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January 03, 2022 At the Table

At the Table: Brandi Cheyenne Harper

What’s your name? Tell us about yourself. 

I’m Brandi. I live in Brooklyn, NY with over 30 plants and my partner. In three words, a queer homebody knitter. I write knitting patterns on how to make modern handmade knitwear. My book Knitting for Radical Self-Care: A Modern Guide encourages us to rest, own our power, speak our minds, and build the world we want to see by supporting our creativity. I studied vocal music at Fiorella H. LaGuardia High School and international politics with a focus on gender development in college. Yarn was my first love and then I met clay. I threw the vase you see on the table on a potter’s wheel. The flower arrangement was created by my friend, the owner of Saffron Brooklyn. The teacup glaze is called tahini.

My pantry is my favorite place to be in our 3-bedroom apartment after the soaking tub. I have perennial allergies to dust, mold, pet dander, certain metals, and synthetic chemicals. So, I love immune boosting whole foods, plant and animal-based fibers, natural skin products, and easy to clean furnishings. There are over 50 glass jars filled with spices, herbs, teas, grains, dried fruit, and nuts in the kitchen that also doubles as my office most days. It’s nature’s laboratory and I am always deeply grateful for what the earth provides to nourish and heal.

What recipe are you sharing with us today?

My version of golden milk, an ayurvedic drink I call Turmeric Tonic. It’s high in antioxidants and can lift our mood.

My grandmother is a Jamaican chef turning 100 in March 2022. When I ask her how much of anything to add to anything she says things like a half a thumbs worth, a dash, a pinch, a touch, to taste. When it comes to cooking, I take after her. My food memoir will probably be entitled Zhuzh.

Turmeric Tonic

Ingredients

Serves 1
Use organic ingredients when possible.

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Canned whole fat coconut milk
  • Manuka honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Grab your favorite 8 to 10 oz mug and fill it up halfway with filtered water. Pour water into a pot and boil with cinnamon sticks until the steam is fragrant. Add a pinch of cinnamon, the turmeric, and ginger. Let it boil for 30 seconds. Add a half a mug’s worth of coconut milk and lots of black pepper. Just as the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the flame. Use a blender or milk frothier to bring the ingredients together. This makes the drink light and creamy. Stir in a touch of honey and serve hot. This is a medicinal tonic. If you want a more café like beverage, use half as much turmeric and ginger. Sip slow and feel the magic happen.

Why is this recipe special to you?

I quit my jobs to pursue my design and publishing work full time and it’s so easy to work 60 to 70 hours a week running my own business. I’m restless and thoroughly seduce by my art practices. I quickly realized the work hard play hard mentality can never balance out for me because so much of my work is play. I started creating rituals and collecting allergen free recipes to help me slow down and strengthen my immune system. This drink is my go-to preventative medicine for decreasing inflammation, preventing oxidative stress and burn out. I sip it slow throughout the day and if my allergies are acting up, I see overnight healing. My skin glows. It’s vegan (except for the traceable hive to honey), frothy, and mildly sweet.

Who will you be sharing this drink with?

Today, I’ll be enjoying this drink with my Easie Beanie knitting pattern I’m making for my partner Adrienne as a gift. The yarn is Purl Soho Morning, a blend of cotton and yak. I did make us oatmeal to enjoy together later made with rolled oats, water, and whole fat coconut milk. It’s spiced with lots of nutmeg, cinnamon, a coconut flaxseed blend, Himalayan pink salt, a spoonful of cashew butter, sweetened with manuka honey and a touch of maple syrup. Today, I’m topping it with sliced almonds, figs, and hunza raisins. It’s dessert for breakfast.

If you could have a meal with any three people, someone you know/don’t know/alive/dead, who would it be?

Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler, and myself as a reincarnated travelling street performer who has a seasonal bed and breakfast that doubles as a paid artist residency during the summer. I’d throw us a tea party.