Great (Un)Expectations

Recipe: Mac O’ Geez!

I came across the title of this famous book by Charles Dickens earlier this week. As these words planted themselves firmly in my brain, I watched my week turn out in relation to my so-called “expectations” and I was pleasantly surprised. So often our past experiences try to predict our future. They whisper in our ears, hoping to say “I told you so” or trying to save us from enduring the same hurt or lesson twice. They tell us how a certain situation will play itself out. And I understand their motivations. But how can we break out of our patterns and help others break free from theirs if our expectations keep manifesting the same thing over and over again?

We think we know someone, either because we have a history with that person or because we’ve known someone “like” that person in role, personality, or some other external characteristic. But how fair is it to the person in question that we project our past experiences onto her or him? Suddenly our perspectives become filters picking up only information that confirms our past experience, or in other words, meets our expectations.

If we can detach, just a little, from these expectations, we allow the people in our lives to surprise us. We allow people to show us who they really are, not who we “think” they are or will be.  So whether we are thinking something or someone will be better or worse in one way or another, we need to drop it. Holding too tightly to our expectations limits everyone involved. After all, how can someone truly shine if we refuse to acknowledge her light?  So let go, take a step back, and observe. Let new information present itself. In doing so, you choose open up a space for people in your life to really show up for you in ways that you never thought possible, and you get to start over with a clean slate too. Releasing our expectations gives us freedom from the past so that change and growth can occur, and it helps those in our lives step into their best selves.

All of this talk of expectations reminds me of when we tell someone that what we are about to serve them is “vegan” – unless they are a vegan, the word “vegan” presents itself like a little disclaimer: “WARNING! The meal you are about to consume is in some way compromised!” Fortunately these low expectations are most often surpassed and then some. For example, you might not “expect” this vegan Mac N’ Cheese recipe to taste anything like the “real thing” – but here is just one such instance where you need to drop it! This recipe will knock your little socks off! A student in my class sent this on to me (thanks JM!), and I finally got around to making it the other week. It’s rich, thick, creamy, tasty and so so satisfying – everything that Mac N’ Cheese should be and more! The recipe comes from my favourite vegan cook, Dreena Burton. After making it, you will understand how this recipe got its name!

Mac O’ Geez!

Pasta:
2 3/4 – 3 cups (~10 oz) dry cut pasta (ex: macaroni, penne)

Sauce:
1/2 + 1/3 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw brazil nuts
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp (rounded) dry mustard
1 cup water
1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups plain non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened plain almond milk, but you can also use plain soy or rice milk) *(use the full 1 1/2 cups of milk if using full 3 cups of dry pasta)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Breadcrumb Topping:
1 – 1 1/2 cups dry whole-grain breadcrumbs (I used pumpernickel)

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp olive oil (use full 2 tbsp for full 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs)
1/8 tsp (rounded) sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Get all ingredients ready to blend for sauce, then start cooking pasta. While pasta is cooking, blend all sauce ingredients in a blender or in a deep bowl with an immersion blender (beging blending the nuts and other ingredients with about 1/2 of the liquid to smooth it out, then when smooth, add remaining liquid and blend again until entire mixture is very smooth). Once pasta is almost tender, fully drain (don’t rinse). Mix noodles with sauce, and immediately pour into a lightly oiled 8 x 12” baking dish. (it will look like there is a lot of runny sauce – it will thicken up, trust the pasta!) Mix breadcrumb toppings in a small bowl, then sprinkle over top of casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 16-18 minutes. Then, remove foil cover and bake another 5-7 minutes or until topping is golden brown and crisped. Don’t overbake or sauce will get too thick. Remove from oven and place casserole on a hot plate (rather than on top of oven, since residual heat from oven will continue to thicken the sauce). Serve!

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2 thoughts on “Great (Un)Expectations

  1. Thank you again, Bryanne, for your wisdom. This theme has been surrounding me in my role as a classroom teacher. Last year, I was fortunate enough to work with 3 adults in the classroom. At the end of the day, we would gather and discuss the day and our understandings of how the children took up the work. With one child, there was often 3 interpretations of their work. I needed to be on constant guard and to welcome each child in each situation with new eyes. What is interesting here, too, is that we had the expectation that the children were cap”able”. In other classes, they might be seen by the teacher as “dis-abled”. As my cousin says, “You only see what you want to see.”

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