Beyond Saying That Tastes Good

My father loves to cook. He is the lamb chop and She-crab soup cooking Dad. He sits anxiously waiting for my fork to lift, my first bite into his masterful creation. His eyes widen, eyebrow lifts awaiting my reaction. Over time I felt badly for my mediocre response when he said, “How is it?” I got tired of simply saying, “Good.”

Passionate home cooks and chefs deserve better. Descriptive words can be a gift. Watch my video and gain some knowledge of descriptive words for your taste experience. And maybe next time you will say more than, “It was good.”

Film and Foodie Review: Spotlight


The Film: This is a movie I didn’t want to see, a movie about the sexual violation of children by priests. However, this film is a well done account of the Boston Globe’s dedicated Spotlight team 2003 Pulitzer winning investigation on the crimes committed by priests.  Spotlight is the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative unit in the United States.  In the early 2000s, theteam uncovers the widespread problem of child abuse by priests in the Boston area.   The string of trackable crimes dates from the 70’s to the early 2000’s.   For a disturbing topic, the highlight is delightful cast including  Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup.   Each actor seems to bring nuances of internal agony about the situation.   The story illuminates the fraternity of silence about suspected crimes.  I expected the film to be slanted with Hollywood propanganda but it seems just to be honest storytelling.

The Food:  I deliberated about broaching the topic of food.  It’s such a heavy movie.  Set in Boston,  I thought a bread bowl of  New England clam chowder and Sam Adams beer would be perfect comfort food.  You’ll need for this for this uncomfortable topic.



Review of Good Greens Gluten Free Raw and Vegan Bars

Good Greens is an impressingly delicious gluten free healthy snack.  Despite rather high grams of sugar the product can boast of it being natural as the bars are vegan and raw.  They meet a friendly standard for the  hypo-glycemic index, a standard which concerns diabetics.  The glycemic index measures how a food raises blood glucose. Foods with a high glycemic index rating cause a spike in blood sugar levels and are not ideal for people with diabetes. Foods with a rating of <55 are considered low glycemic. Good Greens bars have a glycemic index of 51.

I shared the Good Greens bars with two other people including  male nurse, Don Gibson which happens to be a diabetic.  Everyone thought the bars were delicious especially the unique flavor of the wildberry which bursts in your mouth.  Other flavors include chocolate chunk, chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter and chocolate coconut.  Not one of the flavors dissapoints.  However, there are a lot of tasty foods on the market.  Armed with questions from the nurse Gibson, a diabetic, we asked the folks at Good Greens some questions about their product.  READ INTERVIEW

What is the Dream Dinners Experience?

MCCN Editor with Dream Dinners Team

Review by Crystal A. Johnson-Dream Dinners has been around for a few years, long enough for most to have some idea about what it may be.  The Dream Dinners experience is like a living cookbook where you are in the kitchen at Dream Dinners putting together gourmet to comfort food recipes with the dream  fresh ingredients at your disposal.  You package the dinners on site then simply take home to cook or freeze the meal until you are read for it.  Dream Dinners is a different experience for everyone.  The first time I had the good fortune to experience dream dinner was when I won a raffle drawing giving away quite a big value.    If you are single like me a little goes a long way.   Afterall, I am food & restaurant critic so I am not a fan of repetitive or staying within one cultural box for cooking.  However, many people really do like more classic American comfort.  Dream dinners has both.

aerial view of Dream Dinners

For my visit to Dream Dinners I asked the Romy, owner of the Granada Hills location to share with me the best sellers so Romy provided items listed from classics portion of the menu such as Italian stuffed shells, blackened Salmon with pineapple salsa and steak with garlic and herb butter.   For me, these choices would never be my choice.  It is not because they are not good menu items,  In fact the pineapple salsa is quite tasty.  The stuffed shells had an extra ingredient that I have never consider before but for my culinary arc I need menu items that challenge me.  So bring on the one classic item I was given to review that I actually have tried before,  the lemon artichoke chicken.  This dish, I I am a big time fan of it.  It is simple but not every day.  In the month of my visit other menu items include the crispy sesame chicken with gingered green beans.  Now that is what I am talking about. Caliente pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes and baked Riviera cod and buttery peanut chicken with brown rice are also menu items.  Thus, there is something for everyone.

Blackened Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

Dream Dinners also has a Diabetics Menu called Dinners for life.  See Video Below to Learn more:

Try a Food Oriented Fundraiser

Recently mentioned that I do missions trips and what comes with that is a need to raise money. Various nonprofit organizations, school clubs and more scratch their head on what to do.  Food oriented fundraisers can be among the most successful events.  Here are some ideas that I found to be lucrative and some other ideas which are helpful but may yield a lower return.

  • Recently, a group of fellow missionaries and I got together to make tamales and sell them. Over 500 tamales sold to make a great fundraising effort.

  • A few years ago I suggested to a friend that he should do Juneteenth Cookout. It proved to be  successful with Soul food menu items such as sweet potato pie, cornbread, chili, grilled food and more.  Set a price that is cost effective for you and know you financial demographic.

Fmr Soul Food Came Out For Juneteenth Charity Fundraiser

  • Comedy or music brunches are a great idea.  People love comedy/music and they love food put them together.
  • Sell Sunday Dinners to go. Especially in the summer months people don’t feel like cooking so they will be more than happy to buy a meal.
  • Look for Percentage Based Fundraiers. Some Companies/restaurants like Panda Express and Pamper Chef  offer 20% off sales receipts when asked to be involved in a fundraiser.  Pollo Campero offers Coupon Booklets for Fundraisers.

written by Crystal A. Johnson, MCCN Editor & Chief

Black History Movie List

Although Black History Month takes place during the shortest month of the year, it is still a time to take pause to celebrate Black History.  At MCCN we celebrate culture all year round.  The Black Diaspora is wide-reaching.    Our list tells of stories from countries including Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Gambia and the United States.  It celebrates leaders such as Stephen Biko, Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela to the unsung hero.  It acknowledges the so-called “dirty little secret of race mixing” which is prominent in the American story.  Almost every Black American has European ancestry.  Conversely, many caucasian Americans have no idea  their lineage may include an African-American light enough to pass to begin a new life as a White person.  The book “One Drop” also addresses this issue.  Without further ado, MCCN’s Black History Movie List.

Roots Written by Alex Haley,  Roots was the TV movie that shocked America.  Never, had the imagery of slavery in America been depicted onscreen.  It made people angry.  It made people sad and apologetic but most importantly it brought enlightenment to millions of people.  Every parent regardless of race should educate and share this film with their children.  The story begins with Kunte Kinte being abducted from the shores of Gambia.


Roots – Film Originated 1977

Amistad Directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring an unknown actor back in 1997, Djimon Hounsou, Amistad  is a story of About a 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story involves a court-room drama about the free man who led the revolt.  Matthew McConaughey, Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins star.

Invictus Many films have produced about Nelson Mandela but this story tells of his political life intertwined with the world of Rugby.  As a former athlete, Mandela understood the power and influence of sports.  He identified its ability to unify people.  Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon star.


Harriet – Harriet manages to layer a well known historical figure. From her escape from slavery through the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman is told.  Leading actress Cynthia Erivo earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal.



Loving –  Interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving fell in love and were married in p12854971_v_v8_aa1958. They grew up in Central Point, a small town in Virginia that was more integrated than surrounding areas in the American South. Yet it was the state of Virginia, where they were making their home and starting a family, that first jailed and then banished them. Richard and Mildred relocated with their children to the inner city of Washington, D.C., but the family ultimately tries to find a way back to Virginia.



Sally Hemings: An American Scandal or Jefferson in Paris:  This is the story of former President Thomas Jefferson and his slave/mistress Sally Hemings.  Thomas Jefferson is still one the most celebrated presidents in American history so the story of his mistress, his descendants with Black skin living in a America is a hard pill to swallow for some.  Visit Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.  They have accepted incorporating some discussion of Hemings in the tours.    Thandie Newton stars in the 1995 Jefferson in Paris but the more popular forbidden love story of Jefferson and Hemings is the TV movie, Sally Hemings, An American Scandal.

Malcolm X- When this movie was in theaters I didn’t love it but I did appreciate.  I did read Alex Hailey’s biography of Malcolm X and like people who appreciate a book the movie don’t quite appeal in the same way.   But over the years, it has been a classic with moving performances by Angela Basset and Oscar worthy performance by Denzel Washington.   And we even have the famous quote, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock.  Plymouth Rock landed on us.”

Hidden Figures- Three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson DVD Wrap with UPC Position(Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world.




Selma– A very humanizing and layering picture of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  thSelma is a moving story and unsettling story about the true uphill battle over true voting rights for African Americans without hindrance.






Hotel Rwanda – Starring and produced by Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda is a film which reminds us of Holocausts repeating its cycle throughout the world.  How long do super power countries turn a blind eye toward crimes against humanity? It also recognizes sometimes we do not want to be heroes but we need to be heroes.


42– In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, p9491271_v_v8_ahdefies major league baseball’s notorious color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team. The heroic act puts both Rickey and Robinson in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing open racism from all sides, Robinson demonstrates true courage and admirable restraint by not reacting in kind and lets his undeniable talent silence the critics for him.


1566b50ef7ac7f9e9e08d3e942217578When They See Us – In 1989 a jogger was assaulted and raped in New York’s Central Park, and five young people were subsequently charged with the crime. The quintet, labeled the Central Park Five, maintained its innocence and spent years fighting the convictions, hoping to be exonerated. This limited series spans a quarter of a century, from when the teens are first questioned about the incident in the spring of 1989, going through their exoneration in 2002 and ultimately the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014. The cast is full of Emmy nominees and winners, including Michael K. Williams, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, and Blair Underwood. Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Ava DuVernay co-wrote and directed the four episodes.


Skin – Sandra Laing (Sophie Okonedo) is markedly different from her parents. Born in p190834_v_v8_aq1950s South Africa during the height of apartheid, Sandra, who looks like a light-skinned black girl, has been confirmed as the biological daughter of her mother (Alice Krige) and father (Sam Neill) — who are both white. But in her racially divided homeland, where the government does not know how to identify her, she faces racism at school and struggles to be accepted and understood by her own family.

This list is  composed by Crystal A. Johnson, MCCN & Colorstream Media Editor, a former film critic with a masters in English/ Screenwriting. Her undergraduate minor is in history from  Historically Black University, Morgan State University.  She is also teaching artist of Media and Theatre Arts in Los Angeles. 

Y& R Actress Tonya Lee Williams talks Multi Culturalism at Pan African Film Fest

Tonya Lee Williams at Pan African Film Fest

Young and the Restless Actress Tonya Lee Williams(Olivia Winters) showed her support for the Pan African Festival on Wednesday February 10, 2010 World Premiere of Blood Done Sign My Name at the Pan African Film Festival.  She shared with MCCN that she has been attending the event for years.

Williams is also the founder of the Reel World Film Festival in Toronto, Canada.  Her film festival is a non profit charity.  William says, ” The festival is about creating more exposure for people of color. ”   Many Aboriginal, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern and Black.  Her personal life reflects multi-culturalism, born in London growing up in England and Toronto.  At age 18, she was named Miss Black Ontario.
When asked about her favorite food William shared about her Caribbean roots, “I like ackee and saltfish.  I like anything Caribbean… In Toronto there are as many Caribbean restaurants as there are McDonalds and Starbucks in America.”
by Article Crystal A. Johnson