Stefanie Kelly: Chef Interrupted, Bringing it Back, & What Does Soul Food Mean to You?

Stefanie Kelly: Chef Interrupted, Bringing it Back, & What Does Soul Food Mean to You?


Home Slice resident food scribe returns with great recipes, deep insight and self-rescue missions. Make the food and reflect on what thoughts and feelings of a 21st Century conjure woman. 


“we eat everything. & everything eats us,” i solemnly intoned while my grrrrrl the Siren squealed in pure disgust.


let’s ask @ this point: how far can i go w/this? this is a food blog, albeit, in this post, one that deals w/among other things, essential oils/tinctures etc. in food… & so the point being made was, indeed, disgusting – ok let’s just spit out the whole gross point then. i see i have no choice:


so you like meat, huh? well guess what? you actually like meat, interrupted. you don’t kill or cook your meat. so what you want is for it to taste as civilized as possible. & let’s forget about how abused the animal may or may not be – let’s take that off the table. b/c @ the end of the day, meat is gross. all that nasty sinew, bones, muscle organ – yuck. i mean i myself have visibly gagged when presented w/a lingue – beef tongue @ the market. does this mean i haven’t clawed my way through more than one lamb leg/rib/chop, picking out the stringy sinew as i went? no. it does not mean that. gross as it is, i have done this.


oh, wait. really? apologies. i didn’t realize that you were pescaterian… right. so clean, the ocean, right? i mean all that fish poop. & these gross assed fishes in there, chomping through all that Cousteau-offal, 24 hours a day since eternity. yumm! hurry up & get me some.


Jeez, how could i be such an idiot? – you’re vegan. of course. & i suppose that all the time you’ve spent in restaurants absolutely fucking torturing chefs w/your overwrought madness has overshot the fact that, while you spent time ordering sauces on the side & scorning/eschewing any animal fats even rubbing up against your vegetables, that the very dirt candy you hold to be untouchable was, in fact grown in dead bodies. & all that this entails. & let’s not even broach the subject of GMOs.



the world’s eaters range from tribes of indigenous vegetarians who refuse to eat root vegetables for fear of harming any bugs within the soil, to rabid A-1 drinking damn near cannibals out in the street trying to gnaw on one another’s legs/limbs. & the sad thing is that there is no understanding or compassion between them.


in actual fact the ugly truth is that if you as a human being want to eat, then you will have to cut something off from its life force.


“& the curse of this, for those of us @ either the top or bottom of the food chain (however you want to qualify humans), is guilt attendant to this. but there is no guilt involved, friends. b/c @ the end of the day, we eat everything. & when we die, everything eats us!”


the Siren was still panting…. “bring it all back home. bring it all back home! preach!!!” she belted. “i can’t. OMG…” she cringed. she is always so supportive. what a melodic cutie. a melodic cutie whose gentle sensibilities were understandably horrified. We had been discussing how hard it can be on the self & others when a specialized diet is necessary. the Siren has been working a self-designed healing/grain free/intermittently vegan construct, figuring out through fasting/elimination/observation of the body’s cycles what works for her. For awhile, i have been reading her lovely food posts, admiring the vivid colors/heartfelt descriptions of her juices & grain free vegan feasts, & feeling that a change was in the air. i could literally smell it. & why was that air not filled w/the smells of food simmering, you ask? b/c in this, the thick of the gut renovation of my apartment, my kitchen is out of commission. no storage & the oven needs to be replaced since it refuses to emit even gas any longer. so since i am in the market for a new oven, & have decided to wait until the new year to get a new one (renovation costs have nearly swallowed me whole) the whole question of cooking was… anathema.


a bitch became chef… interrupted over the last year or so while i pounded out @ least 6 blog posts & was way too depressed to publish them. ps! my best kitchen brother got married to his gorgeous/gentle/powerhouse soulmate (#yesyesy’all) had my STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL NEPHEW/GODSON (can it get any better???) the moved to Hawaii by way of Dallas (#whatinthemotherfuck???) what reason was there to cook anymore??? i mean simple kid foods for the babyrexic one were stressful/terrifying enough (no one wants the scorn of their own child) but this? oh fuck that. Flor de mayo menu in hand, i muddled through a few more months.


you know what kitchen? eat a dick. i never needed you anyway.


i began making perfume/herbal tinctures. i missed food, but it had all just become, le sigh, too heartbreaking. too many memories.


& then out of nowhere in march, one of my epic road-dog, SEK-C a magickal broad (about whom i have always said: this one shakes her magic wand in Jersey & there is a tidal wave in Bali) who traffics in manifestation w/a side of hope, decided that she wanted to start a web based lifestyle channel. So she picked up my cooking show. produced/directed/brainstormed it. co-birthed it. money involved? NO! a chance to sit down w/some of the MOST talented intriguing people & cook & ki-ki w/them???/fun as fuck/a dream come true? YES! a show that could pull all of my interests together & get them together on vlog… huh!


talk about bringing it all back home…


still, every time i sat down to publish a blog, either i had so much to say that the blog would have to be book length & who wants that? or there was so much to tell that i didn’t know where to start. a conundrum. so i decided to do an update w/a few of the recipes that we shot for the last segment. friends, it was a feast fit for a king, served to one of the most elegant to ever grace the game:



beer battered shrimp:


2 – 3# shrimp 10/20 preferable tossed w/lemon juice sea salt & fresh black pepper

3 cups flour, 2 wheat & 1 cornmeal reserve 1 cup of wheat flour

seasoning salts of your choice

beer (something exciting/seasonal & microbrewery-ish) 2 12 oz. bottles

grapeseed or rice bran oil heated to popping


mix together the 1 reserved cup of wheat flour & the beer

let rest for @ least an hour in the fridge

mix together the cornmeal, flour & the seasoning salts

1st dip fish/shrimp in beer batter, then dredge fish/shrimp in dry mix. fry till crispy/golden/floating

drain on paper towels



freedome greens:


Freedom Greens: (vegetarian, pure brilliance – intead of any smoked meat, sesame oil – the BOMB, & not my invention, the invention of my soul brother, F)

4 bunches collards, washed 2X, by immersing them into a sink full of ice-cold water, then pulling them out, & once more, refilling the sink, & torn roughly, removing most stems & discarding

8 – 10 TBPS sliced garlic

2 shallots, diced

2 green peppers, diced

1 red pepper diced

1 orange or yellow pepper diced

2 jalapenos diced

1 or more kitchen spoons soy sauce

1 kitchen spoon sesame oil

a touch lem j

2 TBSP vinegar preferably live apple cider

1 bay leaf

fresh rosemary

fresh thyme to taste


saute all veg – garlic, too, except collards when fragrance starts to come off the garlic, & the oil is popping hot again, add the collards, & all remaining liquid. simmer to preferred doneness.



potato salad w/aioli & black garlic:




1 2# bag lovely baby potatoes: idaho, yukon gold, redskin.

2 – 3 TBSP. aioli (found in this blog) or lemon mayonnaise

3 sticks celery, w/leaves fine diced

6 cloves black garlic fine diced & blended w/mayonnaise

1/2 tsp chopped parsley

2 shallots, fine diced

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

2 sprigs thyme

1/2 tsp. celery seed


seasoning salt – old bay, borsari, camp. etc.

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


make a cross @ either end of the potatoes & drop into salted, boiling water.

when a fork pierces each easily, remove & chop in half cubes

boil potatoes till soft, & rough chop, tossing the excess skin, & retaining just enough to keep the potato salad comfortably toothsome. add in rest of ingredients & mix lightly, till all are combined.




preheat oven to 375


1 cup whole wheat, white, or a mixture of the flours

1 cup indian head cornmeal

1/2 tsp. salt

2 TBSP. coconut syrup (easy on the glycemic index – no processed sugar spikes) or granulated coconut sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 – 4 oz melted ghee. butter or virgin coconut oil

1 – 1 & 1/2 cup buttermilk


mix baking soda w/buttermilk, set aside. sift together the baking powder, & if using granulated sugar, add to dry ingredients. add the melted oil/butter or ghee to the buttermilk mixture. if using coconut syrup, add this to the buttermilk mixture as well. mix dry into wet ingredients till just combined. pour or spread into a buttered dish about 9″X 9″. bake for 35 – 45 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean




whole fried bluefish or porgy:



2 whole small bluefish (or porgy) each weighing no more than 2# each. ask the fishmonger to please thoroughly scale clean & gut the fishes, then rinse once more when you unwrap them @ your kitchen




shio koji (fermented rice for umami. found in Japanese markets &… superlative)

mixed seasoning salts (such as borsari & old bay or to taste) 2 tsp. turmeric

lemon juice

chopped garlic

freshly ground black & white pepper

2 tsp turmeric tincture

1 sheet kombu, soaked in water for 10 min or till pliable to the touch

mix together 1 cup flour & the seasoning salts to taste

let fish rest in this mixture for 1 hour or overnight.

lightly dredge in seasoned flour.


oil to fry preferably brown rice oil or grapeseed


heat oil to popping. add fish gently so that it does not spatter. fry 5 – 7 min on each side till fish is golden brown. remove w/tongs a spatula or a slotted spoon & drain on paper towels.



it began to occur to me that the theme was… death/endings/transformation. my career to date – a whole lotta hash slangin – was molting/mourning/@ a standstill. i literally had no will to cook anymore. why cook? i have to PRETTY MUCH AUTHOR A GRADUATE THESIS TO GO SHOPPING. staying informed about which one of the crunchy/nappy/granola companies i once loved (yes, i am talking to you, TOM’S of MAINE) sold out to colgate had me in a state of… burnout/exhaustion/the purest disgust. & as my grrrrrl – a chef who takes no prisoners – the Legendary LP commented during my interview w/her in words that wrote themselves on my soul forever:


“i had to stop. remember. i had to think back to why i got in the game… ”


i knew exactly what she was saying. & even though we have a long overdue open air market date that has yet to be fulfilled, i credit her, my sis my sis w/my 1st steps back from mourning/burnout. ironically when we shot her segment, she was fasting & i was able to tap into


Turmeric chai w/coconut or nut milk


2 cups either almond, goat. cow or coconut milks

1 tsp grated fresh turmeric

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 cardamom pod or 1/8 tsp. ground

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper or 2 cloves whole

1 – 2 tsp coconut sugar in any form (optional)


simmer above ingredients together for @ least 20 min & up to an hour. if it is too spicy, then simply add more milk. enjoy in good health


yes, w/the legend/big poppa of poetry/art guardian angel/unforgettable writer, Danny Simmons (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) the honor was deep. the honor was DEEP! ok:


following the shoots, i am @ a new frontier. it occurs that any change, even one for the better comes accompanied by some sort of mourning/paralyzing anxiety. i had always cooked away the blues. but what happens if the thing you love best needs to take a rest? i don’t know! what are you looking over here for??? what you thought i had a clue? oh well. still, something does seem to be evolving;


& i have always fantasized about food writing/criticism.


in any case, please enjoy this sampling of The People’s Kitchen Convos!


love y’all

Tags: , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply