl. Add hot sauce blend to tofu and stir gently to coat. Cover and let sit 30 minutes.

After tofu has marinated, heat half of the chili oil in a large frying pan at medium to medium-high heat. After oil is heated, spread tofu evenly in the pan and allow to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, place the green beans in the tofu marinating bowl and stir to collect any remaining hot sauce. After 2 minutes, gently turn the tofu and allow to cook undisturbed an additional 3 minutes. Remove tofu from pan and set aside. Without rinsing, add remaining tablespoon of chili oil to the pan. Add onion and saute over medium heat until tender. Add garlic, ginger, and beans and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add warm water. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and let cook until the beans begin to feel slightly tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small dish make a slurry with corn starch, the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, and cold water. After the beans are cooked, uncover and allow liquid to reduce, if necessary, to a quarter of the original liquid. Add slurry to the pan and stir moderately until the sauce thickens. Add tofu back to the pan and mix in gently. Allow tofu to heat thoroughly, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Serve over brown rice.

Categories: A Day in the Life, Food | 1 Comment

Red Chinos and Saints

It would seem that red chinos are currently a very fashionable item. That is, at least, if the analytics for this site are any indication. Over the past month, the most common search term that ended up displaying Lance’s World in the search results was, in fact, red chinos. Why would my site appear so frequently in these results? Apparently, it has to do with this post about red chinos that I wrote several years ago. Far be it from me to actually write anything useful about chinos for men, though! The only thing interesting about that post is that it demonstrates the fact that at some point in my life I had the delusion that a pair of red pants for men was a good idea.

This seems a fitting post for today, Valentine’s Day, given that the color red is of such great importance on this (choose one: romantic, mushy, depressing, uplifting, frivolous, commercial) holiday. Red roses, red candy boxes, even red chinos for men! And of course, one other thing that’s red today – the word Memorial in the Liturgy of the Hours. While the history of Valentine’s Day is actually rooted in the Christian tradition, as my friend Mike Liliedahl points out in his Valentine’s Day blog (which is free of all reference to red chinos, I promise), today is no longer celebrated on the Roman Calendar as the Feast of St. Valentine. Instead, today is celebrated as the Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Saints Cyril and MethodiusThese two Saints are honored in a very special way in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. In fact another friend of mine, also a Michael, who is an Eastern Rite Catholic, shared this Wikipedia entry link about Saints Cyril and Methodius with me today. Michael went on to say, “We are all called to be Saints… Saints are normal everyday people living the lives God calls them to live.” It sounds like he may have been at one of my talks over the past few weeks at St. Dominic’s where we explored the lives of the Saints and how those lives reveal to us just that – that we, too, are to live the lives we have been given in the best way possible. Saints Cyril and Methodius are part of the Church Triumphant, but we, too, are members of the Communion of Saints as part of the Church Militant.

So, no matter your relationship status on this Memorial of Saints Cyril and Methodius, remember that the most important relationship is your relationship with God. Follow the example of all of those great Saints that have gone before us and lead a good, holy life. I promise you that such a life will bring you greater joy and happiness than any pair of red pants.

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A Year in Review – 2011

At the end of each year, I like to look back at the things have happened – a retrospective of sorts. I haven’t always been completely diligent about doing it, though a few of my previous attempts are available for your perusal: 2006, 2007, 2010. We’re already a little more than 6 weeks into 2012, but I still feel like 2011 is recent enough to take a look back and see exactly what happened.

2011 was a transformative year for me in multiple regards. It was a great year for business, friendships, travel, and personal health. Here is a summary of my year in 2011:

  • I attended a “bar-warming” party at the home of my friends Ryan and Caitlin (1/8/11)
  • I joined the ranks of Godfather when Emily Mia was baptized (2/19/11)
  • For Lent I gave up the elevator in my apartment building, a decision that would indirectly lead to me losing about 50 pounds by the end of the year (3/9/11)
  • The earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan put the Pacific Coast of California on Tsunami Watch (3/11/11)
  • My friends Trish & Jamie welcomed Siena Frances Beckman into the world (4/10/11)
  • New Orleans beckoned when Adam and I were selected to present at the National Catholic Educational Association conference and I had the good fortune of being able to visit my friend Hans there, too (4/26-29/11)
  • I made my own marshmallow for the first (and still only) time (4/30/11)
  • I visited the State of Tennessee for the first time on a business trip (6/1-3/11)
  • I visited the State of Tennessee for the second time for the crazy purpose of taking a girl out on a date for her birthday; at least I got to see Graceland on that trip (6/23-28/11)
  • Mike and Saribel got married at Mission Santa Clara; I smoked my first-ever cigar at Mike’s bachelor party (6/5/11)
  • A dear friend, Kane Hardenstein, passed away after a tragic swimming accident in April that left her in a coma for over two months (7/4/11)
  • World Youth Day was in Madrid, Spain, and I got to go shoot video interviews with really cool people (8/16-23/11)
  • New Hampshire and Vermont got checked off my list of States to visit, though my plans in Vermont had to be changed at the last minute because of the terrible flooding they experienced (September)
  • Jesse and Christine got married in Newport, RI, and on that trip I bought a case of wine from Newport Vineyards (9/4/11)
  • My car was broken into in my garage, causing a delay in my departure for a wine tasting trip to Napa (9/18/11)
  • 8 people from Germany, France, and Belgium stayed with me as part of the Couch Surfing project (October)
  • I was a judge at Cupcake Camp; I had to jump start the car of one of the contestants afterwards, too (10/23/11)
  • My friends Binh and Nina got married (10/29/11)
  • I ran in my first-ever “competitive” race, the Triangle Expressway 5K in North Carolina (11/20/11)
  • I hosted a dinner party that started at 6 p.m. and didn’t end until 5:30 a.m. the next morning – it was truly epic (12/10-11/11)
  • I flew approximately 40,262 miles
  • The dinner club I started in 2010 gathered to enjoy seven amazing meals; together we shared about 40 different wines and at least as many exciting culinary experiments, including Seafood, Citrus Salad, Blue Cheese Ice Cream, Grill Roasted Duck, and Croatian Soup

While there were some difficulties during the year, overall, 2011 was a really fantastic year and I am very grateful for all of the experiences that I had. I’m looking forward to an amazing 2012, as well!

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Entering the Fourth Decade

Today marks my 30th birthday, and so I enter into my fourth decade of life. I have to say, my first 30 years have been pretty amazing. When I reflect back on the things I have accomplished and the places I have been, I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities that have been made available to me. It hasn’t been a cake walk, but I have been a very fortunate individual. I have been blessed with an amazing family, good friends, good food, WINE, a fantastic education, and a magnificent world to explore.

Looking back on my life, I realize that there are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish. While I’ve never been one to pay much attention to my age – each individual day is much like the one before it – in the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about things that I would like to do in the next 10 years of life. Here are some of the goals that I’ve set for my 30s.

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Categories: A Day in the Life, Faith | 4 Comments

The Translation of Our Holy Father Dominic

Today is the memorial of the Translation of St. Dominic, which took place May 24, 1233. I didn’t even know that this memorial existed until it was remembered during the Divine Office and Morning Prayer at St. Dominic’s Church this morning. The proper reading for the day was too wonderful not to share, thus this entry. The following text comes from the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers.

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Memories Fill Up My Mind

As I was going through some of my piano music yesterday, I ran across a copy of the hand-written sheet music for a song called “In Memory” by Erin Farley. This song is more commonly known as the “Theatre School Song,” and was the Alma Mater, of sorts, for the Theatre School for Youth (TSFY) program of which I was a part for about 13 years. TSFY was an after school and summer drama program for pre-teens and teens at the University of Utah.

I started in the after school program. My memory isn’t perfect, but I have a vague recollection that the after school program took place on Wednesdays Once a week during the school year, my mom would drive me from my elementary school in the city of Bountiful to the West Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. After a year (or so) of the after school program, I also started in the summer program, which was a four-week intensive program. Classes were held M-F for each of the four weeks, and the summer culminated with the performance of short scenes (all ages) and musical numbers (teen program only) by the various Scene and Musical Theatre groups.

I don’t remember everything about my time in the TSFY program, but there are definitely many things about the program that I do remember. Each year there was a new T-Shirt that all of the students received and had to wear. I remember each summer one of the first things my mom would do after I got my shirts would be to take me to a fabric / clothing store at Five Points Mall (a mall which no longer exists) where we would pick out iron-on letters in order to apply my name to the back of the shirts. I’m pretty sure that all of those shirts are still somewhere at my mom’s house.

I also remember that every morning during the summer program when we arrived at the school, we had to sign up for where we were going to eat lunch. There were many options, including Subway, B&D Burgers, 7-11, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Chop Suey Louie’s, the lawn (sack lunches), The Pie (until a student tried to light a table on fire), and the distance Student Union. By far my most frequented lunch spot has to have been Chop Suey Louie’s. They had excellent lunch deals, and I would almost always get the Sweet & Sour Pork or General Tso’s Chicken when they were available as the Special of the Day.
The classes, themselves, varied greatly. I took classes in acting, singing, dancing, accents, theatrical makeup, magic, comedy, improv, writing, directing, tech, and more. I attribute my current skills with performance and public speaking, in large part, to the TSFY program. After 13 years, getting up in front of an audience was no big deal for me.

My biggest regret, though, is that my memory of the program is tied so closely with what happened there, and not as closely to the people. Reflecting back, I have forgotten the vast majority of people that I knew in the program. Some I remember mainly because they ended up in high school with me, while others are but shadows in my mind, or lost to my memory forever. As I was playing the song on my piano this morning, I realized just how true the song was. OK, the lyrics are kind of cheesy, but the song is authentic, and I still love it. The TSFY program still exists, and I wonder if they still use this song, or if it, like the people running the program, has changed.

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2010, What?

Dear Loyal Readers,
OK… Who am I kidding? I don’t have loyal readers anymore. While it may be true that two people used to read this blog with (some) regularity, it seems evident that nobody is reading this anymore. Why? Well, one big reason: I haven’t given people anything TO read. The observant among you may notice that I posted nothing to this blog during the entire calendar year of 2010. It’s almost as if 2010 never existed in my world. And, in a way, it didn’t.

You see, in the last quarter of 2009, I was put into a deep freeze. Kind of like Woody Allen in the movie Sleeper, except that I wasn’t forgotten for 200 years. I was re-awakened just a few days ago, and I’m trying to get myself settled back into this strange world.

A lot has happened since September 23, 2009:

  • My employment at UC Berkeley was terminated (10/1/09)
  • I “lived” in Australia for two months (10/10 – 12/10/2009)
  • My friends Trish and Jamie were married in San Francisco, CA (12/12/09)
  • I started a regular food and wine paring dinner group (six dinners in 2010)
  • We bade my friend Heather adieu on her way to Korea (1/28/10)
  • I took a safari to Kenya with my sister (February, 2010)
  • My friend Johnny visited from Korea (April, 2010)
  • I was invited to (and attended) a “Mindful Dinner,” with a guest list intended to include only fascinating people (4/24/10)
  • I helped my sister buy a house in North Carolina
  • My friends Lauren and Chris were married in Atlanta, GA (5/14/10)
  • My sister got her M.D. from the University of Utah (5/22/10)
  • Flight of the Conchords in Concert in Berkeley, CA (5/28/10)
  • My fish, Sophocles, died, saddening many (6/5/10)
  • Mike and Suz visited San Francisco on a vacation from their year-long vacation in South America (July, 2010)
  • I hosted a “sweet” Dessert Party (8/14/10)
  • I participated in habitat restoration in the Presidio (9/4/10)
  • I was introduced to the Old Fashioned Cocktail – life will never be the same
  • My friends Ryan and Caitlin were married in Notre Dame, IN (10/2/10)
  • My cousin Jessica visited me in San Francisco (October, 2010)
  • I attended one of the best Baptisms ever (11/20/10)
  • I visited Texas for the first time (December, 2010)
  • Babies were born to: Amy & Frank (Toby, 9/29/10); Elia & Emilio (Emily, 12/16/10); Leilani & Shane (Gabriel, 12/24/10); and Melissa & Scott (Michael, 12/24/10)
  • My friend Joe Scaroni passed away unexpectedly (12/26/10)
  • I flew 35,332 miles with the Star Alliance (2010 calendar year)
  • I flew 11,662 miles with Sky Team (2010 calendar year)
  • I spent my first New Year’s Eve in San Francisco (12/31/10)
  • So much more…

As you can see, life was busy. As such, I hope that you won’t hold it against me for too long that I’ve kept you all waiting with bated breath. I can’t promise much more for 2011, but we’ll see. Until next time!

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A Commitment to my Public

I hereby make a commitment to my loyal public to post a new blog entry at least once a week effective immediately. I further commit not to uphold this commitment.

At least this way nobody can say that I’m not a reliable man. For the next week, the worst anybody can say is that I’ve definitely followed through on promise one and that, so far, I haven’t broken promise two. If I post again in a week, then I’ve kept promise one and still have yet to deliver on promise two, but since promise two has no definite timeline attached to it, I still can’t be said to have broken it, so my public will have to give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that I am still 100% trustworthy.

If, on the other hand, I do not post again in a week (or in two weeks, or three, and so on ad infinitum), then I’ve broken promise one, but I’ve upheld promise two, so I’m still a man who keeps his word.

The logic here is infallible.

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A Dream Dictionary

The interpretation of dreams has a very long history, dating back thousands of years ago, likely to the dawn of man and human language. Almost every major religious tradition includes stories surrounding the interpretation of dreams, such as the story of Joseph who interprets the dreams of Pharaoh, a story which features prominently in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to an extent.

It is no wonder, then, that dream interpretation would play a role in more “new age” types of spirituality, and even that some who don’t subscribe to a particular spiritual viewpoint would lend some credence to the interpretation of dreams.

My major problem, though, with modern-day dream interpretation is that it’s a bit like a fortune cookie. There’s no real substance to it. Go to your library or local bookstore and you’re likely to find a whole collection of book purporting to be “dream dictionaries” or “dream encyclopedias.” I venture to guess that for as many different books you find, you’ll find almost as many different interpretations of the same elements. Add online dream dictionaries to the mix, and the situation is only augmented.

Last night I had a very strange dream which involved running with scissors, among other things. Despite that fact that I thought I had a pretty good idea of where this dream had come from, I found myself in Barnes & Noble and happened upon a dream dictionary in the clearance bin. I leafed through it and looked up “scissors,” but found nothings. So, I looked up “weapons,” but also found nothing. I decided to look online, then, and what I found was less than useful.

“To dream that you are using scissors, denotes decisiveness and control in your waking life. Alternatively, it may suggests that you need to get rid of something in your life. It also represents your ability to cut things or people out of your life. Perhaps you are being snippy about some situation.”

Basically, then, what you’re saying is that to dream of scissors could mean almost anything. Just think of everything that you could do with or associate with scissor-vocabulary, and define the dream with that.

Using this logic, I could say, “To dream of a leaf denotes that you’re in a situation where you’ve latched onto an idea, but with enough pressure you’ll fly away. Alternatively, you might thrive in the sun, but hate the winter. It also represents your ability to work well in a complex system that depends on all of its parts, and where no single part is self-sufficient. Perhaps you’re worried about your mortality.”

Maybe I should open up a new dream interpretation business.

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Random Musings

It has surely been a long while since I last made an entry here. Nearly 6 months have elapsed since my last posting. Fear not, I have no intention to try and make up for that lost time by filling either of you, my two dear readers, in on everything that has transpired during that time. I could easily fill several tomes with all of that material.

I was listening to the radio today. I don’t even know what the station was, but I heard a song that I really enjoyed. It turns our that the artist is some group called The Airborne Toxic Event. Apprently they are an indie rock band based in Los Feliz, which is a neighborhood in LA. I found this factoid intersting, as my good friends from Los Feliz had a band called Say Yes. I am pretty certain that they are no longer performing, though.

Today, I had to drive 15 miles to get from the Starbucks in Half Moon Bay to another Starbucks. I thought it was against corporate policy to have stores more than two blocks apart. I started my day in Los Gatos, which is near San Jose, where I had a meeting and lunch with my friend Todd. After that, I headed to Half Moon Bay because it was on the way to my evening destination. I knew that there was a Starbucks in Half Moon Bay, and I thought I would just pass the time on the internet from there. Sadly, the internet connection there was not working, so I headed to the next closest Starbucks to kill the time. The drive to Pacifica was gorgeous, though! Right along the California coast with clear, blue skies.

At Starbucks I discovered that iTunes recognizes which Starbucks location you are at and will actually show you the lineup of music that the store is playing. If you so choose, you can also purchase said music with the mere click of a mouse. I have to admit, the music that Starbucks plays isn’t really my cup of tea (or coffee, for that matter), so I wasn’t really that tempted to make a purchase. It’s a cool feature, though.

Either of my readers may have previously visited my friend Ryan’s website. He recently launched a new single serving site about single serving sites. With this, it seems that he has broken into the world of the viral web. In a recent entry on his own blog, Ryan notes that in a single day he received as many hits to his SSS as his blog receives in 3 months. When I spoke with him today, he updated me, saying that in 3 days, he received more hits on the SSS than his blog receives in an entire year.

I’m in need of someone skilled in the viral web. Know anyone?

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