Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post #14: Tis The Season Grocery Hauls, Birthday Cards, and Self Love Presents

At Trader Joe's, I picked up favorite seasonal items: Pumpkin Bagels, Pita Crisps with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Spice, and Lentil Soup. I also picked up a basil plant! Tofu Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce and Soft & Juicy Mango are my usuals.

Pumpkin! I had visited Trader Joe's three times prior. It didn't take til the fourth visit for my pumpkin treats to be in stock.

Basil! Look how beautiful and green it is. I hope it can somehow last through winter. Until then, I look forward to cutting leaves and making pesto. 

Birthday cards from my Ohio gals.

Fun! Fun!

I bought the 20th anniversary edition of Bic Runga's "Drive," one of my favorite albums. Also, realized that I almost forgot what a physical CD felt like.

Remember these booklets with nice pictures and such inside? Wow!

I love the copy of her handwritten scrawl of "Swim" lyrics, my favorite song of hers.

Three years later, back to checking out books and media, after finally paying off my library fine. I promise to return my things on time and not hoard them as if the ten cents and dollar fines don't add up. It's a privilege to utilize the library.

New face and body treats: Valentina's Naturals Refreshing Body Mist makes you smell like sweet oranges and Dickinson's Witch Hazel with Aloe has been a great face/scalp cleaner.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post #13: Putting Fair Trade Chocolate In Painting

Chocolate girls with chocolate.
I have a great stash of chocolate just to enjoy for this beautiful birthday month-- delicious gifts to myself of course. In the meantime, when I'm not devouring my tempestuous abundance, lately the chocolate bars have been incorporated into painting practice.

Chocolaty brown inspiration from Lashana Lynch (Lady Rosalind Capulet) and Sterling Sulieman (Prince Escalus).
This latest project combines glorious splendor of dark and brown skin tones that were featured in Shonda Rhimes produced Shakespearean show, Still Star Crossed, which had sadly been canceled over the summer. Lashana Lynch, the actress who played strong, brazen, independent lead, Lady Rosalind Capulet is in every painting. I wasn't super invested in the characters. I purely thought about their time, slavery, and chocolate, desperately trying to bridge this romantic period with contemporary plights about the damaging industry that barbarically exploits children, children and adults who have never tasted chocolate, but carry deep seated scars from having to pick the seeds that make it.

Alter Eco's Salted Almonds for Lady Rosaline. I haven't tried this one yet. My willpower has been very, very strong.

Nib Mor's All Natural Superfruit Cherry flavor is by hands my favorite. It's incredibly pleasing to a cherry chocolate fiend, with bursts of cherry goodness in every bite. I'm a little broken up-- haven't been able to find this in months. One store carries it, but the bar is white due to mishandled temperatures and doesn't taste as good if stored properly. Once winter hits, I'll be ordering from the website.

In progress painting of Prince Escalus and Lady Rosaline Capulet with the Nib Mor cherry bar. I was obsessed with this mentioned (never shown rendezvous) of the young lad and the beautiful lady caught by his father in the stables. Thus, I painted what could have happened-- with a cherry bar included.
In progress painting in Theo Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. I ate this immediately afterward. How could I not? It trembled in my hands, melting, pleading sweetly.
At this rate, maybe these three works will be finished this week.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post # 12: Chocolaty Pumpkin & Cherry Smoothie

An in studio beverage before
The pumpkin love continue on with a cherry twist.
I wasn't sure how this would come out. Pumpkin and cherries aren't as well known a combination as pumpkin and cranberries-- that tight fit due mostly to their positions on holiday plates. I found a lovely recipe by Nonstop Awesomeness Nathan. I fought back tumultuous jealousy at his catchy blog name whilst imagining him picking fresh cherries from his front cherry tree or the gorgeous orange color that his efforts created....
Just kidding.
I love my smoothie too. I didn't have much pumpkin puree left and used an ample amount of frozen dark sweet cherries. 
One day, I'll have a cherry tree and a large garden and everything.  
Until then. I'm a stickler for frozen fruits and celebrating my birthday with pumpkin goodies.

Chocolaty Pumpkin & Cherry Smoothie Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup frozen dark cherries
3 tablespoon cacao powder
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients together. Drink merrily.

Circle of love.

The perfect reprieve is a good book and a tantalizing smoothie.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post #11: Cacao & Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates

Who needs candy bars when dates provide irresistible ooey gooey goodness?
It's National Dessert Day and a fine time to share a four ingredient sweet and salty snack.
Dates are a sweet, divine decadence that one can split open and shove anything inside. Or eat plainly.
Recently, on a trip to the new Burlington Coat Factory downtown, I bought a package of Food Empowerment Project recommended Essential Living Foods Cacao Powder, a steal at $3.99, another birthday present to myself.
Stuffing dates should also be a mandatory weekend escape. There are many, many ways to craft-- nutty butters, chocolate and coconut oil, or pumpkin nougat (later). With raw crunchy salted peanut butter, a generous sprinkle of fair trade bliss, and a bit of cinnamon spice, this little treat in the afternoon feels so special and nice.

Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates Ingredients and Preparation

8 dates
2 tablespoon Trader Joe's Chunky Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon cacao powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Open up the dates and pit if needed.
Spoon in the peanut butter.
Sprinkle with cacao powder and cinnamon.

Not exactly a glamour shot, but these were good!

Close up shot. As scrumptious as candy.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post #10: Pumpkin & Black Lentil Soup

Giving a hoot about soup.
The frequent rain is granting cold temperatures that chilly momentum and not just because it happens to be Friday the Thirteenth, in special October of all things! Before I fall asleep to the scary, funny, weirdly entertaining Hallow's Eve classic, "Hocus Pocus," it seemed best to get this seven ingredient soup recipe out in the open. I chose to add VeganMozz as opposed to Chao or Daiya because Miyoko's has a mild and pleasant flavor that goes well with pumpkin and lentils.

Pumpkin & Black Lentil Soup Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth or stock
2 cup black lentils ( I used Westbrae Natural Organic Black Lentils)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup Miyoko's VeganMozz (optional)

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, combine pumpkin, almond milk, broth, lentils, turmeric, and cinnamon together.
Stir continuously as to prevent beans from sticking. Also cover. The worst thing about making soup is the bubbling factor that tends to messily bounce onto the walls and the stove.
After ten minutes or so, a little after boiling, add in optional VeganMozz, melting it in.

I liked reaching the bottom and drinking the contents, kind of sweet and humble perhaps due to the yummy cinnamon pumpkin flare.

Little black lentil surprise.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post #9: Polenta With Brussels Sprouts and Pumpkin Pecan Sauce

Polenta with a touch of pumpkin magic.
Polenta is a staple for me. I love how this carb component (delicious as mashed grits or chunky cubes) is a great basis for breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. It is a constant delight to have a warm, cozy bowl of yummy goodness in the form of my beloved polenta.
This easy pumpkin pecan sauce relies on the fatty flavor of pecans and no additional oil.

Polenta With Brussels Sprouts and Pumpkin Pecan Sauce Ingredients and Preparation

1/2 cup pecans
1 cup water
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 polenta log
2 cup frozen Brussels sprouts

Soak pecans overnight.
Inside a blender or food processor, combine pecans and water with pumpkin puree, nutritional yeast, tahini, salt, turmeric, coriander, and black pepper. Pulse until smooth and creamy.
Chop polenta into chunks (3/4 thick) and toss into boiling water. Let cook for nine to twelve minutes and drain.
Prepare Brussels sprouts to package directions.
Mix polenta with Brussels sprouts and 1/4 cup of pumpkin pecan sauce.

Crushed red pepper flakes on top.

Close up.

Scrumptious side view. Amazing how people constantly think I'm eating potatoes!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post #8: Birthday Brunch at Delice & Sarrasin

Brunch was a posh affair at Greenwich Village's vegan and organic French restaurant, Delice & Sarrasin. I felt transported to an exclusive look at how my Paris trip would be inside this illustrious tiny cafe. Among the French music, the whispered chatter and delicate clings of forks touching dishes.
It was a tough decision between an array of savory and dessert crepes including the La Suzette (a flambé crepe with Grand Marnier, orange, butter, and sugar), artisan cheese plates, and French toast. They have a raw vegan foie gras, tartare steak made of pea protein, beets, and coconut oil, gluten free creme brulee, and raw chocolate mousse.
Delice & Sarrasin is small and charming, with flowers and brick walls, and accents that transport the hungry guest to another culture. However, I feel guilty for not attempting one ounce of French, conducting poor American etiquette (pointing at the things on menu). I solemnly swear to be as sophisticated as the couple sitting next to me, swinging in from our tongue to polished French articulation in a single, eye/ear-envying moment.
I first pointed out Oeufs Brouillés Au Crabe, Epinards Et Purée D'Avocat. This is scrambled eggs (algae) with crumpled crab cake (lemon skin and bell peppers), spinach, and avocado puree. 
These eggs were unbelievably good. The texture, the flavor.... I was blown away by the quality and technique of the cakes immersed in between spinach, velvety avocado puree, and thin, crispy toasted bread.
This is Gaufres Noisette Chocolat-- almond milk waffles with chocolate hazelnut spread, sliced succulent strawberries, and luscious coconut whipped cream. A Belgian waffle meets crepe feel, these refined beauties have dense, moist, and crunchy turns. Components, when all glazing fork together, weren't overly sweet, relying solely on pure elements to make for a sophisticated end to an otherwise charming brunch.

Vegan Mofo Post #7: Birthday Dinner At Modern Love Brooklyn

The birthday girl heads off to Modern Love Brooklyn after an uplifting time in Harlem.
Yesterday was a good day.
Sunny, amiable New York City weather charmed and seduced from borough to borough. I dallied in Greenwich Village for breakfast and thrift shopping. I visited my favorite art haven, Studio Museum Harlem in Harlem, finding solitude in the paintings of Amy Sherald from the dynamic Fictions exhibition and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's pastel sketches of Harlem, an unexpected treat in a curated body of works about Harlem and Jacob Lawrence.

Posing with Amy Sherald's work at Studio Museum Harlem. New dress and usual Jean-Michel Basquiat artwork tote (Adam, my attentive waiter at MLB knew it was his work).
Prior to attending The New Yorker Festival (where Ava DuVernay waved at me from the crowd, yes I'd like to think she did), I made reservations for one at Modern Love Brooklyn, a chic all-vegan eatery, specializing in ritzy fine dining with an emphasis on plant-based comfort food. In between drinking water (my usual drink of choice) and watching people enjoy iced cocktails, giant mock pork chops with pink applesauce and giant sandwiches, I delighted in my special "treat yo' self" meal at this popular hot spot owned/created by vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Sleek and elegant menu.
Classy interior.
Seared Brussels Sprouts with garlic aioli, sorrel, and pine nuts-- off the charts incredible. I love that the lemony smell of sorrel affectionately enters the nostrils before the silver fork digs in for the first wondrous bite.
This is a whimsical plate. The bottom layers have layers of wickedly smooth red pepper cashew mac n cheese, blackened cauliflower, sauteed kale, tomato vinaigrette, and spicy pecans with triangular pecan-cornmeal encrusted tofu gracefully topping. Hands down one of the most eloquent, creative vegan mac n cheese dishes ever eaten in a restaurant thus far.
Simply exquisite.
Thank you Adam for taking my photo with this marvelous pumpkin praline cheesecake topped with coconut whipped cream and complemented spice blend.
This is an amazing dessert to end the meal--sweet and creamy, chilled to perfection, lots of complex textures and warm notes, very generous slice.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Vegan Mofo Post #6: Birthday Eve, A Week of Reflection

An impromptu birthday celebration at Greenline Cafe with a hot The Stevie sandwich and a Dottie's Homer (strawberry glaze with sprinkles) donut. 
The resplendent moon is looking at me through the window tonight, glowing, sending wondrous vibes to my pulsing aura. Clouds swirl around the orb, seeming to bow gracefully.

I couldn't ask for a better Birthday Eve.

My week has been super busy. From long, long work shifts to writing short stories for a new portfolio, to trying to extinguish unexplainable crushes, to applying for good opportunities in the wake of fresh rejection letters, I have had little time to think fully, let alone paint or prepare a sensible meal.

But now, in thus moment, I look back on the positive.

This week, I received birthday coupons including one to Philly Aids Thrift (used on Monday) and one for Starbucks (tomorrow). I walked around a lot (had to work off rich meals these past few days), enjoyed the superb weather (despite a little drizzle yesterday), and my new James and Co. vegan leather duster came on Wednesday (originally $170, got for $50).

Other things:

I almost bought this heartbreaking series of artworks on small canvas panels. These animals are sadly seeing death of themselves on a plate with the pig and cow have little babies beside them. It spoke to me in a compassionate level, especially seeing as since turning vegan I truly despise meat product companies with smiley face cartoon animals. The industry couldn't be anymore cruel.

Me at 16, painting my version of Grant Wood's "American Gothic," a modern art favorite. I posted this on my artist Instagram for #ThrowbackThursday. It makes me realize more than ever that being an artist is a treasure, a beautiful ingrained creativity trait that will always be a huge part if my life.
For the second time, I will be volunteering for Philadelphia Film Festival. We had our training on Wednesday night. I was sooooo pumped to play Kerry Washington, donning her "badge" and feigning degrees of importance. Originally, I was offered Sandra Bullock and traded with a guy who didn't know Kerry (shocker). 

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake is back at Hip City Veg and it tastes better than ever!  That yummy vanilla ice cream  is blended with pumpkin goodness and layered spices, bringing a familiar sweet enjoyment  that screams fall in love. I already have three out of ten stamps used on my milkshake rewards card. And yes, I just started using the card this week!!!

Also my hair is red! Yay!! So ready for the Big Day tomorrow. It's going to be a birthday to remember.