When I was about 12-years old, I stood outside of a thrift store not far from my house waiting for my father to pick me up.
As I waited, a man around 30 or 35-years old stopped in front of me, smiled and said, “You are beautiful. So pretty. Such a cutie pie.” Then he went into the thrift store.
I awkwardly smiled and looked down because my face felt like a million butterflies had landed on it.
Two seconds later my father arrived. When I got in the car he asked me what the man said to me. I told him. He parked the car and went inside the store.
Five minutes later he got back into the car, heated.
“That muthafuckah’ ’bout to get his head smashed in. I saw that niggah and how he looked at you. I told his ass that You. Are. A. Girl. And I will break his muthafuckin’ neck if he evah…”
When I was 14-years old, I sat on my school bus to go home. One of the most ignorant school thugs sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulder. He looked at me and said, “Hey, you kinda cute.”
Before he could get the word cute all the way out, my brother, Jermaine, had his arm around his neck…as he was sitting in the seat behind me. The thug stood up, and so did his brother–a fellow thug. And both got in my brother’s face. They threatened him, talked low about who the fuck did he think he was. My brother simply said, “Do not ever touch my sister.” And he stood his ground. He did not blink. And this was before he got his height and weight. Both boy-thugs were bigger than my brother. So I stood up also. Cause what you not gon’ do… If anyone swung on my brother, we would all be fighting on this bus. That was our house rule.
The boy-thugs mumbled and walked to the back of the bus and sat down. My brother sat next to me. And we rode home in silence.
Though I have my issues with my father, I never felt as though I was not fathered. Protected. Not just by him, but also especially by all three of my brothers.
I never worried about any boy/man I dated being violent toward me. If ever… call home. Handled. When I met my husband, and gladly handed over my entire heart to him, I knew that if my brothers did not like him for whatever reason, I would have to negotiate the return of that gift. I grew up trusting the men around me… and how they loved me… and how they all fathered me with their love.
This does not mean I haven’t experienced some hard hurts from men. But those experiences have been well balanced with tenderness from my husband, my brothers, the helpful and insightful older man driving the airport shuttle this past weekend! And the beauty is when “love” from a man didn’t look like what I experienced from my foundation, I understood something was wrong. Being shown the right kind of love from a man is key to knowing the wrong kind.
Whenever I experienced first-hand, or saw female friends mistreated by the men they chose to love, it was like opening my front door and seeing a cartoon dinosaur trying to roller skate for the very first time. It’s bizarre, disturbing, and scary. Men are built to protect women–physically, emotionally, verbally. And I refuse to believe otherwise. It’s the memories in me that make me believe that. And if I see contrary of this belief in any man, I know something went wrong in his beginnings.
When I watch my children with their father, I’m grateful. I’m clear that he loves them… that he will guide them… that he will protect them with his life. This was my prayer for them before they were even born.
This father’s day I wanted to honor Cbabi (who typically wants fried chicken, but instead requested something healthier!) with a meal that would make him feel full…of love. I want to thank him, and all the fathers in my life, for showing me how men are supposed to be with their children… and the ones they love.
Happy Father’s Day.
Pinto Bean and Black Rice Stuffed Collard Green Rolls with Crispy Portobello Strips
Directions for cooking the black rice:
- In a small pot, bring 3 cups of vegetable broth to a boil and add 1 1/2 cups of black rice. Cover and reduce the heat to a low, simmering. Cook for 25 minutes until tender.
Other ingredients for the filling:
- 4 cups of cooked pinto beans
- cooked black rice
- 1 cup red onions, chopped
- 2 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP coconut oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (optional)
- 6-8 collard green leaves, rinsed an(set aside for rolling)
Directions for cooking the filling:
- In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, add your coconut oil and heat for three minutes.
- Add your chopped onions and cook for 3 minutes, then add your cumin and stir, cooking for an additional minute. Add your minced garlic, cooked pinto beans, cooked black rice, sea salt and fresh rosemary and stir until combined over low-medium heat, cooking for 5 minutes…just to warm it through.
Short Cut Tomato-BBQ Sauce
- 26oz crushed San Marzano tomatoes, boxed
- 1 cup bbq sauce (I used Organic Ville’s Original BBQ sauce–Gluten free)
- 2 TBSP coconut aminos (optional)
- 2 TBSP black currants (optional)
- 1 TBSP minced fresh ginger
Directions for Short Cut Tomato-BBQ Sauce
- In a skillet over medium heat, add your crushed tomatoes, bbq sauce, coconut aminos, and fresh ginger and stir until combined. Bring to a mild boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Rolling your Collard Rolls
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Add one cup of your Tomato-BBQ sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish and set aside.
3. Take a collard leaf and, depending on size, scoop 1/2 cup-3/4 cups of of pinto bean and black rice filling into the leaf’s end. Fold in the edges and roll until enclosed.
4. Roll as many leaves as you like, and place snuggly into your casserole dish.
5. Cover your rolls with more Short Cut Tomato-BBQ sauce and cover your dish with foil paper and place in the oven, baking for 25 minutes.
Crispy Portobello Strips
- 2 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 7oz bag of Ian’s Gluten-Free panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup club soda
- coconut oil for frying
- Sprinkle your sliced portobello mushrooms with the 1tsp of seasoned salt and set aside.
- in a shallow bowl, whisk together your brown rice flour with your club soda and set aside.
- place your gluten-free bread crumbs in a dish and set aside.
- Dip your portobello slices into the brown rice and club soda mixture then into your panko break crumbs.
- Fry your strips in the hot coconut oil (fyi, warm up your coconut oil over medium heat OR drizzle your breaded portobello strip with coconut oil and BAKE in the oven at 425 degrees until crispy (about 15 minutes)
Plating your dish…
Grab a plate and drizzle a little sauce on its surface. Take one collard wrap and slice on the bias (diagonally). Sit one half facing up, top with a crispy portobello strip (or two!), and drizzle with more sauce. Enjoy.
Until next time…Reine