Andrea Pavlov is a writer, traveler and chef. She has traveled throughout America, Europe and Colombia sharing her insights, photography and advice on cooking, camping, cross-country traveling, skincare and environmental sustainability. Of course, as many of her long-time followers know, you can also find her on Instagram as @avocadoyolks for all her latest reports on good food, sustainability, and her dog Sunny. (aka Sonny Boy Williamson, if you ask Ren Michael).
After casually posting a video to my IG stories of a batch of Hibiscus Lemonade I made last week, I was so surprised at all the messages I got asking for the recipe. This was the easiest “no recipe” recipe I’ve made in a long time and it was inspired by the Jamaica Agua Frescas I love to order whenever I go to my local taco stand here in LA.
I wasn’t necessarily planning on making this delicious drink but I happened to find the dried hibiscus flower in bulk on my first visit to Tare Grocery and immediately had to have some. I love hibiscus, it’s so tasty and so good for you too.
When I got home I remembered all the lemons in my fridge and got to making some lemonade with my newly purchased flower. I brewed the tea, added raw honey for sweetness, some freshly squeezed lemons and a lonely orange I found hiding out in my fruit drawer. It came out wonderful for just throwing a few things together unplanned.
If you can find some dried hibiscus flower, I highly recommend making this in bulk and keeping a pitcher in the fridge for a refreshing drink all summer long. I’ve already made a second batch. Enjoy friends! Recipe Below
-2 Tbsp dried hibiscus flower
-4 cups water
-¼ cup raw honey (more or less depending how sweet you want it)
-Bring water to a boil and steep the hibiscus for 15-20 minutes
-Meanwhile, squeeze your lemons and oranges (it should yield 1½ – 2 cups juice)
-Remove hibiscus and mix in your honey while the tea is hot so it melts
-Add the lemon/orange juice and mix
-Pour in a pitcher and let cool to room temperature before storing in your fridge
-Can be enjoyed hot or cold!
I am Latina. I am a Woman. I’m a child of immigrants. But I am also white facing, meaning I have benefited from white privilege all my life. While this isn’t news to me, I never really understood the true gravity of such privilege until a few months ago.
Our Black and Brown communities have been on the receiving end of violence, terror, extreme injustice and racism for hundreds of years. I have grown up in a system that continues to oppress and quiet BIPOC, along with their respective histories, their achievements, their beauty and most importantly their humanity.
I’ve always considered myself lucky to be a free American. I was equally lucky to have been raised speaking Spanish at home with family while spending my childhood summers in Colombia, experiencing another culture in a country that is home to vast populations of Black and Indigenous communities.
I felt like I was part of a diverse and open-minded community. I still feel that way. However, the privilege of being white was never addressed, so I was oblivious to how it positively affected my life and, more importantly, how it negatively affected the Black and Brown lives around me.
While racism runs deep in Colombia–as it does for much of Latin America and the Caribbean–what’s more specifically common is colorism, which is the preferential treatment of those who are lighter-skinned compared to those who are darker, even though both are of the same race. In Latin communities then, it’s especially common to hear things like, “you’re not Black, you’re [insert country here], or even comments about the type of hair you have, “at least you have good hair,” etc.
As children, we are essentially taught that having lighter skin is more beautiful and that darker skin is less preferred. If you do have darker skin, you are constantly warned, not quite half-jokingly, to stay out of the sun so that you don’t get any darker.
Even the telenovelas we are so used to watching are filled with light-skinned actors taking up the major roles, while the darker-skinned actors usually portray the ‘help.’
And so while I never grew up around any overt displays of racism, I also did not grow up with any understanding of what it meant to be anti-racist, or much less why it is vital.
As detailed above, the society we live in and the system by which this world functions is inherently racist, and built to mainly benefit white people while simultaneously oppressing BIPOC. As it’s embedded within everything around us, it becomes more natural for us to grow up harboring certain prejudices about people and their skin color without even realizing it.
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”
I have engaged in behavior that I regret, making excuses for family members who “don’t know better” because they’re of an older generation, staying quiet when someone has made an offensive “joke” or has said something ignorant or offensive because “they probably didn’t really mean it.” Colorism was very much a part of being raised Latina.
I now realize the dangers of staying silent and I am committed to actively participating in unlearning the harmful ideologies to which we’ve grown accustomed. We are talking about racism at home regularly, and addressing our own white privilege. I have addressed these topics with family and we’ve talked about the ways we can be better and change and eliminate colorism from our vocabulary. I have done a “clean up” of my social media feeds, getting rid of accounts that do not serve in uplifting BIPOC and subscribing to new voices I’d never heard before whether they’re in the arts or civic action.
I really encourage you to do more research, ask questions, learn and unlearn, and when you know better, do better. It is perfectly ok to change your mind when you’ve learned more about a subject. That is how we grow and evolve. These are small steps we must begin taking in order to begin dismantling the systems, institutions and ideologies that continue to negatively affect BIPOC and their communities.
Black lives matter. All black lives matter and are beautiful and worthy and deserving.
We are in this together, friends. As white people and Latinxs, we must step forward and stand with our Black and Brown family.
We’re all in a similar situation right now regardless of where we are in the world. Stay at home orders are in place, we’re practicing social distancing and patiently waiting for the world to get back to some form of normalcy.
In the spirit of honesty and vulnerability, which can be scary and even physically difficult for me, I’m here to admit that, after seven weeks into self-isolation, when I thought I was totally fine and could handle it all alone, I had a debilitating panic attack.
Let me preface by saying I’ve never had a panic attack or anything remotely close to one before. I have even judged others for saying they’ve had one because I never understood the severity of it until now. It was, by far, the scariest day of my life.
I’ll spare you the play-by-play details of the experience and sum it up for you like this:
After beginning to feel out of breath while driving, I pulled over to try and slow it down. Then, all at once, I couldn’t control my breathing at all, my heart was pounding harder and faster than I’ve ever felt, my vision began to blur and I could barely feel my body.
For the first time in my life, I thought, “something is terribly wrong and I might be dying.” I began to think about my life, all the people I love the most, my dog waiting for me at home, that this might be the end and that I was going to be found alone in my car on Vermont Ave.
Clearly that was not the case, and I later understood the reality of what had happened. I suffered a panic attack.
Thankfully, my boss was nearby and was able to drive me home where I proceeded to stay on the couch for the rest of the day, feeling completely drained and weak.
This is all difficult for me to admit, and I honestly didn’t really take time to process much of the experience until the next day, after some much needed rest.
For one thing, I’ve always considered myself the “strong friend.” The person my loved ones can seek out to fill their cup, to consult for advice, to whom they can vent whenever they’re going through a bad time.
Even now, with the stress of a global pandemic changing our lives, I’ve had friends and family tell me how “brave” and “strong” I am to be handling everything on my own, but I never really felt like it was that big of a deal.
“I’m fine,” I thought. “I can handle this, I’m strong and independent and this is all temporary anyway.”
Though this whole experience was definitely a surprise for me, it’s not too hard to understand why it happened. I realize now that I’ve been overburdened and stretched so far thin that my body just broke down. I’ve been doing this whole quarantine alone for the last seven weeks, separated from my partner, my family and my closest friends. In the midst of these uncertain times, I’m still working full-time, maintaining a home, taking care of my dog and still trying to take care of myself and my own mental health. Reality check, I DON’T GOT THIS LIKE I THOUGHT I DID.
It pains me to admit that I can’t handle it all, that I can’t be superwoman all the time, that maybe sometimes I have to say, “I need help, I need support.” Being in quarantine alone–that is, with no other person or people to be alone with–is really hard. So now, I realize how essential human contact is for someone like me. I love to love on my people. I love hugging and holding hands and being held and cuddling and affection and who knew that not touching a single person for over seven weeks for the first time in my 32 years of life would push me over the edge?! Definitely not me.
So now what? What did I learn from this experience that might keep it from happening again?
Well first off, I had an extremely vulnerable conversation with my partner. I opened up to him emotionally in a way I’ve always been too afraid to do, and I immediately felt an immense weight lift from my shoulders. As obvious as it may seem, I am not quite as infallible as I thought, and simply admitting this fear both to myself and to my loved ones has alleviated that self-inflicted judgmental pressure, the kind that says I need to have everything under control at all times. Ironically enough, admitting that is actually allowing me to take more control than before. I can look at my situation far more objectively, and give myself the break I didn’t know I needed.
A key to self empowerment is admitting your weaknesses. When you face a fear or personal judgment head-on, you remove its power over you. I’m sure you’ve heard this before but, “what you resist, persists,” and if there’s one lesson I can take from this whole thing, it’s to quit the resistance, let go of expectations and learn to surrender.
We’re all in this together, so ask for that help when you need it, set those boundaries that give you a break; and for goodness sake, listen to the cues your body is giving you.
One of the first things to come up in a Google search of Stephen King is that he “is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, and fantasy novels.” Now, I’m late to the Stephen King fandom but I always associated the name with just horror, not supernatural fiction, suspense and fantasy. Therefore I assumed he was just not for me, since I am not a horror fan, whether it’s books, movies, shows, etc.
What is it about the horror genre that I dislike so much? It’s not so much the fear it invokes while watching the movie or reading the book. It’s the fear that pops up. For example, during those middle of the night bathroom visits, when it’s pitch black and extremely quiet in my home. All of a sudden, my senses are heightened and my mind begins to think about all the scary things I’ve seen or read about before, making it that much harder to get back to sleep.
You know that famous shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho? I never even saw the movie before last year, and that scene haunted me for most of my life. Spoiler alert: it’s not even a scary movie.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, is not only a fan of horror but a huge Stephen King fan, and for the last four years he’s been trying to get me to watch some of his favorite movies and read some of his favorite books…and I finally caved.
I started with the Dark Tower series last year and I zoomed through the first two books. Then I was told how much I’d enjoy The Shining. I’d never seen the famous Stanley Kubrick movie, but after months of convincing I finally trusted that I might enjoy the book.
If you’ve ever read The Shining then I’m sure you remember what an incredible story it is, and not so scary after all, at least not until the last third of the book.
The richness and complexity of these characters, and the development of the plot make you feel like you’re a part of this family, slowly being manipulated by the Overlook Hotel. One of my favorite parts of the book is that you empathize so much with each person; which, by the way, was something I felt strongly lacking in Kubrick’s adaptation, which I saw shortly thereafter, but that’s a discussion for another time. The point is that I was enthralled by the story at every page. I couldn’t put the book down and it led me straight to the sequel, Doctor Sleep.
Now, I don’t want to give away any spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read either of the books, but let me just say this is one of my favorite stories I have ever read. I finished Doctor Sleep in about three days and was left in complete and total bliss. I cried at the end, felt so much joy and perfect closure for a story that I got to experience full circle. I felt like another member of the family I’d just spent so much time with and we just said a long and heartfelt farewell to each other. I highly recommend reading The Shining and then Doctor Sleep, back-to-back to get the full effect.
I finished Doctor Sleep weeks ago and I’m just now starting to feel like I can start another novel. That is the beauty and magic of getting sucked into a phenomenal story, it’s something that stays with you and makes you feel like you were sharing these characters’ experiences because in a way, you were.
I never in a million years would have thought that a Stephen King novel could make me feel like my heart was left wide open in the best way possible. Needless to say, I’m a huge Stephen King fan now, and I can’t wait to read so many more of his books. I’ve realized that the stories and characters are so involved and detailed and that anything remotely scary is really more like an underlying factor.
So on a final note: This my friends, is why you do not judge a book by its cover. Or an author by his genre.
PS: Some Stephen King novels I’m looking forward to reading next are 11/22/63, The Stand, The Outsider and, the scariest of them all, IT. Seriously, who am I?
Well it goes without saying these days have been an adjustment for most of us and we’re all figuring out the best ways to cope with it. As difficult as it can be emotionally and financially, my hope is that most of you are quarantined at home doing the best you can while we wait and see how the days continue to unfold.
I have been in self-isolation for over two weeks now, only venturing out when necessary. The rest of the time, I’ve been home…working some, reading some, and cooking a whole lot more.
Cooking is my coping method. Not only does it keep me busy (sometimes for hours) but it brings me joy, makes me feel useful, and best of all, leaves me with a fridge full of good food to eat for days.
With all of the panic buying that’s been taking place, especially for pantry items/non-perishables, I’m sure it’s left a lot of you with more cans and bags of dried beans than you know what to do with.
But fear not! I already keep a surplus of dried beans handy and I love to make a big batch for the week to use in different ways.
Here is a quick video I made that uses one 16oz bag of dried garbanzo beans three different ways: falafel, hummus and cooked beans. See below for individual recipes and notes.
To begin any of the three recipes, start by pouring the bag of dried garbanzo beans into a large bowl and covering with water to soak overnight. Once soaked, rinse them well with cool water.
-⅓ of soaked garbanzo beans (uncooked)
-1 bunch of parsley (remove stems)
-¼-½ cup of any other greens you might have (cilantro, kale, spinach, beet greens, radish greens, etc. this is optional)
-1 medium lemon
-2-4 cloves garlic (depending on your preference)
-half an onion (any variety works)
-salt to taste
-½ Tbsp cumin
-¼ tsp cardamom (optional)
-½ tsp turmeric (optional)
-¼-½ cup flour
-¼ cup cooking oil (grapeseed, avocado, coconut, etc.)
-Add all ingredients except soaked beans, flour and oil to a food processor and pulse until well combined, scraping the sides down as you go
-Add soaked beans and pulse until combined, continuing to scrape the sides down
-Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed
-Start adding flour a little at a time (you may not need the full amount) and pulse to combine
-Once you have a smooth paste, transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 min or up to overnight
-Remove cooled dough from refrigerator and form small discs
-To cook, heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet on medium high with ¼ cup cooking oil (make sure oil is hot before adding the falafel)
-Place falafel discs in skillet (do not crowd the pan) and cook until browned, about 5-8 min per side (you may have to adjust the heat if they’re browning too quickly or not fast enough)
-Place cooked falafel on a dish until all the dough is cooked
-Serve warm over pita bread, with hummus or tahini, with salads or bowls, the options are endless!
Notes: Falafel is typically made with just parsley but I love to add different greens for extra nutrition and just to use up extra greens I might have. I feel that it doesn’t affect the flavor but try it out as you see fit. There are countless recipes using canned garbanzo beans but I have not had much success with any of them. I have found the best method is to use dried beans that have been soaked overnight for the right texture.
-⅓ of soaked garbanzo beans (cooked in water with kombu for about an hour, until tender)
-2-4 garlic cloves
-3 Tbsp-⅓ cup tahini (optional but delicious)
-about ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
-Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor and pulse until well combined
-Continue to pulse and add olive oil to the mixture, scraping the sides down as you go
-Continue mixing until very smooth, at least 3-4 minutes
-Transfer to a bowl/container and enjoy!
Notes: I cook the beans with kombu, a seaweed to aid in digestion, it’s totally optional but I have found it beneficial. It does not add any taste or texture to the beans. You can remove the garbanzo bean skins for extra smooth hummus (very time consuming but worth it if you want the smoothest texture.) I prefer to make the hummus when the garbanzo beans are still warm but you can pre-cook them and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to make it. If using canned beans, follow the same process but drain and rinse the beans first (they do not need to be cooked ahead of time).
-⅓ of the soaked garbanzo beans (cooked in water with kombu for about an hour, until tender)
-1 shallot (or onion), minced
-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
-salt and pepper to taste
-½ tsp dried oregano
-¼ cup parsley or other herbs you have (cilantro, thyme, etc.), chopped
-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-Heat oil in a medium pot and add shallot, garlic, salt, pepper and dried oregano, cook until fragrant about 2-3 minutes
-Add juice of lemon and parsley and saute for another 2-3 minutes
-Add pre-cooked beans and vegetable broth
-Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 min
-Serve warm, over rice or any other grain, in mixed bowls, with salad, etc.
-Keep leftovers refrigerated. You can add to soups or even puree into hummus as well.
Notes: I cook the beans with kombu, a seaweed to aid in digestion, it’s totally optional but I have found it beneficial. It does not add any taste or texture to the beans. You can use canned beans as well just make sure to drain and rinse them well beforehand. This base works well for any type of bean. I love the delicate flavor of the shallots but you can use any variety of onion you might have on hand. You can also add some red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.