Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Day of Service and an Evening At Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books

This lovely meal gifted to me once we discovered all the vegan pizza was eaten (only meat/cheese pizzas and leafy salad were left). I thought the gesture of this Awesome Foods Chickpea Salad with Kaiser Roll too kind an offering, especially since the giver was another vegan. I would have gladly ventured out to Tattooed Mom's or Hip City Veg after volunteering today, but someone said, "stay, have this meal, and eat with us."
Today was another wonderful tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

For Day of Service, on what would have been the slain leader's 89th birthday, I headed to Uhuru Furniture to hear about their visions and bask in the glowing "uhuru" spirit (Swahili for freedom, independence). They shared videos about the civil rights movement, featured spoken word poetry, a remarkable keynote by Ticharwa Masimba from ADEDF St. Louis on the Black Power Blueprint Project, allowed volunteers to discuss why they came out via an open mic segment, and took a group photo of us outside. We then broke down into various groups (some walking others driving), each participant carrying 200 door fliers to hang in various neighborhoods to let people know about Uhuru Furniture-- an organization as well as furniture store.

At lunch, they announced handing out 4,000+ fliers (almost reaching their goal of 5,000), raised over $600, and handed out prizes like gift certificates, posters, and artworks via raffle drawing.
This place was packed and hopping.
I finally stopped by Marc Lamont Hill owned Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books Shop in Germantown, blocks away from the Nile Café. It was a lovely dedication to the written word that contained some of the most conscious authors/activists/biographies of past and present from Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Ta-Nehisi Coates to fictional greats Zora Neale Hurston, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and so much more. There are t-shirts that ask people to “read more and talk less.” There is one that says “writer.” Poetry by Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Ntozake Shange, and Tyhembia Jess. Theory by bell hooks. Economics, history, gender and queer studies, cookbooks, art, and relationship advice are other topics that fill the laid back space. Eyes will water on the displays about Emmitt Till and prison culture.
The décor is straight up vintage-- sewing machines and irons that entail seamstresses and domestic employ, Mammy figures of disturbing principles, globes, trunks, and suitcases of migrant travels from South to North, typewriters that make one think of James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry.

This is near the entrance of the coffee shop, giving a taste of what readers can find on the shelves.

I picked up a copy of Nalo Hopkinson's short sci-fi tales called, "Falling In Love With Hominds" and a Sabiir Bakery's Vegan-Ish pudding cake (the only vegan food option available right now).

It's definitely a quieter place to write and read as opposed to other places. The music isn't loud or intrusive.

The laminated, coned pages floating down like bright lights were very creative touch.  

Shameless bathroom selfie with Alice Walker tee.

The cake is dense and moist, almost too moist and just a little salty (or was that baking soda?), but overall satisfactory if you're a vegan in need for a treat at this spot.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

AfroVeganChick Turns Six With Raw Cacao, Cherry, And Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Happy New Year! Starting another it off right with yummy treats! 
Goodbye 2017! Hello 2018!
Six years has passed already. The time has flown by with so much happening in between the posting of recipes, personal experiences (family and friends still making those uncomfortable, unfunny animal jokes), the glorious, ever changing art world, adventure traveling across the globe, eating out vegan, and other miscellaneous entertainments that my writing has come to on this blog.
I will always be grateful for the countless visits, comments, and shares. I wouldn't have thought anyone cared, especially in the beginning when post views were so few. It was discouraging that one could open up a social media account at the same time as someone else and their numbers blow up considerably while the other barely peaks. Giving up is a lot easier than staying on the path. I got bitten by a friendly bug, often super excited over a new recipe that turned out better than hoped. Sure, my photography skills lacked and were likely the cause of little word-of-mouth buzz, but still, I was loving vegan creating in a way that my prior thirteen years of vegetarianism hadn't revealed.
Today, I share a raw vegan recipe that sort of commemorates the road I have been venturing at home. In case you haven't noticed, I use less oils more and more, relying on other fats. These simple cacao, cherry, and peanut butter oat bars have the oils of peanut butter helping to hold bars together as well as delicious sticky cacao and cherry mixture that acts as a sweet glue. They have an irresistibly, chewy peanut butter and jelly taste with a chocolaty edge.

Raw Cacao, Cherry, and Peanut Butter Oat Bars Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup dried cherries, soaked
3 tablespoon cacao powder
2 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup salted peanut butter (I used crunchy but creamy is okay)
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Soak cherries overnight. Drain a little of the water. Add in cacao powder and pulse cherries and cacao together until creating a thick, even mixture.

In a large bowl, combine the cacao-cherry pulp with oats, peanut butter, and almonds.

Mix well. 
Press into a rectangular container. This one pictured is 4 1/2" x 8" x 1 1/2." Refrigerate for four to six hours. Cut into bars.
Serve. Try not to eat all the bars in one sitting. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of 2017: Dreams Come True: Janet Jackson Concert At Wells Fargo

Attending a Janet Jackson concert is not just a huge milestone and highlight of 2017, but a dream come to three dimensional reality.

I attended two musical concerts this year-- John Legend and Janet Jackson. I had incredible times at both. Janet, however, was a long old wish fulfilled on a chilly November night just days before flying out to Paris.

I have been a fan of Janet and her musically gifted family since childhood. Yet it was the baby girl of the Jackson's whom I had loved so deeply, affectionately drawn to her strong lyricism, vocal range, dance moves, and iconic music videos.  As Mom would play out "Control" and "Rhythm Nation" cassette tapes over and over, my siblings and I would sing along and dance the way children danced to edgy guitar popping, foot stomping R&B meets rock and roll. It brings apart memories of my uncle, who passed away this November. He always called me, "Janet" and I hadn't corrected him because I had such a strong connection to my favorite musician.

I ate Goldie Falafel as a pre-concert meal, so beyond hyped to see Janet. 

Janet's "Unbreakable" tour started late 2015 to promote her newest album release and spread love to those who had admired her forever. For so many including me, this would be our first time seeing her live and the enthusiasm was wildly contagious. I bought the album, t-shirt, and concert ticket to Wells Fargo in Philly, super thrilled whilst reading excited fans' concert reviews via social media.

Sadly, the tour was postponed. I was refunded, but very heartbroken for a while.

At fifty-one, Janet gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Then, she announced that the tour was resuming, that it would be renamed "The State of the World."

Originally, I wanted to see her at the Boardwalk in New Jersey, but settled in on Wells Fargo in Philadelphia the sequel.

There's my Golden Ticket! 
Janet getting her fans ready to be blown away as she blew through an impressive discography of "Control," "Rhythm Nation," "janet," "The Velvet Rope," "Design of a Decade," "All For You," "Damita Jo," "Feedback," "Unbreakable," and countless movie soundtrack jams.
It was the most surreal Monday night, sitting in the 100 section, not too far away from the stage, waiting for an iconic queen. Lights went dark. On the screens were the names of victims killed by police, female voice reciting them. Janet came out in a long black duster with black attire underneath and flaming red ponytail, on the prolific beats of "Knowledge," the lyrics flashing the giant projectors. Through my own loud screams, my eyes watered and my chin quivered. I couldn't believe I was present and so was she.
"The Knowledge" turned into "State of the World" which then transitioned into a killer dance workout of "Burn It Up" featuring video cameo of another amazing artist, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot. "Nasty" came to play and everyone screamed and hollered, including me. It was such a vital statement considering the current political climate, a boost shot for all women.
Other jams such as "Miss You Much," "Alright," "Control," "What Have You Done For Me Lately," "The Pleasure Principle," "Escapade," "All Nite (Don't Stop)", "Love Will Never Do (Without You), and "Got Til It's Gone" were highlighted. I absolutely loved the choreography on the latter. Ageism is no factor to this incredible talent!  She can still dance as if the 1980's and 1990's never left. Just jaw dropping!
Her background dancers were also top notch, ranging in ages, body shapes, genders, and ethnicities, taking their skills to the floor with Janet looking on with pride and joy.
Songs took on a deeper, autobiographical charge as Janet serenaded her Oscar nominated ballad "Together Again." At the end of this precious melody, she lifted her head and mic to the air, quietly speaking, "until we see each other again, Mike." In "What About," a powerful uptempo with alternative rock edge, her dancers enacted violent domestic abuse situations through improvisational movements as she struggled through singing the cords, even pausing at times to get through raw, poignant lyrics.
"That was me!" She cried out, sobbing and running off the stage.
The entire audience felt her pain, utterly touched by emotional display.

One of several special videos. It starts serene and peaceful until misery manifests in surreal allegory. 

Janet came back, revitalized and fierce, dancing and singing with vigor to the phenomenal "If" and timeless military thumper "Rhythm Nation."
By the encore, a collection of five additional songs like "Black Eagle" (for Michael), "I Get Lonely," and "Well Traveled," the hungry crowd stood giving her thunderous applause and joyous whistles, changing her name, wanting her to return.
It was a great, spectacular concert, one of the best that I have ever been fortunate to see. I will never forget it.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Best of 2017: The Incredible Majesty of Kehinde Wiley's "Trickster"

This hauntingly gorgeous portrait of Wangechi Mutu as a provocative goddess in a royal blue toga style dress, holding a snake. The coiled reptile's stripes mimic the flying twisted locs in her free flowing hair.
One of the best art gallery exhibit highlights of 2017 starred Kehinde Wiley's impressive new paintings at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City.
The art loving visitor is firstly seduced inside near darkness, wandering around spacious grounds like a lost, hungry traveler in a forest field, the paintings playing storied trees planted on every wall. Clad in alluring mystery, these tremendous, cloak and dagger narratives were spaced apart with single, focused lights casting luminous brilliance upon celebrated contemporary black artists, some of the most compelling painters, photographers, sculptors, and multi-disciplinarians of this moment-- Mickelene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Derrick Addams, and more. Each easily identified artist has become a fictionalized character straight out of a spine tingling Grimm, stripped of modernity, transformed into period costume, regal defiance vividly illustrated in their body language and facial expressions.

Barefoot Rashid Johnson and Sanford Biggers.
Art history buffs love talking about the specifics of hand direction. In the past, in paintings especially, viewers read images left to right, carefully paying close attention to what acts hands perform. Wiley's articulated gestures took away oppressive authorship, allowing black bodies to become valiant protagonists more than lower class subjects. No longer slaves or props, Wiley's myriad of friends appear like Caravaggio or Gentileschi figures, caught in vicious acts (in his portrait of painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye for example), surrounded in single light sources, either staring out through the canvas or turning away. He has Rashid Johnson's hand on Sanford Biggers shoulder in a tender, bonding moment wearing matching flowing pink shirts, Wangechi Mutu wielding snakes like a sultry Medusa like goddess in a fetching blue toga dress and bounded braids, and Kerry James Marshall in an oval composition using his hands as an educator in three parts.

Glenn Ligon resembled a larger version of Da Vinci's shockingly small Mona Lisa, sitting in comfortable clothes and loafers along a fabric draped rocky place.

Those shoes (and no socks).....

Kerry James Marshall, himself a painting master, is shown in three distinctive acts.

This elegant portrait of Carrie Mae Weems standing amongst rocky mountains and a picturesque desert sky landscape is a stunning achievement. Elaborate patterns and folds of her gold dress are remarkable, her jeweled hand in a powerful clutch, and her curled updo has queenly justice.

The weighted fist holds the glittered rock like a weapon, an extension of power and grace, that there is no fear of harm when this object is nestled sin this fierce grasp.

Wiley is a painter known for putting musicians, rappers, and other pioneers in his Art Noveau meets black realism pedestals. In "Trickster," he includes his fellow black visual artist peers, this body of work a deeper close up of the black artist as the documentarian of the present. Each and every one of these people are creating the works the world needs to see and remember.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Rotini With Walnut & Lentil Sauce

I always find a new spice obsession. This time, it is black sesame seeds.
At Mom's Organic Market, a decent sized plastic bin costs under four dollars and that's plenty of small speckled seasoning to work with. I would have ventured to retrieve the grocery list fennel seeds, an ingredient I haven't used in ages, but the black sesame seeds were in everyone's IG smoothie bowls and savory dishes, looking like black pepper's prickly older cousin. So yes, I have added this to my tofu scrambles and chocolate avocado puddings, loving its gorgeous contrast and minimal flavor profile.
I have been experimenting with walnuts (after pecans and almonds, they're the least expensive to buy raw at Trader Joe's), trying to venture further into my walnut cheese ardor, inventing strategies into incorporating more raw sauces into my life. I added black lentils to my usual recipe to add a fibrous component as well as amp the "meaty" texture (because we vegans love and value the simplicity of walnut meat). This sauce was incredible in the rotini, very thick and cheesy thanks to nutritional yeast and a bit of creamy tahini.
I hope to turn this scrumptious creation into cheese wedges someday. I'm still reading about making homemade bricks/slices. If anyone has any ideas that would be most appreciated. Until then, enjoy walnut & lentil sauce in any pasta (or spiraled veggie that you choose).

Rotini With Walnut & Lentil "Cheese" Sauce Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup Trader Joe's rotini
2 cup walnuts, soaked
1 cup black lentils, drained
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoon liquid aminos
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Set aside prepared pasta.
Blend together walnuts, black lentils, tahini, nutritional yeast, liquid aminos, Italian Seasoning, garlic, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper in food processor or blender, mixing all ingredients evenly. This should come out a bit grainy yet "meaty."
Mix walnut & lentil sauce with pasta. Serve hot and sprinkle generously with black sesame seeds.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Holiday Activities With Black Beans and Rice

Black beans and rice makes everything nice.
I hope everyone had joyous beginnings to this holiday week and spent the most wonderful time with families and dearest friends whilst delighting in precious splendor of merry music, classic films, red, green, and gold decorations, and good food (please have people try something vegan, cruelty free-- this can be hard yet achievable). I stayed in comfort clothes with scorching heater and teddy bear companion, watching every holiday related film/television episode. I didn't make a huge dinner-- mourned mac n cheese, stuffing, veggies, and gardein turk'y cutlets-- but didn't have the spirit to stay in the kitchen and "wait forever." I suppose lonely days off in December are like that. However, I must say that over the weekend, I tried out the Vedge curated Whole Foods Market menu and the "cheesy" rutabaga and potato mash was excellent as was the mushroom and black lentil stuffing. I have added rutabaga as the one thing to play around with in the new year.

My BFF sent me Frida Kahlo socks and a great mug! I'm over the moon for both!!!  

In addition to "Home Alone," "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," I also settled in with "Amends," Buffy Season Three, episode ten, a Buffy fan classic.

I worked on my "Better Late Than Never" holiday card whilst devouring JJ's Cocomel's Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels in Sea Salt. It also comes in Espresso, but not a big coffee lover so...
Caramel goodness and a reminder that someone should trim their nails in a more attractive fashion. I haven't cared about my nails in centuries, Perhaps that should change.
Finished-- bespectacled cat sweater and all.

Cutting out cards alongside another gift from a dear friend-- a hand crocheted red mug of hot cocoa with three marshmallows.

At last, my black beans and rice. It's a simple recipe that continues to get better for me as time wears on. I especially believe that black beans and cumin have this beautiful relationship that goes well with a pot of brown rice. Out of all the vegan cheeses, for me personally, Field Roast Chao's Tomato Cayenne has the perfect amount of spice that goes along with the ingredients. Next time, I would love to add diced sun dried tomatoes just to remix things.

Black Beans And Rice Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup brown rice
1 15 oz black beans, rinsed
3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Field Roast Chao Tomato Cayenne, 3-4 slices, chopped

Cook brown rice according to directions. Lower heat and drain some of the rice water.
Mix in black beans, nutritional yeast, cumin, garlic, and salt, stirring continuously for seven to ten minutes.
Add Field Roast Tomato Cayenne Slices, letting them melt in.
Remove from heat.

Serve black beans and rice with a side of holiday movies like "Frosty the Snowman."

Sunday, December 17, 2017

When That Bite of Death Enters Your Mouth And Digests Into Consciousness.....

This is a topic that I haven't discussed, a glaring reality for vegans. Mistakes happen. Tragic consequences can arise when eating out at a place that isn't necessarily all plant based. Cross contamination is a real issue. Sometimes people don't listen. Sometimes in midst of busy chaos, your "special" order is forgotten. It doesn't mean that you're falling off the wagon. 
Exactly, one week ago, I attended the last PHLA Assembled to enjoy the Victory Menu.
Unlike the Resistance Menu, the options were extremely limited.
Fortunately, the cashier assured me that a few dishes could be vegan. I should have known something was up when she asked, "do you still want the roll?"
I had two lentil empanadas, the beans and rice, and the coconut roll.

I finished off my lentil empanadas with degrees of satisfaction. They were impressive-- a savory, well seasoned filling in a pillowy, crisp pastry. I then started around my rice and beans, staring at the dollop of cream with suspicion. I thought, "of course that cashier told the server I was vegan." Although looking around, everyone was consuming meat and their beans and rice bowls with the same dollop. I stayed diligent, even though my intuition strengthened. I took a bite of the roll and immediately tasted the salty plunge that was surely not vegan. Foolishly, I dug into the sour cream matter and that too lie a grave of disrespect. My stomach sank into a disgusting pit.

I walked up to the counter and asked the server if these things were vegan. Maybe my taste buds and stomach were wrong.
"No," she said. "There is sour cream. The bread has ghee."
"I told the cashier I was vegan," I told her, my stomach worsening. My digestive system was whacking out as my consciousness fell into great despair. I blinked back my tears, knowing that they were desperate to climb out of my eye sockets and drip down my cheekbones, like the cow mourning her calves as she prepared for her own impending death.
"She didn't make a note of that to me."
I sighed glumly. This wasn't the friendliest exchange. I felt wronged, blamed.
Still, she allowed me to return my death food. I received a sour cream free bowl of beans and rice.
I ate this pleasant little meal of blackened carrots, beans, and rice inside tin foil bowl with diminished happiness. I wasn't thinking about a six dollar loss. I was primarily thinking about my pained stomach and the dead animals on everyone's plates. A crushingly sick and twisted moment occurred. I sat among them all, feeling hypocritical because of what residues rested on my tongue, situated inside my confused, nausea induced belly.
I had never had ghee before. Sour cream, yes.
But for years, I hadn't consumed milk, dairy, or egg products.
I say that if this happens to you, the accidental consumption of grisly, horrific death, it is natural to be sad, disheartened, perhaps a bit morose and depressed. Don't let that stop your fight. Let it make you want to become a better vegan.

It hurts. Yes, it sucks even. With situations such as this, the kind-hearted vegan must reevaluate themselves, figure out if eating out in nonvegan spaces can satisfy. Sometimes, they really can't. It is important to always, always ask questions. If something feels wrong, don't eat it.
In a vegan's life, the most veganized place to eat is their own home and an all vegan establishment second.