Last night I had a slip up. It wasn’t major and it was purely by accident, but it happened.
I was having people over to dinner. A UK colleague, my sister and her boyfriend – who not by choice but by necessity doesn’t eat gluten, fructose and dairy.
No worries! I told him
I’m all over it.
By now I was in day 10, so of course thought I was a professional at this clean eating gig. Dinners were a breeze. The chocolate cake I would not eat was done, the ganache icing not even tempting. Too easy.
Plus I was cooking lamb. And I’m good at lamb. A beautiful lamb shoulder I was going to slow cook with lemon, garlic and oregano. I had done it before to rave reviews so was strutting around the kitchen with an air of confidence I didn’t deserve.
Especially as I forgot to turn the oven down after its preheating cycle and ended up roasting my slow cooked lamb for an hour before realising. Fail. So my slow cooked meal morphed its way to a roast.
First fail of the night – lets move on.
Vegetables. Lots of them. I did corn for the grain eaters, steamed broccoli and beans, tried kale chips for the first time – delicious! (although my no fructose friend confirmed via google they were on his banned substance list). Potatoes and sweet potatoes, all cooked in coconut oil, which I had finally managed to track down (and to ‘borrow’ a back up jar from my sister-in-law) and covered only with salt and pepper.
But the lamb.
It was always going to be my achilles heel of the night and now it was roasted (not very well) deserved, and needed, a sauce to join him on the plate. At least for the guests that could eat it.
So I quickly made a gravy for those that love it before finding a new, easy to do red wine jus.
Butter, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, beef stock and of course half a cup of dry red wine.
I’d like to carry on about how the smell of it made me want to drink the sauce straight from the fry pan as it lay simmering, but it didn’t. Nothing about the way the butter sizzled in the pan or how the garlic and onion began to caramelize made me want to try it.
I poured it in a gravy jug without a second thought, but happy I had tried something new and piled it and everything else on the dining room table, dinner was served!
Plates were pilled high, wine was poured, bread was buttered.
I left off the corn (oh how I really do miss you) ignored the bread and loaded up on my meat, greens, sweet potato – no standard spud you can not join in, I’m sorry – and those delightfully crispy and salty kale chips.
I was halfway through telling a story and cutting my second bite of lamb when I realised what else I had done.
My face paled, hands flew to my head, knife and fork clattering on the white porcelain plate as they dropped from my fingers, and as my sister put it I ‘did something really girlie I have never seen before’.
Whether it was the excitement of my own story telling, the comfort and confidence I had taken too far and paraded around the kitchen earlier or my pitchfork holding red devil appearing again and taking over control, I don’t know.
But whatever it was, however I had done it, there on my plate, covering the piece of my already bitten lamb, was a drizzle of that red wine jus.
I continued my girly, incoherent babble for a few moments longer, my colleague looking at me with a wide eyed expression and no doubt wondering if he could silently slip out of this madhouse now and make a run for it (we had only known each other a month), my sister reassuring me it was only a mouthful, her boyfriend staying silent, and my husband declaring I should just ‘scrape it off’.
Instead, horrified and humiliated, I got a clean plate, rescued what vegetables I could and served a few new clean slices of meat, pushing the red wine and butter infested ones with their jus over to my husband.
Then I checked and tripled checked everything on my plate again – just in case.
No sauce, no gravy, no jus, no bread, no butter, no corn, no potato. Mineral water, no wine.
I really didn’t enjoy (apart from the kale chips) the rest of the food. I felt slightly sick over my previous potentially potent forkful.
I will NOT call this a failure.
I refuse to.
Even if it was – which it wasn’t – I’m using that cheesy old saying of ‘I’m still a winner’.
It as one mouthful – small mouthful – and something totally unintentional, purely by mistake.
An accident, not a failure.
And it shook me to the core.
How careful I must still be, how diligent! This clean eating gig of mine was still in rehearsals and it would be days before I made it to the live show and it became a habit not a hindrance. If this was The Voice I would have just lost the battle round.
Bloody jus. New recipe, first time I had ever made it. I blame the lamb, and the oven, and myself for needing a jus to begin with.
Even hours later, when everyone had left, and I was loading plates with gravy stains and bowls with brownie crumbs and ice-cream drops – none of which were mine – into the dishwasher I was still highly annoyed with myself.
My competitive spirit – the same one that once threatened a team mate to ran faster or I would poke his eye out with a spoon – was annoyed that I had, on some level, failed.
The feeling of failure followed me to bed and left a bitter taste on my not so clean eating tongue.
I’m sure the men at airport security this morning would have been rolling their eyes with laughter as I x-rayed my two bacon and egg muffins, container of macadamias and almonds, my banana and water.
And I’m sure the other lunch goers were rolling their eyes with impatience when I checked if any of the salads had gluten or dairy, and made the poor order taker recite dressing ingredients to me.
And I’m sure she was rolling her eyes in annoyance when in the end I asked if she could make me up a salad with only the vegetables I wanted don’t put on any dressing, was the chicken free range, and can she make it up in front of me so I could see what she put in it.
Today I wasn’t taking any chances.
Because yesterday I had a slight failure accident.
Lessons learned –
- Confidence is ok, being cocky is not
- I make a good red wine jus
- It takes longer than 10 days to break a lifelong habit
- Muffins in Tupperware don’t beep through the airport security, but they do capture strange looks and ensure you get called over for an explosives and drug screening