13 November 2010

Thank you to my village

I've never considered myself a great writer, and let me just say that these days I'm doing great to finish a simple train of thought like "Go upstairs, pee, get diapers and burp cloth." So, you can only imagine that actually writing, as in sitting down at the computer and willing my fingers to translate the thoughts swirling in my head is a daunting task.

If you're not a regular around here, you may be wondering if I just had a stroke. Well, not exactly. Two weeks ago today I gave birth to my second little boy. It was a whirlwind experience -- other mommas speak up here and say, "What labor and delivery isn't?" -- that had been building for weeks. I'd been saying I couldn't have this baby until Oct. 30 when my mother flew in from Oklahoma to help out with Jasper. Feeling like labor was indeed starting but not in full swing, I picked my mom up from the airport, took her and Jasper out to dinner, bathed the boy and put him to bed and then decided I better get my butt to the hospital, and quick. Just five hours after my mom arrived, Carter Kenneth was born.

In the days following, I was reminded of all of the unpleasant bits of delivering a baby. There's the sweating, the mental and physical exhaustion and the mad, mad paradox of healing while caring for a tiny human being (even if they weigh 9 pounds and 6 ounces at birth). And, of course, there are many more hiccups that just aren't fit for discussion on a food blog.

But thankfully, I was also reminded of how much my family is loved. Grandmas are flying halfway across the country to do my laundry, unload my dishwasher and give me an extra set of hands while I figure out this new role of motherhood. Then there are the friends and neighbors who are dropping by with lasagnas, enchiladas, hand pies, muffins and casseroles. And this gravy train isn't ending just yet, with more friends scheduled for food drops in the coming weeks.

It may be overused, but the old It-Takes-A-Village saying couldn't be more true. And I am so thankful for this village surrounding my little family. Everything from our friends Dan and Juliana who came to sit with Jasper and drive Seth to the hospital the night I delivered Carter to the offers to take big brother off my hands for a few hours are so dear. We are blessed in more ways than one.

Too often, I think, we keep our distance from friends and neighbors, thinking they need their space when a new baby is born, a relative is sick or any of the other stresses of life press upon us. But in reality, that's probably when they need us most.

So next time you have a friend or neighbor in need, drop off a casserole or a batch of muffins. It's possible to do without being intrusive, and a small effort goes a long way to helping a family. And just in case you need an idea, here's an awesome recipe for a Black Bean Pie that was delivered to me by my friend Kim.

Delivering a casserole won't change the world, but it just might change someone's outlook, even for just a day. And let's be honest, when you've got a new baby to care for, you're not thinking much further out than that anyways.

Black Bean Pie

1 clove garlic minced
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
28 oz diced tomatoes with most of juice
3 oz tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
juice of half a lime
pre-made or homemade pie crust
shredded cheddar or blend cheese to suit taste
*If you want to sneak in another veggie you can add a chopped yellow pepper in the final 5 minutes of the simmer.
*Before I pour in the tomato mix I pour off a little juice if it seems too runny. After it is baked it is best to give it a few minutes to set up before cutting.
Preheat oven to 350. In a sauce pan brown the garlic in olive oil. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin and lime. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Shape on half of pie crust in a pie pan. Pour bean mixture into bottom of the crust, top with a layer of cheddar, then cover with the other half of the pie crust. Pinch top and bottom of pie crust together;make several slits in the crust with a knife. Bake pie for approximately 35 minutes or until the crust is slightly brown around the edges.