Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Black Girl's Think Tank - One Word

Snagged this from my girl Laila's blog. Feel free to ask questions, comment, or cut and paste for yourself.

One Word

Hair – Curly

Your Mother – Supportive

Your Father – Caring

Fave Food – Mexican

Dream Last Night – Weird

Fave Drink – Tea

What room are you in? – Living

Hobby – Crafting

Fear – Failure

Where were you last night? – Church

Something that you aren’t – Thoughtless

Muffins – Apple

Wish List Item – Car

Where you grew up – Lithonia

What you are wearing – Pajamas

Your Pet – None

Friends – Plentiful

Something you’re not wearing – Bra

Fave Store – Grocery

Fave Color – Brown

Last time you laughed – Today

Your Best Friend – Questioning

Best Place you go over and over – Cafe

Person who you email regularly – Sorors

Fave Place to Eat – McCormick and Schmidt

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - Humidity Hell

The day begins: I have just washed and styled my naturally curly hair. Its fresh - curls defined, the right amount of poof and bounce - I'm on my way out knowing I look good. Then that swamp heat hits me like I stepped into a life-sized sauna. Next thing I know, my hair has swollen to three times its normal size! Frizz is an understatement. The curls are hanging on to dear life at the ends, but the close-to-the-scalp hair has already given in to the moist heat. What's a natural girl to do???

So a friend of mine and I were talking hair regimens one day, and I noticed that her hair not only resists transforming in the humidity, but her curls are always lengthened and pretty well-defined. I ask her what she used.

Lotta Body Setting Lotion. After she washes and conditions her hair, she douses her hair with Lotta Body, corn rows it (*this is key) and either sits under a dryer or lets it dry naturally (my thick-haired naturalistas might want to opt for the former option as our hair takes FOREVER to dry on its own, especially since it's corn-rowed). Always up for a hair challenge, I decide I'm going to try it this week. I'll be posting before and after pictures, so stay tuned! Has anyone else ever used setting lotion on natural curls? What brand? Did it work? Tell us about it in the comments section!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Soul Survivor - Happiness Myth

One often thinks that in order to be a good person, you should be in the cheering up business. If you see someone you love feeling sad, you instantly want to cheer them up. This is a great sentiment, and I personally will never fault anyone for doing so. But the truth of the matter is, just feel bad. Whether you should or not doesn't always dictate what your heart wants to feel at that particular moment. So why do we think we should always be happy?

I'm here to tell you that feeling bad is not actually bad. It's a normal part of being a human being, and it's actually beneficial. According to Dr. Oz, grief of any level is a natural response that helps us adapt to major losses. Temporary unhappiness can also serve as a "beacon to spur positive change". It is believed that depression likely evolved in the first place to help us cope with environments that are unsatisfying or even harmful. Also, feeling down can actually be a signal that it's time to reevaluate what's happening in our lives. (Dr. Oz, O magazine; February, 2010)

Now don't get me wrong. It is still beneficial to channel positive thoughts in bad times as well. There is a lot research out there that supports the idea that people who channel positive emotions generally deal with adversity better. Sometimes it is all about perspective.

I am not a fan, however,  of the "it can always be worse" mantra. God only knows who's at the end of that line and what their situation is; if it can always be worse for everyone, what does the worst look like?!?! And I don't know about you, but it never actually makes me feel better. Now on top of feeling guilty for feeling bad,  I feel bad for those who are worse off. The bottom line is allowing yourself to emote naturally should never equate to you being ungrateful. We all know what ungrateful looks like, and it is so different than someone expressing natural emotion.

If you're having a bad day and you're feeling emotional, ride it out. Try this mantra: allow yourself to feel, then deal. Don't force anything on yourself that you aren't ready to accept and work through. I'm not saying wallow in your own self-pity for long periods of time. But feelings are powerful, and if they were as readily interchangeable as people think they are, the world would be a very different place. Just something to think about.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kiss My Glass - Summer Cocktails

There's no better way to beat the heat than to cool off with a refreshing alcoholic beverage. Below are a few of my summer favorites, with a few non-alcoholic options for those who don't drink. Surf's (and glasses) up!

Green Tea Cocktail

6 green tea bags
4 cups of water
a handful of fresh mint leaves (*if you don't have fresh mint, use a 2 mint tea bags and 5 green tea bags)
1/2 cup of sugar, plus more to taste
half a bottle of white wine (preferably pinot grigio)
1/4 cup Triple Sec
1 lime, cut in half

Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and add mint leaves tea bags. Let tea bags steep for 2 minutes and remove from water. Let mint leaves steep for another 15 minutes. Remove the mint leaves from the tea and transfer tea into a pitcher. Add sugar and the juice of one lime half, stir, then refrigerate for 30 min. Remove from refrigerator and add triple sec and wine and stir. Slice remaining lime half and float inside the pitcher. Serve over ice.

**for a non-alcoholic option, substitute wine for white grape juice and honey for Triple Sec.

Cucumber Mint Cooler

4 cups of water
1 half a cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 1/2 cups of vodka
1 cup of sugar

Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and add mint leaves. Let steep for about 20 minutes. Remove mint leaves and pour water into a pitcher. Add sugar, vodka and cucumber slices and stir. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, then serve.

**for a non-alcoholic option, replace vodka with water.

Sugar Water T's White Sangria

1 peach, pitted and sliced
1 bunch of white grapes, halved
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
1/2 cup triple sec
1/2 cup Calvados or apple brandy (any fruit-flavored brandy can be substituted)
1 bottle of white cranberry peach juice
1 bottle of white wine (preferably pinot grigio)

In a pitcher or large punch bowl, combine fruit with brandy and triple sec. Cover and let sit (macerate) for about 2 hours. Then add juice and wine and stir. Serve over ice with fruit ladled into glass as a garnish. If using a pitcher, note that the entire bottle of juice and wine may not be used. It can be refilled over macerated fruit.

**for a non-alcoholic version, replace wine with your favorite juice, and macerate fruit in 3/4 cups of sugar and 4 Tbs of water.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tales of a Foodie - When It's Too Hot To Cook...

This is it - the season we've all been waiting for. Summer is here. But if you're living space is anything like mine, the idea of turning the oven on at any point of the day makes me sweat. But eating out for every meal in the summer is just not the . So I've compiled a few quick, cheap and cool recipes that will keep you cool and fed in the sweltering heat.

A great refreshing appetizer that's light, quick and easy is Green "Hummus". This is one of my absolute faves! All you need is a food processor or blender.

Green Hummus (serves 4)

2 cups shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions (can be done in the microwave)
1 cup of silken tofu, briefly drained of excess liquid
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
3 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp cumin, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Place the edamame, tofu, salt, garlic, oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and cumin in the bowl of the food processor and process until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with more salt, pepper or lemon juice if desired. Pour into a serving bowl. I like to serve with rice crackers, but any chip or crunchy vegetable will do. The leftovers can be put into a container refrigerated for up to one week.

My favorite "hearty" meal in the summertime is a great and plentiful pasta salad. There are plenty of ways to make pasta salad, but this is my recipe, so of course, my favorite!

T's Pasta Salad  (serves about 8)

1 box of tri-color rotini
1 16oz bottle of Italian dressing (I use Zesty Italian)
1 block of Monterey Jack cheese, cut into small cubes
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow or orange pepper, diced
1 3oz can of black olives, sliced
1 small container of cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 package of turkey kielbasa, cut into pieces (any kielbasa will do; you can even use chicken sausage)

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. In a skillet, lightly brown kielbasa pieces and drain. In a large bowl, combine pasta, cheese, peppers, olives, tomatoes, kielbasa and dressing. I don't use the entire bottle of dressing, but you can add and mix until the salad texture is to your liking. Refrigerate for an hour, then serve. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to four days.

One of my favorite summer salads is the most simple salads in the world to make - cucumber and tomato salad. Its so easy and very refreshing!

Cucumber and Tomato Salad (serves 2)

2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into quarters
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp of dried basil

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Then serve. Leftovers can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days. This salad can also be doubled for more servings.

And last, but certainly not least, one of my favorite summer desserts, Fruit Pizza. This one does require a small amount of baking, but your oven won't be on longer than 30 minutes including preheat. A small price to pay for such a light delicious dessert!

Fruit Pizza

For the crust:

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar; blend in flour. Add extracts and salt, mixing well. Spread in bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:
1 6oz package white chocolate chips
1 4oz package cream cheese, brought to room temperature

Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 1 minute intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted. Transfer to mixing bowl, and mix the white chocolate with the cream cheese until blended. Spread this mixture on top of the crust like you would pizza sauce.

For the toppings:

1 peach, pitted and diced
1 container of blueberries and raspberries
1 kiwi, sliced and quartered

Make sure the pizza has cooled. Arrange fruit on top of "sauce" until the surface is covered. Refrigerate for one hour, cut into bars and serve.

No summer meal would be complete without a cocktail! The perfect way to beat the heat is with my Sweet "T" cocktail.

Sweet "T" (makes a pitcher)

1 1/2 cups of vodka
1 cup of Amaretto Liqueur
Fill with equal parts iced tea and lemonade.

Mix all ingredients and adjust to taste Serve over ice with a lemon wedge.

Happy Summer Eating and Drinking, and I hope you enjoy the recipes and stay cool!

Welcome Back Blog!

*insert Welcome Back, Kotter instrumental here* So....I'm back! After years of keeping all (or most) of my thoughts in my own head, it's time to put them back out into the Blogosphere. I'm glad you're joining me! I've decided to go with a format this time, so my blog will be comprised of the following:

Tales of a Foodie - food is a HUGE passion of mine, and as a former professional baker and self-proclaimed food connoisseur, I feel I have a lot to offer and learn in this portion of my blog - this one I'm extra-excited about, because I'll be sharing my favorite (and tested) recipes, reviews and more!

Kiss My Glass - my second passion is libations, from wine to cocktails, my adventures as a bartender have given me a great appreciation of the ever-loved drink. Be it wine, beer, cocktail or mocktail, here I'll be sharing my favorite drink recipes, reviews from tastings throughout the city, and my

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - inspired by several of my natural sistahs in the Blogosphere, I'll be sharing my humble experiences with getting to know my Hair. I capitalized, because in the 7 years I have been getting to know her, I realize she has a mind of her own!

SoulSurvivor - an ode to my former blog, I'll be reflecting on life, love and happenstance...sharing and listening (or reading, rather).

Black Girl's Think Tank - Here I'll blog on books, music and other entertainment reviews. I happen upon some great things in the city, and would love to bounce thoughts on my favorite books, music and magazine articles (I'm a magazine JUNKIE).

I'll be inter-changing each subtitle throughout the week, hitting one topic per post. I could assign them all a day, but I'll confess to suffering from Scatterbrainosis, so basically...I won't even set myself up for that. Just stay tuned for your favorite subtitle and jump in when you're feeling froggy. Thanks in advance for the warm welcome!