Spice Up Your African Diaspora Culinary Knowledge

Hot Spiced Coconut Chocolate Milk

February is a joyous month honoring leadership, celebrating love and praising our culture. Starting the month of festivities is African Heritage & Health week. A week long celebration encouraging African-Americans to return to their roots and rediscover cooking techniques and ingredients their ancestors ate before the age of processed food.

In 2011, Oldways, an organization dedicated to teaching nutrition and good food via culture and heritage, introduced the African Heritage Diet Pyramid. It was created by experts in African American history, cuisine, nutrition, and public health. The ingredients listed are commonly found in recipes from North America, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Dishes made with African Diaspora ingredients are generally healthier than some soul food dishes ‘invented’ or ‘revised’ within the last 60 years. Read more

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream with Banana Pecan Bread

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream with Banana Pecan Bread

What’s your coldest, Winter memory? I’ll answer first. It was a brain-freeze type of cold day. A thick pea coat covered layers of clothes and a wooly sweater. No one could tell I wore a few socks underneath a pair of bright yellow rain boots. The winds pierced through layers of clothes to chill my back. Fingers underneath my gloves froze numb. Large, billowy snowflakes floated swiftly to the ground. The snow was piled one to two feet deep, and there was slippery ice everywhere. Then a child is seen walking in my direction. She’s happily skipping in this frigid, cold weather, while licking an ice cream cone. The mother is walking behind the child. She sees a perplexed, astonished look on my face. She shrugs her shoulders to communicate, “I know, I know… my child is strange…right?” We warmly pass each other, smiling and giggling. Read more

Toasted Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

There’s a large bag of raw pumpkin seeds in the freezer. Normally, they would’ve been used as toppings for cakes or muffins. They remain in the freezer, because my body feels unbalanced after consuming large quantities. I discovered this reaction when a Tomatillo Gazpacho with Pumpkin Seed Pesto was made. It was so good. I felt the discomfort of my body was worth the pain, for a few more bowls were enjoyed the following days. By the third day, I realized the side effects were not normal. It’s been known for a while large quantities of pumpkin seeds make me feel uneasy, but that pumpkin seed pesto was heavenly savory. After that dish was made the pumpkin seeds sat in my freezer, barely touched. Read more

Ginger Carrot Muffins

Carrot Muffins

Carrot Muffins

This is a first. Here it comes, “Summer, you were too hot for me.” There I said it. Out. Loud. Those are words of regret as I walk from two inches to six feet of snow by next winter. Being a child of the summer, I feel guilty. Those words are of the highest betrayal to my greatest love of the seasons. My love is now with the fair weather seasons of fall and spring. Summer smothered me with too much love this year.

I went to bed breathing in humid air. My skin was forever damp from the excessive sweating in our apartment sans air conditioning. The fan moved with me from room to room. My sunny disposition melted into an irritable attitude. Don’t. Touch. Me. Recipes requiring no oven were mandatory. Other food blogs enjoyed making pies, tarts and warm savory dishes. My food blog was mostly green salads, seared meats and frozen desserts. Luckily, there were a few cooler days to make birthday cakes, frittatas and enchiladas.

As August comes to a close, summer is dancing with fall. As this post is being written, Hurricane Earl isn’t being destructive, for it’s constructive. It brought cooler air. Such temperatures are a fresh breath of relief. I’m cooler, now. Read more

Spiced Golden Plum Sorbet

Spiced Plum Sorbet

Spiced Plum Sorbet

What book makes you to cry? I know of three. The first two are by Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Dave Eggers’ What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, is the third book. The stories center around unstable governments, conflicting religious beliefs, wars and family grief. All of the books are emotional. Particularly, when reading the first chapters about families who were living in peace with their daily routines and yearly cultural celebrations. Then the next chapters proceed to tell of tragedy, grief and lost. They end with the characters adapting to new lives, while living with vivid memories of their past. I once was reading one of Hosseini’s books in the middle of rush hour on the 4 train with tears welling up in my eyes. These books are page-turners. Eggers story is a true autobiography about one of Sudan’s Lost Boys. The other two have fictional characters, in which the stories are based on true events. All of the books capture a certain awareness about life. They’re reminders of what’s truly important in our so-called busy schedules: family and friends. Read more