#healthy

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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Crispy Glazed Salmon

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Blouse- Uniqlo|Eyeshadow- Revlon

Photography & Styling by. Bernadette Mira

 

There are times that I forget how little I spend with my husband. I mean he’s my best friend and I feel like we never see each other sometimes. I spend most of my days working from home and taking care of the place while he works a 10-7 job. I know this is probably common for most couples, but at times I can’t help but feel “Are we the only ones that have to deal with this?”

 

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The time we spend together, I try to cherish as much as possible. Obviously, that doesn’t happen ALL the time because, there are the late night fights, making dinner at a un godly hour like 10 pm after kickboxing. Then after all is said and done, we normally ‘try’ to get to bed by 11 p.m. So, the time we spend together during the week is usually about two hours. I should consider ourselves lucky because, there are probably couples out there that don’t even see each other at all. I suppose it reminds me too much of the past, when we had to be away from each other for about half a year, because of family issues I had to deal with. It wasn’t a good time in my life and I never want to experience it again.

Anyway, this past week we got to spend more time with each other and I must say it was literally the happiest I have been for in a while. We were able to go over to Brooklyn early in the morning, walk around, chat and eat a delicious breakfast at Peter Pan donuts.  Being able to just walk around Brooklyn without being pushed are having to stop because of a big crowd, was at the same time weird but extremely refreshing. Other than just doing fun things, we got to talk to each other about what has been bothering us. Communication is very important to me when it comes to being in a relationship and also the will to listen and to keep on trying for one another. I know that my husband and I forget about these things at times, but we always come back to what is important to us.  I’m not sure what I’m trying to get at here, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that I dearly love my husband because not only is he my partner/lover but he is my best friend. We keep on trying for one another and I will always value that.

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Crispy Glazed Salmon

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

1/2 pound of salmon with skin

2 garlic cloves

2-4 tbsp of olive oil

sea salt to season

Glaze

(make before)

1 tbsp. of ponzu sauce

1 tsp. of honey

1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes

juice from half an orange (small)

1/4 tsp. of black pepper

Optional 

broiled oranges

Utensils 

sharp knife to cut slits into salmon

non stick skillet

fish spatula or regular 

 

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Salmon

Directions:

  1. To prepare the Salmon: Gently cut 4-5 medium to long slits horizontally on the skin side of the salmon. Once the slits are present, gently rub sea salt or kosher salt in between the slits. Then let it rest.
  2. Heat a non stick skillet (see notes) on medium heat add two garlic cloves along with 2 tbsp. of olive oil.
  3. Once the skillet is heated, gently add the salmon skin side down and facing away from you so oil doesn’t splash.
  4. Season the flesh side of the salmon with salt.
  5. Do not flip the salmon until it has cooked at least half way. Once it is about half way cooked, glaze the top of the salmon with the ponzu/citrus glaze. (You may make this beforehand.)
  6. Once it has been glazed, flip the salmon and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Gently remove the salmon and set on prepared dish to serve. You may serve this with whatever you like. I made some broiled oranges to add extra citrus, but the salmon would be also delicious with a side salad or couscous.

 

Notes: Please, please, use a non stick skillet. It will make your life so much easier  working with the salmon. That is all.

Enjoy! and happy eating!

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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Turmeric Lemon Drink

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Shirt- Madewell|Trench-American Apparel (Similar)|Earrings- Madewell|Cap- Uniqlo

Jeans- Levi’s

Shoes- Nike (Similar)

Photography by. Bernadette Mira

My adoptive father surrounded the house I grew up in with photographs that he took throughout the years. I admired the rawness and shock that his photos invoked. When it comes to photography, I do have this pain that comes with it. I didn’t know that I would spend the rest of my life without them. I don’t have that family anymore that I grew up with. They aren’t the people who I thought they were and it has taken me a lot of time, but I have come to terms with that.

Even though that pain is there, I still enjoy taking photographs and capturing the human experience. One thing I find true that my adoptive father told me about photography in his most “arrogant stern voice” is, “It doesn’t matter what equipment you have. It all depends on the photographer and the story they want to tell.” That saying makes me frustrated. It’s almost as dumb as the saying, “There are no small parts, only small actors…” BUT it’s true. There are times when I get so hard on myself about not having the ‘best’ equipment or much of it. I mean, I  have been using the same camera for over ten years, which is a hand me down anyway. A Nikon D200, which is old as fuck.  I  grew up poor. Everything I have still and had are hand me downs. It makes me embarrassed yet, I will admit, I have produced some good images even with equipment that isn’t shiny and new.

As artists its easy to convince ourselves that we aren’t “good” enough and compare our work to other people’s’. It’s something I struggle with everyday, but I try to remember why I started taking photos. When I was 16, along with dancing, photography helped me capture the pain and sadness I was feeling then. I stopped when I started pursuing Musical Theatre, but once I opened up about being sexually abused to my adoptive family I started taking photos again to help me through the pain. That’s where I discovered cooking, food and product photography. As silly as it is, photography has saved me in some ways. So, in conclusion I will continue to take photos, even with the pain, even with shitty equipment, because it is a part of me. I’m not going to let that go.

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Turmeric Lemon Drink

(To heal colds and other remedies)

Serves 1

Ingredients

Juice from half of a lemon

1 cup of boiling water

1-3 turmeric ginger iced cubes

1/2 tsp. of turmeric 

5-8 thin slices of fresh ginger

1/2 tsp. of honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare turmeric ginger iced cubes the night before. Combine 1/2 tsp. of turmeric, 5-8 thin slices of ginger, and 1/2 cup-1 cup of water. Stir well and pour mixture into ice-cube tray. Should make about 5-7 cubes. Let them rest for 8 hours or overnight to freeze.
  2. In a kettle, boil 1 cup of water or more.
  3. Then add turmeric ice cubes, juice from half of a lemon, and honey into a heat proof mug.
  4. Once the water has boiled, pour the hot water over the ice cubes and watch them melt into the water. This should happen fairly quickly, about two minutes.
  5. After the ice cubes have melted, stir the mixture one more time then enjoy slowly or take it as a quick shot to help colds, sore throats, upset tummies and more.

 

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I often wonder…

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Photography by. Bernadette Mira

I often wonder how people discover their “true calling”. Reading through Julia Child’s Life in Paris is fascinating and leaves me the question of how will I know what I would like to do as a career?  I mean Julia was in her late 30s if I remember correctly until she found her calling. Well, began to experiment with the idea of cooking. Perhaps, I am too picky when it comes to these things but I don’t want to be stuck doing something that I  don’t enjoy for years to appease others. I did that once, and I’m not going back there again (fingers crossed)!

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So, here I am. Spending most of the days carving out a schedule that wont leave me completely exhausted but filling it out with enough projects to leave me feeling productive. I have been playing with the idea of creating my own career, because being a young black woman in these times and let’s be honest ANY time, I have to create something meaningful for myself. I have learned through all the job interviews that no matter how talented I am that no one is going to give me the job I would ideally want because I am black. I am plunging in head first and fully going into the deep waters to discover myself.

I honestly have nothing to lose at this point. At the brink of living a world where everything seems to fall apart literally every week, I need to make the most of it while I can.

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Roasted Carrots and Potatoes with Hummus 

Serves 4

Ingredients 

Hummus

1 can of drained chickpeas 

1/4 cup of Tahini 

1/2 tsp. of paprika 

1/2 tsp. of cumin

1/2 tsp. of oregano 

1/8 tsp. of sea salt 

1/8 tsp. of black pepper

1/8 tsp. of lemon zest

juice from half of a lemon 

4 to 6 tbsp. of olive oil

extra oil for drizzling

Roasted vegetables 

4 to 5 medium size carrots 

1 medium size russet potato cut into half moons 

sea salt and pepper to season 

1 to 2 tbsp. of olive oil to coa

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F having a rack directly in the middle.

2. While the oven is preheating, throughly wash the vegetables and pat dry with a paper towel.

3. Then cut the stems/greens off the carrots and cut the potato into half moon shapes (diagonally).

4. Add parchment paper to the baking tray and add the vegetables to the tray while fully coating them in olive oil. Then season generously with salt and pepper.

5. Roast the vegetables to 30 to 45 minutes or until tender to the touch. Then let rest for five minutes and serve with hummus.

6. Prepare the hummus in a food processor. Add all the ingredients one by one and season to taste. Serve in a big bowl for easy reaching and sharing.

Note: If the hummus is too thick or dry, add water or olive oil 1 tsp. at a time until desired texture.

Enjoy…or as Julia would say, Bon appetite!

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Curry Chickpea Pita Sandwich

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Photography by. Craig McDean(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Model: Gal Gadot

I never quite know how my weeks are ever going to be. When Sunday rolls around I try to set all these expectations. I’m going to wake up at 8:20 a.m. and make it to every 9:00 a.m. morning kickboxing class Monday through Friday then hit it hard on studying languages French and Japanese and make sure I get at least two recipes done this week for my blog! This past week didn’t go that way.

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I noticed myself falling. That deep, dark hole that I’m all to familiar with started to creep in the second I woke up on Monday morning. “Hello, my unwanted friend. Oh? What’s that you say? I’m not good enough? I will never accomplish anything or discover who I am as person?…Oh…that’s…great.” This conversation was never-ending till late this past Friday.

Ever since I realized that Musical Theatre was not the path for me, that it was more of a dream and desire of my adoptive parents, I realized that I was trying for years to please them and not myself. Going to theatre school, sitting out in the cold waiting for hours to MAYBE be seen for an audition, dealing with the numerous toxic people in the industry…it was exhausting and it definitely wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. So, now that I’m off that path and separated from my adoptive family, I don’t know who I am. I have to start over completely.

Maybe I’m just complaining and maybe nothing is truly wrong with not knowing what you want to do with your life, but it honestly bothers me. I THINK I like cooking and I THINK I enjoy taking photos, but am I actually doing it for myself or for others again?

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Curry Chickpea Pita Sandwich

Serves 2-3

Ingredients 

1 can of drained chickpeas (or dried that have been cooked)

Half of a yellow onion finely diced

Sea Salt 

Black Pepper

1/2 tsp. of ground garlic

1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika 

1/2 tsp. of curry powder

1/4 tsp. of turmeric 

1 tsp. of Tahini 

Yogurt sauce:

1/4 cup of plain yogurt 

4 big garlic cloves minced

Half of a cucumber finely diced 

1 Squeeze of half of a lemon juice (about a 1 tsp)

Toppings and Extras:

2-3 Toasted pita pockets

1/8 cup of chopped cashews 

1 small handful of diced grape tomatoes 

1 small handful of arugula 

2 hard-boiled eggs (make the night before)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. While the oven is preheating, make your yogurt sauce. Add the yogurt, minced garlic and cucumber and mix well together. Then add the squeeze of lemon juice. Be sure to only add a squeeze or two, about 1 tsp. (You don’t want the mixture to be too runny.) Then once the mixture is mixed well together set it in the fridge to rest.
  3. Then chop and prepare the toppings. Cashews, grape tomatoes, and washed arugula then set aside.
  4. By this time the oven should be done preheating and if not, continue to chop the half of the yellow onion for the chickpea mixture.
  5. Once the oven is heated add the pita pockets and toast them until warm.
  6. Then in a large pan on medium heat add 1 tsp. of olive oil. Once heated add the chickpeas, onions and spices and mix well together. Once the mixture is combined turn off the heat and then add 1 tsp. of tahini and mix again till combined. Move the pan off the heat and start serving.

I serve my pita pockets by cutting them with a scissors. I cut half of the top off the pita so it creates easy access to fill it in with the chickpeas and toppings. I did mine as followed, chickpeas, arugula, tomatoes, cashews, more chickpeas then yogurt sauce. Then I had the hard-boiled eggs on the side. Feel free to add the eggs into the pita pocket. Enjoy and happy eating!

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Photos by. Bernadette Mira

Purple and Sweet Potato Egg Hash

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Photography by. Unknown(Left) and Bernadette Mira(Right)

Model: Daphne Selfe

This particular image kept on coming back to me for some reason. It struck me, because (obviously) the woman who is modeling in the picture looked significantly older (NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT ALL) than the pictures I normally post on here. I thought to myself, “Damn! This woman is rocking this suit!” I was curious and I wanted to find out more about this power house of a woman.

‘Daphne Selfe’ immediately popped up as soon as I copied the image into the Google search bar. I’d never heard of her before, but I continued to see words appear like ‘Oldest’, ‘Professional’, ‘Beautiful’, the list went on and on.  She has been modeling since 1949, which if I do the math correctly is 68 years…is that right?! That’s insane! Which, honestly, makes sense since she is the World’s Oldest Professional Model.

Her resume of work impressed me. I’m not going to sit here and write everything down about her and her accomplishments, but take a moment and just sit with yourself for a while. Women are amazing right?! I feel like it’s easy for women to forget how impressive and how impactful we have been to this place we call Earth. Even if we feel like we have zero importance in this world, we certainly do and we can certainly accomplish ANYTHING that we want to.

So, ladies and gents, take a moment and realize how special we’re as humans. I know this is turning into some type of ramble, but I think it’s important that we take those moments when we have time to and give ourselves a pat on our backs. We can do anything we set our minds to. If someone can work their butt off till their 87, then anyone can!

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Purple and Sweet Potato Egg Hash

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

1-2 small purple potatoes

1 small sweet potato

1-2 eggs

2 tbsp. of olive oil 

sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1/2 tsp. of white pepper 

Extra:

Cast Iron Skillet

Spatula 

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Directions:

  1. Cut the potatoes in small cubes and toss in the cast iron skillet on medium heat with olive oil.
  2. Then add the following seasonings. Sea salt, black pepper, garlic, and white pepper.
  3. Sautee the potatoes for 6 minutes. Then crack the eggs and add them to the cast iron skillet with the potatoes creating a circle around them. Season the eggs with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook/Sautee for another 3-4 minutes. Once the sides of the eggs start to turn a crispy brown, take the cast iron off the heat and serve at once.
  5. Enjoy for breakfast or a snack!

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Photos by. Bernadette Mira