Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bodega Dreams: Part 2

After Unique Force was created we never needed a reason to battle and we battled everyone. We would cruise the neighborhood for jams & house parties, then crash them. There we would scope out the spot for the dopest crew and step to them with NO Fear because we were that confident we would prevail. 9 out of 10 times we did and for those that might have gotten one over on us we would look for them again for round two. We were notorious for going into the projects park jams like we lived there and start cyphers.

As Re-run started to form the crew and set times for practice, putting routines together for the 9 of us… or even two on two combos. We always represented as the Unique Force! Practice would take place in the front of the building or hallway, and in the original P.A.L on Beck street right off of 156 street! Did not take us long to build a rep for the crew to beat, especially since there were not many girls at that time popping. We had our schedule for everyday. After school we would practice, play double dutch, hop scotch, Truth/Dare/Consequence/Promise or Repeat, cruise the neighborhood for parties & cuties and work on getting home before curfew (needless to say that rarely happened).

There was more to us then meets the eye. Once we were old enough to work summer youth it was a huge accomplishment for us. We were making our own money. So on payday we would shop together for matching outfits.

Our style the way we rocked our gear (fashion) was very important. Image/Attitude was everything to us and as important as our dancing skills in those cyphers.

Summers were amazing and fun for us we worked for the youth program to buy the latest gear… and would be in trouble half the time for spending the entire check on our gear. Try explaining that to your mom, I got paid but I am broke can I have $5 or $10 dollars to hang. I can still hear the lecture now, as I ran down the hall and the shoe my mom threw would turn the corner to hit me in the back of my head.

So when you stepped out the house you knew your gear had to be tight and you had to look Dope, Fly, Fresh and yes we are talking about the decade when it is was necessary to wear Lee’s with a Graff piece on the back of the jacket, AJs 2 tone jeans with the matching denim jacket; blue in the front gray in the back of the jeans. We rocked all flavors (colors) acid wash jeans and farmer pants that were 2 or 3 sizes bigger than your actual size that was best baggy, baggy, and baggy.

Budweiser hats & the sun-visors too, hats tilted to the side just so; with Over-sized Mickey Mouse T-shirts, or cartoon characters Fat Albert, just to name a few. If you didn’t own one of those shirts your style! you and your crew were straight WHACK! On the block everybody rocked the same thing, but it was more about how you could put it together, to make you and your crew stand out. The extra long shorts, these shorts would meet the top of your socks. There’s a science to this (put socks on straight up to your knee then you’d start to slouch them down making sure they are both even.) if they weren’t you’d get snapped on jokes from everybody! LOLs

Now you pair it up with some Kix (sneakers) the Unique Force rocked all the Latest from head toe Diadora, Tiger (baseball cleats), Lotto’s, K-Swiss, Nike Cross-trainers (Quarter top red, black, and gray with either a black strap or a gray), original Jordan, Pumas, Adidas with 45 inch laces; the laces should match the outfit. Sometimes we switched the colors of our kix, for example if the colors for the night were red & black we’d put one black sneaker on foot, and a red on the other with the matching slouching socks Unique Force being one of the first crews to mix and match our sneakers, and cross colors with the socks.

We would also spend money on accessories to go with the gear like, Louis Vutton pouch which you’d hang around your neck, Gold Caps with symbol or the letter of your name, four finger rings, and the big phat robe chains with door-knocker earrings, bamboo earrings.

It didn’t stop at just that we had to get the Fro right (hair).Lissette was always great for doing our hair the latest hair cut/styles mushrooms, Salt&Pepper, finger waves, etc, to go with our funky fresh dressed to impress ready to party selves.

When the season changed to the winter! Our gear continued to be dope, now we’d break out our flight jackets, eight ball, sheepskins, leather bombers, bear coats, triple fat goose (different lengths, short, mid length, and my favorite full length trench triple fat goose, and fashion style boots to match our clothes and coats.

During this time girls didn’t really wear Timberland boots… Timbs came out for girls later on in the 90’s.

Of course we were young so we had our moments when trouble found us and we needed to defend ourselves. Or if we were at a jam it usually got shot up and we had to run away from the trouble, only to return 20mins later to continue dancing. Something I would NOT do now;-) But when you are young you think you are invincible. But the music drove us. We had to go back for the beats. The music took over our mind, body & souls. We could hear a jam from a mile away. Then as got closer our favorite jams were always playing so we would run to get there. The running was our warm-up;-)

We won some, we lost some, we were mugged for jewelry, bullied by neighborhood bullies, only to strike back, we dated guys we liked, rejected by the ones that got away, performed at venues, theaters, streets, built a reputation for being the Get Along Gang because we were always together and did everything together, good & bad.

Those were the days…

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tips for Healthy Cooking


You don't have to be Oprah Winfrey's gourmet chef or spend a fortune on expensive cookware to prepare food in healthy ways. You can make your favorite dishes without large amounts of fat or salt using basic cooking techniques.

Baking isn't just for breads and desserts. You can also bake poultry, lean meat, seafood, and vegetables. Baking usually doesn't require adding fat to the food, although you may need to baste the food to keep it from drying out. Simply place your desired food in a pan or dish and cook either covered or uncovered.

Roasting is like baking, but usually at higher temperatures. You can place your food in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet. When roasting meat, poultry or seafood, put a rack inside the roasting pan which will allow the fat in the food to drip away during cooking.

Broiling and grilling are cooking methods which allow the fat to drip away from the food. Both methods expose the food to a direct heat source. To broil, place the food on a broiler rack in the oven below a heat element. To grill, place the food on a rack above either a bed of charcoal or you may want to use a gas grill. A grill basket is very useful when cooking smaller items such as vegetables or seafood.

Braising is a two step technique. The ingredient is first placed in a pan on top of the stove and browned. A small amount of liquid, usually water or broth, is added. Then, the ingredient and the liquid is covered and slowly cooked. The cooking liquid is sometimes used afterward to form a nutrient-rich sauce.

Poaching involves gently simmering ingredients in water until they are cooked through. You may also choose a more flavorful liquid such as broth, juice or vinegar. Be sure to use a covered pan that best fits your food which will enable you to use a minimal amount of liquid.

Steaming is one of the simplest cooking methods. Place the food in a perforated basket and suspend it above simmering liquid. You can use water with seasonings added, or you may choose a more flavorful liquid. Flavor the food as it cooks.

Stir-frying is a traditional Asian cooking method which requires only a small amount of oil or nonstick cooking spray. The food is cut into small, uniform-sized pieces and then rapidly stirred in a wok or large nonstick frying pan.

You can give your meal more appeal by adding color, aroma and taste to your food. An excellent way is through the use of herbs and spices. You can add dried herbs in the early cooking stages, or fresh herbs toward the end of cooking. Be sure to use fresh herbs that aren't wilted and that have bright color. If you substitute dry herbs for fresh, only use one-third the amount.

Now that you're armed with the proper cooking techniques, you can prepare your meals like the pros, making them healthier and more appealing.