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My new blog is up!!!

August 21, 2010

Happy as a clam!

Hey my new blog is up!  I got it hosted on a server and err-thang chile!!!!  So check it out at www.veganafrican.com and you can email me at dina@veganafrican.com.

I updated today’s blog post over at www.veganafrican.com and will all of my blog posts over there for now on.  Check me out!

Much love to you all!


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A sunny day, black eyed peas and an old fashioned Negro wedding

August 20, 2010

Well, I have some awesome news!  I have found my great-grandparents wedding certificate that was issued in the summer of 1917.

Now that I think about it, this month makes it 93 years ago.

I was shocked to see the photocopy of my great grandfather Gaston and great-grandmother Flo’s signatures on the document issued by the State of Tennessee.  It looked rushed but it was surreal none the less!

Ancestry.com has an option for me to print out the document for this blog but my printer is out of ink.  I could have been patient and waited until I went into the neighborhood library and printed a copy there.  However, I am not known for my patience 🙂

So, I took a picture of the wedding certificate:

Great Grandpappy's and Great Grandma's wedding certificate

I found out my Great Granny’s maiden name and it blew my mind how this was available for me to see.  I don’t know if even my Grandmother, who was born 9 years later, even seen it ever in her life.

Today was a beautiful day in Metro Detroit and with this new discovery for me, I was thinking about what the day was like when Gaston and Florence exchanged vows and said “I do.”

Um, I'm ALMOST certain that my great grandparents' wedding was not this opulent

America had declared war on the Kaiser and the rest of Germany earlier in April 1917 and was in the grips of wartime during the first Great War.  Was my Great Grandfather in the service?  I have yet to find out this info because I wasn’t able to find any military records on him.  Yet.

I went to the store on this sunny day in Metro Detroit and had the urge to purchase some black eyed peas for this cajun black eyed pea recipe that I am going to try.

My life my life my life in the sunshine!

I am in my early 30s and I was engaged before but I never have been married.  I don’t regret it because there are some things I would like to do in Life before I settle down.  But that wasn’t the case for many women in the early 20th century especially in rural America.  Women were expected to get married and have children.  I’m am aware of exceptions to the rule but in the case of my great grand ‘rents, they pretty much adopted the social norm.

At least according to my research so far.  I would LOVE to find out that there was a bonafide HELLRAZING she-devil rabble rouser in my family tree.  That would be sooooo bad ass!  LOL!

As I was soaking the black eyed peas, I was thinking about what Gaston and Flo had for their wedding dinner.  Black eyed peas are a highly available and celebrated soul food.  Also known as the “cow pea”, is something that many many Black families have or had eaten.  It’s a staple in the mainstream Afro-American diet.  I’m wondering if Great-Great Grandma brought some Hoppin’ John to the wedding party with some cornbread, some pig or other type of meat and maybe even some homemade moonshine.

black eyed peas soaking

So my goal tomorrow when these beans finish soaking, I am going to make a vegan version of cajun black eyed peas.  My family is not overly Creole or Cajun in heritage but the menu looked interesting and I will share with you the process of me cooking it in addition to what new research I find on my family.

I wish I can step back into time and offer this to my Great Grandparents on their special day back in the summer of 1917.  Some Back to the Future ish… haha!

Progress and Afro-Tex/Mexican Vegan Tacos

August 15, 2010

I finally signed up for ancestry.com.

I have made some progress with the research on my family.  So far, I have found out that my maternal grandmother was born in 1926 instead of 1928 (I don’t know how I came up with that number) and I found out that my maternal grandfather was born in 1925.  I think he is from Mississippi but I have to do some more research.

Making some progress... but doing family tree research makes me hungry

I had some trepidation about using Ancestry.com because I was wondering how much info could they get on African American family history.   I was thinking that the information they would have on African American families would not be as plentiful as maybe a White family.  But I have my friends who are Black, say that they use it so I plunked down 20 bucks to see what the website could do for me.

I am satisfied so far.  There is so much more info that I need.  What I am looking for now is a marriage certificate from my grandparents on my mother’s side.  Grandma had a family with Granddad before he left her to start another family… at least that is how the story was told to me.  You know how some family members treat family scandal… they tell you what they want for you to know to make someone or some people look more pristine than they actually are.

Let’s see how well I can circumvent family myth to get to the truth of things 🙂

Today I was listening to some Celia Cruz and was hungry for some south of the border food (yeah I know Mama Celia was Afro-Cuban but I was craving Tex Mex nonetheless).

Taco shells, lettuce (or kale), vegan sloppy joe mix, tomatoes, onions...

Speaking of Mexico, check out this info I found on Afro-Mexican cuisine

There is a vegetarian joint near my home that sells a vegan mega taco plate.  It’s freakin huge and good as hell but I just didn’t feel like eating out.  I decided to make a batch of hard shell tacos from my own kitchen.  It is a recipe from my spiritual brother Kefentse.  He is researching his family history as well.  Check out his blog

Taste so good that you'll wanna slap somebody

This recipe is super easy to do and it tastes so good!  I got the recipe from Kef.  If you love it, be sure to visit his blog and thank him.

Afro-Tex/Mexican Tacos

1 package of taco shells (hard or soft)

1 package of vegan sloppy joe mix (I used the Fantastic brand)

onions (chopped)

lettuce (chopped)

salsa

vegan cheese (optional: Daiya is an excellent brand)

Basically follow the directions on the back of the vegan sloppy joe package without adding the tomato paste.  This will be your “ground chuck”.

Get the taco shells.  Layer inside of it the “meat”, veggies, vegan cheese (if you have it) and salsa.  If you have vegan sour cream to add on top, that would be a nice tasty touch

Doesn't that look good?!

Vegan pancakes help clear my mind…

August 6, 2010

I was gripped with an unproductive thought this morning as I woke up: “You weren’t born in Africa!  Why would you even think you can cook African food?!  Vegan African food no less!”

Hmm… interesting question.

I thought about it some more as I was making some vegan pancakes for breakfast.  Interestingly enough, up until two years ago, I had little to NO desire to cook anything for anyone.  I liked to eat for sure.  But for reason I grew more and more interested in cooking food out of my own kitchen.

It was also at this time when I decided that I was gonna cut out dairy and eggs from my vegetarian diet.  I’d call myself vegan but I enjoy my leather Coach purses and cute heeled shoes too much to get rid of them.  Call me part of the problem, but I need some accessories that are durable.  I have yet to see a vegan fashionable shoe  that will not disintegrate under the crushing weight of my size 10 feet.  I’m just sayin’…

here today...

So anyway, I began to eat like a vegan and that GREATLY limited my options for eating out.  There is cheese in every damn thing!  I remember one time, I went into Starbucks in Royal Oak Michigan and at the counter they had tons of vegetarian sandwiches, with cheese dripping down the sides of the bread (no doubt made with eggs).  Did you think they had any vegan options?

The cashier pointed to a small plastic bag of tiny chocolate chip cookies near the cash register.  That was what I had to eat while I was there.

Needless to say I am cooking now because I don’t wanna depend on others for my meal, especially when most of the “others” are so effing gung ho on adding dairy and eggs to everything.  I love ethnic food and I love vegan food.  Seemed like a match made in heaven to cook Vegan African food right?

As I munched on my breakfast, I remembered how my Mom would make me pancakes when I was a kid.  Yep, she used Bisquick.  I was delighted to know that Bisquick is a vegan product outside of the usual eggs and milk that it asks for (I make the pancakes with hemp milk and egg replacers).  So basically, I had recreated a traditional meal in a vegan way.  Why couldn’t I do that with African meals?  Understandably, African food outside of Ethiopian cuisine, is not easily regarded as vegan.  Not by a lot of people anyway.

I can do this.  I have an extreme interest and I figure that if I would like to eat some vegan African food, then others would be as well.  I wasn’t born in Africa but it is in my blood flowing in my veins.  Everyday I look at my face I see Africa.  I can do this.  Fears and doubts be damned.

God knows that we need as many options for getting good vegan food in Southeast Michigan.  I will be happy to share my meals with others who are tired of cheese and eggs in everything.

Guess it is time to compile some recipes and start cookin’….

gone in ten minutes... I am resolved to do my thing!

Vegan Bisquick Pancakes (adapted from the back of the Bisquick box)

2 cups of bisquick mix

1 cup of nut milk (or hemp milk)

Egg replacers (enough to make two eggs worth)

stir ingredients in bowl until blended

pour sligtly less than 1/4 cupfuls onto hot greased griddle

cook until edges are dry.  turn;  cook until golden

makes about 14 pancakes

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Ten Years Gone…

August 5, 2010

Earlier today,  I realized that it has been a full 1o years since I have worn my hair in (dread)locs.  I was 22 years old and a junior in college.  Life was new for me and I wanted a hairstyle to reflect that change…

thinking about a decade ago makes me want to reconnect with my culture and family history

But wait, something else heppened that year that rocked my world for life: my Grandma and my cousin died within the same week.

I swear I just realized that when I was looking at my ancestor altar in my home.  I looked at the obit for my favorite cousin who was buried August 3, 2000.  I didn’t cry but I thought about him being my first and best childhood friend.  he died in his sleep.  He was 25 years old.  Maybe I will cry later tonight.

I still miss my cousin Raymond...

I can’t find my Grandma’s obit.  I lost it regrettably 5 years ago.  I am not close with any family members so there is no one who I can or would want to call to get a duplicate.  I will find another way, I’m confident of that.  She died three days before Raymond did.  I always felt that Grandma’s spirit escorted him to the pearly gates.

I think I can turn this melancholy moment into a launchpad for empowerment and healing though…

I always wanted to connect with my family history and my culture as an woman of African descent in America.  I am also a vegetarian in Metro Detroit who cooks vegan adaptations of traditional African meals.  This blog is dedicated to my journey in both family and food.

I still love you man. Tell Grandma I said hi

More posts to come soon after this.  I am a web journalist who writes on vegan and vegetarian subjects.  Follow my articles on Examiner.com.  Also feel free to connect with me on my Facebook page and Twitter to keep abreast of what I am up to 🙂