Oops! … Posting: It’s That Time of Year! by Parlee … and more!

Parlee for Rosalie
Go, Parlee, go!!

Celebrate! pic: Parlee Jones

It’s That Time of Year

By Parlee Jones

Peace, Cecelia/InCity Family!!

Hoping all is well as we roll into the new year. It was the best of times … it was the worst of times. I choose to focus on the best! Let me start by wishing you and your loved ones a Happy 2019!!

I will put out my yearly reminder that, if you are overwhelmed by the new year … life … please, practice self-care!

Remember to:

1) Breathe: Take deep, centering breaths throughout the day. They help relax your body and mind.

2) Know your priorities: Remembering what’s most important to you can help overcome feelings of overwhelm. If there isn’t enough time to satisfy all the holiday demands, finishing the most important things can create a sense of peace.

3) Give from a full cup: You can’t take care of others if you’re sick, burned out, or generally too cranky to care. Make a point to do something nourishing and uplifting. It can be as simple as luxuriating over a cup of hot chocolate or as special as a spa day.

4) Listen to your body: Many people ignore or override their body’s signals. Your body might be able to tolerate this neglect under normal circumstances but adding the increased stress of the holiday season might be more than it can take. To increase your chance of staying healthy during the holidays listen to your body. For example, take time to eat if you feel hungry. If you’re sleepy, get enough sleep.

5) Laugh it up: Humor is great for stress reduction. Do something that makes you laugh. Need some ideas? How about watching a funny movie, singing and dancing to fun music, or telling silly jokes.

6) Listen to calming music: Soothing music helps relax your body. Nature sounds can also help reduce stress.

7) Take a holistic health approach: Self-care means paying attention to more than how much you eat or exercise. It also requires paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, expectations, and interactions. Remember, optimal health means functioning at your best in all areas of your life not just in your body.

8) Create new, self-supportive traditions: If trying to do things “the way they were always done” creates more stress than joy, take a step back and figure out a new approach. Maybe your new idea will become the next family tradition. Traditions have to start somewhere!

Now, as you all know by now, my family and I celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that means “first” and signifies the first fruits of the harvest. From December 26 to January 1, many people of African descent in America-celebrate Kwanzaa.

In Africa, there are many customs that are common among the various ethnic groups found on the continent. One of these is the celebration of the harvest. At this time of the year, people of the community/village come together to celebrate and give thanks for their good fortune. Working towards a successful harvest is a communal effort, as is the celebration.

Here in the United States in 1966, Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga and the U.S. Organization adopted the basic principles of the harvest celebrations from Africa and create Kwanzaa. He wanted to emphasize that the basic principles found in producing the harvest are vital to building and maintaining strong and wholesome communities.

Kwanzaa is that time of year to reflect on our use of the basic principles, share and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and recommit ourselves to the collective achievement of a better life for our family, our community, and our people.

Kwanzaa is held at the end of the year as we reflect and renew our commitment to the principles of Kwanzaa for the up-coming year. Kwanzaa should be practiced every day of the year!!!

Here are the Seven Principles, the Nguzo Saba … to share with your family and friends:

* Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

* Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

* Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

* Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

* Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

* Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

* Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

There is so much more to know about Kwanzaa! Whatever you celebrate, Enjoy. Renew. Live 2019 with grace and dignity!!!

Official Kwanzaa Website run by Dr. Maulana Karenga: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml



Vegetarian Kwanzaa Feast!


While most American holidays are “celebrated” with a dead animal on the dinner table (think Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham), Kwanzaa is especially suited to a vegetarian feast!

Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits of the harvest” in Swahili, combines elements from traditional African harvest festivals. The week-long holiday, lasting from December 26 to January 1, culminates in the Kwanzaa Karamu, a feast that draws on the cuisines of Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and the American South and features common ingredients such as sweet potatoes, okra, peanuts, black-eyed peas, and greens…

We’ve compiled some of our favorite festive vegetarian recipes to help make your Kwanzaa Karamu cruelty-free and delicious!

Grilled Plantains

2 or 3 large plantains
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Cut the plantains into fourths crosswise, then slice each piece lengthwise. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Grill or broil just until tender, about 6 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

West African Yam and Groundnut Stew

(From Some Like It Hot by Robin Robertson)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 lbs. yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 small fresh mild chilies, seeded and chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, yams, and chilies, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, brown sugar, cinnamon, chili powder, salt, pepper, and hot red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Garnish with the chopped peanuts and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Hip Hoppin’ John

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 6-oz. package smoked tofu, cut into small cubes
2 16-oz. cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
3 cups cooked white rice
1 1/2 cups cooked collard greens (or other dark, leafy greens), chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
Hot sauce, to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.

Add the smoked tofu, black-eyed peas, rice, and collards. Cook for 5 minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and hot sauce.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Corn Bread

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
1 1/2 cups soy milk

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the dry ingredients. Add the oil and soy milk and mix well. Pour into a lightly oiled 8 x 8-inch pan, and bake for 30 minutes.

Makes 9 servings.

Cajun Collard Greens

(from Good Time Eatin’ in Cajun Country by Donna Simón)

2 bunches mustard or collard greens (1 if the bunches are large)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 to 1 cup water (if the greens are tough)

Wash each leaf of the greens and remove the large stalk in the center. Tear into small pieces and set aside. Sauté the onion in the oil until it begins to turn brown. Add the greens, salt, and cayenne pepper and simmer on low heat until tender, stirring often. Collard greens may need a little longer cooking time and a little more water than mustard greens, especially if they are older greens.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sweetie’s Sweet Potato Pie

(adapted from 366 Simply Delicious Dairy-Free Recipes by Robin Robertson)

1 cup cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp. margarine, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup soft silken tofu, drained
1 cup vanilla soy milk
11/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Sweet Cream Topping, for garnish (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes and margarine with an electric mixer. Blend in the tofu. Add the soy milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg, mixing until well blended. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until firm. Serve with Sweet Cream Topping (recipe follows).

Makes 8 servings.

Sweet Cream Topping

1/2 lb. firm tofu
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or coconut extract
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Chill before serving.

Makes 1 1/2 cups.