This stuff is awesome. I've been making it at least once a week. I've tried it with a couple of additions, noted below.
2 t. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. chili powder
2 t. dried oregano
2 t. ground cumin
1.5- 2 c. vegetable broth (use 2 cups if you add the optional TVP)
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1-3 chipoltle peppers, chopped (less if you prefer milder chili) plus a teaspoon of sauce from the can*
5 cups of drained canned beans of your choice. I've used a combo of black beans, pinto beans and great northern beans, based on what's in my pantry. I've also used formerly dry beans that I've cooked.
1/2 t. salt
1 c. chopped kale (optional)
1/2 c. textured vegetable protein (optional) or 1 Beyond Meat Italian sausage, cut into small pieces (easier to cut while it's still mostly frozen, also optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream to taste, if desired.
Might need some additional salt to taste
Set your instant pot to saute. Add the olive oil and saute the oniions and garlic like you probably do for all of the other stuff you cook. Add all of the rest of the ingredients. Stir.
Put the lid on the instant pot, close the steam vent and turn the pot to high. Pressure cook for 12 minutes. Quick release. If you wander off, nothing bad will happen if this does a natural release.
Open. Stir. Ladle into bowls, top with cheese &/or sour cream if you want. Great with tortilla chips. Also good over rice. Or quinoa if that's how you roll. Or put it over pasta and call it chiletti. Whatever you want to do!
* We discovered that Aldi carries canned chipotle peppers, and we use them ALL THE TIME. Use a little for mild flavor. Use a lot for some serious heat. You choose.
We've probably all heard or said something along the lines of "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good," or maybe it's "Don't let perfect be the enemy of done." In my daily work, the latter is usually the mantra I need to move toward.
Today I set forth a new intention: "Don't let perfect be the enemy of fun."
When I was in my late twenties, I decided I needed to learn how to defend myself. I was a small town girl living in a lonely world -- ummm. More like, I was really unused to living in an urban center and felt vulnerable and wanted to feel better about that.
I found a martial arts practice led and populated by (mostly) lesbians, and since this was 1991 and I was still pretty new to The Life, I was very interested in being surrounded by a supportive vibe. The funny thing though is that this martial arts school was quite traditional and part of the unfamiliar-to-me world of martial arts, which is hierarchical and enmeshed in a male-centric worldview. That was okay though. I learned through that experience that there is a lot I can learn if I just shut up (and quiet my mind) and stop resisting. Ironic (Alanis, is it ironic?) that I learned that while learning to fight. It was also my first explicit exposure to meditation, including the basics about sitting and focusing on my breath.
I would not describe myself as having loads of physical prowess. I can be stubborn, though. I was not a natural, but I learned that if I kept showing up and kept trying, there would be a place for me at my school. And I advanced. Eventually, after 7 years, I earned my black belt. Trust me -- that is a long time to take to get a black belt. To people who don't know about martial arts, that I got one at all makes it sound like I must have been really good. But the truth is, in martial arts, 1st Degree black belt is really just a mastery of the basics. There are probably millions of people with black belts, and a whole lot of people with much higher degrees of black belt. My instructor during that time I believe was a fifth or sixth degree black belt. I was still just me, I could execute a decent side kick, I broke a board or two with my hands and feet, and I got to wear a black uniform after that, which was quite appealing and looked cool. Along the way, I competed in some local tournaments, an international LGBTQ tournament hosted by my school (I got a silver medal in sparring! Apologies to that Dutch woman to whom I gave a bloody nose), and in two Gay Games -- New York in 1994 and Amsterdam in 1998. At the tournaments, there were always hundreds of people who could have handily kicked my ass. It's weird to think you've accomplished something, but it might actually mean nothing at all, depending on who you're with.
These days, I'm having a similar relationship with the mandolin. I want to play well, but I'm not a natural. I keep showing up for my Skype lessons and my instructor is always very nice to me. She's made it clear she won't fire me for being totally average. I'm slowly, slowly learning some music theory to build some musical independence, I've got a lot of chords under my belt, I can kinda get my way though some songs. It's been four years of sort of working at it. I play nothing perfectly. Maybe it feels too much like when we had chair try-outs in band. I would practice the assigned piece a jillion times (my instument then was orchestra bells) not because I really cared about the chair. I just didn't want to embarrass myself in front of my classmates. With the mandolin, I resist practicing. This is not the road to improvement.
So I'm trying out the "Don't let perfect be the enemy of fun" mantra. It's okay to be average and enjoy playing for the fun of it, right? I don't expect that I'll ever be a performer, but maybe it's really a secret dream that if I can let go of, I can just have fun. When I started, I set forth a goal of being passably good in social play situations by the time I'm 73. I'm still on track for that. I might get there early even, if I practice.
I haven't practiced martial arts since 2002. After about 10 years of working at it, I stopped because the challenges of my then-job and new motherhood just wouldn't allow me to bring the kind of intention to it that I felt was required. I still have my belt and my uniform, More than that, I have the basis in meditation, the breathing skills, the poker face, and if if necessary, a well-executed side kick. But quitting felt like a relief. In hindsight, I didn't learn to have fun with it. So maybe one additional lesson from my martial arts days is that I need to find the fun so that when I'm 73 I won't be writing a blog post about how I used to play mandolin.
I know that’s a weird topic title. I’m actually pretty healthy. I spend a lot of time in my own head and so perhaps I am more aware of when I don’t feel my best. I get migraines as much as nine times a month. If I sense it coming on early enough, I can medicate and mostly feel okay but not great. Fortunately I don’t get glutened very often. That makes me really sick so I guess a gift of the pandemic is that I don’t eat out very much.
I guess a better blog heading would be: I’m glad I appreciate how often I feel good. I can work on that. Maybe that will be a future blog post.
In the meantime, I’m doing pretty well with my beginning -of-year activities that I am not calling resolutions. I’ve decided it’s my year of self-compassion. Or maybe my first year of self-compassion. I hear self-compassion will make me nicer to other people too. I don’t think I’m not nice, but sometimes I don’t feel nice.
I’ll just be home, or driving, and get gripped out of the blue with an anxiety that makes me breathe shallow and look for some way to soothe. Sometimes my chest hurts. Sometimes I feel like I might cry. Sometimes I feel like I need to run and run.
When I’m not in the middle of it, I know the solution is to regulate my breathing. When I am in the middle of it, remembering to slow my breath is much harder. I’m more likely to eat something, which helps for about a nanosecond. Gulping seltzer kinda helps, but also for not very long. Better than eating though. Distraction helps too, sometimes. I know mindfulness will be a better long term approach. Focusing on nature helps too.
I never really had issues with anxiety that I can recall. This is giving me empathy.
[This story is second hand. Jenn, if you read this and want to make corrections to the actual facts, I'm good with that.]
Several years before Jenn and I had even met, she stopped by Morris Animal Refuge and adopted an adorable polydactyl fuzzy gray kitten, whom she named Pulitzer, in honor of the award her workplace, the Philadelphia Inquirer, had recieved earlier that day. My guess is it was 1989 for the Bartlett and Steele series that prompted tax reform? Ah, thouse were the day, Inky!
Kittens are adorable. And this one was especially so because of his giant ears and even gianter-six-toed feet. But by that night, something was wrong and Pulitzer was decidedly not well.
Jenn was an urban 20-something living in South Philadelphia and she didn't have a car. She found a vet who did HOUSE CALLS. Dr. Diane Eigner, the founder of the Cat Doctor (still in practice today, but without Dr. Diane and I suspect without house calls), came to Jenn's apartment. As is the case with rescue kitties, there could have been a variety of reasons for the diarrhea and vomiting. Dr. Diane had a hunch that there was not enough time to sort out exactly what was going on, so she treated him with everything she had -- antibiotics, antiparasiticals (Is that a thing?), fluids for dehydration and probably other stuff, but since I'm neither a vet nor was I there, just know that this is what Dr. Eigner told Jenn:
We are going to throw everything at it and hope one of the treatments is the right one. Otherwise, this kitten won't make it 'til morning. Keep him warm and hydrated as best you can.
Thankfully, he recovered. This would have been a terrible story otherwise! He grew up, helped Jenn through her relationship transitions, and became a really enormous, kinda moody omnipresent alphacat in our future merged household of pets. He lived a good life, and my memory is that he passed from cancer in the late '90s.
Sometimes when I'm not sure what's going on with me, I remember this story and I just start doing stuff I know can't hurt. Eat better. Move more. Breathe deeper. Meditate. Take vitamins. Play and listen to music. Write. Do a project. Hydrate. Stay warm.