In honor of Black History Month, we are featuring interviews with local Black community leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media. The students asked questions about what the leaders love about Waco, and we are excited to share their responses with you this month.
By Gi’erra Cottingham
Time does not always permit us to book a flight, pack a bag, and travel to experience foods around the world, but sometimes it comes to us. Two community leaders have brought Cambodian food to the heart of Waco. In 2016, Chevy and Mike DuBose introduced The Blasian Asian, an authentic Cambodian cuisine, in Union Hall.
“The menu is 100% Cambodian food,” Mike said. The word Blasian comes from the combination of their race and ethnicity. Mike is Black, and Chevy is Cambodian. “Our baby is a combination of Black and Asian,” DuBose said — Blasian.
“Mrs. DuBose and I lived in Seattle for about 20 years where I was an aeronautical engineer, and she did aerospace repair. I accepted a job promotion in Waco, but when we got here, she was really craving Cambodian food,” Mike said. “Eventually, she started cooking for me. I’d share the food with my staff, and they highly encouraged her to invest in a food truck. Our business took off from there. We’ve now migrated from the food trailer of three years to a restaurant in Union Hall that we began in March” last year.
The couple’s determination to fulfill their mission in sharing what they love with the Waco community is appreciated among local Waconians. The Blasian Asian was voted “Best Food Truck 2019” and “Best Asian Food 2020.”
“My personal favorite dish is the garlic fried rice. There are two popular dishes on our menu: the garlic fried rice and the Blasian itself,” Mike said. “The Blasian has a large variety that includes chicken, beef, pork, noodles, and egg rolls, while the garlic fried rice has been voted the best in Waco. Most customers have commented that they were obligated to use soy sauce at other restaurants to increase the flavor and didn’t need it for ours.”
Due to the couple’s community involvement and leadership duties, Chevy’s availability to consistently cook in the kitchen is slim. She oversees the quality of the food as she’s the only one who knows each Cambodian dish intimately, but most of her time is spent preparing and making sure the food meets her expectations, while The Blasian Asian’s employees are trained to cook and present the dishes.
“Since we moved to Waco, my wife and I have been a part of community tasks. We are active members of the NAACP Waco chapter where we participate in meetings, functions, and events. We are also members of the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,” Mike said.
The Blasian Asian’s owners have persevered during COVID-19 and are hopeful that other small businesses do the same. The couple began their dream from simply sharing Cambodian food with friends and has made it thus far despite setbacks.
“The advice I would give to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic is to keep on. This is temporary,” Mike said. “We have a lot of support from the community during this time, but the most important thing to remember is to not give up and find ways to reduce costs without shutting down.”
Gi’erra Cottingham is a freshman at Baylor University, majoring in broadcast journalism. She was born and raised in Houston where she attended Carnegie Vanguard High School. Her hobbies include being outdoors, spending time with family, and writing.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Thanksgiving, Waco! A few weeks ago, I put out a call in The Whole Enchilada, asking for people’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I wanted to create a blog post that could serve as a community cookbook for Waco. And, boy, did you deliver some fantastic recipes! Read on for three great recipes from your Waco neighbors: a show stopping side, a fun and easy dessert, and a unique twist on Thanksgiving leftovers! Then, click here for a special Act Locally Thanksgiving recipe card you can print off and use to keep these recipes for years to come!
The Recipe: Hasselback Butternut Squash (Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)
This recipe was submitted by Rachel, who has lived in Waco on and off for the past 10 years, and whose favorite Waco spot is Lula Jane’s porch! Rachel made this recipe while celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK and added the serrano pepper and sorghum syrup for a little Southern flair once she returned to Waco.
1 large butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
¼ cup pure sorghum syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
6–8 dried bay leaves
Place a rack in the upper third of oven; preheat oven to 425°F. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove skin and white flesh below (you should reach the deep orange flesh). Rub all over with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast in a baking dish just large enough to hold halves side by side until beginning to soften (a paring knife should easily slip in only about ¼”), 15–18 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring chile, sorghum syrup, butter, and vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally and removing chile as soon as desired heat level is reached (set aside for serving), until just thick enough to coat spoon, 6–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and keep glaze warm.
Transfer squash to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, score rounded sides of squash halves crosswise, going as deep as possible but without cutting all the way through. Return squash to baking dish, scored sides up, and tuck bay leaves between a few of the slices; season with salt and pepper.
Roast squash, basting with glaze every 10 minutes or so and using pastry brush to lift off any glaze in the dish that is browning too much, until tender and glaze forms a rich brown coating, 45–60 minutes. Serve topped with reserved chiles.
The Recipe: Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Pie Bites (From the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service)
This recipe was submitted by Lindsey, who has lived in Waco for 5 years and loves walks along the Brazos River! This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, or even halved, depending on how big or small your Thanksgiving crowd is!
15 mini phyllo shells, frozen
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
3 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon room temperature butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 drop vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon chopped walnuts
2 tablespoon chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine egg substitute, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts into mixture. Arrange phyllo shells on baking sheet and distribute the mixture evenly among the shells. Combine remaining nuts and sprinkle them on the top of the shells.
Bake in the oven until edges are crisp, 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. If you like, top each piece with a squirt of fat free whipped cream topping. Enjoy!
The Recipe: Thanksgiving Leftovers Lasagna
This recipe was submitted by an anonymous Act Locally reader, who has lived in Waco for 49 years and whose favorite Waco spots include Cameron Park and the River Walk at the Waco Suspension Bridge! This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers; feel free to swap any ingredients based on whatever leftovers are in your fridge!
3 cups leftover cornbread stuffing
1 (14-oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 ¼ lbs cooked turkey breast, sliced into ¼ inch slices
3 cups cooked mashed potatoes
2 cups green beans, corn, or mixed vegetables
6 oz sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)
Gravy, for serving
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a square baking dish with cooking spray.
Spread half of the stuffing in a layer in bottom of prepared baking dish. Spread half of the cranberry sauce in an even layer over stuffing. Layer half of turkey slices on top of cranberry sauce, then half of vegetable of choice, then spread half of the mashed potatoes on top of vegetables. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on top of potatoes. Repeat layers once. Bake in preheated oven until lasagna is warmed through, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to broil, and broil until cheese is golden, about 2 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares. Spoon gravy over each square to serve.
Becca Muncy is an Act Locally intern from Dallas. She is studying professional writing at Baylor University and is completing her senior year.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email email@example.com more information.
by Shamethia Webb
I’m not the best cook.
But the spreads I prepare for my niece and nephews–age eight, nine, and 11—are palatable enough I suppose.
I’ve been told I’m the best cook in the world (This from a nephew who likes to put mustard on his black beans).
And that I season “fantabulously,” a portmanteau of the words fantastic and fabulous. (High praise from a budding pre-teen).
I’ve even managed to make spinach—the superfood that most resembles tree leaves and that’s appearance on dinner plates have prompted my nephews to accuse me of trying to feed them yard waste—a welcome addition to entrees.
I’m not the best cook, but I know how to prepare flavorsome and filling meals that will satisfy persnickety adolescent palates.
And every now and then—buoyed by an energetic, “You’re an awesome cook Auntie!”, I’ll wheel out my miniature barbecue pit (“Napoleon”), stack charcoal in the adult version of Lego-building, and prepare to show the entire neighborhood that I am, at the very least, a mediocre chef.
The barbecue must smell appetizing enough since, without fail, at least half a dozen of my niece and nephew’s friends from the neighborhood turn up hoping to be offered a plate.
And the reader could assume that this is where the account of food insecurity would begin. That I would begin detailing how I had to feed ten or so children with two loaves of bread and barbecued chicken.
But s/he would be wrong.
These were kids I knew from my neighborhood. Most of them weren’t food insecure. Just wanted a chargrilled substitute for the meal that was being offered at home. Nope, no multitude of hungry kids to describe.
But there was one little boy, maybe six, whom I didn’t know. He was visiting the neighborhood. A distant relative. Someone’s cousin.
And he stood and watched as I prepared the grill and gathered materials. Even when the other kids grew bored and ran off to play, he stayed and observed as I began adding meat to the pit.
He was fairly quiet until I added hamburger patties to the pit. He perked up, piped out:
I’ve cooked that before!
I was confused.
I’ve cooked that before. That meat.
This hamburger meat?
Yes. I’ve cooked it.
You saw someone cook it?
He gave me one of those exasperated looks young children often levy at clueless adults.
I cooked it.
When I could only stare at him blankly, he explained.
He shared that he’d taken a pound of ground beef and cooked it in the microwave one day when he was hungry.
He seemed proud that he was able to accomplish such a complicated task but admitted that he was disappointed that the microwaved meat didn’t taste as good he he’d hoped.
I’ll have to season more better next time, he concluded.
He encouraged me to season my barbecue before being distracted by a developing game of football and wandering off.
I was stunned.
I’m not the best cook.
But six year olds?
They’re not the best cooks either.
Today’s blog post is by Shamethia Webb, Regional Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative. If you would like to get in touch with Shamethia to learn more about the Texas Hunger Initiative, email her at Shamethia_Webb@baylor.edu. If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.