Category Archives: Food

Affordable Elegance Comes to Centre Ave

Glad I decided to walk to work and that the guy turning up Roberts didn’t run me over as I img_4515-0type on this phone! Just met Chef Hassan Davis, owner of Affordable Elegance Catering/Cafe/Bakery who has opened up a pop up cafe in conjunction with the Hill Community Development Corporation’s business incubator program. Affordable Elegance has sandwiches and pastries available three days a week in the storefront through November 9th. You can find him 9-4, Monday, Wednesday & Friday in the Hill CDC building, 2015 Centre Ave. Sooooooo beautiful. Mr. Davis is now looking at spaces to open up a full service cafe, catering business with an accompanying banquet hall and space for music. And the icing on the cake? Born Hill Disticter feeding the culture. Shouts to the Hill CDC for its partnership with Mr Davis and shouts to Mr. Davis for adding this and his commitment to the neighborhood. Super dope.

To reach Affordable Elegance, email or give a call to 412.224.0653.


Bonnie’s Red Curry Vegetables Over Brown Rice


Vegetables cooking before coconut milk has been added

The Black Panther Greens were a big pretty hit, so in the spirit of Ujima, to build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems own  to solve them together, here is another dish for folks with the problem of looking to have another vegan cooking trick in their culinary bag–Bonnie’s Red Curry Vegetables (pronounced Ve-je-tah-bulls) over Brown Rice named after …my wife, Bonnie! Curries are a pretty easy and flexible dish, particularly when you use curry powder or paste, in that you can use the base in many, many ways i.e. chicken, shrimp, lamb, different vegetables & tofu, etc. so you can change this up pretty easily. This recipe makes the curry from scratch, so it requires a little more preparation, if you don’t already have all the spices. This recipe’s selection of vegetables really worked well and were the choice of Bonnie. However, as I said above, once you have the base of spices, onions and garlic, anything else can follow.


1 good sized tomato, chopped

1 good sized yellow onion, diced

3 clumps of garlic from a jar or 8-10 cloves

2 carrots, diced

1 sweet potato, diced

2 red skinned potatoes, diced

1 red pepper diced

2 shakes of a bag of peas

1 lb of spinach, use whole leaves


1 can of coconut milk

1/4 tsp of cayenne

1 tbs of cumin

2 tsps of chili powder

2-3  tsps of coriander

1 tbs of turmeric

1 tbs of paprika

3 tbs of olive oil

1 1/2 cups of brown rice


Cook onions and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes or so and then add spices and cook for another couple of minutes. Don’t put the heat to high or CurryFinishedyou’ll burn the garlic. Then add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 15-20 minutes and then add coconut milk and cook for another 30-40 minutes on a medium heat & until they are level of softness you like. (My kids have never liked their vegetables too crunchy. Of course this would be healthier, but it’s all vegetables already, so you’re already kind of winning.) Meanwhile, boil the brown rice with a couple pinches of salt and cook it for 45 minutes. I haven’t cooked with brown rice for a while and I forgot how much better brown rice keeps itself as separate kernels, rather than merging into one pretty sticky rice clump. When the curry is ready, spoon it over the rice and serve.

Ok, so there’s another vegan dish you can bring to a Kwanzaa event or make for your own Kwanzaa event at home or make anytime during the year. As I said before, once you get a hang of the curry base, you can curry anything!


Black Panther Greens by Way of Soul Vegetarian


Black Panther Greens finished and ready to go

As part of our evolving Christmas tradition at my mom’s, sister and brother in law’s house in MD, I make Black Panther Greens. This is a dish we used to  vend in the 90’s in Pittsburgh at events like the Harambee Black Arts Festival when I worked for The Village 4 an Afrikan Cultural Center, an organization I helped to start and worked on coming out of Pitt’s Black Studies Dept with Kwame Ali, Bonnie Young Laing, Vanessa Liles, Erica Louison, Nzingha Uhuru, Ebony Lattimer, Darryl Wiley, Luqmon Salaam, Mary Martin, & MinNekHekh Thomas. In the spirit of reshaping this blog and in honor of upcoming Kwanzaas, New Year’s Day traditions and New Year’s resolutions, I thought a few folks might be interested in the recipe. This recipe belongs to another institution birthed in the 90’s (maybe late 80s?) Soul Vegetarian Restaurant of D.C.’s Georgia Ave. We added “Black Panthers” as Pitt Black Studies majors rescuing and restoring the Black Radical Tradition from the margins where both liberal and conservative political advocates are constantly trying to push it…and to brand the greens as being the bomb butter! As I am writing this it occurs to me that the colors of the tomatoes, eggplant, & greens, when put in the context of the Panther’s socialist critique of cultural nationalism and it’s Red, Black & Green flag as a bourgeois, avoidance agenda,  adds a touch of irony to the dish’s name.


1 medium sized eggplant, diced

bunches of greens, shredded

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 good sized onion, cut into rings

4 cloves of garlic

A good amount of sea salt

Vegetable Oil


Cayenne-No free advertising on Hillombo

A dash or two of cayenne pepper

4 pinches of beet sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

2-3 cups of water


In a pot, boil eggplant, greens, sea salt to taste, maybe 2-3 tsp, 7 or 8 turns of your black pepper shaker, and the sugar for about 90 minutes to 2 hours. In a separate pan, cook onions, tomatoes, garlic until onions are translucent and tomatoes are almost boiled down. Then add onions and tomatoes to the greens and cook for another 1/2 to an hour, depending on how you like your greens.


Greens and eggplant 1/2 done

Ok, I know there are some food picture haters (TJ DaMilitant, I know you’re out there!), so hopefully the pics aren’t so bad as to gross you out, because this meal is a winner. For all you out there with weight loss resolutions, you may want to consider a vegan diet to give your system a jolt. I started out  2015 with my frat brother’s Chris Steel Edmunds’ health and exercise plan, combined with a January vegan diet, and lost 15 lbs in a month and managed to keep it off the whole year.

How Do We Better Support Hill District Restaurants?

After coming home wrecked with no energy to cook, we got some very bland food tonight from the South Side that cost us nearly 40 bucks for four people, so I was going to blog tonight about how we need restaurants in the Hill open after 6 pm, since the closest one to us, Grandma B’s Cafe (scroll to page 3, to read about Grandma B’s) closes at 6 pm. However, my wife, Bonnie, reminded me that both Z Best and Mr. D’s are open after 6 o’clock, so it got me to wondering why we didn’t think of going to Z Best? (We’re partial to Black cooking and ownership.) I wonder if in addition to the fact that our brains were fried, it has anything to do with the need for better signage for place like Z Best, so that you are reminded of it every time you drive by it? If business is location, location, location, maybe I would have thought of the restaurant were it on Centre Ave? Maybe if Grandma B’s had a more visible location like Centre, it could stay open later (will ask the owner, Nafees Bin Muhammad, since they may close at that earlier hour by choice).Obviously, I need to be more disciplined in my thinking so as to better support Hill District businesses, but every little nudge helps.

On a related matter, I got an email today that the Hill District Community Development Corporation is having a community meeting on November 15th at 6 pm and that Centre Ave Development is one of the items for which there will be an update. I haven’t seen anything to say restaurants are on the menu for this first phase, but I sure would like it if they were and it would be great if there was the possibility for the neighborhood’s current restaurants to move to Centre Ave, so they could take advantage of the new energy coming, a more visible place and we could better support them.

Update: I spoke with Brother Ahmad, the cook at Grandma B’s Cafe, and he said it is due to the decline of business in the evening that they close at 6 pm and that they would look forward to opportunities to expand to Centre Ave, while keeping the base at Wylie (which is good for us on Wylie).