Urban Plates Spring Menu Launch

Spring has sprung, the weather is brightening and the chefs at Urban Plates have put together a Spring Menu that will lift your spirits and carry you cheering out of Winter!

We are thrilled to introduce a unique selection of brand new dishes and delighted to bring back some fan favorites that you’ve been asking for. Our Spring seasonal offerings continue our tradition of introducing menu items that reflect our commitment to serving high-quality dishes at affordable prices. We want to empower our guests to eat the way that fits them and their families, and that means keeping things exciting and fresh – so prepare your tastebuds for a Spring menu that delivers plenty of both!


Miso Barramundi Sea Bass

Miso Barramundi Sea BassBarramundi is a sea bass native to Australia and the Indo-Pacific region, and is often referred to as “Asian Sea Bass.” The word “barramundi” is Aboriginal for “large-scaled silver fish” and this lean protein source is a mild but flavorful white fish perfect for spring plates. And while it has only half the calories of salmon, barramundi provides surprisingly healthy levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.

What’s more, if you like miso, you’ll love this sustainably-harvested sea bass, which is marinated for 8-hours in our signature sauce, then baked and topped with our house-made, dairy-free Sesame Ginger Lemongrass Sauce.

And while all of our sides are made to complement this protein, we recommend pairing it with organic white rice, organic brown rice, asparagus or our new Harissa Cauliflower (introduction below).

Thai Shrimp Salad

Thai Shrimp SaladOur new Thai Shrimp Salad is a light, crunchy tossed salad hearty enough to satisfy even the largest of appetites. We start by marinating large skewered shrimp in garlic, lemongrass, ginger and sesame oil, and then cooking them to fluffy perfection.

To build the salad, we mix our UP lettuce blend with organic tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, daikon, red bell pepper, and pickled shiitake mushrooms. We top it off with glass noodles, cilantro, and crispy wontons, then drizzle that medley with green siracha sauce and scratch-made Miso Lemongrass Mint Dressing. And for the finishing touch, we garnish your dish with those skewers of plump, juicy shrimp for a culinary experience your taste buds will never forget.

Chickpea and Kale Soup

Chickpea and Kale SoupOur Chickpea and Kale Soup is an excellent choice for those with uncompromising dietary demands. Full of flavor and gluten-free, this mouthwatering dish is also dairy-free, and vegan. We combined cooked chickpeas, black kale, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and a unique blend of savory spices to make this refreshing soup a first choice, even on warm spring days.

Cantaloupe Pineapple Mango Replenisher

Cantaloupe Pineapple Mango ReplenisherWhile we wave goodbye to our Pomegranate Cranberry Apple Replenisher from the Winter menu, we welcome a new fruity beverage aboard. We use fresh organic chunks of Cantaloupe, Pineapple, and Mango and combine them with Organic Apple Juice to create a vibrant, vegan beverage free of gluten and dairy.


Harissa Cauliflower

We like to think we started the Harissa trend, and to celebrate that pioneering spirit, we are bringing this hot side dish back for the Spring lineup.

Commonly used in popular Moroccan cuisine, Harissa is a Tunisian Chile Paste made of dried chiles, olive oil, and garlic. We’re adding this bold sauce to pan-roasted cauliflower and zucchini, to spice up your spring time!

Coconut Lemon Cake

Coconut Lemon CakeWe are temporarily retiring our winter Fresh Apple Layer Cake and replacing it with a resounding favorite of Urban Plates regulars – our Coconut Lemon Cake!

This delicious made-from scratch dessert is made of coconut cake layers, lemon curd, coconut cream filling, lemon frosting, and is covered in toasted coconut. The cliff notes on this cake is simple: lots of lemon, lots of coconut.

We take great pride in offering our guests a rotating menu of delicious, seasonal dishes that shake up routines and open minds (and palates) to new and exciting culinary adventures. Enjoy our new seasonal Spring menu selections!



Chef Jim

The post Urban Plates Spring Menu Launch appeared first on Urban Plates.

Lamb Osso Bucco for Spring

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. It is the awakening of all the plant life surrounding us, an indicator of warmer weather and longer days filled with more sunlight. With the spring bloom comes a bounty of fresh new produce and I look forward to the burst of greenery available after the winter months.

I lived in Italy for a year traveling from the south to the north working in small restaurants, wineries, with cheesemakers and in bakeries. I had the opportunity to start my culinary adventure in March when lamb are abundant and often prepared for family gatherings and holidays. I had not eaten much lamb before traveling to Italy that spring, but I quickly grew to love the flavor, tenderness and unique cuts I tried in the many different preparations. Every year as spring approaches I look forward to preparing lamb and fall back on some of the recipes I recorded during that exciting adventure.

In preparation for spring at Urban Plates, I wanted to use lamb as the center of our newest limited time dish. After carefully sourcing a sustainably raised grass-fed lamb and testing many cuts I landed on the shank, also known as “osso bucco” in Italian preparations. The inspiration for an osso bucco dish came from working in a small family owned restaurant in northern Italy where they slow cooked lamb in a wood fired oven with stock and spring vegetables.

Our Lamb Osso Bucco is made with a classic red wine sauce reduction infused with organic carrots, onion, celery, thyme, oregano, rosemary, lemon and bay leaf. Once the sauce has only a hint of acidity and the herbs have bloomed, we combine the bone-in lamb with our scratch-made chicken stock and the wine reduction sauce. We then slow cook everything overnight until the lamb is spoon tender and almost falling off the bone. This slow and careful, yet simple preparation make this a hearty and delicious braise with a light bodied sauce. The Osso Bucco is served with our scratch-made mashed potatoes and topped with a mint gremolata – an Italian herb sauce made from fresh raw mint, lemon zest, garlic and a hint of spices. This bright green sauce adds a refreshing aspect to the whole dish and pairs perfectly with the earthy lamb.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful offering as a limited time addition to our menu at an affordable price for you and your family. Perhaps it can become your new tradition for the spring!



Chef Jen

The post Lamb Osso Bucco for Spring appeared first on Urban Plates.

Are We Rinsing With Mouthwash Long Enough?

Commercial mouthwashes are used for various purposes including getting rid of bad breath, plaque, gingivitis, etc. The American Dental Association provides a very detailed write-up on mouthwash. You may be able to get a similar benefit from a saltwater and hydrogen peroxide solutions. Many dentists state that you only need to brush and floss to support a healthy mouth.

What I have always wondered though is, assuming there is some benefit from using mouthwash, am I getting any benefit from them? The reason I question this is because the recommended rinse duration on most mouthwashes range from 30 seconds to one minute. I think I rinse for maybe 20 seconds at best. Do you rinse for one minute?

There are tons of mouthwashes out there so it can be a challenge to pick the right one for you. I found the following information for various brands of mouthwash:

Mouthwash Brand Rinse Duration (seconds) Alcohol Free? Ratings
Ranker Faveable Bestlisto Tenbestreview Bestseekers
Listerine 30 No 1 1 4.5 6
Crest 30 to 60 Yes 7 4 8 8 5
Scope 30 No 2 2
Colgate-Palmolive 30 Yes 3 3 4
Oral-B 30 No 4 4
Biotene 30 Yes 6 2 6 6 2
Cepacol 30 No 9 7
ACT 30 Yes 5 3.5 5 6.5 1
Sensodyne 60 Yes 8 9
Dr Katz 30 Yes 10
Corsodyl 60 Yes 11 10
Tantum Verde 30 No 12
BreathRx 30 Yes 13 9
Daily Rinse 60 Yes 14
Dentyl PH 30 Yes 15
Sarakan 20 Yes 16
Astring-O-Sol 20 No 17
Lavoris 30 No 18
Rembrandt 60 Yes 19 4
Gengigel 60 to 120 Yes 20
Oral Essentials 60 Yes 5 8
TheraBreath 30 Yes 3 11 10
CloSYS 60 Yes 5 3
Jason Natural 20 to 30 Yes 1
PerioBrite 30 to 60 Yes 7
SmartMouth 30 Yes 9
Tom’s of Maine 60 Yes 11

Based on the above, you may not be getting the full effectiveness of the mouthwash you are using if you are not rinsing for the prescribed about of time. I guess we have to tough it out folks and increase our mouthwash rinsing time . Good luck with that!

Sapiosexual is a New Dating Term. Is it a Real Thing?

I was reading a profile of someone and they said they were sapiosexual. I thought, “Say what”? I wondered, is that being attracted to sappy people? My curiosity was piqued so I had to look up the word. From the Collins Dictionary the definition of sapiosexual is: “One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature; behavior of becoming attracted to or aroused by intelligence and its use. Sapiosexual is a neologism word (recently constructed word) that has come into common usage; especially on social networking sites where some people are self-identifying as sapiosexual. Origins: From Latin root sapien, wise or intelligent, and Latin sexualis, relating to the sexes”.

Now I am thinking, great, there is hope for me after all! I like to think of myself as intelligent. I have a master’s degree, I read books; I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m in like Flynn!

Sapiosexual is a relatively new term being used. Dating sites such as OkCupid have even added it as a new gender and sexuality option. But is sapiosexual a real thing? There have always been people who have been attracted to intelligent people. Sapiosexual is really not a sexual orientation term. For example, being sapiosexual doesn’t mean you would be attracted to intelligent people of all sexes. If you are heterosexual, bisexual, or whatever; you would still be those things if you were sapiosexual.

My take on this is that a sapiosexual values intelligence so much that almost nothing else matters, whereas non-sapiosexuals may value intelligence but they value other things also (looks, humor, body shape, etc.). In the real world there are probably different levels of sapiosexual. That is, at the top of the sapiosexual pyramid, intelligence is the only thing that matters and at the minimum level are sapiosexuals who value intelligence at a defined minimum threshold:


In the above chart the different regions are defined as follows:

  • In region A people are more attracted to “other things” than they are to intelligence and thus, they are not sapiosexual
  • In region B people are more attracted to intelligence than they are to other things but they may or may not be sapiosexual
  • In region C people are more attracted to intelligence than they are to other things as in region B. The difference is than in region C the draw to intelligence is above a predefined level (in our case we are assuming this level is 60%). Therefore if you are in region C you are a sapiosexual.

It would be interesting to design a questionnaire to determine what the minimum threshold would need to be for people to be considered sapiosexual. What do you think that percentage is? Are you a sapiosexual? Let me know in the comments section!

Will Banks Go the Way of the Dinosaur with the Emergence of Blockchain?


Dinosaur Bank


Money transfer is one of the core competencies of traditional banks, usually between parties via bank-to-bank transfers. Of course transferring and receiving money is not the only service banks perform but it is at the core of the bank’s reason for being since most other services depend or are connected to the fact that banks can move money from point A to point B.

In the old days before computers or telegraphs banks had to transfer money physically between them. They did create notes (essentially IOUs) which could be exchanged on a short-term basis but eventually a physical transfer of funds was necessary. Since gold was the currency du jour this transfer took the form of horseman loaded up with saddle bags of gold or an armored stage-coach escorted by armed people.



Banks kept track of who owned what money in a ledger. Of course these ledgers were tied to the local bank so you had to physically go to that bank to know what money was where and owned by whom. This type of localized “ledgering” made it a challenge to prevent fraud from occurring.

With the invention of the telegraph money could be “wired”. With these wire transfers money stayed in the bank. What was wired was the details of the ledger changes (what amount of money was taken from A and given to B).

Two of the major ways bank-to-bank money transfers occur today are through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) electronic network and by wire transfer.

Automated Clearing House Transfer
“Automated Clearing House (ACH) is an electronic network for financial transactions in the United States. ACH processes large volumes of credit and debit transactions in batches. ACH credit transfers include direct deposit, payroll and vendor payments. ACH direct debit transfers include consumer payments on insurance premiums, mortgage loans, and other kinds of bills. Debit transfers also include new applications such as the point-of-purchase (POP) check conversion pilot program sponsored by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA). Both the government and the commercial sectors use ACH payments. Businesses increasingly use ACH online to have customers pay, rather than via credit or debit cards”.[1]

ACH transfers are a centralized process as all financial transactions have to go through the ACH. For example, suppose several customers deposit checks into Bank A:

ACH Flow


  1. Customers deposits checks into Bank A
  2. Bank A enters the deposits in its ledger as pending transactions
  3. Bank A aggregates the customer transactions into batches
  4. The “batched” transactions are transmitted electronically at regular predetermined intervals over the ACH network
  5. The ACH Operator receives batches of ACH entries from Bank A. The ACH transactions are sorted and made available by the ACH Operator to Bank B
  6. Bank B checks to make sure funds are available to payout the checks in the received ACH transactions and updates it’s ledger
  7. Bank B sends notification to Bank A that the deposited checks have cleared. Bank A changes the associated transactions from the pending state to complete. This notification can take from 1 to 3 days or more from the time Bank A submits the deposited check transactions over the ACH network. This delay is necessary to ensure the integrity of the transaction (i.e., to make sure the money is not spent multiple times).

Continue reading “Will Banks Go the Way of the Dinosaur with the Emergence of Blockchain?”

Sedona Red Rock Spring Break

Sedona Red Rock

Sedona, AZ is one of the most scenic locations in the United States and Spring is the best time to be there. Thus, it stands to reason that I would want to spend my Sons’ Spring Break there. Sedona Red Rock is at its most glorious state at that time. Also the weather is perfect for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. It’s the outdoors that’s Sedona’s strong point. It’s also the busiest time of year there so if you are planning on going in Spring you need to plan.

This was my third trip to Sedona. The first one was in October for the Sedona “Jazz on the Rocks Festival”. Fall is the next best time to visit Sedona since the weather can be similar to the Spring.

My second trip was in August just because that was the only time I could go that year. Though the weather in the summer is more moderate than Phoenix it is still hot. This time of year you need to get your hiking on in the mornings or late afternoons.

This trip we flew into Phoenix just list most people heading to Sedona from out of nearby states and made the two-hour drive to Sedona. We arrived in Sedona in time to check-in and check out “A Taste of Provence” which was a French festival held in the on site Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. The festival took place from 4pm to 8pm and included three outstanding free bands, a master glass worker, painting demonstrations, artwork to buy, and delicious French wines and food.

We stayed at the Los Abrigados Resort and Spa which is a timeshare resort in which I own a week at the Stonehouse property. The Historic Stone House is the most unique unit at this resort. It is a separate house across from the Main pool. It is the Schnebly’s (founder’s of Sedona) original home. It has been restored and updated to today’s standards.

The house has two master bedroom suites with spa tubs. The larger master has a huge spa tub and a separate setting room with library, flat screen TV and wetbar. It also has a huge Great Room with a working stone fireplace (wood provided free!). In addition, the unit has a full kitchen, patio, gas barbecue grill, washer & dryer and skylights galore!

You can rent a week at the Los Abrigados Stonehouse from me on the VRBO website. Just remember that I only have one week per year and it is next available in 2018.

The star of this place is the Sedona Red Rock. Continue reading “Sedona Red Rock Spring Break”

Understanding African American European Ancestry

It has been a common assumption within the African American community that European male slave-owners had sex with African female slaves during the American slavery period. This period started around 1619 when Africans were brought to Jamestown, Virginia to help with tobacco crops; and ended officially with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 (History.com).

In one article, USA Today estimated that “About 30% of black Americans who take DNA tests prove to be descended from Europeans on their father’s side (USA Today 2/2/06, pg. 4A).

How can we confirm the above assumption? The answer is DNA. More specifically, DNA Haplogroups. Haplogroups can tell you where a line of your ancestors originated from thousands of years ago. There are two types of Haplogroups: Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) haplogroups and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups. “Y-DNA is passed solely along the patrilineal line, from father to son, while mtDNA is passed down the matrilineal line, from mother to offspring of both sexes. Neither recombines, and thus Y-DNA and mtDNA change only by chance mutation at each generation with no intermixture between parents’ genetic material” (Wikipedia).

Since only males have Y-chromosomes, women can’t trace their ancient paternal ancestors. They have to have one of their male relatives do it. Conversely, even though mothers pass their mtDNA to both their male and female offspring, only females can pass their mother’s mtDNA to their own children. So males may have to have one of their female relatives trace their ancient maternal ancestors. Continue Reading!

Do Lawyers Make Good Mates?

We all look for compatibility in a mate (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.) but are there certain traits which make it difficult to End of lawyers relationshiplive with lawyers?

I decided to look at one set of traits in particular associated with lawyers. Thought Catalog lists the following “Traits of Lawyers”:

  1. A know-it-all vibe
  2. Pessimism
  3. Anal-retentive
  4. Excessive usage of fancy words
  5. Social skills
  6. Risk-aversion
  7. Drink like fish
  8. Dry dispassion
  9. Highly competitive
  10. Self-focus

Now do the above traits make for a good relationship? I don’t know. Having dated a lawyer (or 2) I have first hand knowledge on this subject. Let’s look at these traits one at a time.

A know-it-all vibe
Absolutely. Sometimes lawyers act like they are like their television counterparts who are all-knowing and clairvoyant. The truth is they are just like the rest of us and have their limitations. They know a lot about lawyer stuff but may not be up to speed on other subjects. Also a lawyer who specializes in one type of law may not know much about another type. They are nice to have around though when you need to be represented in court!

Many lawyers have to deal with a lot of bad people. When you see so many people at their worse it may be difficult for you to see your significant other in a positive light. To offset this you need to get them out into the real world where most people are not criminals. This will give them a more balanced perspective on life.

This trait is important to have for a lawyer who is doing their work. When you hire a lawyer you want them to have attention for detail so they don’t miss something that might impact you negatively. I have found though that since lawyers have to be so anal-retentive in their job they go to the other extreme in their personal life. Don’t expect them to be clean-a-holics or detailed oriented in other areas. This is where you will need to take up the slack.

Excessive usage of fancy words
This comes with the neighborhood. The law requires many fancy and complicated words to be precise. Go with the flow. If you don’t understand them just ask them to explain. They will love knowing that they are the expert (see number 1 above). Continue Reading!

New English Words For 2014

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary recently released the words from 2014 which will be added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

These new words are very diverse and reflect the changes in the way we use language today. Some countries who use a different language consider American English to be a bastard language since we dilute the language with so much slang and words which do not follow the formal structure of the “King’s English”. This view of the language is discussed in great detail in John McWhorter’s book: Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English“.

Many of the words in English are derived from Latin and Greek morphemes. In many cases words taken from Latin or Greek retain the inflectional characteristics and gender from their original languages. Thus, the masculine singular form of “alumni” is “alumnus,” while the feminine singular form is “alumna.” This example also shows that despite the retention of these Latinate forms, particularly in “learned” language, they are often discarded in casual speech, and “alumni” has come to be a singular noun as well as a plural one.

Throughout the history of English new words have been incorporated into the language through borrowing (from languages as varied as Latin, Greek, Scandinavian, Arabic, and many others) as well as through the application of morphological and derivational rules to existing words and morphemes.

Many of today’s new English words don’t follow the old patterns though. We are not “borrowing from other languages as much as creating anew. For example, check out just a few of the new words added to this year’s update of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, and their definitions, by clicking below:

The above new words come from the good old United States. If someone makes up a new word and it sticks, that new word becomes part of our lexicon even if it doesn’t fit the pattern’s of the formal English language.


I have decided to submit the following words for consideration as they do not appear to be words recognized by Merriam-Webster:
1. Googleable. Adjective \ˈgü-gəl-bəl\
Definition: Able to be googled.
Some examples of the adjective in action include :
– searching for text on google and finding it even though the text has been deleted
Used in a sentence: Even though that text has been deleted it is still googleble.

2. Bootilicious. Adjective \ˈbü-tē-di-ˈli-shəs\
Definition: Someone who has a nice looking butt.

Used in a sentence: She has the most “bootilicious” backside I have ever seen.


What about you? Do you know of any English words which are used but not in the dictionary? Do you have any works that you just made up which you think should be used by others? If so, let’s see them!

Father’s Day Thoughts

When Father’s Day gets near many people start thinking of different ways to recognize it.  Generally Father’s Day doesn’t generate as much excitement as Mother’s Day does.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day: The modern American holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died

Due to the campaign efforts of Anna Jarvis, several states officially recognized Mother’s Day, the first in 1910 being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Even though Sonora Smart Dodd proposed a father’s day in 1910 it didn’t get much traction. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes.

n 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

So 58 years pasted before Father’s Day had the same official recognition as Mother’s Day. Now I know how Rodney Dangerfield felt!

Maybe it took so long for fathers because they were perceived to play a minor role in the parenting arena. Today, many men are playing a major role in parenting their children but some are not getting the respect or support they deserve. That’s one of the reasons I wrote my book on “Men’s Guide to being a Single Parent“. Though the book is geared towards men who are single parents many of the chapters apply to all fathers (even mothers can benefit from some of the information).

Let’s give fathers some love next Father’s Day people. It’s been a long time coming.