Photo Blog ‘The Inspired Vegan’ : Black-Eyed Peas in Garlic-Ginger-Braised Greens (Originally Posted at Philly Food for Thought)

By Takia McClendon

Chef/Activist Bryant Terry has raised the culinary bar with his latest work, ‘The Inspired Vegan‘. The book offers delicious recipes that even the most novice cook (like me) can prepare. Calling ‘The Inspired Vegan’ a cookbook would be a disservice to Mr. Terry, whose work is more of a cultural ‘collage’ of food, music, history and inspiration.

According to Terry, the book “assembles many of the things that excite me to live, love, laugh, lounge, and lick my fingers”. Terry’s ability to unite food & culture through powerful stories, vivid photos and creativity makes ‘The Inspired Vegan’ a staple that belongs in even the most devout omnivore’s kitchen.
With such a large selection of recipes to choose from, I narrowed my selection down to Detroit Harvest, “a menu that pays homage to James and Grace Lee Boggs for their community activism in Detroit…”

Before preparing any recipe, I normally take a trip to my local food co-op to pick up ingredients that I may not be able to purchase at a conventional supermarket. Although the Detroit Harvest menu calls for items that I figured wouldn’t be available, I gave the supermarket the benefit of doubt.  I made many substitutions to recreate the meal painted in ‘The Inspired Vegan’. In fact, I didn’t feel bad for doing so because Terry encourages this practice in the book’s introduction: “It won’t hurt my feelings if you deviate from these recipes. In fact, I want you to make them your own”, says Terry. (Told you so) The ability to substitute without guilt is one of the many pleasures a reader will get from ‘The Inspired Vegan’. As a food justice activist, Terry’s leniency is key for making recipes accessible to those who may not have access to healthy, quality and variety food.

So, what is the ‘Detroit Harvest’ exactly? The ‘Detroit Harvest’, an autumn menu selection is “fused” with elements of Afrodiasporic and Asian Cuisine. The menu comprises of ‘Ida B. Limeade’, a beverage dedicated to civil rights leader Ida B Wells-Barnett; Black-eyed peas in garlic-ginger-braised mustard greens with pickled mustard greens, sesame seeds, and tamari; black “forbidden” rice with parsley; molasses, miso, and maple candied sweet potatoes; and rice wine-poached asian pears with spiced syrup.

Please Note: For my purposes, I did not create all 5 items on the menu. I could not get my hands on a fresh lime in my grocery store so I did not make the Ida B. Limeade. I also did not have the ingredients to make the Rice Wine-Poached Asian Pears.
The Detroit Harvest pictured in ‘The Inspired Vegan’
‘The Inspired Vegan’ is broken into three parts: Basics, Interlude and Menus. The ‘Basics’ offer kitchen tips, everyday recipes and random facts about fats, vinegars and vitamins that come in handy when preparing the menu items. The Interlude acts as a table of contents of what’s to come. Since it is broken down into several categories, the Interlude allows those who are not dedicated to creating an entire menu to select drinks, bites and side dishes that they may want to prepare. The final section, ‘Menus’ offers recipes for 17 seasonal main courses along with a host of drinks, salads, snacks and side dishes.
Sweet Potatoes, Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens, Wild Rice & Sesame Seeds

As I mentioned above, pulling together all the required ingredients for this recipe was impossible at my grocery store. However, a few substitutions made this meal easy to replicate. For instance, I did not have access to ‘forbidden rice’ so I substituted it with Wild Black Rice. I also did not have any mustard greens so I settled for collards.

Nina Simone: Revolution (1969)

Making the ‘Detroit Harvest’  was truly an exciting experience. Dedicated to Detroit Summer “for bringing people of all races, cultures, and ages together to build power from within communities and positive change”, there was no wonder that Terry selected tracks by the powerful Nina Simone for the menu’s soundtrack. With the soulful tunes of “Revolution” playing in the background, I was able to prepare the meal with a sense of advocacy on my heart. “It’s not as simple as talkin’ jive/ The daily struggle just to stay alive/ Singin’ about a revolution/  Because we’re talking about change/ It’s more than just evolution/ Well you know you got to pick your brain”– Nina Simone (1969)

While I wouldn’t call this a recipe blog per se’, I do invite you to share my experience through photos and excerpts from ‘The Inspired Vegan’. Bon Appetit.

This photo displays the fresh collard greens after they have been cleaned and sliced for cooking.
“Candied sweet potatoes is a popular side dish often served on holidays in the South.”
Sweet potatoes or garnet yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds. The orange juice and lemons were both used to season the yams in a later step.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the greens and boil uncovered, for 3-5 minutes.
Spread the sweet potatoes on a well-greased baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 50 minutes
Chopped Red Onion, Red Pepper Flakes and Minced Garlic for Greens
After boiling greens for about 5 minutes, I drained the water from them and set them aside until the Black Eyed Peas were ready
Almost done! Vegetable stock, greens, black-eyed peas, and other ingredients simmering away….
“It will become clearer to millions that our good health depends on out making the good food revolution”- Grace Lee Boggs
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