Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tofu Scramble With Broccoli and Artichoke

Veggie packed tofu scramble is perfect addition to any weekend brunch.
Trader Joe's has a slew of amazing new products including artichoke hearts and ginger caramel popcorn. The latter has been buzzed about throughout the store itself and of course on Instagram, all vegans are spreading love and joy. The artichoke hearts are amazing too. These curled floral looking buds are ready to go in any salad, pasta dish, whatever. I added them to my broccoli tofu scramble, pleased by the soft, creamy texture of the artichokes in contrast to the slight crunchy notes of broccoli. For a little color, I suggest adding juicy tomato slices or steamed, sweet carrots. 

Not one of the cheapest things to buy at $5.99, Trader Joes Tapas Style Artichoke Hearts are a little splurge if you're not up to prepping fresh artichokes.
Tofu Scramble With Broccoli and Artichoke Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup frozen broccoli, cooked
half of 12.9oz package Trader Joes Tapas Style Artichoke Hearts
1/2 block extra firm tofu, crumbled
3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoon almond milk (or any dairy free milk)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon pink salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium sized bowl, mix all ingredients together.
Toss the tofu scramble into a hot pan or skillet and stir every few minutes or so. Cover if desired.
In about 12 minutes, tofu scramble should be ready to devour.

Simple, easy, and flavorful with varying degrees of texture in every gratifying bite.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pacifica's Devocean Deeply Devoted Natural Lipstick in Firebird

Flossing at work with a chic "new" vintage style dress and popping vegan lipstick color.
Happy National Lipstick Day!
To celebrate the coveted day, Pacifica is offering a special buy one, get one free promo! The cruelty free, all natural lipstick brand is definitely has plentiful must haves for your purse, especially since lipsticks and glosses are a reasonable $10 each. Hurry hurry! Sale ends tomorrow at 11:59 PST time.
I came to the museum, feeling glam and beautiful in a rare showing of boldness that seemed to have everyone talking. I only intended to make a fashion statement, but I suppose when a balm and tinted gloss lady arrives with a zesty red lip, someone is going to talk about the switch up.

I tested out Pacifica Devocean Deeply Devoted Natural Lipstick (love their gold and white ode to Art Noveau package design goes with the overall sleek, slender stick). This is in Firebird, a warm, rich inviting red color of tulips.

The lipstick is matte and smooth. I put balm on first before putting this on and it didn't against the extra lip protection. The color is absolutely great on my skin tone. To think, I was so hesitant...
My pleasantly sophisticated Firebird survived lunch breaks (I reapplied of course), a book shop fair, and an opening reception at Traction Company. I also really loved how the color matched so well with this embossed collared dress (a $5 steal at Buffalo Exchange) as well. All in all, great product for sure! For the buy one, get one free, I purchased the Power of Love Lipstick in Nudie Red and the Plushious Mineral Lipstick in Velvet Kiss. Stay tuned for reviews on those sassy hues.

Extreme Veganism and Oreo Cookies: What the What?

What is the definition of an extreme vegan?

I suppose that is me. I am the reason people hate vegans. At least that was the response directed at me via social media from a domestic abuse activist who is only vegan due to a dairy allergy. In case you didn't already know, I don't consume meat, eggs, dairy, fish, poultry, or honey. I don't eat chocolate not of the Food Empowerment List. I don't wear leather/suede/wool clothing and shoes. I don't use cruelty laced beauty products, preferring a few brands and/or making my own.

A few days ago, this woman cosigns with London based dietician Sophie Medlin over her ridiculous  "veganism is not a healthy 'diet'" tirade (here's a redunk) and suggests that vegans eat pretty bad things like Oreos. Once an Oreo lover, I despise Oreo cookies now and not just because of the high fructose corn syrup content. Let's not even mention that Oreo's chocolate association likely isn't fair trade friendly either. To this dairy allergy vegan, who suspiciously acts behinds her allergy and not for sympathy of animal mistreatment, I claimed that Oreos weren't vegan. She quickly brings up an Accidentally Vegan List and a snippy, uncute "ahem." When I mention that a company spokesperson backed my honesty, she goes, "that's why people don't like vegans" and unfollowed.

The words stuck with me. This notion that a vegan can turn off people even a vegan. Perhaps it is partly due to discomfort. No one wants to hear that cramped animals are militantly lined up on conveyor belts, electrocuted, and butchered apart. They are raped daily with mothers having to part with rape product babies. But it is the taste. The taste is what matters more. The look and the taste of flesh. It is especially hard to give up this taste when history is involved, this meat-and-dairy-consumed inheritance passed down generation after generation. Then, you have vegans who don't want to hear about Oreos or anything on that list not being vegan. Again, it's the same factor-- taste.

Weeks ago, while having dinner with a friend in Chinatown, she asked me to sniff her food because it smelled like "wet cat and dog." I rolled my eyes, finding this caring only about house pets grossly offensive. Why condemn the violence against certain nonhuman creatures and accept the malicious treatment of others? It is privileged behavior. Pigs, cows, chickens, ducks, and fish are extremely intelligent beings that deserve as much respect and compassion as treasured cats and dogs. 

I refuse to be ashamed, to feel guilty for my compassion for the authenticity of my veganism. For Medlin to argue that this lifestyle is unhealthy is purely based on falsely delivered information that makes meat and dairy consumers feel less shame for the harm inflicted on animals. I will never buy that the flavor of murder is the only way my body can live and thrive on this planet.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Return to Biss: Revisiting Cocoa V

I sampled the delicious salted caramel chocolate. The beautiful pattern is stenciled on.
If I believed in heaven the first time around, it flew tenfold on the next visit to Chocolat haven, Cocoa V. A few weeks ago, I decided to pop by for a treat and reprieve, having already decided that the convenient location was a perfect early dessert fix.  I met Pamela, the owner, who made me the most amazing salted chocolate milkshake and chatted about contemporary film/TV with Chelsea over chocolate samples and chocolate picture snaps. She told this wonderful story of a vegan man from France who had visited actual location where Chocolat was filmed. Apparently, Cocoa V remind him (and me) of the place. I made a mental note to include that in my November trip to Paris.
Furthermore, Cocoa V, with Leon Bridges playing rustic, smooth blues in the background, has a treat for every kind of chocolate lover. From the chocoholic addictive fiend to the person who's that "once-in-a-while-gotta-have-chocolate, everyone is going to having either a slice of cake, a piece of candy,  a bag of bark, or a scoop of ice cream.

Brownies weren't present in my last visit. Alongside tasty looking sandwich cookies, doesn't cellophane wrapped treasures  make your mouth water with hungry anticipation?
Macaroons and chocolate dipped pretzels were also enticing treats that were new to me.
Gold dusted Yes Bars have a dose of Willy Wonka "Pure Imagination" magic appeal.
The double chocolate salted caramel milkshake made with coconut based ice cream and chocolate chips is absolutely scrumptious! I also took yummy S'mores Bark to go. Giant clusters of crunchy graham cracker and soft, gooey marshmallows doused in incredible dark chocolate will bring out the adult camper in anyone. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Aya's Natural Treasures Organic Whipped Shea Butter & Vegan Lip Butter

Natural beauty products purchased from the Vegan Pop Up Philly Birthday Bash in June.
Based in Edison, New Jersey, Aya's Natural Treasures is a beauty line that uses "ethically harvested ingredients." Pleasing and nourishing from head to toe, Aya's offers massage oils, body lotions and body butters, lip balms, and more. Sulfates, parabens, and petroleum are nowhere in sight among wonderfully scented gems like Strawberry Lemonade, Lavender Kiss, and Exotic (a blend of mango, papaya, pineapple and pomegranate).

Aya and her line of treasures. 
I bought the Organic Whipped Shea Butter ($15) in Nag Champa. Nag Champa is an Indian originated fragrance that joins plumeria and sandalwood together. The smell is light, not overpowering. This thick, luscious butter quickly and smoothly absorbs into skin and leaves behind glistening shine and that pleasing fragrance. Why bother with perfume when Nag Champa is both?

When room temperature is too hot, the butter does melt. Still, it retains moisturizing properties.
The Superior Lips Vegan Lip Butter ($5) is unscented and slickly glides on with a touch of moist conditioning. However, acts more like a balm than a butter.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Yummy Sushi Smorgasbord At Hana

Who knew one could be fully satisfied from two kinds of sushi?
On New York City's lower east side, among puffed gray clouds promising rain, I walked past Hana on Rivingston Street three times before entering dimly lit establishment. For starters, I'm not sure where I believed that sushi couldn't be qualified as early dinner. Maybe because sushi is generally small and cute chopped veggies wrapped around rice, the bad rep decided that that wasn't enough food.
Hana has a an earthly color palette, warm brown hues coating polished tables and floors. The music was kept at a ginger tone, allowing people to have normal conversation and eat with relish. 

Hana has a special vegan menu featuring Forbidden Rice. Items like Shitake Mushroom Sushi, Baked Tofu Sushi, and Carrots Sushi sounded quite exceptional, but I went for the Asparagus Sushi (organic black, brown and red grain rice with asparagus, avocado, and spicy vegan mayo) and Sweet Potato Roll (my personal favorite).
Beautiful sushi, served on this elegant black bar, was off the charts delicious. I loved the spicy mayo is this my beloved Just Mayo?) over the Forbidden Rolls blending with rich creaminess of the avocado and crunchy asparagus.
To die for sushi.... I will definitely come again. Hana is a chic spot with friendly service, eclectic lighting, and excellent food.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Raw Cherry & Tahini Chocolate Ice Cream

Cherries are in season.
Although we all eat ice cream throughout the year, it always seems to bring greater pleasure in July. Why is that? Perhaps that why the whole month is dedicated to the number one summer treat. Today also happens to be National Ice Cream Day.
It has been beyond great trying vegan substitutes over the years. From So Delicious to Nada Moo, possibilities are unlimited. Each and everyday flavor combinations are becoming more top notch, more creative even. Just last week, Little Baby's Ice Cream set up a cart near work. They had options like Salted Strawberry and Coconut Chai. I selected the latter, enjoying every last bit of that yummy, scrumptious dessert.
My favorite homemade versions are Banana Chai Tea Ice Cream and Avocado Cheesecake.

Bananas, tea, and spices make Banana Chai Tea Ice Cream a fond memory.

Avocado lime cheesecake with its creamy goodness and crust pieces is turned into ice cream heaven in Avocado Cheesecake Ice Cream.

For my latest concoction, I'm bringing tahini obsession to the ice cream world. Blended with fresh, dark sweet cherries, full fat coconut milk, and fair trade cocoa powder, this raw celebration of flavors brings divine, nutty amazement spoonful after spoonful.

Raw Cherry & Tahini Chocolate Ice Cream Ingredients and Preparation

10 dark cherries, rinsed and pitted (or 1/2 cup frozen cherries)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup cane sugar (maple or date syrup)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pink salt

Mix ingredients together in a blender or food processor (or better yet an ice cream maker!).
Freeze for 6-8 hours (or overnight).

Unfortunately, my ice cream started melting right away.

Cherry jubilee bliss is a can't miss.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Farfelle (Bowtie Pasta) & Broccoli With Raw Pecan "Cheese" Sauce

Pecans are a nice ingredient for "cheese" when one doesn't have cashews or walnuts.
I love pecans. Their natural sweet nuttiness has a versatile complexity that brings incredibly crunchy excitement to enticing desserts and delivers unique flavor profile to savory dishes. One of my favorite things is instead of using flour as component to crumble, subbing nuts, especially pecans. A special seasoned topping is out of this world.
Unfortunately, I missed National Macaroni and Cheese Day, which was yesterday, but I'm still sharing this wonderful, easy peasy recipe of creating perfect pecan "cheese" sauce. If pecans are not available, any other nut/drupe would do.
Now people usually soak nuts 6-8 hours or overnight. I didn't. I was pleasantly surprised that in two hours, my pecans pureed beautifully with the other ingredients. I awed and gasped at the results, smiling a little goofier than normal whilst photographing an awesome dinner.
I have plenty leftover and have big plans for sweet potatoes, polenta, zucchini noodles, and other fine carbs needing a good drown in pecan "cheese" sauce.

Raw Pecan "Cheese" Sauce Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup farfelle, cooked
1 cup frozen broccoli, prepared
2 cups raw pecans, (soaked 2-4 hours in water)
1/2 cup canned full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup tahini
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon pink salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare pasta and broccoli.
Drain some of the pecan water after desired soaking time.
In a blender or food processor, combine pecans, coconut milk, tahini, nutritional yeast, garlic, turmeric, and black pepper. Pulse together until smooth consistency.
Top pecan "cheese" sauce over farfelle and broccoli.

Creamy pecan "cheese" sauce came out whipped perfectly and smooth like velvet, no chunkiness. If however, desiring extra pecan bliss, roast a bunch and crush a handful over top.
Oh how it glistens, mirroring salivated, hungry tongue....
Add extra black pepper for prettiness and eat.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Unleashes Unevil Blackness

If anyone told me that sepia/burnt umber/ebony toned figures allowed let black cats sit on their shoulders or reclined on striped surfaces while directing quiet dignity towards viewers, I wouldn't be quick to believe. Yet in this new dawn of emerging black artists, a giant push back against stereotypes and gender barriers brings on rebellious cannon bombs and loud booming echoes in the megaphones, addressing various problems in how one perceives blackness, in and outside of the lens. Ghanaian-British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's pleasing takeover of New Museum's fourth floor space ushers forth suspenseful tales that light up darkened spaces.

Isn't that charming-- the grand reveal of dark toned figures brightening up an entire room? Is that part of the secrets layered beneath Under-Song for a Cipher, the fetching title of Yiadom-Biadom's body of seventeen amazing paintings?

Surprisingly enough, the artist will be at the New Museum tomorrow, in a conversation with Massimiliano Gioni, which will be live streamed. This is definitely a can't miss treat.

Now Yiadom-Boakye, a Turner Prize nominee, writes the most fascinating dark prose and her immensely glorious paintings match elegance of her sharp wit, candid horror, and twisted humor. One simply cannot browse and move along. Like fine, decadent chocolaty after dinner desserts at restaurants that most are too full to order, this sumptuous feast seduces the audience with enticing delivery, all mouthwateringly seductive, meant to be slowly savored and swallowed whole. Appreciative eyes venture from work to work, dallying in beautiful dark figures, humanized to the point of not knowing when their breathing stops. They’re figments of Yiadom-Boakye’s compelling imagination, but feel present, immediate. Yes, they're quite peculiar enigmas suspended in abstract plains, but they don’t fall into the magical negro trope. They don’t have powers, recant spells, or help whiteness reach its way. These figures are not owned by The Other. They have something special simmering along shadowed gloom, something that is irresistible, undeniable, arresting.   

Yiadom-Boakye's paintings pull blackness into mysterious unknown, containing potent figures into thoughtfully engaging depths of abyssal tension. Minimal palette leaves ample room to become inventive, explore and stretch limits of a color, invent psychological moods. Subjects join rather ambiguously with specific objects and environments. For example, in a warm orange turtleneck sweater and black pants darker than his dark brown skin and the same hue family as the white ear cat on his shoulder, he sits relaxed, his long arms crossed over him, his lean legs opened. The angles are both sharp and subdued, elevating various relationships. Softness between human skin, animal fur, and sweater or exaggerated negative perceptions of a man with a cat would be considered "soft" or "too feminine." In this quiet composition, trust and dignity play a commanding game together, the security the cat feels on its human and the human's admiration for the cat, exposing his body as the cat's to dally. 

Yiadom-Boakye is a painter's painter, that intelligent master whose thick brushstrokes tell deeper narratives about the act of painting, of committing to wide and expansive movement. Kinetic motion sweeps across bodies and their clothes, swishes into background with purposeful direction, like a wind current perhaps. She is ever the skilled commander, making formal painting decisions that enhance content driving her work.

Under-Song For a Cipher is up until September 3, 2017. May an inner unbeknownst inkling awaken at the breathtaking sight of this moody, temperamental land of lush brushstrokes, fisted Impressionist flowers, wild feathered birds, and rich chocolate metaphors. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kawaii Kitty Café Is a Must For Cat Lovers, Huggers, and Snugglers

Check out cute lounging cats among the pretty decor.
Today starts the unique three day event called Kittydelphia-- a pop up of cat-strophic proportions at Gravy Studio in Northen Liberties area of. I thought it would be appropriate to discuss my two visits to Kawaii Kitty Café, a delightful cat themed place that is pure pleasure for cat lovers worldwide.

For starters, the counter really is the cat's "Meow."
I had the most superb mocha with coconut cream and chocolate sauce.
With cat picture and coloring books (they provide crayons and markers), and a coconut blueberry Dottie's Donut (yes sugar high central).
That same day, I had earlier received my copy of Aph and Syl Ko's "Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism From Two Sisters." So far, their thoughtful words have been pretty tough and heartbreaking to get through. The essays are brilliantly conceived. I'll write a review of it when I'm finished.
There are lots of vegan options (Crust Vegan Bakery yay!) to choose from and it was pleasantly surprising. Everything looked adorable in the clean, clear display case. Surrounded by cat cuteness of course!
Vegan oatmeal cream pies too for those who miss Little Debbie's junk food.
Pink and teal cat patches, mugs, and anime cat toys decorate the counter. Yes, there's even some Hello Kitty around.
Another visit included iced lemon tea and a cat shaped cookie with coloring books.
Slightly adjacent to neat arrangement of cats and ice cream art, is another wall with snapshots of people with the cats they've adopted from the café.
A peek inside the chic, cozy, immaculate environment for sweet array of cats and prospective adopters to frolic together, possibly bond and form familiarity. Walls are soft cotton candy pink. Stringed lights add a touch of magic as sunlight streamed in. Couches look soft with plush pillows and squishy fur babies lying about. In fact, I loved the gray cat sleeping atop of the wooden bookshelf. It had been in that same slumbered position since I had entered. To rent the space by the hour is $10 per person and it is best to reserve beforehand. On occasional less busy days, they do have half priced walk ins too.
In addition to eating and drinking, there are awesome cat themed items to buy for that special cat lover in your life. From t-shirts with adorable cat friends having a heart-y party....
Pink beanie caps to keep ears warm in the winter.
The black and white cat curtain is super cool, but not for sale.
With peachy keen music and overall cheery atmosphere, Kawaii Kitty Café is a wonderful place to have a little dessert with cold or hot drinks as one writes, reads, or colors. Framed cat art is everywhere, but not in an excessive obsessive capacity. The girls behind the counter are super nice and are willing to offer vegan compromise to almost anything on the menu (vegan milkshakes for the win). Whether one wants time alone or quality time with a cat or two, this is the purr-fect pick-me-up treat, especially on the weekend (like Caturday!), a rainy day, or just whenever.