Monday, June 29, 2015

New Product Alert: Daiya's New Boxed Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese

 Move over Earth Balance (or at least scoot), a new vegan boxed mac has joined the party. It's slaying harder than Buffy on Halloween night.
Hmmmm, is it me or am I eating too much comfort food lately? By comfort food, I mean macaroni & cheese.
Last week, I went back home to Dayton for a few days to spend time with my family- especially my sweet adorable nephew for Father's Day. Prior to that, I visited my favorite Kroger- the one by Town & Country Shopping Center. I have immensely missed Kroger and their prices! Merci! Merci! Merci! (blows a million air kisses). Lo and behold they had an array of new vegan products that the two Center City Whole Food stores in Philly don't even have yet. I swear they care so much abut vegans and keeping things within budget. I was lucky to find all three boxes of Daiya's stylish sleek design packaged macaroni & cheese and decided on the Cheesy Mac. I believe it was under $4.
Daiya once again does not disappoint! I love them for branching out beyond cheese wedges and blocks. They have taken over frozen pizza and cheesecake in the freezers. Now they are armed and aiming for the pasta shelf. According to this one tested version, they are succeeding triumphantly.
I enjoyed Daiya's animal free, soy free, gluten free version of Kraft Deluxe-- the fancier mac n cheese of childhood that boasted about using real milk and cheese, none of that powder stuff! Daiya is creamy rich decadence. They have somehow put tht familiar vegan cheddar style wedge we know and love gave a little oomph inside of the silver pouch. I followed directions boiling pasta whilst adding frozen broccoli-- yes  love broccoli to death. (FYI: we're getting married, having chocolate babies and registered at a thrift store!) Anyways. Clapping for Daiya. The cheese flavor is strong, mild, believable. Not too salty. I don't like my pasta too al deinte. I like it firm but not mushy. So that also worked out well.
Here is how I created my simple meal using Daiya's innovative spin.

Squeezed silver packet. The mild oil separation was a little funky looking, but that changed real quick!
Stir well. Afterwards, if you are alone like me, pour half into a container. You simply must fight against eating a 3 serving box of addiction.
Enjoy the other portion, sprinkling on basil herb yumminess.
Praise Daiya this is gooooooooooood!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Unconfidental Purple & Black Summer Box Braids Files

Purple is in the air! Happy summer!
These beautiful braids were done on May 27, 2015 by the lovely women of Matilde's African Braiding Salon in Philadelphia. That was the first time I had five women simultaneously braiding my hair. What an experience!
The summer purple braids have been a hit so far! I have getting lots of sweet compliments on the streets, the subway, the bus, online. The shocking swirl of my favorite immersed in the real authentic color of my natural hair has truly influenced even my fashion style. Still rummaging through thrift shops such as favorites Philly Aids Thrift and Goodwill have proven to enhance artistic funky style sense. Plus the retro purple spectacles play a key role. I have barely worn my prescription contact lenses and that's a rare feat!
Thanks to Journey to Waist Length, I found a great way to cleanse my scalp. I've put some Kinky Curly in a spray bottle and once a week, I spray and massage my scalp, rinse, and condition with Shea Moisture's Moisture Therapy (also in a spray bottle). Afterwards, I put Jamaican Castor Oil and coconut oil through scalp and strands. Plus spray on Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Finishing Elixir Sheen Spray.

Straw fedora hats and art making in the studio whilst staying chic and true.
And traveling is never a boring venture with happy-go-lucky selfies and electric purple flair.
Music listening turns and pumps up the volume. 
Next to hair confidence and Hurraw tinted black cherry lip balm, I have been loving and cherishing the opportunity to dress the part of shapely body. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sun Dried Tomato Chickpea Salad

Perfect accompaniment to Gardein's Fish Filets. 
Little piece of good news to start off the day: I was named by Aph Ko, contributing writer of Striving With Systems, as one of the 100 Black Vegans to Check Out. I appreciate the honor-- such an unexpected kudos. Loved being surrounded by the familiar and those new to me worth adding to notice. Thanks to this amazing compiled list, I discovered that a vegan restaurant has been in Harlem all this time. Folks know how much I have been cherishing my visits to Harlem. Now I am planning to eat at Seasoned Vegan soon-- a 13 minute walk from Studio Museum! Yes!!!
Meanwhile, a few days ago at Whole Foods, I found a small tub of sun dried tomatoes for $1.37- lowest priced fancy ingredient next to a 99 cent can of chickpeas. I sampled the chewy Fruit Roll-up styled texture, loving sweet and savory blending together. Since I already planned to be delicious Gardein from the freezer, I wanted to prepare a light, simple entree. Sun Dried Tomato Chickpea Salad was born under hunger and creative freewill. The medley proved to be  chrmn serenade of curry flavors and degrees of chewiness. Definitely adding either crunchy pumpkin seeds or hearty walnuts next time. Plenty of summer tasting sun dried tomatoes to go round.

Chickpea Salad Ingredients and Preparation

1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup red onions, sliced and diced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of lemon juice

Toss eight ingredients together.
Can either be served at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Sorry about the infuriating orange tint, but it turned out refreshing and delicious.
Perfect yum on a hot day. I suggest maybe even grilling your Gardein  (if Gardein mood strikes), and have this chickpea salad as a solid plate date!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Brooklyn's All Vegan Champs Diner

I can see why my NYC vegan cyber friends always recommend me to try Champs Diner out. It's simply fantastic. Opened from 8AM to 12AM everyday, they have cravings fare from breakfast to brunch to dinner. Relaxed environment with black booths and bar stools. I sat at the stool, admiring baked treats like cinnamon rolls and scones in display cases. I came primarily to order the hit, the top charter.This here is their signature macaroni and cheese with bacon and broccoli. OMG. I drooled the minute this smoking plate was set in front of my face. The smell hit me like lightning. Smelled cheesy and inviting. Truly one of the hottest, most seductive meals yet encountered in my eating out vegan experience, especially as far as macaroni and cheese is concerned.
And they do not skimp on the broccoli either. These are giant, lightly cooked florets that lessen the guilt over mouth watering cheese galore and savory smoked bacon pieces. Rich, creamy goodness seducing the mind with stimulating thoughts of supreme satisfaction. Each addictive bite more euphoric than the last. In between forkfuls of firm macaroni are the crunchy breadcrumbs providing flavorful texture.
In between heavy breathing and rapt closed eyes, I managed to finish. There was no way this macaroni and cheese would survive a take out box anyway. Amazing. Incredible. A winner of the "I cannot believe that was truly truly vegan" moment! I enjoyed the space. The waitresses were nice. It does get uber busy, but there is solid order. No real chaos.  
For dessert, a milkshake. They have options like peanut butter, cookies, chocolate chips or coffee syrup. I decided on vanilla with brownie pieces and whipped cream. Perfect blend! And I walked it off, touring Brooklyn skies, enjoying one amazing meal and the energy to skip around, delighted and thrilled to have finally dined at one of Brooklyn's finest vegan treasures. Cannot wait to come back to carb myself up. They have pie for goodness sakes! Pie!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Art Of The Movement: Ava DuVernay, Toni Morrison, & The Other Voices Rising Above Static Noise

She-ro film director/screenwriter Ava DuVernay lighting the fire, making a sistah swoon with talks of an Octavia Butler film and other projects one longs to see.

School may be out for summer break. Education is forever.
"Stay woke," they preach. "Stay woke."
Violence escalates. Terrifying times we cannot ignore. I find myself in the studio often, making and thinking conceptual thoughts of the documenting maker. I had an unfavorable final MFA review. Bad. Almost heartbreaking. I write a lot. Just write. Words spill out like blood from a wound. Video exploration comes to mind too. I have been dabbling. Both onscreen and screenwriting wise.
I told you all about last December. That time David Lynch had come to PAFA, his alma mater, the place he discovered filmmaking. He told students that one evening he stared at a painting and swore it moved. It was a treat to be there, an honor. I mean it's Oscar nominated, award winning David Lynch. How rare a spectacular event right? Well, as amazing and incredible as that opportunity proved to be, I must admit seeing Ava DuVernay's "Of Art and History" conversation awed me more so.

Ava said that it was important for Black Barbie to have locs.
In April, I came to D.C. purposely for LunaFest (festival of short films created for, about, directed by women). When I heard she was speaking at Smithsonian, hosted by the as yet Smithsonian Institute of African American History and Culture, I registered online immediately. Phenomenal. So phenomenal. To be in the same room feeling that powerful energy, an energy that still cannot be shaken off. She was real. She was genuine. I cannot stress enough how my ardor grew, my inspiration.
For Selma, Ava conducted research. Tons of research. Her parents were helpful too (learn from your elders yup yup). There were five little girls not four in the church bombing. Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson were not skipping through floral fields holding hands singing lolly da as many others want to believe. An audience member even said Ava had Johnson exactly right. Bosses didn't even want Malcolm X in the film. Wow. Talk about trying to diminish and overshadow the honest integrity of the movement. I loved finding out that the jail scene in which Martin and Ray Abernathy share emotional dialogue bosses wanted scene reshot with more lights because "they couldn't see them." She fought hard to keep the original. Fought hard to insert womanist scenes. Further into the artist's role, my visionary she-ros Kara Walker and Carrie Mae Weems were cited. Ava spoke wondered if the public asks too much of the artist, of the artist's responsibility, especially in terms of black fortitude, of black humanity. She asked, "what is black enough?" That question remains lodged in my throat.
As a visual artist interested in telling narratives shedding light on personal experience, it felt good to truly listen, to hear another who knew the game. A black woman. A black voice. Someone who wanted to illustrate our experience in a true, genuine way. She gave us food to nourish on, to chew and savor later. I still think about it. I see her walking on the stage in full length white and green dress with multi-patterned geometric shapes and dark brown locs flowing about shoulders. I hear her words drift in the studio on butterfly wings as though struck by the hit of Venus Williams' tennis racket.
"I'm always shocked to see so many people," she had said, at one point covering flustered face in a sweet showing of humbleness and modesty.
Some captured short documentation:
Ava on Telling Selma from Selma Perspective.
Ava on the LBJ Scandal.
Ava's Advice to Filmmakers.
When Ava discussed joining the movement, she meant AFFRM.
Last week, the second African American Film Festival Release Movement membership drive kicked off on Twitter, trending and trending the #ARRAY hashtag. For eleven straight hours, renowned visionaries like Julie Dash, Gina Prince-Blythewood, Ryan Coogler, Veronica Mahoney, Kasi Lemmons, Debbie Allen, and more took control of the official Twitter handle. Please realize the importance of minority film, black film. We are not just pictorial accounts of famous leaders that academy both love and loathe to celebrate. There are dramas, love stories, comedies, indie features that will warm and incite spirits. I love the vision. It sparks something inside, moving alongside the beating heart. And I think it rhymes. If you agree, if you desire a real change n Hollywood, please join this remarkable quest. Perks like being on the rebel wall,  receiving e-vites to special cyber events, etc are amazing, but the biggest perk of all is seeing diverse stories delivered on screen, stories we were often robbed of seeing.
I will not conclude on Toni Morrison as a mere footnote. She came to Philadelphia on a book tour of latest novel God Help the Child, saying that she loved meeting readers in person. Her voice carried the first few pages, speaking in a clear concise manner, Ohio accent sounding like a silky smooth Southern whip- soft and fierce in the wind but sharp and snappy in deliverance.
In conversation, she discussed childhood, ugly American history, being an editor first (Angela Davis and Muhammed Ali autobiographies were notables), and realizing why she wanted to be a writer.
Toni Morrison On Baltimore.
And then I met her y'all.
Beautiful, witty, charming talented she-ro. Still writing. With silver locs escaping black beret and fine white pearls at her neck.
"Are we allowed to say to Toni?" I asked handlers, staring at Toni in awestruck bewilderment, completely enthralled.
"No!" Toni exclaimed, smiling like she had a secret. Earlier the sole living American Nobel Prize in literature winner remembered great grandmother saying to her and her sister that they were "tampered with." She messed with me in a different context, humorously engaging, tease and charm simmering together.
I saw opened opportunity and took it, babbling on and on. I gushed about appreciating her words, her challenging prose inspired where I dared not go--in both visual and contextual languages.
"Are you a writer too?" Toni asked, gleaming, looking up briefly from signing a mountain of books.
"Yes," I answered.