Posts tagged inspiration
We Got the Beet
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Let me tell you a little story about a woman named Lindsey. Linds is one of my only introverted friends. She is quiet most of the time, but has the sharpest wit that comes out of nowhere. That friend you want around to say something that fills the soul or something so biting that you shake from laughter.

Lindsey and I met through work. I remember asking who the new girl was only to discover she had been working in the store for years as the lead receiver. We met through Erika, and the three of us were regular bringers of chaos.

I feel like our lifelong bond was cemented one lazy summer day when we were all hanging out and got caught in a very rare desert downpour. The three of us huddled up in Erika's car before wandering around the mall to pass away the boredom.

I also remember an epic night at Ace Hotel when Lindsey prevented Erika and me from stupid drunk decisions like taking shots in a stranger's hotel room. She is wonderfully ethereal and dark. She is quiet and wild. She is a truly unique spirit who brings me happiness and love. My favorite memory of Linds was on my 33rd birthday. She came down the mountain and spent the day singing 90s r&b with Erika and me. We sat in the pool drinking beers and reliving our early teenage years. It was one of my top ten moments of bliss. Connection at its finest.

Roasted beet hummus with blue tortilla chips, cucumbers, and rainbow baby carrots

Roasted beet hummus with blue tortilla chips, cucumbers, and rainbow baby carrots

When I think of a dish that represents Lindsey, I think of all the times I rang her up at work for fresh veggies, chips, and hummus. Just like Lindsey, this hummus is complex. It's bold and vibrant! It is earthy and whimsical. Roasted beet hummus (for the lazy just-got-off-work-types).

I didn't do much for this but cut up some cukes and roast a beet. I added a small roasted beet to a container of roasted garlic hummus. Blended it until smooth. Added the juice of two small lemons and salt. A tiny bit of olive oil. Sprinkled it with cumin, paprika, salt, and more oil. Black sesame seeds for garnish.

A toast to Lindsey and the end of inspiration week!

A toast to Lindsey and the end of inspiration week!

When I think of Lindsey, I think of pure joy. I think of how she navigates the world as a dreamer and speaks quietly but with confidence and clarity. I raise an Austin Eastcider's Spiced Cider to Lindsey for inspiring me to feel freedom. Delicious, cardamomy freedom.

Whether we're lying under a giant oak in the middle of Joshua Tree or jumping fully clothed into a swimming pool in the dead of winter, I'm inspired by her love of adventure. And don't get me started on Linds' ability to rap Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop." Mad SKILLZ. Here's to you, Lindsey! Love you!!! See you at the next gathering in April.

Strainer Things
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You know what's more bone-chilling than the upside down? The magical world of online dating. My partner and I met in the fall of 2015 when I was weirdly optimistic about signing up for bad dates again. I was in a...uh...transitional time in my life and dating apps were a distraction from the reconstruction of my life. I didn't think much when I swiped away, but Ryan was my very first match of my very first dating app, and the rest is pretty much history.

But this post isn't about the love that eventually blossomed from that day. It's about the people who have enriched my life by the way they surround themselves with love and authenticity. This post is about Ryan's parents, Pam and David Strain.

I remember the first night that Ryan told me his mother wanted to meet me. I nearly had a panic attack. I was rebuilding my life and felt mostly like a failure. I was fresh out of a horrific relationship and lacked confidence in general. My mental health was all over the place and I was not sure I'd be able to make a good impression. However, Pam and David were very welcoming and truly charming.

I could go on and on about Pam's boisterous laugh and the joy she gets when she is surrounded by family. She has the brightest smile, coolest glasses, and checks in with all of us to make sure we're staying politically aware. WOKE AF! She got us Beto for Texas signs for Christmas for crying out loud! YES! She is smart and opinionated and crafty. And she is an organizing badass. She makes sure every birthday dinner and family trip cultivates joy in everybody. Plus...she makes sure I have vegan dessert when we gather. VEGAN. DESSERT.

David is just as inspiring. He lives for authenticity. He wants to know the story behind everything. I could listen to him talk for hours about the origins of a certain wine or the way a spice is harvested. He loves his granddaughters so much and shows them how to be fearless, inquisitive, and self reliant. He raised his children to be accepting, genuine, independent, and imaginative. Plus, he truly gives the greatest hugs.

Tonight's dinner is all about them. Pam recently told us that her perfect meal was a bowl of pinto beans with fresh pico de gallo and a slice of cornbread. Well, if that simplicity isn't the most satisfying meal, I don't know what is. And, because, David expects nothing less than the ultimate flavor, I made sure to pack the spice. I used his three favorite peppers throughout the meal. Jalapenos, serranos, and habaneros. Let's go!

Spicy pinto beans with avocado and pico de gallo; jalapeno cheddar cornbread

Spicy pinto beans with avocado and pico de gallo; jalapeno cheddar cornbread

I don't have a recipe for the pinto beans. They were pretty much borracho beans, though. I started with a large yellow onion sauteed in vegetable oil with garlic, 2 sliced serranos, and 2 habaneros that have been poked to let the spice seep through . Add salt to draw the water out of the onions. Cook until translucent and some bits are brown. Add rinsed and picked over pinto beans and 6ish cups of water. Add some oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour or until the water is about 1/4 inch above the beans. Add a scoop of Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, a tall can of beer (if ya like), and some salt. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.

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I decided to add even more spice and did some jalapeno cheddar cornbread. It's just a modification of my own cornbread recipe. Fair warning: I prefer cakey, sweet cornbread. For the cheese, I went with So Delicious cheddar shreds.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Serves 9

Prep Time: 5 minutes    Bake Time: 45-50 minutes

 

  • 1 ½ cups non-dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp pickled jalapeno juice
  • ½ cup non-dairy yogurt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped pickled jalapenos
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy cheddar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 9 pickled jalapeno slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x9 inch  cake pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl combine the milk and jalapeno juice.  Whisk in the yogurt, oil, and sugar until combined. Sift in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  Stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped jalapeno and cheese. Pour the mixture into the cake pan. Sprinkle with more cheese and evenly place jalapeno slices on top of batter

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top looks dry and golden brown.

Jalapeno cheddar cornbread

Jalapeno cheddar cornbread

This was seriously the best meal I've had all week. It was filling, non fussy, and warming to the belly. It made me feel satisfied. So good!

Finally, I just want to thank Pam and David for the family they have created. I've learned so much from everybody in the past 3 years. I'm thankful that David got me to be more mindful of living in experiences and seeking out knowledge. Whether it's unexpected shots of tequila w/ habanero juice on a chilly Colorado night or learning all the secrets of green lacewings being unleashed upon a garden. And I'm so thankful that Pam taught me that it's okay to break the rules every once in the while. It's okay to play in the dirt and laugh with your whole body and be unashamed.

Thank you for everything.

And, thank YOU for reading another inspiration week post. Stay tuned for tomorrow's culmination of the week of love. Happy blogging!

Solid as a Rock
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How I met Michele is as magical as our friendship. I had been living in the Coachella Valley for a couple of years and had not made a single friend since moving from Texas. At the time, it was just painfully awkward for me to create friendships. I never felt cool enough and was suffering from a lot of social anxiety, which made personal interaction seem like an obstacle too hard to conquer.

One semester, I decided to take a geology class at a local community college. In walks this cool looking woman who sat in the back row with me. I might have muttered a passing "Hi" but I almost immediately knew I wanted to be friends. It took several weeks for me to attempt a conversation, but I thought Michele was pretty cool. Always talking to other classmates about her love of science and she was really great at geology.

Michele once packed me fruit cups with a bag of Tajin for my road trip back home to Texas. She's basically the best. Here's to Michele and salty, spicy, fruity good ness!

Michele once packed me fruit cups with a bag of Tajin for my road trip back home to Texas. She's basically the best. Here's to Michele and salty, spicy, fruity good ness!

The first time I talked to Michele was when I saw her wearing a vegetable shirt and I asked if she was a vegetarian. When she told me yes, I got super animated, and that's when the friendship began. When the semester was nearly over, I nervously invited her to a Festivus party and was delighted when she showed up. We've been great friends ever since.

From rainy mornings on San Diego beaches to Whedon Wednesdays to grocery trips when I was rocking a back brace, we have had some magnificent adventures together. Michele has seen me at my best and worst, and loved me no matter what. She is the type of friend I turn to when I want a real answer with no filter. I trust her entirely and she has made me a better intellect, a better feminist, and a better friend. I love her with my whole heart.

Today's MoFo is inspired by Michele's love of spice. She loves adding hot sauce to things, putting Tajin on fruit and adding a bit of chile to her esquites. Here in San Antonio, we just call 'em corn cups, and they are mighty delicious bowls of creamy, spicy goodness. And a friggin' food cart institution. Let's DO THIS!

CHIPOTLE CORN CUPS

Serves 2-4

Prep Time: 5 Minutes  Cook Time: 5-7 minutes

  • 4 ears corn, shucked
  • 4 Tbsp non-dairy margarine
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan
  • ¼ cup non-dairy mayo
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
  • 1 tsp lime zest, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • Chipotle chile powder
  • Hot sauce, optional

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the corn and boil for around 5 minutes, until tender. Corn should give a bit but still have that fresh, crunchy pop.

While corn is boiling, prepare dressing ingredients. In a large bowl, add the margarine, parmesan, mayo, nutritional yeast, and lime zest together. When the corn is ready, cut the kernels off of the cob and into the large bowl.

Stir everything together until thoroughly mixed. Portion off (2 servings as a main, 4 portions as a side). Serve with lime wedge, chile, and hot sauce to taste.

Sexy chipotle powdered dusted atop a cup made of corn and mayo and love

Sexy chipotle powdered dusted atop a cup made of corn and mayo and love

Straight up, lime zest isn't a thing in most corn cups. However, I really love lime with chipotle and it does brighten up the citrus a tiny bit. For the parm, I used Violife, but there are so many brands out on the market now. Plus, tons of recipes for you to use. I also like nooch in mine because I'm weirdly obsessed with it and it adds to the flavor. Super easy and delicious snack for when you want to pretend like you're hunting down deals at the Poteet flea market on Sunday. Don't forget to grab an agua de jamaica on the way home!

That's all for now! Happy MoFoing!

Dear Mama
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Today marks the beginning of Inspiration Week, and I wanted to kick it off by talking about the woman who has inspired me most throughout my life: my mother. I suppose the best place to start is from the beginning. My mother grew up in the small West Texas town of Abilene. She was one of the younger siblings in a family of 9, raised in a single-parent household by my grandmother, Eula Peoples. From the time I was young, she always told me that, though they lacked in money, there was always a wealth of love to go around. My mother never felt like she was lacking in anything. Her childhood was spent running around with my hilarious Aunt Evelyn and their cousin, Doris, doing absolutely hysterical things that only bored children from a small town would do.

Mom and me in '83? '84?

Mom and me in '83? '84?

My mother was raised by women. Strong, Black, and beautifully Southern women. There is a certain amount of feminism that comes with that. So, from the very beginning, my mother fostered a sense of self love and awareness in her children. A deep and profound respect for our history, equality, and knowledge. It is something that I cherish when I think about my past. It is something that I try to radiate out into the world to this day. My mother was the first to leave home, not for marriage, but for career. She joined the United States Air Force as a teenager and spent over 24 years serving this country. To this day, she proudly works for the United States government as a civilian. My mother has always been my heroine, a success story about following your dreams and being fearless. I think about all the places I've traveled, all the cross country trips I've driven alone...and I am reminded of how my mother did it all before me and in a much more epic way. My mother survived segregation in the deep South. She survived growing up poor in West Texas. She survived being on her own at 19. She survived Saudi Arabia and countless months away from her children. She survived every obstacle she has ever encountered. And she's seen so many wonderful and beautiful things in her life because of it. She is my inspiration in every sense of the word. 

How does this tie into MoFo, you ask? Well, my mom also happens to be a culinary bad ass. People around the way know that if "Ms. Pam" is bringing something it is going to be LEGIT. I cannot think about my mother without thinking about her famous cinnamon rolls. These beauties have been my source of joy for most of my life. When I initially went vegan in 2001, she mothatruckin' veganized them! These rolls are featured at every Christmas gathering, and when I lived in California, she made sure they were ready every single time I came home to visit. Here they are in all of their wonderful glory. I did one minor modification for my own sanity and cut back a tiny bit on the fat. Feel free to add more! Peep game:

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MS. PAM'S CINNAMON ROLLS

Makes 12 rolls

Prep Time: About 1.5 hours  Bake Time: 25-20 min

Dough:

  • ⅓ cup non-dairy margarine, melted
  • 1 ½ cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 ½ Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Filling:

  • 2 Tbsp softened non-dairy margarine + 1 Tbsp non-dairy margarine
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp non-dairy milk or creamer
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, mix the yeast and 2 Tbsp of sugar together. Add the milk and melted margarine and stir until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Sift flour and salt into the yeast mixture and stir until everything comes together.  Knead in enough flour until you get a smooth and slightly sticky dough (usually no more than ½ cup).  Knead for about 5 minutes, and place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

While the dough is rising, prep the filling. In a medium bowl, add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp margarine.  Mix together using a fork or your hands. Set aside.

When the dough has risen, punch it down, and knead it into a ball again.  Roll it out into a rectangle that is 10x14 inches. Evenly sprinkle the sugar mixture onto the dough. Roll the dough up as tightly as possible. Close up the roll by pinching the dough together and pinching the ends. Divide into 12 pieces and place in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Brush the remaining tablespoon of melted margarine over the tops and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise again for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes, while you make the glaze.

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, non-dairy milk, and vanilla until smooth.  Drizzle over the warm rolls.

Yummy giant cinnamon roll

Yummy giant cinnamon roll

Above all else, I want to thank my mom. Thank you for all of the stories about our family history. Thank you for every Black Barbie doll you could find. Thank you for Black Santas and allowing us to speak our minds at all times. Thank you for love and acceptance. Most of all, thank you for the neverending support. No words could ever express my profound respect for all you've done for me in my life. You are my inspiration. You are appreciated.