Monday, May 21, 2018

Curried Sweet Potato Chunk Coconut Soup

Bowl licking good soup that combines sweet potato, coconut milk, and curry together.
A creamy, delectable soup will make anyone feel instant gratification, especially when coconut and curry are involved. On a market excursion, finding a purple sweet potato packed and cheaply priced, a good fulfilling meal was on the dinner menu. Quick, simple soup with hearty sweet potato as the star element offers a sweet versus savory and smooth, rich complexity. Your dearest friends wouldn't believe that a dish so wickedly velvety and full of flavorful textures could be this dairy free and delicious.  

Curried Sweet Potato Chunk Coconut Soup Ingredients and Preparation

1 sweet potato
2 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
2 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of ginger

Prepare sweet potato with salted boiling water. Cook for 30-40 minutes.
Pour out water. Mash the sweet potato until reaching desired amount of chunks.
Turn heat to medium, gradually adding coconut milk, curry powder, turmeric, coconut oil, salt, black pepper, and ginger and stirring it all evenly well for 8-10 minutes.
Turn off heat and serve.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Vegan Apple Chocolate Cake

Make tea parties more delightful with Apple Chocolate Cake.
So Mother's Day was yesterday. Last week, I made this beautiful little cake that my mom would probably love (well, if there had been a lemon version). Still, she loves chocolate.
This special, very creative Apple Chocolate Cake by Adrianna's Living Healthy With Chocolate Blog combines the love of sweet, divine chocolate bliss and scrumptious apples together as a cake. Although her recipe has eggs, the white vinegar substitute plays well in my remixed veganized version, bringing forth a modest sized dessert that would entice any guest for a generous helping.

Organic Lady Alice Apples for cake.
Moist, spiced cake packed with chocolaty goodness and apple bites and a rich, decadent frosting that is finger licking delicious.

Chocolate Apple Cake Ingredients and Preparation

3 cup flour
1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cup apples, chopped


1/2 chocolate chips (used Pascha's 100% Unsweetened Cacao Chips)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

apples slices for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cake pan (8" or 9") with coconut oil along the sides and parchment paper on the bottom.

Sift flour, cacao, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda together.
Combine coconut oil, vanilla, and almond milk.
Blend wet with dry ingredients. Add white vinegar.

Stir apples last. 
Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.

To make topping: combine cacao (or chocolate) chips, brown sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla together in a steel bowl over boiling hot water.

Once cake is ready and cooled, spread with chocolate icing over top. Add apple slices and layer with remaining icing.

Sample a slice.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream With Sea Salt & Almond Dark Chocolate Candy Bar Swirl

Ice cream season is underway!
I must have stated this a thousand times on here: for many birthdays, my mom baked/and or bought chocolate frosted chocolate cake and pair them with chocolate flavored ice cream. Chocolate overload city much, but why complain? I loved, loved chocolate anything and she knew it. However, inwardly I preferred chocolate chip or chocolate swirl.

Yesterday, I created my first ice cream of the growing hot spring versus summer season. A few ingredients combined together brings a reminder of my old favorites. Fair trade certified, Food Empowerment Project recommended chocolate by Taza Chocolate is the star of the show, little irresistible bites of scrumptious chocolate bar nestled in the framework of coconut milk vanilla ice cream-- a real splendid treat.

Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream With Sea Salt & Almond Chocolate Candy Bar Swirl Ingredients and Preparation

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Taza Chocolate Sea Salt & Almond

In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, cane sugar, and vanilla.
Bring pot of hot water to boil.
In a steel bowl, place broken chocolate bar pieces and stir as it gradually melts.

Melted chocolate action. Some of bars remain intact. 
Pour vanilla and coconut mixture over the warm chocolate, stirring to create swirls, scraping from the bottle before the chocolate cools. Be quick. Once to desired concoction, place cellophane over the bowl and freeze for six to eight hours (or overnight).

I stored my ice cream in the freezer overnight. Perfect after dinner dessert all scooped out.

The perfect yum.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Miniature Garlic, Herb, and Nooch Soft Pretzels

Hot soft pretzels and "cheese."
I have missed baking pretzels-- a favorite baking snack. I have seen them all over the place, at art openings, shopping complexes, and movie theaters. Those are often made with butter and a hint of whey.
Last night, the craving struck like lightning. I answered the call. After all, it doesn't take much to make pretzels. Every ingredient is readily available in the pantry. Pretzel making is similar to pizza dough. There is art in kneading, in working hands in the flour and oil, pinching and pulling, enjoying the fragrant garlic and the look of the golden oil coating pliant brown dough.
Once the shapes are made and the baking sheet is in the oven, heaven is moments away. The smell fills the whole kitchen. Torturous minutes tick away as the mouth waters and eyes stare longingly at the lit oven door.
Alas, the chewy, crisp pretzels are warm and tasty. Easily the best batch that I've ever made so far.

Miniature Garlic, Herb, and Nooch Pretzels Ingredients and Preparation

3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic
1/4 black pepper
3 cup flour
3 tablespoon olive oil

3 cup water
2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix water, sugar, and yeast together. Let sit for five minutes.
Add salt, garlic, and black pepper. Stir in one cup of flour at a time.
Massage and knead dough with olive oil.
Place dough in a bowl and cover.
Let sit for a hour or two.

Formed pretzel shapes. Some better than others. Managed to make ten.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring water and baking soda to boil. Add one pretzel at a time.
Once pretzels float up, they're ready to be taken out. Let drip before placing on baking sheet.

Sprinkle Italian seasoning, garlic, and nooch on the pretzels. Bake for 15 minutes.

Hot and fresh from the oven.

A bowl of pretzels makes anyone happy.

Pretzels with smoky cashew cheese sauce for dipping.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Cupcakes so good that frosting isn't required!
The trip to Grenada is next week and added GoFundMe perks include a taste of the upcoming summer side chocolate business-- Brownie Girl on a Bike (more info to come soon). In a few days, we're filming a fun kitchen segment. I'll be sure to post that up with the next blog update.
In celebration, starting things off with chocolaty reminders. First, I made chocolate cupcakes with three high-speed-blackening-rate bananas. It was either freeze for future smoothies, n "ice" creams, or banana bread or creating fabulous, irresistibly delicious chocolate cupcakes. By choosing the latter, the bananas amp up flavor profile and moisten up the perfect sweet treat.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (used Equal Exchange Fair Trade Organic Baking Cocoa)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, ripened
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 12 dozen muffin tin with paper liners.
Mix flour, cocoa powder, cane sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
In a blender, combine bananas, almond milk, vanilla, and coconut oil.
Stir wet into dry ingredients until even and smooth.
Pour batter into liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Before and....


Cute and chilled in the fridge.

The last one-- the fork tested cupcake.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

En Route To Grenada And Other Fair Trade Chocolate News

A friend of mine and fellow PAFA alum sent me this beautiful card. In the self-care box, I ordered NibMor sweets. They offered a cordial packet of Mint Hot Chocolate. 
Remember back in October when I introduced work in progress of my fair trade chocolate bar paintings interacting with the short-lived Still Star Crossed characters here?
The passion is deepening. I have started researching projects for my Fulbright application (scary long process). Women in Africa own chocolate companies. They're proving that marginalized bodies are not picking cacao pods out of dangerous territories and exporting to Europe and North America. These women are processing their country's primary resources and selling their efforts in their homelands, giving to their people in the most nurturing ways. Selassie Atadika sells Midunu Chocolates in Ghana (will email her about vegan options) as well as sisters Kimberly and Priscilla Addison of 57 Chocolates (named after the year of Ghana's independence and they have four vegan flavors). Plus Jaki Kweba of Tanzania co-founded the first and only indigenous company of fine chocolate, Chocolate Mama's Gourmet.
Thus, I am looking at Ghana and Tanzania for host countries and researching possible projects. 

Mint cat print dress with dried cherry chocolate sweetness. I still believe that NibMor have the best cherry bar out right now next to the wonderful treasure, ChocoSol Traders Mon Cherry Amour, a 65% cacao chocolate cherry decadence.
 My dream is to be this woman, surrounded in colorful cacao pods, enjoying the Caribbean sun.
When a co-worker told me about the Grenada Chocolate Festival, I was pleased to hear such an event existed. An actual days long festival dedicated to chocolate? It sounded incredible. While events such as chocolate yoga, chocolate as beauty ingredient, chocolate tastings, chocolate festival, and chocolate extravaganza serenaded a chocolaty siren's song it was the "Farmer for a Day" that excited me most of all. To trek through terrain where cacao pods grow, to crack open a pod and see the seeds up close, to meet farmers on plantations... I have always imagined being the brown woman version of Charlie Buckett, scoring the golden ticket to the lay of the chocolate land, a land that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory hadn't acknowledged, a land of brown farmers and colorful cacao pods, the origins of great wealth and fascination. 
Maybe perhaps, I could have scored an invitation somehow. I filled out the comment form and prayed to hear back. No response. I looked up artist/writing travel grants (some of course were expired and others dispersing funds way after the festival).
I created a GoFundMe in hopes of attaining the remaining funds for the Grenada Chocolate Festival ticket, accommodation, and other arriving expenses. This experience will further strengthen my Fulbright application-- finally seeing and being around the cacao pod environment. Any amount would be helpful and greatly appreciated.

Sketch inspired by the Grenada Chocolate Festival website advertisement, an afrogirl surrounded in cacao pods. Yes, I've been having a few dreams lately of finding myself in the same sea, finding cacao pods like cocoons for butterflies to grow and prosper. I will make a watercolor version for the GoFundMe thank you cards and pray that it has the same infectious joy as this little litho crayon drawing.

Finished "Afro Chocoholic In Cacao Pod Heaven" stone before first and second etching. Just litho crayons. I wanted to try out some washes. Maybe next stone? I am making a limited edition of 30 prints (on good quality animal free Fabriano paper) and they'll be offered for $50 rewards on my GoFundMe.
Face close up. The hair was my favorite part, darkening the afro and scratching out the whites with a knife.

The prints are coming out beautifully.
Making the edition. 
I end the day with my last NibMor treat, the Mint Hot Drinking Chocolate. It's rich and creamy with a light mint flavor. I added the mix to a pot of hot water (not boiling) and a bit of unsweetened almond milk. There is no need for extra sweetener. It's perfect and divine.
Hot chocolate fogging the lens.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

In My Neighborhood: Women Owned Places to Be In Philadelphia

Art Dept Philly, self-described as a "collective-run community space specializing in reclaiming history through vintage objects, art, and public events," is one of the three unique spots up in my new neighborhood thanks to Emily, artist and founding member. I also met kind Amelie, an award winning writer and educator. Learn more about them and other collective members here.

With the horrible news about the black real estate brokers arrested for waiting at a local Starbucks without purchasing still being unloaded in news and management not properly being held accountable for a disgusting display of racism, it's important now more than ever to protect ourselves, to commune in spaces operating for us. We need to support communal havens by us for us, that provide safe environments to create, have conversations, and eat/drink.
On the few warm days, I explored the Kensington neighborhood, in this area that I recently moved into, enjoying pleasant shops in the area, most especially three owned by women of color: Art Dept Philly, Franny Lou's Porch, and Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse. They each offer unique forms of entertainment and carefree liberation, forms of activism while also serving specific needs. Art Dept Philly is a secondhand boutique that also sells art supplies, handmade cards, and accessories and at the same time hosts Writer Wednesdays, an afterschool arts program led by artist Carmel Brown (owner of Colored Vintage, the shop), and craft workshops on knitting, sewing, and more.

Pins galore!

Quaint vintage dishware that any tea lover would adore.

Dessert plates and matching mini mugs great for intimate party hosting.

My dream dress.

Old time radio.

A stylish mannequin surrounded by vintage dresses, ties, vests, blouses, and all sorts of other outfit of the day inspirations.

Flawless detail complete with colorful glass beaded elements.

They can't call it Art Dept Philly without the art supplies!

Just blocks away on Coral Street, indie bohemian spirited Franny Lou's Porch serves uniquely named coffees and teas.
"I am sick and tired of being sick and tired." - Fannie Lou Hamer

I just fell in love with Franny Lou's Porch. Named after two important Libra figures: abolitionist/suffragist poet, Francis E. W. Harper (who published the first African American short story) and activist/community organizer Fannie Lou Hamer (cofounder of the National Women's Political Caucus), I visited on this rainy Sunday morning before work, desiring a cup of something sweet and wonderful. The interior is vibrant and inviting, homages to Africa, African American, and other people of color in a victorious celebratory spirit. The aesthetic is all natural, rustic, and friendly, classic R&B music swirling in the background, feeling like a charming second home.

And the owner is Blew Kind.

The lattes are named after activists, writers, and other important civil rights figures. They offer almond and soy milk options for vegans.

Woodcut (or linoleum cut) of Martin Luther King Jr.

I enjoyed an Alice Walker (matcha tea with soy milk, vanilla, and maple) with Queens from the in-house reading library.

A gorgeous painting to gaze upon.
At the awesome Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse (the first and only black woman owned comic book/coffeeshop in the U.S.), is the land of comic book nerd joy. Books, t-shirts, pins, and more are swarmed in the enticing bright lights alongside my favorites Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Black Panther, Jem and the Holograms, The Walking Dead, and others. Like Art Dept Philly, Amalgam participates in First Fridays and hosts all sort of incredible events for geeks like game and movie nights, book launches, after hour entertainment, quizznos, and more. Just a few weeks ago, the great Erika Alexander (from Living Single to co-writing a one-shot Giles Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic) hosted a book signing (of course I didn't know about it until Instagram but alas can't make it all). 

Amalgam offers great vegan options like apple and banana bread and dairy free milk alternatives for teas and coffees.

And speaking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which was Amalgam's reader's choice display from late January) did y'all know it was the original Slayer herself Sarah Michelle Geller's birthday yesterday? I penned a celebratory post on my other site, FemFilmRogue
Support the women here in Kensington. They're amazing. They're expanding horizons in the most inspiring ways and deserve our allegiance.