BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH VEGGIE SLAW AND VEGAN CREMA || TENDING the TABLEDespite their incessant clucking first thing in the morning, the fact that every few weeks I find myself donning gloves and wielding a paint scraper in an attempt to clean their coop, and the shrill sound of their squabbling over whose turn it us to lay an egg, I’ve grown attached to our little flock of backyard chickens. I enjoy watching them scratch in the dirt, ruffle their feathers, and preen themselves. I love how they come running when I go to fill their feeder. And I love throwing them food scraps from the kitchen window (making sure to yell “watch out” before I drop anything heavy). So, I was shocked and upset when I came home the other day to find one dead. At first glance I thought she was nesting in the dirt, but when I went to collect eggs I noticed she was in the exact same position while the other four were happily pecking around. Her legs were sprawled behind her and her little eyes were closed. There were no signs of an attack, and she could have easily been sleeping were it not for the stiffness in her body.

I panicked at first, worrying about all sorts of crazy chicken diseases and not knowing how to dispose of a dead animal in the city (in the country we just bury them or throw them in the woods  and allow nature to run its course). I called my mom and she reassured me that sometimes these things happen. I felt like a child again, asking why people have to die. Then I got practical, did some research and bundled her up in several plastic bags to freeze her until garbage day.

Every time I opened the freezer that week, I would cringe a little and feel a little pang of sadness. Then yesterday, as we rolled our rattling garbage bin to the curb, I realized that my sadness was due to the fact that she deserved a better resting place than a landfill. She had worked hard to bring us beautiful, fresh eggs and the thought of just throwing her out deeply bothered me. Granted, I’m the kind of person who gets emotional when I listen to music, but dealing with this chicken’s death was almost enough to make me a vegan. I don’t actually think I’ll stop eating eggs any time soon, but it was a good reminder to constantly reassess my eating practices and take seriously the responsibility we all have to make informed decisions about what we eat and where it comes from. So, in honor of all that, here’s a recipe for tacos with creamy black beans, a spritely veggie slaw and smoky vegan sour cream.

BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH VEGGIE SLAW AND VEGAN CREMA || TENDING the TABLE

BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH VEGGIE SLAW AND VEGAN CREMA || TENDING the TABLE

BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH VEGGIE SLAW AND VEGAN CREMA || TENDING the TABLE

BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH VEGGIE SLAW AND SMOKY VEGAN CREMA

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CREMA

1 cup raw cashews

3/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika

juice from 1/2 lime

FOR THE BEANS

1 1/2 cups dry black beans

6 cups water

1/2 onion roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon epazote

2 tablespoons oil

FOR THE SLAW

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1 cup shredded napa cabbage

1 carrot, grated

2 tablespoons olive oil

juice from 1/2 lime

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

8-10 tortillas

PROCEDURE

FOR THE CREMA

Place the raw cashews in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them soak for 2 hours or overnight.

Drain them and add them to a blender with the other ingredients. Blend until completely smooth. Add more lime juice or some vinegar if you want a sour cream with a more acidic taste.

FOR THE BEANS

Combine the beans, water, onion, garlic, salt, epazote and oil in a pressure cooker ( I love this one) and cook on high for 40 minutes. Alternatively, rinse and drain  a can of beans and add them to a pot with some fresh water and the other ingredients and simmer them until very tender. If you like a creamier consistency, stir the beans often as they simmer. Or just drain and rinse a can of  black beans and call it good.

FOR THE SLAW

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss until combined.

ASSEMBLE THE TACOS

Warm your tortillas (you can use whole wheat or corn tortillas, whichever you prefer). Top each tortilla with some beans, slaw and a drizzle of crema.