What a better way to honor my sister in Oshun Jossie Matos, being on my show then with this traditional Dominican staple with a little extra special greenery.

Photo Credit: https://www.196flavors.com/dominican-republic-mangu/

Mangú (Mashed plantains)

This is one of the best known and most representative recipes of the Dominican cuisine. It could probably be called Dominicans’ official breakfast dish. A must-try for those sampling our cuisine. Learn how to make it with this simple step by step recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Green Plantains Peeled and diced in half or quarters
  • 2-3 tbs CannaButter *or to taste
  • 2 Onions cut in rings
  • ¼ cup White Vinegar
  • Canola or Vegetable oil
  • Salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut onions into rings then add vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  2. Peel plantains and cut in half or quarter if you’d like it to cook through faster
  3. In a large pot over medium high heat, add plantain and another pinch or two of salt
  4. Allow plantains to come to a boil
  5. Remove plantains once they are soft
  6. While the plantains are boiling, saute onions, salt, and vinegar. Be careful not to burn yourself as oil may pop
  7. Once the plantains are ready, add butter, cold water or water from where the plantains were boiling, sauce from the onions and begin to mash
  8. Mash until plantains are velvety smooth
  9. In the end, add onions and sauce over top. Enjoy with fried Dominican Salami, Fried Dominican Cheese, and a Fried Egg for a traditional Dominican Mangu con Los Tres Golpes

NOTES

Mangu must be eaten when warm. Once it cool it will lose velvety texture. To avoid, feel free to mash plantains with cold water. This will slow down the rate at which the mangu hardens and loses texture.

At 3:04 pm December 4th 2008, I became a mother, and it was the most terrifying and shameful experience of my life…

Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.

Dr. Brene Brown
One of the first few pictures of Danny and I

Okay…okay let me backup. Don’t take that statement to heart, motherhood is a beautiful thing, especially for those that want it. I was never one that wanted that experience. I had been on the pill, and although not as diligent in my taking of it, I had every intention of not having any children. The pill was the best option besides abstinence for me to not undergo this experience that I didn’t want. Prior to being on the pill I had had two abortions and had vowed that if I ended up pregnant again I would bite the bullet and follow through with my responsibilities, hence why I was on the pill.

So as I lay in the operating room with a sheet covering my midsection feeling the tugging and pulling of my impending delivery, the only emotion I could conjure was fear. Fear and overwhelming guilt, I cried. Tears flowing freely as new life was brought from my womb. I looked at my father who had miraculously made it just in time to be there with me in the operating room and all I could repeat over and over was “I didn’t know, I didn’t know”, as Baby Boy Willoughby was rushed to the NICU.

See the thing with shame is that is a two fold emotion; usually self imposed and can also be societally enforced. Webster’s Dictionary defines shame as ‘a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.’ Becoming pregnant AND also not knowing that I was pregnant, doubled down with the lack of maternal sensibilities and just the basic necessities to care for another human being was enough to make me feel like there was a giant stone on my chest.

Danny was born via C-section under duress to say the least, he was 2 lbs 2 oz and after the first 24 hours I was able to visit him in the NICU. Needless to say this was a very awkward first meeting and as I saw this tiny human in a clear box under a ray of light all the joys of what should have been a wonderful first meeting was squashed under the weight of my guilt. What had I done? I thought of all the reckless behavior I had engaged in over the course of my pregnancy. Was I the reason he was this way? Am I even able to raise a child? Do I even want to keep him? Maybe I should put him up for adoption. These were the types of thoughts that whirled in my head. Not only was I questioning my own parenting capabilities, I also thought about my own biological mother and her lack of maternal inclination. Would I turn out like her?

He would go on to spend 5 months in the hospital and have over 7 surgeries in the span of 7 years. But luckily 11 years later he is a happy and relatively well adjusted child. Even with his disabilities he is a smart, witty young man that I am proud to call my son. Motherhood for me was a set of roller coaster emotions and situations that I couldn’t have gotten through without the support of my family and buddhist philosophy.

The full effect of my guilt and shame didn’t go away just because my son was a happy-go-lucky child. From long nights in hospitals, months of uncertainty, the pressures of new motherhood, providing as a single mother the stone became bigger and bigger over the first 4 to 5 years of Danny’s life. At the time I was using cannabis for relief to get high and enjoyed it occasionally for the euphoric state to alleviate some of the pressure that I felt I was under. As I became more involved in cannabis I began to question how I could use my cannabis to get from under this boulder of shame. Then I found microdosing!

Leafly offers this about microdosing “In the midst of a potency-obsessed market where high THC marks mean everything, there is a growing community of cannabis advocates that are pushing for less consumption as opposed to more. This tactic is called “microdosing,” a growing trend as cannabis consumption becomes more mainstream. Practitioners of microdosing are taking small amounts of cannabis in order to reap the medical benefits of THC while avoiding its psychoactive effects that can interfere with the demands of daily life.”

Microdosing became my saving grace, and one of my tools in my toolkit. I was able to still be a Mom while at the same time breaking down the walls and using therapy to confront my own feeling of shame or worthlessness and abandonment. As a new mother I carried not only my own strong feelings of shame and guilt but, as many new mothers know, there are the pressures of parenting experts, Instagram moms, other family members and ‘well-meaning’ public. If we don’t live up to this golden standard of motherhood that society places on new parents then we may experience of guilt tied to not fulfilling that standard. My own journey of motherhood was about quieting all those other voices and listening to what made sense to me.

The smiling boy.

While microdosing is my personal choice and it is something that each person needs to find for themselves I found that it is comparable to motherhood. It might never looks like what other people want or think you should be doing, but at the end of the day it has to be right for you. After years of therapy, my medicinal cannabis use, creating a tribe of other supportive mothers and listening more deeply to my own voice I can say that those feelings have subsided. I still battle these feelings from time to time but I stand stronger than ever before and have more energy to dedicate to being a imperfectly perfect mom to Danny. While this journey for me at times have been frustrating, sad, and overwhelming I know that I had to go through this to be able to share it and help other ‘moms who medicate’ and even new moms to not feel alone and supported in this time. My feelings of shame and guilt although not every woman’s experience, it is mine. I am so grateful to have had the use of cannabis to assist in being more present and appreciative for my son and the support that I have received throughout this journey. No matter what happens I know that I will be the best Mom for my son.

Canna Gummy bears make for a easy micro dosing medium; something Nurse Elizabeth would approve

Equipment

  • Stove
  • Cooking Pot
  • Whisk
  • Gummy Bear Molds
  • Dropper

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil (Refined coconut oil, solid at room temperature)
  • 1/2 Cup Cold Water
  • 85 Grams Packet of Flavoured Gelatin *One Jell-o Pack
  • 2 Tablespoons Plain Unflavoured Gelatin (20 Grams)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sunflower / Soy Lecithin (liquid lecithin) (Optional)

Instructions

  • Turn your stove on low heat. In a pot, add water, the cannabis-infused coconut oil, and the sunflower/soy lecithin.
  • Continue stirring the mixture until it has a consistent texture and the coconut oil has completely melted. Now, add in the flavoured gelatin and the unflavoured gelatin while continuing to stir throughout this process.
  • Whisk extensively on low heat for 10-15 minutes until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Make sure it does not come to a boil. But, you need to make sure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. (Don’t stop stirring this mixture for the entire 15 minutes)
  • While leaving the pot on the element, start filling up the gummy bear moulds with a dropper (a dropper is a mini turkey baster that comes with most gummy bear molds). Make sure to move quickly. If your liquid starts to separate, it’s because the mixture has started to cool. It’s critical that you move fast otherwise the oil may separate in the pot. You need to continue whisking throughout the pouring process otherwise the mixture may start to harden and stop binding. (The secret to making great infused gummy bears is pouring the mixture into the molds as fast as possible.)
  • Put the gummy bear molds into the freezer for 20-25 minutes.

Notes

Optional: Sprinkle a pinch of citric acid overtop of the finished gummy bears to make them sour! Don’t go overboard as citric acid is a preservative. Store in the refrigerator for best results. 

Women of color leaders are guarding a dirty little secret — our work is eroding our mental, physical and emotional health. We are slowly wrecking ourselves as we try to transform political organizations, foundations, media rooms, nonprofits, the publishing industry.

Sayu Bhojwani- Let’s Get Real About Why Women of Color Are So Tired

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

I recently read this really interesting article about the real effects of WOC burnout within a myriad of industries, called ‘Lets Get Real About Why Women of Color Are so Tired’. The author Sayu Bhojwani speaks about her own experience with in the nonprofit world and the evidence of competition, scarcity and culture of celebrity that is created within progressive spaces, like non profits. I worked within that arena for almost 15 years so I had seen my fair share of overworked, underpaid and overwhelmed employees, me being one of them, I connect with this article on a deep level. As black people we undervalue our worth and because of our innate skills of working from a place of scarcity (balling on a budget, hustling and grinding and making a way out of no way) we are heralded within those spaces for our ingenuity, innovation and tolerance to withstand large amounts of pressure with little to no resources. Sayu goes on to say, “With rare exceptions like Ayanna Pressley’s revelation of alopecia, we’re not talking about our deep exhaustion publicly for many reasons, including our own shame and sense of failure. It’s time for us to confront the core reasons for our suffering — the scarcity mentality and culture of celebrity and competition that underpins even the most progressive spaces.” I think it is time to think of things differently, especially within the cannabis arena.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels

Cannabis is of course the newest, latest and greatest progressive gathering ground with the upcoming elections and people drawing their personal lines in the sand. With the most controversial news surrounding cannabis legalization and continued progress of medical marijuana states it is and has created the culture of scarcity, celebrity and competition. The industry is very much about WHO you know and what alliances you have created while in the space. Being able to be attached to “brand” or a “well-known” name and the lack of entry into the industry being granted to only to a select few scarcity and competition are the order of the day within cannabis right now. States like California and Colorado as the benchmark with more and more money, celebrity and the illegal status of the plant in many states, it is creating the same exact vibe that Saju described in other progressive circles. So how can we completely subverse the potentially hazardous situations that can come up with the burgeoning cannabis industry? She offers 2 points that I believe can be applied to the situation:

  • One is stepping off the treadmill not engaging in celebrity culture or attending events that is is more about marginalizing and excluding those that are doing the most work without acknowledging how it is affecting our mental and emotional well being and
  • and two is holding spaces for real solidarity such as spending time with other women leaders in the space. Its focus is to be a place of accountability for the value of your time and yourself and having a place to “gut check” about decisions you make as a leader within the industry.
Photo by Godisable Jacob from Pexels

I believe in having the safe spaces to speak about the exhaustion, re-evaluate and create the solidarity and also the accountability to know our worth and to stop the constant grind that is created from scarcity and competition. Collaboration is the key to being able to make real tangible change and have the spaces to avoid the pitfalls of other industries. We could be the standard bearers with which other industries can be envious of. While the cannabis industry is continuing to grow at a rate unseen in most industries we need to be aware of current and past parallels from those other industries to ours so we can be cognizant of the pitfalls that might lay ahead to avoid them as cannabis continues to progress within our state and also the nation.

This plant is meant for the support of better overall well being not only in industry but within our personal lives. And to not only witness the growth but to be able to navigate and use it to decrease stress, re-center who we are and to take time to relax from the constant grind would not only be the best outcome for us as black women but for the overall community. How do you find time to re-center? Do you use cannabis in that way? What are some ways that we can advocate in our own communities to create safe spaces to be heard and acknowledged?

Anuella inspired Haitian Legim Beregen Melange infused with Cannabis

Photo courtesy of http://www.thishaiti.com/recipes/haitian-legume

The process of preparing legim does require several steps – each one is creating layers and layers of deep flavor. So don’t jump ahead! 

Also, the best time to enjoy legim is on cold nights as it retains heat really well. But any day you need comfort in a bowl – this is perfect! 

Serves: 4

You’ll need:

  • ½ pound eggplant, cut into thin rounds
  • ½ pound cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 pound string beans, cut in half
  • ½ pound carrots, diced
  • 5 oz fresh spinach
  • ½ medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves (2 chopped, 2 whole)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (or habanero)
  • water
  • 2 tsp dry spice blend
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp infused coconut oil

Instructions

Place a large pan over medium-low heat, add 3 tbsp infused cannabis coconut oil (or oil of your choice). Add half of the chopped onions and sauté until tender. 

Reduce heat to low, add tomato paste and dry spice, plus additional oil to keep from burning out. Stir this mixture until well blended. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves and lightly sauté. Stir in thyme and parsley. Continue stirring everything being careful not to burn garlic. Add a teaspoon of oil if the pan starts to get dry. (In this part of the process, you’ll want to monitor the bottom of the pan, continue adding small amounts of oil to prevent pan from drying out, which may burn out all the delicious layers of flavors you’re creating.)

Bring heat to a simmer, add your veggies layering them accordingly: eggplant, 2 whole cloves of garlic, remaining onions, cabbage, spinach, and scotch bonnet pepper. Keep the pepper whole, do not cut or puncture. 

Add 1½ cups water and raise heat to medium.

Cook vegetables until thoroughly soft (monitor and add water as needed). Once you’ve reached this texture, REMOVE the pepper and discard*. Then mash the vegetables with a pestle or wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended, but not too mushy. 

Add carrots and string beans and continue cooking for 5 min. You should still have enough liquid in the pot, but if the pan dried out, add 1/4 cup of water to steam carrots and string beans. 

Next, add bell peppers. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes or until all liquid is cooked out. Stir everything together until well mixed.

*If you want your dish to have heat, add back in the pepper and puncture it with a fork. Keep it in until ready to serve.