food

Being a Black Woman

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Bodysuit- Wishlist (Similar)

Photography & Styling by. Bernadette Mira

and Garrett Hagen

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” -Malcolm X

 

I have never seen myself as worthy or even as a human being when it comes to living in this body of mine. I am always curious how privilege people feel not having that kind of weight on them. Being a black woman…wait, being a woman in general is hard enough as it is, BUT when you’re a black woman it’s a completely different story.

It’s like all the cards have been taken away from you even before you could start the game. We have to work ten times as harder as anyone else and yet we’re always seen as being angry. Words that run through my mind every time I step outside are ANGRY, CRAZY, HOOD RAT, SLUT, UGLY, STUPID. I wish I could say that I haven’t been called any of those things. Yet, people who I even considered family and friends have treated me like complete strangers do.

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My name is Bernadette Mira Hagen and I don’t feel like I matter. I am judge solely by skin color and gender. I’m never judge by my actions or character. It hurts. The pain is indescribable, but I will try to put into words. I remember going in for an interview. It was for a photography job and the person I spoke with was a white older male. As soon as he asked and made a joke about the type of jobs I have had in the past, I should have just walked away, but I didn’t. He looked at one of my food images which consisted of having beignets and cotton flowers, he then asked with a grin on his face, “So, you pick cotton for a living?” I could feel the tears from past years of growing up in a mainly white community start to swell in my throat. I kept it down and swallowed it. I remained silent and I suppose I was ‘polite and professional.’  After the interview, I sent him an email saying that I didn’t appreciate the things he said to me. His response is what you would expect, “I was just trying to help you, but never mind. That’s your loss. I’m great. I hope you feel better now.”

Yes, there are times that I am angry, but most of the time I’m disappointed and sad with how cruel people can be, especially to people they don’t even know. I grew up as I’m sure most black women have grown up as feeling like they’re ugly and not worth anything, except as being an object. I went through having my hair relaxed as a kid and having my hair break off.  I’ve been through having white kids calling me “Nigger!” “You’re ugly!” “What’s wrong with your hair?” “What’s wrong with your lips?” “You can’t see Bernadette! It’s black in here!” I have heard all the black jokes told by white people. I have been turned down from jobs because of my skin color and gender. I have been made to feel less than most of my life and I will probably have to deal with that pain for the rest of it.

BUT…that’s not me. I am so much more than someone bringing down my worth. I am so much more than being judge based on how I look or where I came from. Not many people give me a chance, but trust me, they’re missing out on one of the best people out there. I have to get up everyday knowing that there might be someone who brings me down based on my skin color and gender. Yet, I keep on getting back up to face that pain, to face those that are constantly in hate and feel the need to bring me down. I am worthy. I am beautiful, I am strong as hell, I am intelligent, I am damn talented and I’m not going anywhere.

 

“There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in Black women. It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.” -Maya Angelou 

 

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West African Peanut Soup

Serves 8-10

Ingredients 

sea salt and pepper to season

2 large sweet potatoes diced

1 carrot diced 

one medium size onion finely diced

4 large garlic cloves

1/2 tsp. of minced ginger 

2 tbsp. tomato paste

can of puree tomatoes 

can of chickpeas

handful of chopped spinach

1 cup of diced purple cabbage 

1-2 cups of chicken broth

3 cups of water

1/2-1 cup of natural peanut butter

1 tsp. of smoked paprika 

1/2 tsp. of red pepper spice

1/2 tsp. of garlic powder

1 tsp. of turmeric powder 

Toppings

chopped peanuts (optional)

minced fresh ginger (optional)

chopped green scallions

 

Directions:

  1. In a big pot and I mean big, saute the onion and garlic on medium heat until they become translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Then add the chopped sweet potatoes, carrots and ginger. Stirring together occasionally while being careful not to burn the ingredients, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper for about 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes add tomato paste and stir together until well combined.
  4. Then add a can tomatoes, chickpeas and season lightly. Cook on medium heat for five minutes while occasionally stirring.
  5. Then add spinach, cabbage and chicken broth. After adding the broth, you may add 3-5 cups of water (depending on the thickness you want from the soup) and peanut butter.
  6. Combine the ingredients together and add the rest of the spices. After adding the rest of the spices bring to a boil.
  7. Once it has come to a boil lower it back down to low to medium heat and cover slightly with the top. Let the soup cook for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Feel free to season with more spices depending on how hot you want it.
  8. After cooking serve the soup with chopped peanuts, fresh minced ginger and chopped scallions.

 

Enjoy! and most importantly, love yourself and your worth. You matter.

Much love,

                                                                                                    Bernadette 

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Matcha Pancakes

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Shirt- &Other Stories|Perfume- Ellis Brooklyn

Photography & Styling by. Bernadette Mira

I’m always extremely picky about my perfumes. I tend to gravitate towards sensual smells that are along the line of musky, cedar like smells. Yet, every now and then a perfume comes along and surprises me. You know when you’re shopping around and checking out different perfumes and one just hits you right in the face? (HOPEFULLY not literally.) Ellis Brooklyn’s Fable Eau De Parfum did that to me. Not only is the packaging stunning and to die for, but the smell is unique. It was immediately sense memory for me. It took me back to when I was a kid and would endlessly suck on the honeysuckle flowers. The scent is light yet has this undertone of sensuality. Please, do yourself a favor and check out their perfumes.

So, on to the recipe! I’m not going to bore you with the details of the benefits of matcha powder, but it IS SUPER good for you! Just know that detail while you’re making yourself four pancakes and end up devouring them all. (This is what I’m telling myself.) These pancakes are delicious! I was kind of skeptical about the idea of adding matcha powder to a pancake recipe, but you only live once am I right?

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Matcha Pancakes

Makes 5-7

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (sifted)

1 tsp. of matcha powder

1/2 tsp. of baking powder

1/2 tsp. of baking soda

1/4 tsp. of sea salt

1 tbsp. of unsalted butter

1 tbsp. of granulated sugar

1 egg

2 cups of green tea soy milk 

1 tsp. of vanilla extract 

Coconut whip cream

1 can of coconut cream (omit juice-save for smoothie or juices)

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 tbsp. of granulated sugar 

Toppings

confectioners sugar

matcha powder 

perfume

Directions:

  1. Make pancake batter: Sift dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Flour, matcha powder, baking soda/powder and sea salt. Then set aside.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix 1 tbsp. of room temperature unsalted butter, sugar, egg, soy milk and vanilla extract until well incorporated.
  3. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until smooth.
  4. Tightly wrap and leave over night in the fridge until the next morning.
  5. Next day: Prepare a cold mixing bowl, by adding it into the freezer and leave for at least 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes are up bring out and mix the coconut cream on high-speed, either with a standing or hand-held mixer. After it has been mixed for two minutes add the vanilla extract and sugar slowly. Mix again for 5 minutes. Then once it becomes fluffy, leave it in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. By this time, you should start making the pancakes. Making pancakes are pretty simple. The way I do them is by adding about 1-2 tbsp. of butter to a large skillet on medium heat. Once the butter has melted I then gently add pancake mix by using a 1/2 measuring cup. Once the pancake batter has started to bubble on top its time to flip. Do this method how you please and what works best for you. You may, to keep the pancakes warm heat up the oven to 175. When you have finished your first pancake and progress to make more, add them to a baking sheet and put them in the oven so they stay nice and warm.
  7. To assemble the pancakes: I did this by largest to smallest.  Pancake, coconut whip cream, pancake, and so on and so forth. To top it off add sifted confectioner sugar  and sifted matcha powder.

Enjoy!  Partake in devouring some delicious yet some what healthy pancakes!

Much love,

                                Bernadette 

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Sunset Pink- Blood Orange Cocktail

Chriselle dress2

Asymmetrical Trench Dress- Chriselle x J.O.A. Collection| Trousers- Uniqlo| Tank- &Other Stories| Earrings- &Other Stories 

Photography and Styling by. Bernadette Mira

So far this year has been an interesting one. I’ve realized that I have spent more time stressing about things that are out of my control, rather than taking care of myself and focusing on the positive things in my life. As humans, I find we tend to focus on the things that we don’t have. Constantly craving for more and never being satisfied with what we have. Obviously, I shouldn’t/can’t speak for everyone out there, but it is something I have noticed in myself and it something that I want to change.

I am always trying to strive for success and this year, I have been turning my wheels by always applying/searching for jobs. Even applying for jobs that I don’t even REALLY want to do. What sense does that even make? I’m currently shaking my head at myself and letting myself know, it’s okay to take a breath once and a while.

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One of the most important things that I feel that I have put on the wayside when it comes to constantly applying for jobs and searching for ways to make money, is putting time into my blog and into my cooking. I seriously miss it! I miss taking the time going out to markets, especially the fresh market at Union Square NY. It’s always buzzing with people and the atmosphere is always sweet with the smells of fresh produce and goods. I finally took a day and just sat myself down and said, “Bernadette, grab that blood orange over there and make something!” So, I made something.

 

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Blood Orange Cocktail

Serves 1-2 

Ingredients 

1-2 oz of blood orange simple syrup

3/4 oz of orange juice

1/2 oz of sparkling seltzer water

1/2-3/4 oz of good gin

Served with a big ice cube 

Blood orange simple syrup

juice from 1-2 small blood oranges

1/2 cup of water

2-3 tbsp. of granulated sugar 

 

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Directions:

  1. To make blood orange simple syrup (can make the day before) add the juice from two blood oranges, water and sugar into a medium sauce pan on low to medium heat.
  2.  Then, stir in the sugar until it dissolves and let it set on low to medium heat for five minutes.
  3.  After creating the simple syrup, pour it into a small container and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
  4.  To create the cocktail add the ice cube first, simple syrup, orange juice, gin and then seltzer water last. After seeing the sunset effect the cocktail makes, gently stir together. Then simply enjoy and take time to take care of yourself.

 

Much love,

                                Bernadette 

 

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Fighting the good fight

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Satin Red Shirt- Pretty Little Thing| Bra- UnderArmour| Leggings- Uniqlo| Boxing Gloves- Twins|Tassel Earrings- H&M

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Assisted by. Garrett Hagen

When I was a young girl I was constantly dancing. I started dancing to keep the traumatic experiences that I was enduring when I was 6 to about 10 years old at bay. I could express my feelings that way without turning it out on myself. All I wanted to do was dance. There was never a moment that I wasn’t thinking about it. While ‘studying’ at school, I would be creating new dance combos in my head. Then as soon as I would get home from school, I would turn on the stereo and dance in the living room until most of my family members came home and there wasn’t enough room to do double turns and leaps. After dinner,  I would then head to actual dance classes till about the late evening. Even though I needed that support from my parents to understand what I was going through, dance was the only thing that I could rely on. It helped me get through the most painful moments. I would dance while tears were streaming down my face and afterwards I can honestly say that I felt refreshed and felt like I was doing something for myself.

There became a point where dancing was put on hold and unfortunately I never seriously got back into it like when I was at 17. So, after years of almost zero physically activity, I found another passion. It’s been about a year and half now that I started doing kickboxing. I never thought that I would find something else that would make me feel the way that I did when I was dancing. Not only does it make me feel great from just the aspect from working out, but I feel like I have family there.

It’s almost like a slap in the face to the people who weren’t there for me when I was younger. I have that now and I’m grateful for that. If I’m down, people notice and they care to ask. The teachers are remarkable and they care immensely about what they’re doing. The past year and a half, I’ve been in and out of kickboxing from getting sick or hurt, which ALWAYS is a bummer during the down times that I’m out, but I’m always coming back to that space when I recover.  I found my family and I’m not going to let that go.

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Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 medium onion finely diced

4 large garlic cloves minced

2 tbsp. of olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper to season

1 to 1  1/2 pound of ‘good’ ground beef

1 tbsp. of tomato paste

1 can of puree tomatoes

1/2 cup of water (if needed for sauce)

1/2 tsp. of dried basil

2 tbsp. of dried oregano and fresh oregano to top

1 tsp. of dried thyme 

1 tsp. of red pepper flakes

(More kosher salt and black pepper to taste)

1/2 a packet of spaghetti 

Parmesan cheese 

Directions:

  1.  For Sauce: In a dutch oven or large skillet, saute onion and garlic on medium heat with 2 tbsp. of olive oil until soft. Season with kosher salt.
  2. Then add 1-1 1/2 pound of ground beef and cook until brown on medium-high heat with the onions and garlic. Season with black pepper and kosher salt.
  3. Once brown, add 1 tbsp. of tomato paste and stir into the meat until combined.
  4. Then add one can of puree tomatoes (if there isn’t enough sauce add 1/2 cup of water to the mix and boil off till the mixture has reduced, for about 15-20 minutes)
  5. While the sauce is boiling off  add the seasonings. Basil, oregano, thyme, red pepper, kosher salt and pepper for taste.
  6. While the sauce is cooking on medium-high heat periodically stir so it doesn’t stick to the pan and or dutch oven.
  7. For Spaghetti: For my spaghetti, I add enough water until it fills the pot half way. I then add a dash of kosher salt and about 1-2 tsp. of olive oil. I then bring the water to a boil and add the spaghetti. I like to cook my pasta till al dente, about 15-18 minutes.
  8. Once draining the spaghetti and the sauce has reduced/seasoned to your liking, grab yourself a big plate and dig in. Be sure to add some fresh oregano and parmesan cheese to top it off! Enjoy!

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Overnight Oats and learning French…slowly

 

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Blouse- &Other Stories (similar)| Shorts- Thrifted (similar)

The Penguin French Phrase Book

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

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I have been trying to learn French about a year and half now…on and off. I know, that isn’t the way to actually progress, but I get bored easily. All jokes aside, I do, sincerely want to learn how to speak French fluently. My question is though, how does anyone successfully learn a new language?

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I want to convince my husband by saying, “Hey honey, I think we need to take a lonnnng trip to Paris so I can finally learn French.” We all know that isn’t going to go over well. WHO even has the funds to do something like that? Maybe, some rich white, eat pray love, woman who during her down time, just lays in the pile of money that she has. I digress, I guess I just have to whip myself back into gear. I need to be putting 100% effort in everyday…when I can, whether that be slapping sticky notes on food or appliances to remember the word pomme for apple.

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Speaking of food, this is making me hungry and I need to start preparing breakfast for tomorrow. I try to make meal prep as easy, and painless as possible. So, today I am sharing my recipe for overnight oats. It makes getting up in the morning a breeze and actually enjoyable. You can sit back and eat your oats while you try to learn some french…which hopefully, I’ll be doing.

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Pear Overnight Oats

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 cup of Irish style oats

1 cup of almond milk

1/2 tsp. of honey

1/8 tsp. of turmeric

1/4 tsp. of cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

half of a pear finely diced 

 

Directions:

  1. Add 1 cup of oats and seasonings to a medium size bowl or cup.
  2. Then add the honey, almond milk and diced pear.
  3. With a spoon stir up the oat mixture until fully incorporated.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight and enjoy the next morning!

 

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Falling over Bagels

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All I can ask is “Why?” Sometimes life sends you curve balls. Is that the saying that people say? Well, life has sent me quiet of bit of those balls and sometimes I just want to throw them in the fire. For the past month and a half, almost, I have been suffering with colitis. If you don’t know what that is, please do yourself a favor and don’t look it up, it’s terrible. You literally feel like your dying from the pain and all I can say is take care of your gut and don’t take too many antibiotics IF you can help it.

So, Christmas and the holidays were non-existent for me, because I couldn’t celebrate while kneeling over with pain. Even though the pain kept me down, there have been  days where I have felt fine. On one of those days I decided to embark on making bagels.

Now, I have never in my life made bagels and I honestly thought it would be an easy task, but as you can see some of my bagels have a unique shape. Which is fine and Julia Child would probably approve of the attempt. Yet, in future baking, I am determined to create the perfect, circular shape for a bagel.

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Poppy Seed and Parmesan Garlic Bagels

Makes 12

Ingredients 

Poppy Seed Bagels

1 tsp. of active yeast

2/3 cup of warm water

1/2 tsp. of brown sugar

2 cups of bread flour

1 tsp. of kosher salt 

1/2 cup of water

1 tsp. of baking soda 

2 beaten eggs for egg wash

1/2- 1 cup of poppy-seeds (make ahead)

Parmesan and Garlic Bagels

1 tsp. of active yeast

2/3 cup of warm water

1/2 tsp. of granulated sugar

2 cups of bread flour

1 tsp. of kosher salt

1/2 cup of water 

1 cup of shaved parmesan (make ahead)

1/2 cup of minced garlic (make ahead)

 

Extra: flour, oil, damp dish towels, a big pot

Directions:

  1. In two separate bowls add yeast, warm water and sugar. See Notes. Let both mixtures sit for 5 to 8 minutes. Then set aside.
  2. In two big bowls sift flour and salt together till combined. Then create a well into the flour and add the yeast mixture.
  3. Slowly mix the dough and incorporate the 1/2 cup of water for both mixtures. Then knead the dough for 5-10 minutes or until elastic.
  4. Then lightly oil two clean bowls. Let both of the dough mixtures rest for an hour with a damp cloth on top.
  5. After resting shape the dough into bagels. By doing this, cut the two dough mixtures into halves. Then with a sharp knife cut 6 medium size balls–making 12. (6 for the poppy-seed and 6 for the garlic bagels)
  6. Once you have your twelve balls, gently place your ring finger into the middle of the dough ball until your finger pokes through. Then carefully move the dough around in a circular motion with both of your hands pulling on each side as you go around. See shaping bagel video.
  7. After shaping all twelve bagels, on an oiled sheet or plate let the dough rest again with a damp towel for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 F.
  8. Once the bagels are done resting, create your hot water bath. In a big pot add water about half way with 1 tsp. of baking soda then bring to a simmer.
  9. Once the water has start to simmer, gently with a slotted spoon add the bagels one by one. Do this in batches of twos or threes, depending on the size of your bagels. Let each bagel boil for 2 minutes on each side. Then set aside to rest on a clean plate.
  10. Create your egg wash for the bagels and brush all of them till fully coated. At this point add your toppings, poppy seeds for one batch. Then, fresh minced garlic and shaved parmesan for the other. Cover the bagels completely.
  11. On a baking sheet bake the bagels for 30 minutes or until lightly brown. Bake the bagels in two separate batches.

Enjoy!

 

Notes: For the poppy-seed bagels mix the brown sugar into the yeast/water mixture.

 

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Photography by. Bernadette Mira

Christmas Time is Here (Julia Child’s croissants with cranberry jam filling)

I will always remember that Christmas.

That time of year is back again and I can already feel the anxiety setting in. There are times when I can’t help but think about the past. Especially about the time I opened up to my adoptive father about being sexually abused as a child.

Christmas time when I was a younger was all that I waited for with every passing year. I remember decorating the house till every room was filled with some sort of tinsel or sparkling lights. I cherished every second of it. You couldn’t stop me from dancing to the Grinch soundtrack with The Who’s singing “Trim up the tree with Christmas fluff…” That time of year was magical for me. Over the years it unfortunately lost its sense of innocence. That Christmas when I told my father about being abused left me raw and alone. I will always remember that Christmas.

The week before Christmas I had to say goodbye to my husband. We were both celebrating the holiday with our families, me in Virginia and him in Florida. He was my boyfriend at the time, but I still found it difficult to leave him. Maybe it was because I knew that I could confined in him about being abused. As soon as I made it back to VA with my adoptive parents I felt this sense of gloom over the house. Before entering the house that I grew up in, I looked up at it and all the memories of being abused flooded in. How I stayed in that house for years, I still don’t know how.

When Christmas Day came along I kept on contemplating if I was going to tell my father or not. My mother who already knew and saw me get abused said, “It’s up to you Bernadette.” I had to build up my courage throughout the day until by 8 pm or so I sat my father down and told him.

The moment went by so quickly. All I remember is him saying a joke afterwards about me being abused and him getting me a wet wash cloth to wash away my tears. That’s how it was with them. They think by washing away the problems that they will magically disappear. That method never works.

Now, that I am estranged from them, I can’t help but feel that Christmas has to be perfect. It’s not healthy to think that way and I’m slowly working on it. Even though this year has been tough in so many ways politically, socially and personally,  I have a loving husband. I have a silly dog and a new family in my husband’s family. I have met new people who I can consider real friends. I know that 2018 will be better. I know this because I will keep on trying to live for me and not for the family I grew up with.

Julia Child’s Croissants

Volume Two of Mastering the Art of French Cooking 

By Julia Child and Simone Beck 

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 1/4 tsp. of yeast

3 tbsp. of warm water (100 degrees)

1 tsp. of sugar

Second half of recipe

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tsp. of sugar

1 1/2 tsp. of salt

2/3 cup of warm milk

2 tbsp. of canola oil

1 3/4 sticks of chilled unsalted butter 

Cranberry Jam

Makes 3/4 cup

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. of nutmeg

Pinch of pepper and salt

1/2 tsp. of cinnamon

1/3 cup of fresh orange juice

1/2 cup of water

 

Croissant Recipe: Equivalent version of croissant recipe. Here is a video of the master herself making some croissants on the show the French Chef.

Directions for Cranberry Jam:

  1. Throughly wash the cranberries, then pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a medium size sauce pan, add all the ingredients and stir on medium to high heat until it starts to simmer.
  3. Once it comes to a simmer, turn down the heat between low and medium. Stirring frequently for 15 minutes or until the jam comes to the wrinkle stage.
  4. Once the jam has come to the wrinkle stage, take off the heat and cool for five minutes.
  5. Pour the jam mixture through a fine mesh sieve with a glass bowl underneath to catch the jam. Do this with a spoon and patience. This should take about 10 minutes to get all the mixture through.
  6. Cool the jam in a glass jar and leave in fridge until ready to use. Keeps up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

Photography by. Bernadette Mira