Saturday, July 14, 2018

Falafel Wraps With Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Summer color.
I've been busy writing and drawing-- mostly for a few grants and exhibition proposals as well as my own fond enjoyment. Plus, my sister blog, femfilmrogue is preparing for a 15 Best Television Couples segment before next month's reviews on whatever happens at Blackstar Film Festival. I'll be volunteering for the latter and always find a few gems to gush about. Also I have a roster of pieces to put together including requests from old friends. I didn't believe that the little blog would amount to much, but people are starting to respond.
In the meantime, I may put AfroVeganChick on standby. It might be the right thing. Pivotal changes have abruptly entered my personal life and pulling myself into fictional escapism is a necessary medicine.
These falafels were the last achievement in a while. It is splendid that a can of 99 cent garbanzo beans makes a miraculous lunch salvation. I had liked the taste of mint and fennel seed added Trader Joe's falafel-- they have since stopped carrying it here in Philly. I didn't have mint, letting instead the pinch of fennel seed perform valiant justice. I detest cucumbers. Yet I only have them in cucumber yogurt sauce with falafel. I can never thank my sister enough for introducing me to this delicious, easy-to-craft dish.


Falafel Wraps With Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped and stemmed
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup flour

olive oil for the skillet

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

1 6 oz container Forager Lemon Cashewgurt
1 small cucumber, chopped and diced finely
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

soft tortillas
hummus
red onions (optional)


In a blender or food processor, combine olive oil, chickpeas, parsley, garlic, curry powder, fennel seed, turmeric, cumin, salt, and black pepper together.
In a medium bowl, hand mix chickpea batter with flour and form them into small patties.

With skillet set to medium high heat, pan sear falafel in olive oil, browning both sides.

Cheat sheet cucumber lemon sauce prep: combine Forager Lemon Cashewgurt with chopped cucumbers.

Mix together with salt, garlic, black pepper, and dill.

Layer tortilla wraps with hummus, falafel, cucumber yogurt sauce, and optional red onions.

Be prepared for heavenly flavors and messy delights.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Brownies And Other Chocolaty Things


Scrumptious stacked brownies with pecans baked inside and out.
On World Chocolate Day, last Saturday, I made a scrumptious batch of irresistible brownies despite having no vanilla. Admittedly, I was petrified that they would be terrible. After all, vanilla is used in almost every dessert recipe. To be out of vanilla is a baker's nightmare. Yet, the brownies came out well. Like super dense and yum yum. Without vanilla, you get a strong, pure chocolate tasting treat.
Today, on a special old Ohioan friend's birthday, instead of making a fresh new cake or cupcakes even, I ate the final remainder of these brownies straight from the baking pan. They taste wonderful slightly chilled, a lovely companion to cold almond milk.

In progress chocolate artworks, both large scale at 22" x 30," pencil and colored pencil. The left is "Fruit of the Cacao Pod Laborer," a drawing based on an image from the Grenada Chocolate Festival. The right is "Two Hot Chocolates: One For Here, One To Go," a drawing based on a fellow black male vegan that I met in Paris just after eating fair trade chocolate at their shop-- 1944 Gallery Vegan Coffee Shop
In addition to my brownie and art making, I have a sweet announcement: I'm writing a book. A book about what you ask? Chocolate. Yes, chocolate. My short synopsis: looking critically at the world of chocolate in a time during the Black Lives Matter movement, to shift eyes towards understanding food justice and compassion. Excitingly enough, I even have permission to include Food Empowerment Project's Chocolate List as the final segment. I couldn't be happier. Thus, I have spent time watching documentaries The Dark Side of Chocolate and its sequel Shady Chocolate whilst also analyzing how films such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Chocolat evoke a glaring absence about the truths of chocolate production, of the involvement of laboring brown and black bodies.

Eat Your Greens "Green Giant" style, but chocolate every now and then is a definite requirement.
Meanwhile, back to exceptional brownies that are moist, decadent, and mouthwateringly amazing, the secret is always a bit of vinegar and coconut oil. After chilling them in the fridge, you get this thin brownie skin on top that looks beautiful as it is delicious. Plus, I fell in love with how my hands handled the precious butter knife cut squares with the little bits of chocolate coating fingers. Oh and the smell-- one can never forget that wafting smell of baked brownies or the first warm piece of heaven with the bite of crunchy pecans.  

Brownies Ingredients and Preparation

Divine Cocoa, a Food Empowerment Project recommendation, made the brownies fudgy and rich.

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa (used Divine Cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 1 /2 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup crushed pecans (walnuts or almonds are good substitutes)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together.
Mix in coconut oil and almond milk.
Add apple cider vinegar and pecans.

Pour batter into pan. Top with extra pecans. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Finished brownies. I may have forked them a bit too much-- for testing purposes.

Brownies and Living Single reruns are the perfect treat. 

More brownies for the morning, the afternoon, the night....

Monday, July 2, 2018

Gnocchi

Little gnocchi served with cheese sauce and a side of tempeh.
Last night, I made gnocchi for the first time.
If you didn't know, gnocchi is an Italian origin dumpling traditionally composed of potatoes and flour. They can be flavored with herbs, vegan cheeses, and other ingredients before being dropped into hot water for a quick cooking.
I found this easy peasy gnocchi recipe on Lauren Caris Cooks. The scrumptious cheese sauce, smothered thickly of my preparation was just a little Parmela Creamery nut cheese mixed with almond milk, garlic, nutritional yeast, and crushed red pepper-- which suited perfectly fine.

Gnocchi Ingredients and Preparation

1 1/2- 2 cup potatoes ( used Yukon Gold Potatoes)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cup water

Bring potatoes to a boil. Mash completely.
Add salt and flour. Knead with olive oil.
Cut off a piece of dough at a time and ball it into small rounded shapes.

Using a fork to make indentations is optional (some people opt to have smooth gnocchi). After making them (should be about twenty five to thirty), bring a pot of water to boil and add a few gnocchi at a time. They're ready once floating.  
Yummy gnocchi.

Dig in.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Chocolate Avocado Milkshake

A thick, ice cold sweet that will keep the edge off during National Ice Cream Month.
Happy July-- the halfway point of 2018! The year is going by fast.
To kick off a whole 31 days of celebrating freeze treats, I will be sharing plenty of new ice cream, milkshake, and smoothie recipes alongside other posts. In addition, on Facebook, I will participate in Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday, reliving favorite creations made throughout my six and half years of veganism.
Last night, I was planning to make brownies, but realized that my avocados were in ripe city. As one knows, it is best to use ripe avocado as soon as possible. So I cut open the cute little gourd fruit plant, scooped out its bright yellow green contents, and blended it with vanilla ice cream, fair trade cocoa, and almond milk. An incredible, feel-good yum ultra thick, sweet, and chill, avocados and chocolate make for an amazing Saturday night treat.

Chocolate Avocado Milkshake Ingredients and Preparation

1 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk ice cream
1 cup almond milk (or any dairy free alternative)
1 avocado, ripened
1 1/2 teaspoon cocoa (used Divine's Cocoa Powder)

Combine ingredients together in a blender.
Top with any garnish (cinnamon, extra cocoa powder, a candy bar). I love Chuao Chocolate Bars and the cute little messages on each tasty square.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Harmful Veganism/Vegetarianism Perceptions on Black Television

Queen Sugar's lupus diagnosed Violet Bordelon (Tina Lifford, center) presents Hollywood Desonier (Omar Dorsey, left) and Blue Bordelon (Ethan Hutchison, right) a plate of sautéed squash and seitan.
"Cheers to meat!" Hollywood exclaims, bumping a chicken nugget to the chicken nugget of Blue.

Last week's Queen Sugar episode, "A Little Lower Than Angels," wasn't the easiest grain to swallow. Several subtle anti-vegan/vegetarian distasteful jokes came out of the woodwork. I watch television for entertainment, for mild escapism. However, this blatant disregard shared problematic limits of black lives matter movement, the problems associated from its lack of intersection when showcasing speciesism. Hollywood, an adult character, reinforces to Blue, a child character, that the cycle remains repeated, concluding that masculinity and meat go hand in hand. Furthermore, earlier, the child elicited joy at visiting the aquarium. Thus, in this single episode, a child is taught that some animals are for our viewing pleasure and others are for consumption.

For starters, I am a huge Queen Sugar fan. I love its compelling depth of characters, bravery in raising controversial past/contemporary issues, especially in the Southern setting (heart of oppressive black pain and struggle), and the all women directing initiative led by creator Ava DuVernay. I also applaud the range of brown and dark brown actors and actresses making up the cast, a less colorist diaspora than most television shows. In regards to this episode, it is evidenced more than ever the importance of black vegan characters on a fictional realm. We are at the age of Black Vegans Rock, at a time where black urban farmers are rising, and black vegan restaurants are coming up. On a show that is about redemption, purpose, and honor, you would think one person cared about animal welfare.

"I won't eat it," Blue concludes.
None of Queen Sugar's characters are self certified vegans. Originally, this wasn't an issue. Again, I was impressed with the stories, the acting, the cinematography. However, this was the first episode, from three seasons, that made several anti-vegan/anti-vegetarian statements.

Now Vi is an excellent cook. Am I supposed to believe that she can't prepare an epic seitan? Well, maybe she is too new to experimenting with it. Maybe she will create something better in the next episode. Still, Aunt Vi is a valiant taste tester. She would know if she was serving bad food.

After Ant (Myles Truitt) pours Charley's bought cereal and almond milk into a bowl from Charley's cabinet, he has the nerve to say that almond milk wastes water.

Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) is surprised by the boy's words.

"It takes one whole gallon of water to grow one almond," says Ant, one of the pro black teen activists that Micah befriends, after asking Charley where is the "regular" milk. "California is the largest grower of almonds on the account of the drought though. Just food for thought."

Somehow, Ant or no one else wants to discuss the unadulterated violence of slaughterhouses, of young calves being taken from their mothers for said "regular" milk, and the environmental harm caused by the ruthless meat and dairy industries.

In closing, Hollywood tells Violet that he respects her for eating better, but he needs his meat. He brings her a bowl of cauliflower rice. She believes it's delicious. Yet the implication is that animal products are an ingredient-- because low and behold veganism/vegetarianism is not tasty, flavorful food.

Sighs.

On Living Single, Regine (Kim Fields) took the vegetarian plunge, planning to change her signature "Smooches" catchphrase to "Tofu!"

After her friends get rid of her fruits and vegetables, Regine (Kim Field, left at the grill) manages to find one piece of celery. Overton (John Singleton, right) grills it for her.

Regine is all smiles. Overton can't be mad. Everyone is happy.
Queen Sugar also reminded me of an old Living Single rerun.

Then, decades ago, "Am I My Sister's Keeper," episode seven of season two aired. During a talk show segment on the dangers of consuming meat, Regine decides to become vegetarian. Yet, when Regine discards the meat of her roommates, Khadijah and Sinclair, out of revenge, they get even, filling the refrigerator and freezer with nothing but meat. Along with neighbors, Overton and Kyle, they plan a "meat only" barbecue. Both sides went too far with disposing each other's foods, food being one of the most costly parts of living. However, Khadijah, Sinclair, and Max took it farther by waving their choices in Regine's face-- literally.

Hence, Living Single mirrored real life situations-- family and friends who invite vegetarians and vegans over with intentions on conversion therapy. Some people believe that maybe ,while growing up, you didn't have your meat prepared correctly. Maybe this is a phase initiated by white media-- despite that historically Africans were naturally prone to diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and starches before American enslavement forced the eating of scraps from their slave masters. Nowadays, if you're not eating ribs, hamburgers, and bacon, everyone seems ready to vilify and revoke your "black" card.

Still, Regine stuck by her lifestyle change.

Countless others and I also stand by veganism and will not be thwarted.

Lynn (Persia White) spreading peace, love, and vegan harmony.
At least Girlfriends set up a solid positive example with Lynn Searcy, a biracial vegan. Her veganism is part of her-- unique, distinctive, elemental. From the time of her introduction and remainder of eight seasons, she was a constant champion of animal rights.

I wish there were more black vegan/vegetarian characters. It would be an amazing, contemporary justice. Queen Sugar--which unlike other examples is currently on air-- centers itself on political, social, economic, emotional, physical, and mental struggle of black lives. They have introduced LGBTQ characters. They have included a main character involved with police altercation. With Vi's lupus diagnosis, comes a step closer to informing the public about the great benefits of plant based eating.

Moreover, I just want to be the viewer without feeling attacked or ridiculed. Veganism/vegetarianism shouldn't remain tied up in these old, rehashed stereotypes, the butt of jokes. It doesn't help anyone to find dishonest slander on a television show promoted for black people on a black owned television network. And yes, these characters eat animals almost every week (cringeworthy), but when it comes to plant based substitutes, they immediately rise to the occasion to speak against it.

Like earth loving Nova, a Queen Sugar character giving voice to those without one, I am passionately outspoken for the animals, for those sentient beings abhorrently bred in captivity. When it come to entertainment, however, we deserve seeing reflections of ourselves in a fictional capacity, someone who too cares about black lives matter and animal rights. Every single being deserves liberation. It doesn't make sense for such glaring issues to be separate, to not be closely intertwined. The links are obvious and painful.
“The food we eat masks so much cruelty. The fact that we can sit down and eat a piece of chicken without thinking about the horrendous conditions under which chickens are industrially bred in this country is a sign of the dangers of capitalism, how capitalism has colonized our minds. The fact that we look no further than the commodity itself, the fact that we refuse to understand the relationships that underly the commodities that we use on a daily basis. And so food is like that.” - Angela Davis
Unfortunately, many use television and film including young children as a source of both education and guilty pleasure. There are not a lot of mainstream vegan/vegetarian programming, much less featured fictional vegan/vegetarian characters. Black vegan/vegetarian programming is nonexistent unless searching on the web. Thus, we must reframe the narratives to be inclusive and responsible. Otherwise, people would truly believe that veganism/vegetarianism is water wasteful, flavorless, and difficult.

Plus, a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, one of the largest forms of activism, goes beyond food digestion.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Mac N Cheese & Pecan Ground Tacos

Putting a classic fave on soft tortillas.
As the weather warms up and colorful plating aesthetic takes primary importance for meal prep, I have been experimenting with taco fillings. A messier handheld than a sandwich, tacos are great all year round, especially delightful during summertime. Warm and cool elements work together. Fresh ingredients bringing a pleasant brightness to a soft or crunchy tortilla shell.
Pecan ground is absolutely delicious. The simple recipe is that of walnut meatballs-- the addition of liquid aminos, cumin, and coriander providing an amazing depth of flavor. Added to macaroni and cheese (vegan Hamburger Helper style) with avocado, red onions, and a touch of Parmela Creamery Nutcheese makes for one scrumptious, hard to resist, gloriously messy taco.

Mac N Cheese & Pecan Ground Tacos Ingredients and Preparation

2 cups cooked mac n cheese (with or without veggies, mine had broccoli)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 teaspoon liquid aminos
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
2 tablespoon Parmela Creamery (or any other spread/vegan sour cream)
1/4 cup red onion
1 avocado
tortillas (soft or hard shell)

Set aside prepared macaroni and cheese.
In a blender or food processor pulse together pecans, liquid aminos, cumin, and coriander until a nice crumbly appearance.
Heat up olive oil. Add pecan ground.

Brown the pecans for 6-8 minutes.

Add to prepared mac n cheese and broccoli. Used the remainder of Vegetable Cheese Sauce here.

Layered soft tortilla shells with Parmela Creamery nut cheese on the bottom, then macaroni and cheese with pecan ground, and lastly, red onions and chopped avocado.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Juneteenth in Philadelphia

Last Friday evening, commemorative wreaths honors Austin, Paris, Hercules, Christopher Sheeler, Richmond, Giles. Oney Judge, Moll, and Jon.

Before sharing the closing highlights of Juneteenth, I would love to link everyone to Chéri Yielle's Save My Soul. - a pleasant, soulful tune as humbly sweet as a mixture of maple syrup and dark chocolate. In addition to making a beautiful spirited song that calls out to the ancestral astral plane, Yielle is a vegan and shares her multifaceted artist lifestyle on Instagram. Check her out!

On a rainy Friday evening, a host of individuals from local, national, and international took the stage, red, green, and black balloons setting the mood with its symbolic color scheme. This was the third year for such an event, a commemoration of not just the freeing of African Americans from enslavement. The crowd stood right on the slave burial ground, near the slave auction block, a place that now beastly honors those nine illegal indentured prisoners of Washington's white house. In between moments of beautiful songs including the Pan African anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing." dance and theatrical performances, motivating speakers gave candid, moving accounts of how horrific the environment. We learned the importance of ATAC (Avenging the Ancestors Coalition), a local organization that fought for eight years to rectify a great wrong. On a December day, eight years ago, the mayor of Philadelphia cut the opening ribbon of the first slave memorial of its kind on federal property here in America just moments away from The Liberty Bell-- named such thanks to 19th century abolitionists.

The Philadelphia Heritage Chorale.

Among the artworks is a piece that tells the story of Oney Judge-- the successful woman who ran away before being presented as a present for Martha Washington's granddaughter. 

The Nanikha sisters gifted the audience with two beautiful serenades.

Special guest speaker, Opal Lee is the 92 year-old activist who, two years ago, walked from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington D.C., campaigning for Juneteenth to be a national holiday. In this short NPR interview, she says, "Slaves didn't free themselves. There were abolitionists and people of all persuasions that worked untiringly to have slavery abolished."

After walking down the red carpet to the joyous harmonies of the Philadelphia Chorale, Kenny Gamble and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney lead on a moment of silence for slavery's countless victims and our strength to continue onward.