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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Paz

DBT Lessons from a Mediocre Casserole

I am not much of a cook, but 11 months ago I signed up for a subscription to a food and recipe magazine in hopes of expanding my horizons. After 11 months I received the renewal notice to continue receiving this magazine and I realized I have never even made a recipe from it. I have dog-eared many recipes, chatted about it with my kids and even dreamed about the final product. Last week, prior to grocery shopping, I decided this was the week to make something out of the magazine. If nothing else I felt like I needed to get my $25/year worth and to see if it's worth the $25 to renew for the next 12-month cycle.

As you can see from the photo below, things didn't work out so well. What is also not pictured is a sink full of dishes and the dogs who ate some fallen chili that didn't end so well. So using some Mental Health advice as well as some DBT skills, let's talk about where things went wrong and where things went right.

What went wrong:

1) I didn't read the directions correctly: I skimmed things and jotted down the ingredients I needed to make it. I forgot the corn, cheese, and 1 pack of cornbread.

Life and cooking advice: Pay attention and do one thing at a time (DBT skill).

2) I didn't have the right size dish: This was supposed to be a casserole in a 8x13" pan. Alas I didn't own the right size item. I used a shallow, larger dish so was short on food to fill it.

Life and cooking advice: Be Prepared, make sure you have the right tools to work with.

3) Due to #2 I had to spread the cornbread mix out and attempted to spread cornbread mix over chili, which didn't work out as it was thicker than a snicker!

Life and cooking advice: It helps to know what you are working with, if I had made cornbread before I would have known it is thick and it's easier to spread if you don't dump the whole thing on top to start.

4) My boyfriend mentioned when I said I was going to make this dish that his mom made it when he was a kid and he loved it. His mom can cook, from scratch and very well. I was suddenly determined to make this recipe and make it perfect.

Life and cooking advice: Don't compare yourself to someone else, especially someone who has the skills, experience and tools you may not.

5) As it became clear this was not going to look like the picture or taste like my boyfriend's mom's version, I tossed it in the oven realizing I was short on time and needed to clean up fast in order to go get the kids.

Life and cooking advice: Plan ahead (DBT skill, cope ahead) and leave room for error.

Now onto the successes:

1) Know your audience: Here's the thing: my kids eat just about anything (they ate the kale salad I made earlier too). They not only ate it, but had seconds of the casserole and asked me to make it again. Good news was that I made a ton- yay leftovers for tomorrow!

2) Give yourself credit: I had 80% of the ingredients and when I realized I was short for the large dish I tossed in a can of chili to make up for it. (DBT skill: Positive Self Talk)

3) People who love you aren't comparing you to others: My boyfriend ate two big pieces and said it was great. He didn't even notice how un-photogenic it was.

4) No one notices your small mistakes like you do: At no point did anyone question where the corn, cheese, or lack of cornbread was. Only 1/4 of the eaters had this recipe before so no one knew my flub and that1/4 didn’t mention it.

5) Keep expectations reasonable: let me be real here, my family doesn't expect anything I cook to look like a magazine photo or a Pinterest post. At times I expect perfectionism, but the truth is other people do not. I almost think if it had looked like the picture they would've been suspicious about if I really made it. Be imperfectly perfect! (DBT skill: Wise Mind)

In the end everyone was happy, we have leftovers for tomorrow night to save me from cooking more than a quick veggie and I have

4 more items from the magazine to make *fingers crossed*. Oh, and I practiced some DBT skills!

They ate it!


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