Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Latest Events and the Rising Moon Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Ravioli Review

I tested out Rising Moon's Vegan Butternut Squash Ravioli with a side of asparagus and mushrooms. 
It's been a rather busy week.
I am back to working the museum on weekends. Yet I have managed to see Black Panther twice (a regular, albeit complimentary ticket on Friday night and then in IMAX 3D on a late Sunday night), attended both a Black Panther themed afterparty (which raised funds for the Black Lives Matter Philadelphia Chapter) and an Audre Lorde birthday party, and added in the darks on my litho stone-- all this whilst performing laundry duties and packing up for Toronto.

Black Panther posters that really had my heart soaring. I have always wanted to see Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira in a film together-- dream come true. Read my film review here.
At the Black Panther afterparty, during a round of difficult Quizzno, I used my offered ink pen for drawing and a the same time, engorged on this amazing vegan Wakandan cupcake. 
At Audre Lorde's birthday party held at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Phila Prints' brought a silkscreen (not actual silk-- polyester) station. They printed "Praise the Lorde" in white ink on BYOT's (t-shirt, tank top, tote, whatever). 
Class number 5 out of the twelve week lithography class and still working hard on my Augusta Savage montage. 
As one can see, exhaustion and excess activities have kept me awake as of late. I have barely made the time to create a decent meal. Thankfully, I was happy to find Rising Moon's Organic Butternut Squash Ravioli at Mom's Organic Market on a recent shopping excursion.

I found Rising Moon for $4.99 in the frozen foods section. They have a wide variety of pant based varieties and the ingredients are pure and simple. 
The Butternut Squash filling is light and creamy, not too heavy with a hint of sweetness (maple syrup is an ingredient and that always works well with squashes). I coated them in a mirrored "butter sauce" comprised of almond milk, nutritional yeast, turmeric, garlic, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. The side component is boiled and pan fried asparagus with chopped mushrooms and garlic as a side dish component.
This is a good ravioli if you're too tired to make your own. I am looking forward to trying the other flavors.

A simple, fulfilling dinner. 
Leftovers.
Still good.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Single Awareness Day: Mushroom Stroganoff With Charred Brussels Sprouts


I made a pleasant Galentine's Day dinner last night sans the originally planned dreamy chocolate cake. Yes. Yes, I had planned to make a fabulous moist chocolate cake with sliced cinnamon bananas and mountains of heaping So Delicious Coco Whipped Cream to go alongside my Buffy and Cold Case marathons. In fact, my mouth still waters at the sumptuous concoction still swirling around in my Willy Wonka-n imagination, especially on this day where chocolate should rule the day. Alas the energy dwindled from a long day of library books and drawing on my litho stone for my CE printmaking class.

Rough layout sketch of Augusta Savage's life with No. 4 litho crayon on the heavy 14" x 17" stone.

Not quite finished. I'm filling in the whole measured rectangle and adding darks and razor bladed highlights. Augusta Savage will be part of a printmaking series on Black Herstory Month women.
After I returned home from hours spent in the print shop, I stood in the kitchen, reflecting on cooking memories.
Traditional stroganoff at my childhood home was a rarity. It was one of those Hamburger Helper box type situations where Mom just added the meat and extra sour cream. We didn't eat it often. I must say, however, it was a favorite pasta dish of mine next to the Fettuccine Alfredo and mac and cheese. There was something deliciously appealing about the combination of al deinte ribbon noodles coated in a light creamy sauce.

I liked the addition of Brussels Sprouts to give the fork a bit of flair to sink into. The preparation of mushroom sauce and reusing that same gas burner gets things started nice and hot, quickening pace for the sizzling flicker on the little green cabbages of joy.


Also, I didn't have vegan sour cream for my rotini styled in a stroganoff fashion. I don't think it is absolutely necessary, but for one who wants to mimic tradition as much as possible perhaps it would be beneficial to have that on hand. In the meantime, the dish turned out splendidly well with a lovely savory sauce and charred crispy edged Brussels Sprouts.
As for dessert, there is always tomorrow for chocolate cake.

Mushroom Stroganoff With Charred Brussels Sprouts Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup rotini (or noodles)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cup portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup almond milk (or any other nondairy alternative)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

olive oil
2 cup frozen petite Brussels Sprouts
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare rotini according to package directions.
In a skillet combine olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Let cook for 5-7 minutes.
Add nutritional yeast. turmeric, onion powder, almond milk, salt, and pepper to seared mushrooms. Stir and simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes.
Remove from heat and blend with rotini pasta.

For Brussels Sprouts, bring them to a boil and drain.
Let skillet heat up with olive oil for a few seconds before adding the sprouts.
Add cumin, sea salt, and black pepper, turning them around every few minutes, watching for various sides to blacken.


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Violife Blueberry After Dinner Cheese Review

Pockets of teeny tiny blueberries are packed tight into a block of creamy mild vegan cheese.
Remember that time so long ago that I visited the all vegan grocery in Paris, Une Vegan Monde?
Well, I finished the cheese off weeks ago and find myself craving this unique treasure. I didn't believe that fruit in a cheese would taste as amazing as Violife crafted. This is a soy, nut, and palm free cheese, which is great considering that most vegan cheeses do have palm oil.
Months prior, I had tried Violife's original block, a purchase from Vegan Marks the Shop. Violife's Blueberry After Dinner Cheese combines a burst of sweet, irresistible berries with the original recipe, letting flavors mingle along, not making it a sugared, unruly mess. This is an exceptionally delicious creation, definitely in my top favorites. I wish that I could have more. Sadly, through my research of various online vegan stores, the Violife Blueberry After Dinner Cheese is seemingly impossible to get shipped to the states-- only available in the UK.
For now, I have the pleasant memories, still sharp in mind and tongue, dreaming that one sweet, kind friend will mail me a package or two in a care package.
Or maybe, I'll find some yummy Violife Blueberry Goodness in Berlin....  

I had packed cheese, Dave's Killer Thin-Sliced Bread in 21 Whole Grains and Seeds with Clearbrook Farms Blueberry Preserves. The banana, although good and super brown spotted, has nothing to do with the sandwiches. 

On one side of bread, I generously spread on the blueberry preserves.

Sweet, sophisticated sandwiches.

Perfect. (with banana).

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hyperpigmentation, Big Pores, And Other "Flaws" To Accept This Year

Big pores among other broad facial features.
In high school, a school comprised of mostly black students, I was constantly picked apart, savagely crucified as if my very existence were a running gamut for the cruelest jokes. If it wasn't the gap between my teeth, it was my facial structure, my broad nose, giant lips, and ugly glasses. Plus, I admit my style was downright horrible.

Are You My Family: Finding Kinship in the Africa Section of the Art Museum, pencil on Strathmore Smooth Bristol (animal free) Paper, 9" x 12," 2018.
Growing up, one of my biggest problems was hyperpigmentation-- the reason I couldn't wear open toed sandals or dresses that exposed elbows and knee caps. I wasn't one brown color. My skin ranges from medium brown to Ebony. I often wore hip hugging pants that slid downward, exposing the darker flesh of my back and mapped out stretch mark coordinates. Menacing peers would be quick to tell me, "hey! Pull that up! Nobody wants to see that!" Meanwhile, the girl ahead of me is exposing the same amount of flesh-- save for the flaws. She was smooth and even toned, no blemishes.
During this rough time, my depression continued gradually climbing. I experimented with over-the-counter bleaching creams to lighten up "my problems," not knowing what these harmful chemicals were creating within my cellular structure (likely damaging my whole teen life inside as well as out). I cannot be positive on my eventual realization that other people's problems with my body had nothing to do with me.
It happened along a painful, many years passing road.
Months ago, I was especially pleased to discover that an Afropunk highlighted artist featured "imperfect" models. Their hyperpigmentation, freckles, and stretch marks were documented as quite beautiful captures that we rarely see put on pedestals. I wish I could find out that artist, having not saved the information, but those photographs reenergized my self love.

The First Time I Saw Myself Was in the Africa Section of the Art Museum, pencil on Strathmore Smooth Bristol (animal free) Paper, 9" x 12," 2018.
Isn't it also funny that a person can Google search "big pore love" and a thousand articles for "How to Minimize Your Large Pores" come up?
I was never a huge fan of foundation. Sure, I played around with it in those dreadful teenage days whilst paying close attention to application instructions from Seventeen and Teen Vogue. I had better luck with a few free makeovers at the mall. Still, it was bad enough finding my shade for the shade that I started growing fond of. I began asking myself, "what exactly am I trying to cover up?" I like the shade. I no longer cared about callous people saying, "you're too dark for this" or "you're too dark for that." I had the defining Penelope moment, loving my face as it is. I wear eye shadow every now and then. Blush sometimes. I love lip glosses and lip sticks. But by gosh, I love washing my face, blotting on moisturizer, and coconut oil, leaving the home just like that-- giant pores, pimples, hyperpigmentation, and all.


As January draws to a close, my confidence continues to build as I drift further away from societal beauty testaments.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

gardein Fish Filet Tacos

Warm corn tortillas filled with fresh ingredients like Almond Ricotta, cilantro, juice of lime, avocado, and gardein's ever popular Fish Filets.
Although I don't purchase artificial veggie meats often, love for gardein cannot ever fade. They create the most incredible frozen foods via pea protein science. My fond highlights are: the Chik'in Sliders, the Turk'y Cutlets, and these incredible Fish Filets. Now I have poured out my love for their Fish Filets since they came to being. They're amazingly similar to the triangular pieces of battered death from childhood-- except cruelty free and downright delicious in whatever "fishy" thing a vegan wants to make. I didn't have fish tacos in my previous pre-vegan, pre-vegetarian life and always wanted to try it. I recommend warming the corn tortillas in an oven for a few seconds, layering with mayo (or traditional tartar sauce), optional Almond Ricotta, cilantro, avocados, and lime juice.
For my next experiment, I would love to try adding fresh, crispy slaw and red onions.

I definitely recommend putting mayo on the bottom of the fish. Just Mayo's Chipotle Mayo is the best (well, in my humble opinion).

Taco heaven.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Raw Almond Ricotta

A dollop of raw ricotta over my lunch time meal prep this week.  
I am super happy to share that the almond ricotta experiment turned out wonderful, especially in the three factors that matter-- taste, texture, and look. Usually, tofu is my go-to when the ricotta craving hits. It's definitely cheaper to make almond ricotta with tofu, just a few dollars less, but the almonds make for a lighter, fluffier concoction, a step closer to my memories of ricotta. I packed a tub of this newfound treasure and gladly sprinkled some cheer for the remainder of work week, the first full work week of the year (a few snow days and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday). Thus, it added an upscale gourmet feel to my packed lunches and thoughts on a future delicious lasagna.


Almond Ricotta Ingredients and Preparation

1 8oz package blanched and slivered almonds
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of lemon juice

Soak almonds in water overnight.
Without draining the water, add nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and lemon juice and blend together.
Keep refrigerated in an air tight container.

A close up of the almond-y goodness.

Atop of zucchini noodles and diced tomatoes with extra nooch and cilantro.

Goodbye tofu, hello almonds!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Raw Zucchini Noodles For Meal Prep

Last night's scrumptious dinner filled me straight up.
This will be a simple, cost effective week, trying to focus on saving money (leaving for Toronto in exactly one month), and implementing more veggies and pure ingredients into my eating habits. It is good to know what you're putting in. Although tomorrow, the forecast calls for Taco Tuesdays with gardein fish filets with cilantro and mayo.....
I prepped a menu for the week and the first to share is zucchini pasta. Alongside these lovely spiraled strands of green zoodles, I added herbed new potatoes as a side dish-- a cheat sheet purchase from Whole Foods Market, surprisingly delicious served at room temperature, and a whole avocado with nutritional yeast.

Raw Zucchini Noodles With Diced Tomatoes and Avocado

3 zucchini, spiraled
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (used 365 Brands Organic Italian Styled Diced Tomatoes)
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 avocado, ripened
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Toss zoodles with diced tomatoes, garlic, salt, and black pepper.
Top with ripened avocado and nooch.

Scene of a delicious night time dinner.

This is the third avocado in a row that has come out epically perfect. I pray that this will continue.

My Monday lunch.