Someone’s Brother

When I think about the current state of affairs in the United States, I reflect on my emotions and how they’re directly correlated to the Five Stages of Grief. Denial—this isn’t permanent, right? Bargaining—if I have these uncomfortable conversations with close-minded people, maybe I can help educate them? Depression—it takes all of five minutes of reading the news or going through my social media feeds before I begin to cry of another injustice or another innocent person dying at the hands of a corrupt system. Anger—I believe I will never not be angry about all that is going on. Acceptance—I will never accept acts of racism, hate, oppression, or injustice. Never.

While myself and much of the world are mourning the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, I have also reflected on:

Sean Reed

Jamee Johnson

Antwon Rose

Kwame Jones

De’von Bailey

Jimmy Atchison

Willie McCoy

EJ Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr

Stephon Clark

Trayvon Martin

Michael Brown

Tamir Rice

Jordan Edwards

Oscar Grant

This is just a very small list of the hundreds of thousands of innocent African American male lives that were taken by the hands of racist cops, and that list doesn’t even include the women who lost their lives.

I mention these men specifically because they were all under 22 years old at the time of their deaths. They were younger or the same age as my brother who died in an accident 12 years ago. Today would’ve been his 34th birthday. Just like most of these young men and boys, my brother won’t ever be someone’s husband or father. They will never have wrinkles, gray hairs or laugh lines—the things we often take for granted, the physical signs that we have lived, the privilege and mementos of aging.

For the past few weeks my emotions have been heightened. I’m reliving the many times I’ve gone through the 5 Stages, again and again. And if you’ve ever experienced a great loss of life, you know that this cycle never ends. You never stop missing your loved one(s). You will never accept their death. A part of you will always be missing. That part left when they did.

I cry because the families of the names mentioned above are still grieving, too. Like me, they lost their brother or sister, child, or father. This is unacceptable.

In honor of my brother, I am making additional donations to Black Lives Matter and the following tagged organizations in his name. I strongly encourage you to do so, too, if you haven’t already.

So, if you are not fighting or listening and learning, protesting or donating, calling or E-mailing your local and state officials, or supporting BIPOC businesses,  I ask that you to do so now. This is the time we have to make a change. We cannot allow this to continue. If you don’t agree with me, and cannot find space in your heart to help fight for racial equality, then please, do yourself a favor and click that unfollow button right now. Please. Because one of the biggest life lessons I have learned in my grief, is to not waste a second more on those who don’t deserve my time.

Black Lives Matter.

An Honest Mistake

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I’ve made quite a few mistakes in my life.

Many of whom were the boys I dated. (Woof.)

A few of them were jobs. (Double woof.)

People I trusted.

Maybe a few outfit choices in my younger days.

And about a handful of some very bad haircuts.

But not all mistakes are bad. Some of my favorite mistakes often happen when I’m in the kitchen.

After a long day at work earlier this week, I was craving muffins. Looking around in my pantry I had a tart apple and some strawberries. I researched some recipes and found a gluten-free AND vegan recipe for strawberry and apple muffins. And as any person whose made a few mistakes in their past, this recipe had its own red flags.

First, it didn’t have any egg substitutes. Nor did it have enough fat. After following the recipe step by step, the consistency was quite dry. So dry that it wouldn’t even incorporate properly. I adjusted the fat content by adding some olive oil and a touch more maple syrup.

I baked off 12 of the muffins for about 30 minutes and the muffins just didn’t rise. The texture was off, a bit gritty actually. The flavor was on point, so I didn’t feel that it justified me throwing the entire batch away. Instead, I quickly went into Plan B mode and pulled the pre-baked muffin mess and greased a tart pan. Pressed the still-warm batter into the pan. Placed the crumb tart back into the oven for another 25-30 minutes. I waited till the crust was a beautiful dark golden brown and then pulled it out to cool. The resulting crumb crust was caramel-y buttery, light, sweet from the strawberries and perfectly tart from the apple.

I then prepped the cashew cheesecake batter and filled the cooled tart shell. I only placed the cheesecake in the fridge till it was just set. I topped it with freeze-dried strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. But you can add any topping to it. Date caramel would be amazing on this. Coconut caramel would be great as well.

Mistakes aren’t all bad, you see. This one was honestly quite delightful. And it didn’t leave me heartbroken or with a bad hair day.

Kelly Rae

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Must Be a Full Moon

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Let’s take a few minutes to watch this before we continue.

Got it? Good. ‘Cause I’d totally eat the moon if it was made of these chewy cookies. (And heck, I’d have seconds. And thirds.) Although they’re perfect on their own, I strongly suggest you make the Black Sesame Ice Cream to go with. They are so good together. Kinda like Will Ferrell and Jeff Goldblum in that SNL skit.

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Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Food Network
Yields 12 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

Melt the butter into a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until the butter is a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and place the butter into a large bowl to cool.

Once the butter is cooled down, add the brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and stir until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until well combined.

In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and stir until well incorporated and smooth, about a minute.

Add the rest of the granulated sugar to a plate. Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized balls and roll them in the sugar. Arrange the dough on the parchment paper lined sheet tray at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool the cookies on the sheet tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes.

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