Getting ready to close out my month of going vegan. But first, let us review Afro Vegan by Bryant Terry. Terry gives an introduction to his style of cooking and wanting to incorporate ingredients from the African Diaspora. Many of the cuisines that we have grown to love, Carribean, Southern, for example, are derived from Africa. He states that Afro-diasporic foodways connects us to our ancestors and carries our history and stories. As someone in the public health field in my day job, it also address healthy eating in The African American community and stresses plant based eating to end chronic illnesses. I like how this book gives me a poetry night vibe with each recipe coming with a soundtrack and book for inspiration.
I wanted some thing different and decided to go with some breakfast items. What caught my eye was Purp 2.0. (pg 153) I kept thinking, OK, I had to try this! It’s a play from sizzurp and lean that all the Southern rappers drink. To me, it’s more like a vegan, healthy lean, without the alcohol. The flavors of the coconut and cinnamon come through along with the cashews as the blueberries gave it a lavender hue. One can add maca powder as an energy boost, but I wasn’t up to spending $20 for a small bag. I do like the creativity of it using cashews for creaminess and blueberries for color, but to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite.
Next up is Black Queen (pg 188). I loved this name as it stood out to me. He has a section towards the end of the book for cold drinks and cocktails. In Black queen, orange pekoe and black tea were used along with some simple syrup, and lemon juice. In other words, Lipton tea with sugar and lemon. It was topped with a white wine. I had some Riesling lying around so I used that as the notes of orange, jasmine,and tangerine matched very well with the tea. I had this with my morning breakfast before work but I loved how regal it made me feel drinking it and it was just so simple and not complicated.
The Millet and Sweet Potato Porridge (pg 162) was for breakfast. I figured, if I like oatmeal, this wouldn’t be too bad. Besides, whenever I think of one eating porridge, it reminds me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I never had millet before, but the directions said to toast the millet after soaking to bring out the nuttiness. I then boiled the millet in about a cup of water until all of the water has evaporated. The sweet potato had to be baked for about an hour. Given the fact that I made this in the morning before I dropped my daughter off to school, I was pressed for time and really hoped that the sweet potato would bake all the way through for me. Once that was done, I mashed it with a fork with the help of some almond milk and added it along with some more almond milk, molasses, creamed cashews, and maple syrup to the porridge and let it cook until thickened, about 10 more minutes. I served this with some bananas on top and drizzled with more maple syrup and almond milk. I wished I had pureed the sweet potato, but I thought I could wing it with just mashing it. It gave the porridge a chunky, almost gritty texture which I didn’t care for. The millet was very nutty in flavor and texture but I liked it. Somehow, it tasted very buttery and rich from the molasses. I’d make this again, but this time adding vanilla bean and baking the sweet potato longer.
Finally for dinner, I had Savory Grits with Collard Greens (pg 108). This is a southern dish that I am sure every black household is familiar. It’s simple really, grits and greens. I, however, did have some issue with the measurements and cooking time as it seemed to cook much shorter than the time suggested. It called for 1 cup of vegetable stock for the greens which I has to use about a 1/4 cup more so that it didn’t burn. Also, the grits were cooked in vegetable stock but according to the book, an additional 30 minutes had to be added onto the time after the addition of the creamed cashews. It really didn’t need an extra 30 minutes an the total cooking time was about 15- 20 minutes. Adding the cashews made it so creamy and smooth and very ‘cheesy’. If one didn’t tell me, I’d swore I was eating cheese grits. This dish made me so happy that I didn’t have to use butter or meat to season the grits and greens. The greens were well seasoned and it did not need any hot sauce,vinegar, nothing! It certainly stays true to southern and African roots.
Overall,I really liked this book as i was creative and very informative each recipe acts as a remix of traditional recipes and combining different flavors with traditional African ingredients. Bryant Terry not only provides an entire experience with food, but a healthy and educational one. Enjoy!