August 4, 2012-- Recipes and Self-Compassion

A few months ago, I was forced to go vegan, mostly because anything with dairy in it started making me really, really sick.  It started out as a stomach ache and then that got a little worse and then I was doubled over in pain every time I ingested a dairy product.

So, naturally, I decided to throw a vegan dinner party. I wanted to prove that I could cook delicious and filling vegan food, and having my friends over as guinea pigs seemed like exactly the right thing to do. (Kidding.)

I planned my menu very, very carefully.  I bought some vegan cookbooks and I did insane research for recipes on the Internet and then...I did what I always do and I cooked without ever following a recipe.  But everything turned out okay.

My older daughter Katherine (Ana --more about the name change in a future post.) (Wow, I have a lot to tell you all, apparently!) picked out the color scheme and went shopping with me for the fun accessories on the table.  Which looked like this:

The only picture I took of the table. It was really beautiful at night once all the candles were lit and the chairs were filled with our dear friends.  
Note that the table is set for twelve people.  Note also that I had twelve people coming for dinner, which meant that I would have FOURTEEN PEOPLE at the table.

You would think I would have gotten a clue when we ran out of bowls for the (chilled) soup, which we served pool-side.  But it didn't dawn on me what I'd done until I was plating up the second course, and I ran out at person 12.

I quickly got out the enormous salad I was planning on serving with the main course, set two extra places, and said a quick prayer of "I hope this is the worst thing that happens tonight."

And y'all, I just let it go.  We had a fabulous time. Really, I think my guests would all say that.  The food was really tasty, the company was amazing --everything was so good.  I was so grateful for the goodness of people and my life. We made a memory that I've added to my Coat of Blessings.

In the past, the hyper-self-critical Barb would have locked herself in the bathroom and sobbed in utter embarrassment. And weeks later, I would have still be apologizing for my mistake. I was always such a perfectionist. I once had a therapist tell me, "You have to be perfect just to feel okay. And because perfection is impossible, you are never okay." She was exactly right.

Yesterday, a couple of people wrote in to ask about the endless negative self-talk they hear in their heads. I was the poster child for this before this radical transformation I've undergone over the past two years. I want to talk more about this (Future post! Future post!) but the biggest thing that comes to mind is that you've got to do your work on shame. You have to read those books by Brene' Brown and you have to start practicing some self-compassion.  If you really want to hear that Divine Voice within you, you have to stop drowning it out by your impossible and unloving expectations of yourself.

I know how hard it is.  Believe me, I know. I also know that no one ever changed the world, reached her potential, or found her authentic self by beating herself up until she did it.  Positive loving change comes from a place of compassion and abundance.

I've taken six power yoga classes in seven days this week and I didn't have a forearm stand in me today.  In place of the daily forearm stand, I give you recipes.

I made four kinds of enchiladas for my party. Two of them were entirely vegan, including these yam and black bean ones.  These suffered from a PR issue--terrible name--but they were my favorite of the vegan enchiladas.

Need a Better Name Enchiladas

Recipe (which I made up all by my lonesome): Bake three or four large sweet potatoes at 450 for about 45 minutes or until soft. Cool and take peel off. Smush. Add black beans (yeah, I don't know how much--maybe 1.5 cups?) (Recipe for black beans follows--it's a staple in our house so I always have them on hand.) Spoon filling into whole wheat tortillas that you've bribed people from Texas to bring you. Layer in the bottom of a square or rectangular pan THAT YOU'VE SPRAYED WITH NON-STICK SPRAY. (Seriously, for the love of your sanity, don't forget to spray.) Cover with Hatch canned enchilada sauce, unless you can't find it in the grocery store, in which case, make the enchilada sauce recipe following the black bean recipe. It's easy. Bake at 350 until bubbly. Easy-peasy, if you've made the black beans ahead of time.

Vegetarian Cuban Black Beans

2 packages black beans
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium purple onion, chopped
I medium jalapeno
4 whole cloves garlic
olive oil
4 T sherry vinegar
1 T salt
1 T cumin (or more)
1 tsp black pepper
2 T oregano
1/3 cup pitted olives

Sort beans, rinse, cover in water and let soak overnight.

The next morning, add the 4 cloves of garlic to the pot, and place beans over low heat, careful to keep the heat up without boiling. Check water level frequently.  If you need to add water to cover the beans, use boiling water. (Cold water will make the beans crack and the angels cry.) 

(I use a slow cooker that I set on 325-350 degrees to take the guess work out of it.)  

When the beans have softened (like six hours later,) add salt to stop them softening further. 

In a large pan, saute the green pepper, onion, jalapeno and olives until soft.  (If you've forgotten to add the garlic to the beans, you can throw some in this mixture now.) Puree this mixture in a blender or with a stick immersion blender (so cool!) along with a little of the black bean liquid and add it, and the rest of the ingredients to the black beans.  Raise temp to 375 (still not boiling) and cook for at least another hour. If you catch them simmering along, just turn the heat down.  Boiling won't ruin them after they are softened; it just makes them a little mushy.

I tend to use more seasoning, rather than less. (And these amounts may not to be totally accurate.  Just season to taste.) Also, sometimes, I caramelize the onions with a tsp of sugar over high heat, but this is not traditional so don't tell anyone.

Red Chile Sauce (from The Best from New Mexico Kitchens)

3 T olive oil or lard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T flour
1/2 cup chile powder
2 cups water
salt to taste

Saute garlic in oil.  Blend in flour with a wooden spoon.  Add chile powder and blend in. (Don't let pan get too hot--chile will burn easily) Blend in water and cook to desired consistency.  Add salt to taste.

You can add a bit of vinegar if you like a little tang to it.


smalltownme said…
"Just let it go" is some of the best advice I've ever heard. You are on a roll here.
Shaatzie said…
I'm up for trying your recipes! I'd like to go vegan, too, and I'm sure my family would benefit. But I'm hearing lots of negs about wheat products and that being a health problem. Know anything about that?
Bailey said…
Looking forward to the next post!
Bullwinkle said…
Love the table setting. (Also, I'm imagining my cats walking all over it and toppling the candlesticks.)

So wrt self-compassion - I'd said I'd comment as you posted. I'm over it: a friend had a real life real crisis (house burned - everyone is o.k.) and I don't have to feel guilty about my comments. I know how to catch up ;)

I'm not sure when that happened - when I would get over a guilt for real reasons. But I think I like it.
Ann in NJ said…
Your timing is perfect, I'm having friends over for dinner tomorrow and said I'd do "Mexican", which around here people interpret as Tex-Mex. I'm thinking the black beans will go over better than refried beans with these Easterners, don't you think? And what setting on your slow-cooker gives you 325? Mine has "High" and "Low".
Nice review and good explained recipe!
Judy said…
I'm catching up on your blog a day run. I'm loving them thoroughly! I particularly love that the line before "I used to be a perfectionist" has a typo :-) Did you plan that?
Judy said…
I'm catching up on your blog a day run. I'm loving them thoroughly! I particularly love that the line before "I used to be a perfectionist" has a typo :-) Did you plan that?
GOOD golly tis awesome food here and such a pretty table etc! I went from garden variety vegetarian to vegan many years ago for the same dairy reason..but you know, it is pretty easy and healthy once you get used to it :) I gotta start following your blob!