Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
Collective work and responsibility.
It’s one of the main tenants of Kwanzaa that resonates with me the most. Kwanzaa was never part of my family’s holiday traditions, and even today, the only way I “celebrate” is through these blog posts. Ujima, working together to better the community, is an idea that I truly believe in, whether it be part of Kwanzaa or not. Over the last year, I’ve wondered what I could do to be a more useful part of my community at large. The work I do is enjoyable, and there are some perks, but a large portion of it is indulgent. And primarily self-servicing. Every industry has room for meaningful contributions, and navigating that space in the food world is one of my goals for 2015.
Before I began typing this post, I re-read my Kwanzaa Culinarians post from 2012 on the principle of purpose, Nia. It seems as though I had similar feelings about “doing more” around that time as well. Nia and Ujima go hand in hand. If you have purpose, you’re most likely on the way to fulfilling a sense of social responsibility. Recently, I was accepted into the California Black Women’s Health Project advocate training program. The organization focuses on awareness and reform of health policies that negatively affect women, specifically black women. I have no policy or advocacy experience, but a couple of years of volunteer work with a social justice non-profit, as well as learning more about food justice, opened my eyes to the ways in which nutritional inequalities exist in the world. More importantly, in my own city. Many health issues that affect black women can be traced to food, and some of them could even be improved with better food choices. I want to be part of that conversation, and eventually, the actions that will inform more people about healthier food options and cooking methods and interesting recipes to make healthier eating easier.
Change thrives on cooperation. It can only happen with likeminded individuals working towards a singular goal. The work of CAWBHP and similar organizations is focused on fixing wrongs, educating more people and formulating new ways to keep progress moving in the right direction. Women have a stronghold on creating change within their communities. On a micro level, this involves themselves and their families. On a macro level, we’re talking about cities, states, and the world at large. Working as one, we will have a stronger voice to demand the best health reform for everyone in our communities.
One tiny way of working together–collectively sharing responsibility for each other–is sharing what we know and what we have experienced. As someone who works in the food industry, I have noticed a thickening of my waist thanks to dining at various restaurants, grabbing samples at events, tasting recipe tests and everything else that comes along with it. In September, I made the decision to change my eating habits, so that I could do my work without expanding to sizes unknown. The key for me has been eating primarily vegetarian/vegan with the exception of media dinners, very special occasions and work-related recipe development. Of course, I have increased my exercise ten-fold, but food, rather than physical activity, is a much larger part of the healthy weight puzzle. The dish below was one of my favorite meat-free creations that would fit well into your Meatless Monday lifestyle. Grain-based tempeh is often soy-free, which is great if you have soy sensitivities. Just like tofu, it marries well with many ingredients, including a number of marinades. This marinade is a spice-laden blend that complements the nutty essence of the tempeh itself, along with the spicy and slightly spicy apricot and pineapple sauce. Served with rice, or a bed of green veggies, this is a wonderful dish to try during the holiday season. It helps to add a little balance to the heavier meals you will no doubt enjoy this year.
For the original post on The Duo Dishes, click here.
Marinated Tempeh with Spicy Apricot Pineapple Sauce – Serves 4
½ cup apricot preserves
⅓ cup pineapple chunks
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove
1½ tablespoons chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño or Serrano peppers
1 scallion, white and green parts
Zest and juice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces grain-based tempeh, halved horizontally then cut into 8 triangles*
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups cooked rice
Fresh sliced scallions, optional
Fresh chopped cilantro, optional
For the sauce, blend the apricot preserves, pineapple, pineapple chunks, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, jalapeño or Serrano, scallion and lime zest and juice in a good processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the salt and water, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, soy sauce, smoked paprika, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Place the tempeh into a large saute pan, add the marinade and set the flame to medium high. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 7-8 minutes. Flip the pieces over, and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, and cool the tempeh in the pan and marinade for about 20 minutes.
In a separate saute pan, heat half of the remaining grapeseed oil over medium high heat. Fry half of the tempeh for 2-3 minutes per side until browned and slightly caramelized. Repeat with the remaining tempeh and the last half of the oil.
Serve the tempeh over rice, and spoon the apricot sauce over the tempeh. Garnish with scallions and cilantro, if desired.
*Tempeh is available in a few different shapes and sizes. The brand used here is long and easy to cut into triangular shapes. For the purpose of this recipe, the shape is not important. You can cut it into cubes as well.
Chrystal Baker is a freelance culinary assistant, blogger, and food and events contributor for CBS Los Angeles and Basil Magazine. She is the creator of the recipe blog, The Duo Dishes, as well as her personal site, Any and Everywhere.