Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween: Zucchini & Apple "Brains" Stuffed Acorn Squash

Happy Halloween everyone!
"Twas dark and stormy on all Hallow's Night,
Giving costumed children cold shivers and fright.
With wet candy buckets and bags, little ones cried,
As the full moon showed them nowhere to hide." 

I hope everyone is having a safe and fun holiday. As my vegan peeps take their kidlets out to collect here's praying that there is actually vegan candy being offered. Annie's fruit snacks and Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups would certainly be at the top of my list. I'm not costumed up this year. Just didn't have the time in between being sick and staying in bed (when I wasn't making soup!).
Still, no use beating myself, I'm in the spirit. I plan to watch Hocus Pocus, Addams Family, Harry Potter (one not all 8), etc. Halloween marathons are the best.
The idea of zucchini and apple "brains" popped into my mind. Of course with it being gourd season, an array of fall recipes use gourds as "bowls."
I loved letting this creative side emerge bright. As the little acorn squashes baked, filling the house with a smell Glade plug-ins cannot mimic, I sharpened a knife. I wanted to draw a little pumpkin face into my sweet dinner.
The flavors are quite pleasant, having sweetened deeper in the oven. Zucchini and apple work together with cinnamon and company and the squash itself-- which can be scraped along the sides. Tastes like a very intriguing sort of Halloween pie. 
Other than that, I am rusty with my carving skills. *lets out a long sigh*

Zucchini & Apple "Brains" Stuffed Acorn Squash Ingredients and Preparation

2 acorn squash, remove seeds
1 zucchini, shredded like spaghetti
1 Fuji apple, chopped
1/4 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Ready up a baking sheet with oil or parchment paper.
Rub a thin layer of olive oil and cinnamon on the inside and outside of hollowed acorn squash.
Mix zucchini, apple, maple syrup, olive oil, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and salt together.

Spoon mixture into acorn squash. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Cut out eyes and mouth if desired. I did a sloppy job here.
Eat the harm free "brains." Instant zombie gratification.

Friday, October 30, 2015

"Frida Kahlo's Art, Garden, Life" Exhibit Is A Must See

Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life ends on Sunday November 1, 2015.
I suggest to all my New York friends or those visiting the Big Apple this weekend to squeeze in some leisure time. Head out towards the Bronx for a highly recommended treat- the Frida Kahlo Exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens!
It was a wonderful dream come true to see more of my favorite painter's works in person.  I applaud NYBG 's huge step in recreating Frida's former house now turned museum. The time and effort in putting this beautiful exhibition together fills my heart with a joy that being in the rare presence of Frida could bring. I have only seen the painting at the National Women's Gallery in D.C. and the one in MoMa.
Nothing prepared me fully for the breadth of Frida, of the awaiting expansion ready to cling to mind like an unforgotten perfume.
Inside the open space replica of Casa Azul, flowers and greenery native to Frida's lively environment decorate along a wide pathway paved in splendid riches. It feels like a blessing to be an excited spectator, breathing such a welcoming air of wonder and delight. Her very essence, her very soul nurtured the fragrant bloom in the hot garden house where her native treasures blossomed around each awed visitor.  In one area, rests a mock Frida studio. Powders, empty painting medium jars, a palette, and mirrors rest on an old desk, showing a glimpse into the world of a truly gifted artist.
Honestly, my eyes watered throughout the whole entire journey.
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library's art gallery houses fourteen works that illustrate Frida's adoration of plants and her intricate mastery of rendering their forms. Poignancy, pain, sensuality, lust, hunger.... so many emotional and physical currents driving together. Thinly applied layers on the surface reveal such a direct opposition to the difficulties occurring in Frida's life. From polio at a young age to the trolley accident to Diego Rivera, Frida always battled and triumphed over hardships, drawing and painting in only the way she knew how-- with profound at times candid honesty.  
Notable works remembered:


Portrait of Luther Burbank
Fruits of the Earth
Two Nudes in a Forest
Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns
Sun and Life
Still Life with Parrot and Fruit

The Miscarriage 

On the fourth floor, artist-in-residence, Humberto Spindola's Los Fridas is a three dimensional sculpture depicting one of Frida's most famous paintings. Tinted tissue paper is his primary medium.
"The garments are displayed on seated dress forms crafted from reeds that have been molded into human forms." 
Overall, NYBG does Frida justice. It's an amazing landscape to revel in. To take comfort in the paradise of flowers and love and allow an intense longing burst forth the seams.  
Also before leaving the gift shop features books, paper dolls, souvenirs, t-shirts, purses and more. Find something for that Frida Kahlo lover in your life. Me for example. Just kidding.....
Anyways, please go see the exhibit and explore the gardens. Frida will make your imagination soar high above tragedy and rest in the twisted madness of luscious fruits and wild flowers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rainbow Carrot Coconut Soup

A sweeter soup that looks and tastes like fervent autumn.
I don't regret Sunday night's haul of vegetables galore from Trader Joe's. Now I'm slowly reintroducing solids into palette. By solids, I mean vegetables for now. One of my favorite TJ soups-- the carrot coconut ginger is sadly gone and switched out to give winter offerings their months on the shelves-- minestrone and lentil. Both are highly recommended. The minestrone has lots of vegetables in a delicious tomato broth base. The lentil has a savory Moroccan flavor. At $3.29 each and a nice two serving size, it's a bargain gourmet. On the other hand, Whole Foods sells soups for $7....
Back to carrot coconut ginger, I enjoyed the warm flavors bouncing between comforting ingredients. I only wished to have an emulsifier to create a soupier consistency. Thankfully the carrots turned out plush, near that beautiful velvety pliancy. Firmness with a slight crunch wasn't the goal here. Yet once again the purple carrots lost significant color. I don't mind. This soup, with its creamy coconut milk flair and ginger pinch, was a rainbow-y enough delight to me-- unicorns and all. 

Rainbow Carrot Coconut Soup Ingredients and Preparation

4 carrots (orange, yellow, purple), chopped
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper

Bring all ingredients to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, covering with a lid.
Serves two.

Carrots are sweet and tender, cooked in their own irresistible juices.
A soup is always welcoming pleasure on the cloudiest, seemingly insufferable days.
Carrots being front and center.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Raspberry & Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie

A delicious four ingredient treat.
Nothing like a fruit smoothie to combat the blues.
Consuming milky products isn't usually advised-- at least I think so. Since we're all vegan around these parts-- dairy free to be exact-- no harm done. Plus, I have been a good patient, consuming soup galore, drinking fluids, and sleeping more than routine.
I neglected the Soy Chocolate Chip Cherry ice cream in the freezer, making chocolate avocado puddings, and racing down to grab the latest Dottie's Donuts (okay lying here--I did grab some, but they're in the fridge!). Instead a fruity smoothie was a more beneficial step in the healing direction. Sort of.
Recently, Daiya has released their new Greek Style Yogurts. I couldn't be happier when spying them on Whole Foods Market shelves last week! They're currently on sale 2/$3. I shall have my review up shortly. For now, it's time to celebrate a simple blended smoothie that's not too sweet and blissfully wonderful.

Raspberry & Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie Ingredients and Preparation

Daiya Greek Style Strawberry Yogurt
8 raspberries + 3 for garnish
1/2 cup almond milk (or any other dairy free alternative)
cinnamon stick (optional)

Add ingredients into blender and pulse together.
Garnish with extra raspberries and a cinnamon stick.

A few good ingredients make for an irresistible concoction.
Almost perfect.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumpkin, Lentil & Broccoli Soup

Another pumpkin recipe? Yes. Yes.
Feeling a bit under the weather? Cheer up. No need to have another bowl of steaming hot broth that does little to sate the sickened soul's appetite.
It's that time of year for sniffling, sneezing, coughing, headaches, earaches, and all the other nasty congested horrors that happen when a cold interrupts sweater loving and knee high boot shopping. Usually tea and blankets and books help ease the painful sinus attacks. Or sleep for days and days.
For today's soup, I inserted my pumpkin adoration into the first step of getting on the mend. With hearty lentils, favorite herbs and spices, and broccoli yumminess, I managed to create a savory meal that fills the belly up for once.  
However, the only probable cause is that I cannot smell anything.

Pumpkin Lentil & Broccoli Soup Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup lentils
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup broccoli, frozen
1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Bring water, vegetable stock, lentils, and spices to a boil.
Lower heat and cover with a lid for 25 minutes.
Uncover and add broccoli.

Stir in pumpkin as well. Cover again and let simmer for 8 minutes.
Poured into a bowl and topped with extra parsley.
Close up is a murky blend of satisfying flavor.
Comfort 101.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pumpkin Sauce & Soyboy Ravioli

Pleasant, easy meal thanks to Soyboy, Upton Naturals, and a quick pumpkin sauce.
I have made a pumpkin sauce before. I'm sure it's nestled deep in old posts of yesteryear. Repetition has always been one of my biggest blogging fears. Although there remains to be plentiful growth in the vegan sphere and of the vast art world, I know that my heart stays stuck in certain rhythmic patterns. That happens when confined to comfort. I love comfort. And autumn brings me so much, especially pumpkin flavored everything vegan.
Soyboy Ravioli was discovered in the freezer section of Whole Foods. At $4.39, it seemed reasonable. Plus, the filling of spinach and tofu sounded delicious. I didn't want to create a typical tomato or cheese sauce as topping. Instead, I turned to my supreme ardor of pumpkin.
The lovely raviolis are plush, soft pillows and the centers are seasoned, but creamy thick sauce and chunky Italian Seitan crumbles brings extra special flavor.

Pumpkin Sauce & Soyboy Ravioli Ingredients and Preparation

Pumpkin Sauce

2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch of pumpkin pie spice

1 package Soyboy Ravioli
1/2 cup Upton Naturals Italian Seitan

On medium heat, in a small saucepan, combine pumpkin, coconut milk, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt, black pepper, cumin, and pumpkin pie spice.
To cook Soyboy Ravioli, it's important that the package is not thawed. Must be frozen. It will cook in 6-7 minutes. That is great timing.

These were leftovers packed for lunch. And yes, I added broccoli florets. As usual.
Pumpkin goodness.
Thank you Upton Naturals. This seitan is perfection.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lentil, Tofu, & Veggie Stir Fry

Rainbow carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, lentils, and tofu aka that kitchen sink vegan meal.
Every now and again, I make horrible food presentations. This is one of those times.
Recently, I spied a bag of rainbow carrots (orange, yellow, purple) at Trader Joe's for $2.69. Sounded like a great deal. The idea was to make a delicious carrot soup- after all chillier weather is just around the corner. Instead, I created a stir fry incited by having many cravings occurring at once.
My stir fry doesn't look pretty and beautiful, seeming to muddy once lentils were added, but the hearty lentils and broccoli combined with rustic mushrooms and sweet colorful carrots were a pleasing delight. I kept the tofu naked so that it could soak up surrounding melodies.

Lentil, Tofu, & Veggie Stir Fry Ingredients and Preparation

4 large carrots
1 cup broccoli
2 tablespoon olive oil (use 2 tablespoon water for oil free)
1 cup mushrooms
1/4 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 cup extra firm tofu, chopped and cubed
15 oz. lentils, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare carrots and broccoli and drain.
In a medium skillet heat olive oil. Add red onions and mushrooms. Stir in tofu and lentils.

Stir in carrots and broccoli. Let cook for five minutes. Turn off heat.
Add basil.
Plate and eat. Do not dwell on the presentation. Just eat.

Friday, October 9, 2015

After PAFA: Sedakial Gebremedhim

Ethiopian born and Washington D.C. hailed artist, Sedakial allows his native tradition to take flight in his art.
On a Wednesday afternoon lunch hour, former Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts student Sedakial Gebremedhim discussed smooth transition from painter to sculptor and performance artist and becoming involved with Traction Company- a collective of PAFA alumni and faculty and working with the Ethiopian Community Center. 
During Gebremedhim's undergraduate year, working primarily as a painter, he had an urge to capture the “exotic,” creating colorful, lush portraits of brown skinned figures dressed in bold, patterned clothing. He then ventured far beyond two-dimensional composition, concentrating into the immediacy of performance arena, notion of exoticism retaining muted undertones. In one particular art work, drawing concepts on desires to float, he enlisted friends to help attach one hundred thirty balloons to his locs. The documented photographs, set around PAFA's Lenfast Plaza and the Philadelphia Museum of Art including the infamous Rocky steps, showcase playful humor and lighthearted candor. Locs are flying high, suspending away from his face, arguing with gravity, whereas his body is grounded yet carefree and exuberant. 

Moving Through Space, a stop motion video, dismantles the funniness founded in the balloon experiment. Partly abstract and silent, dark minimal color palette creates a rather obscure intensity, a false reality. In other explorations, he borrowed American, Asian, and European tourist videos of Africa, often concentrating on a still, a frame that interested him. He then strips that raw footage from its parenting, birthing new meaning.
In regards to Traction Company, John Greig Jr., PAFA's sculpture shop manager, asked Gebremedhim to join. No hesitation came to Gebremedhim, for the opportunity was a triumph, a blessing.
One rule of becoming a Traction Company member involved building a space- constructing a unit housed within the spacious West Philadelphia unit. That left a great challenge to become architect, construction builder, and artist simultaneously. With aide from fellow member Connie Ambrose, he was able to construct a studio within studio. Another requirement was to dedicate every Friday to Traction, being there 8-10 hours creating, maintaining, keeping communal socialization. 
In the meantime, heritage proud Gebremedhim shared a mural project that he painted alongside performing arts kids- a mural on the Ethiopian Community Center called "Future Stars." The stars are red, green, and yellow with an outlining white to make celestial pentagon pop.
Sketch drawings were an imperative part of perceiving ideas for “Dinner at Traction,” a vast, rectangular shaped compound with steel exterior and stunning pointed foam interior. Inside is a looping video. Stark, haunting sound plays, enveloping a lovely woman waiting. Suddenly, suit jacket clad Gebremedhim arrives out of thin air. For several interval minutes, they stare at each other before engaging in a shared traditional Ethiopian meal, at times feeding each other. It is revealed that the background timber is leftover from the massive truss centering the Traction Company's exhibit.

“I Ain't Got No Beef with Tofu” was a live performance held weeks ago. Inside Fisher Brooks Gallery, Gebremedhim turns the waiting sitter. He sits patiently at the black clothed table. The lovely woman seen in the installation returns, stepping inside Traction Company's exhibition, joining him for another prepared meal- this time served by an Ethiopian waitress. It was twelve minutes without talking- only eating. He then prepared a meal (cooking in the Historic Landmark Building's kitchen, viewers watched via Skype) and the audience participated, eating and sharing his Ethiopian food. 

See Sedakial Gebremedhim's art displayed alongside Traction Company's other prolific members:  Connie Ambridge, Steven Dailey, Jeffrey Dentz, Billy Dufala, Morgan Dummitt, Miguel Horn, Laura Giannini, John Greig Jr., Brendan Keen, Joshua Koffman, and Lucia Thomè for its final day on Sunday, October 11, 2015. Admission will be free.