Buy Black Father’s Day Gift Guide 2019

IMG_3603.JPG

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and it’s no surprise that I’m obsessing over the perfect gift. My father has been a monumental force in my life and his unwavering support has contributed to who I am today in a million ways. Through him I have learned the art of patience and tact. Ive learned how to lead with kindness and compassion. And today, even when I’m facing the most difficult of situations - my Dad is one I call to provide me with perspective that calms me and helps me to see a “better but believable” alternative.

I often do a “buy black gift guide” for this holiday - but this year I reflected on the strength and perseverance of black father’s who are heavily invested in their children’s success. For the sacrifices you’ve made and the discrimination you’ve fealty with in your efforts to create a better life, I’m here to let you know that you’re appreciated, you’re supported and you deserve some shine! 

One more thing, as a gay man of color I’ve encountered friends and peers who have not had the easiest time coming out to their fathers or father figures in their lives.  Older and theoretically wiser, I am now extremely thankful that this was not my experience. 

From the time I came out, my father made it abundantly clear that I should never feel ashamed. That I should feel more than comfortable talking to him about my relationships, and my trials and my tribulations as a gay male. The weight of this hit me recently  when I finally processed that not everyone has been afforded this blessing.

To this day, my father remains a guiding force in my life that I could not and would not trade.  And even now, as a Black man navigating difference spaces, my father supplies with perspective I didn’t know I needed. His words of wisdom often easing the weight I feel in this world. 

So here’s to a happy Father’s Day 2019 and many more! In honor of my father and all the strong Black men who have taking part in molding me, Geo’s Table brings you a guide full of gifts imagined and created with love by black entrepreneurs! 

Check out the gift guide below! 

 Buy Black Father’s Day Gift Guide

IMG_3617.PNG

Table Talks: Chef Lee of Caribbean Silver Palate Supper Club

FullSizeRender.jpg

Light, fresh, and island-inspired. Although these three words rolled off her tongue as an expression of her cuisine, they were also well-suited to describe the chef herself. Bright and early on a rainy Saturday morning, Chef Lee and I became quick friends, discussing her Vincentian roots, the heart of her cuisine and how she is a pioneer in Baltimore’s Vegan Caribbean Movement. Chef Lee’s vibrancy is not only evident in her beautiful and meticulously plated dishes, but also in the way she shares her love of cuisine with the world. 

Originally from Kingstown, St. Vincent, Chef Lee got an early start in the food industry shadowing her mother who is a chef and restauranteur. As such, her cooking is heavily influenced by the nostalgic fare of her upbringing.  After leaving home and making a move to the United States, Chef Lee admits she became addicted to the Food Network.She notes fondly, “Cooking in the United States felt more refined. As I familiarized myself with more ingredients, I wanted to try them out.”

“Cooking in the United States felt more refined…”

While visiting Caribbean marketplaces provided her with ingredients akin to her home island, Chef Lee began to branch out, exercising her creative muscle in the kitchen to make Caribbean fare with ingredients more popular here in the states. As cooking became a growing passion, Chef Lee eventually took the big leap and enrolled in Escoffier School of Culinary Arts to become a trained chef. During this period, Chef Lee expressed that these experiences did not only elevate her cooking technique, but also how she talks about and describes food as well as the ways in which it can be presented. This was just the beginning of her journey.

 Awe-inspired by how effortlessly she built her plates, I was initially drawn to Chef Lee through her Instagram gallery on @platedbyleshe. Of her strategies for plating, she has some standard rules: Your vessel (plate, bowl, slate) is everything. The size, shape and color of the vessel can takeaway or add to a dish.  Plate items in odd numbers to draw attention to the dish. Add some color and freshness to create emotion.

“Your vessel is everything.”

Last summer, Chef Lee ventured into a new space alongside her partner, Sherry, launching the Caribbean Silver Palate, a vegan Caribbean Supper Club that features innovative and refined takes on Caribbean cuisine. From intimate three course dinners to small snack buffets featuring Saltfish Fritters, Pumpkin Fritters, and Cheese Sandwiches, Chef Lee’s intent is for each event to be a one of a kind social experience. The Caribbean Silver Palate has a simple recipe, people connect over good food, and get exposed to a different side of Caribbean culture. Each event has grown in popularity, and she looks forward to her next event planned for later this year: Edible Oasis, a culinary tour of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

While being a vegan Caribbean chef may seem like a niche, she has been very successful , emphasizing that her personal style, and flavor profiles are what sets her apart. “Seeing how intrigued [my customers] are by the fact that vegan food could taste this good is always a rewarding experience.”

Constantly thinking outside of the box, like using jackfruit as a replacement for cod or creating or refreshing lemon pasta with vegan butter, Chef Lee has one simple tip for those looking to elevate their vegan cooking game or transition to a vegan lifestyle, “NEVER compromise on FLAVOR!” She explains further “Simply massaging your kale with lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper can add great flavor! Good flavor is the easiest way to transition to a vegan diet.”

“Good flavor is the easiest way to transition to a vegan diet…”

Chef Lee is very optimistic about the future, and she credits her mother’s success and encouragement as her inspiration to keep going. She admits “Sometimes it’s difficult being a vegan chef, and being new to the culinary industry, in a whole different country. Do I sit on with what everyone is doing, or do I just stick to what it is that I really want to do. Sometimes it’s like that.” It’s evident that staying true to herself has contributed greatly to her accomplishments, and will continue to drive her accomplishments in the future.

For more information on Chef Lee, and the Caribbean Silver Palette Supper Club, visit: leshestyle.com or her instagram account @platedbyleshe.

IMG_2988.PNG

Flavorful Curry Mashed Potatoes

Flavorful Curry Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes! A side dish that doesn’t often grace my dinner table, but when it does I like to do it big! Fortunately for me, mashed potatoes are one of those side dishes that can be made in a multitude of ways, and lend themselves well to a variety of seasonings or mix-in.

This particular recipes elevates a simple mashed potato recipe, by utilizing a Trinidadian Curry Spice Blend I found at a local black-owned spice store called The Spice Rack . This spice gave this dish a powerful pack of flavor, and also adding a twinge of heat to each bite. It also gave it an appealing yellow color, that had my dinner guest salivating at first sight.

Although I purchased a premix blend (which I highly recommend and is included in this recipe). I spoke to a few of my West Indian friends (some of which are from Trinidad), and they gave me some insight on what makes the perfect spice blend for this type of dish. They informed me that when it comes to a traditional Trinidadian curry, two of the main ingredients are often cumin and coriander. The bright yellow coloring comes from tumeric (the more yellow the tumeric powder the better). Although there are different variations on this blend, a few also recommended cinnamon, cloves and cayenne pepper for a little bit of heat.

As a special note I added about two tablespoons of coconut milk to give a hint of the coconut flavor. I also cooked my potatoes in Chicken Broth with some water, for additional flavoring.

I hope you enjoy!

Curry Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Time: 30 Minutes | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 -7 Yukon Gold Potatoes (Peeled and Halved)

  • 4 Cups of Chicken of Chicken Broth

  • 1 Stick Salted Butter

  • 3/4 Cup Evaporated Milk

  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Milk

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Spice Rack, Trinidadian Curry Spice (or any Curry Powder you can find that you like)

  • 2 Teaspoons of Salt

  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot with Chicken Broth and add potatoes. You may add water or additional chicken broth to ensure the potatoes are completely covered with water.

  2. Boil potatoes on medium heat until tender. Approximately 15-20 minutes. (Use a fork to test tenderness)

  3. Drain potatoes, and place in a large bowl. Add butter, evaporated milk, coconut milk and Trinidadian Curry Spice, and salt to bowl.

  4. Using a potato masher or standing mixer, mix ingredients together until thoroughly blended.

  5. Once done you may add additional salt or pepper to taste.

Flavorful Curry Mashed Potatoes Pin

Duck Neck Fried Rice

FullSizeRender.jpg

There are times when a simple conversation can spark a wonderful spiral of ideas. That’s typically how conversation go with my friend, Sherrod. One of my favorite bloggers and an out of the box food artisan, Sherrod is that friend that casually introduces you to the hidden splendors of food you never imagined. It also helps that he is an excellent cook, and alongside his best friend, Danielle, runs a successful food blog - Slice and Torte.

In a causal conversation via Instagram, he mentioned his former life in New York and how one of his favorite comfort foods at the time was fried duck necks. Fried duck necks? I thought. It sounded interesting, however in my mind could not place the flavor, texture or consistency. Little did I know, almost serendipitously, I would meet a whole meat butcher the who carried duck, and elated about my interest in purchasing some duck necks.

I took a trip to her butcher shop, Primal Supply Meats. The shop, located in South Philadelphia, sources locally, sustainably raised meats. She greeted me with a smile, remembering me from the event. After a few moments of chit chat - I left with some fresh duck necks, ready to embark on a new culinary journey.

After scouring the internet for inspiration and a recent infatuation with fried rice - I was able to craft a recipe for Duck Neck Fried Rice that I am proud of. By seasoning the duck necks with crushed red pepper and salt, then roasting the necks in their own fat, I have been able to perfect the flavor. After shredding the meat in skin into fine pieces,  it became an easy companion to a simple fried rice recipe.

An instant favorite in our household, this is the perfect unconventional cold-weather dish  that packs a bit of heat. To top it off - duck necks tend to be an uncommon ingredient,  so using them creates a wow factor worthy of trying at your next dinner party! Check out the recipe below!

Duck Neck Fried Rice Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4-5 Raw Duck Necks

  • 1 tablespoon Salt

  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper

  • Cooking Spray

  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil

  • 2 Cups Day Old Rice

  • 1 Large White Onion (Thinly Sliced)

  • 1/3 Cup Shredded Carrots

  • 1 Egg (Slightly Beaten)

  • 4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

  • Chopped Green Onions (Optional)

For the Roasted Duck Necks

(Note: The shredded duck neck meat can be prepared in advanced, then used whenever you are ready to begin the Fried Rice. This roasting technique was adapted from another excellent recipe I found for Roasted Duck Neck Crostini on the blog What’s Cooking at Ray’s.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking oil, this will prevent the duck necks from sticking to the pan.

  2. Remove the skin from the duck necks and place them to the side (you will be using them in a moment). Season the de-skinned duck neck meat with salt and crushed red pepper.

  3. Line the duck necks in the baking dish, and place the removed skins on top of each neck. The skin will render copious amounts of fat, which will contribute to the cooking and overall flavor of the meat.

  4. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour covered, and then for an additional hour uncovered.

  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Using a fork (or in my case kitchen gloves and my fingers) shred the duck neck meat. You may also thinly slice the skins, which will be crispy and add some texture to your dish.

  6. Place the shredded meat in a bowl or refrigerate until you are ready to make the fried rice.

For the Fried Rice

  1. Preheat a wok or large skillet over medium heat and add sesame oil.

  2. Add onions and shredded carrots and begin frying to reach desired tenderness. As the onions and carrots are frying, push them to one side of the pan.

  3. Pour the slightly beaten egg into the side of the pan that is now clear. Using a spatula or chopsticks, scramble the egg until it is cooked thoroughly.

  4. Once the vegetables are tender and the egg is fully scrambled, add in the rice and the shredded duck neck meat (and skins).

  5. Pour soy sauce over top all ingredients, and mix together until coated evenly. Continue cooking until all the mixture is heated all the way through.

  6. Serve in bowl topped with green onions (optional).

  7. Enjoy!

IMG_9888.PNG

2019 Bucket List

IMG_8275.JPG

As far as years go, 2018 is certainly a tough act to follow. This was a year of life-changing milestones, among them getting married, relaunching Geo’s Table, and completing the first year of my doctoral program in Educational Technology. As the year progressed and my schedule became more open, I took a moment to breathe and reflect. For the first time in my life, I was seeing my dreams and goals actualized, and to be quite frank, it scared me. Instead of recognizing my abundance, I became anxious about the future and my plans. For a period, I spiraled into a state of distress about my life and where it was going.

Through the support and encouragement of my phenomenal husband, family, and friends, I spent the latter part of 2018 beginning a personal journey grounded in mental and physical well being. I recognized the power in sharing my story, and receiving others’ experience with an open heart and mind. I recognized now how honoring my fears has been a necessary step in moving forward and has helped me in making space for new opportunities and challenges.

As I move into 2019, I plan to use the self work of 2018 as a springboard. Geo’s Table has always been a therapeutic outlet for me, and this year will be no different. For 2019, instead of a bucket list of places to try, or travel adventures, my focus is on Geo’s Table, and following a simple mantra: Move forward.

2018 revealed to me that a year, a month and even a moment or experience can challenge you or take your life in new or more interesting directions. So in the spirit of moving forward, I present my 2019 bucket list. It is my hope that other bloggers and content creators might decide to join me in my conquest, as I check-off each bucket list item, and expand Geo’s Table into new territory.

2019 Bucket List

  1. Take course to enhance a skill.

2. Collaborate with at least 5 local content creators, business owners or brands.

3. Collaborate with at least 5 content creators, business owners or brands of color.

4. Pitch a story to at least 3 media outlets related to food or lifestyle.

5. Be a guest on a podcast.

6. Develop a three year plan for the blog with quarterly milestones.

7. Build a resource guide or course for the blog.

8. Attend a bloggers’ conference or retreat.

9. Complete a photography challenge (with my DSLR camera).

2019 Bucket List Geos Table.jpg