Sunday, July 27, 2008

Christmas in July

Shiny faces boasting a complexion the royal color of wine aswirl with cryptic mystical glyphs, spill onto the counter wise men from afar. They are complete mystery each with their own countenance bearing stories to tell. I have waited for the arrival of these beans, and now midsummer I feel excited for the bounty that waits in the eating.

I soak them overnight and squeal with amazement at the sight of brawny tattooed chests, now swollen double. Circus creature, dappled pony or pretty pebble on a beach? I reckon it’s too soon to tell. All at once, these freshly bathed beauties cascade into a pot to bubble away for a promised hour or two…perhaps perchance three or four. Exceedingly tedious and no longer in jest, I fear the final cooking time clocked in at six hours plus and would have if allowed, gone much,
much longer.

The dream and the stubbornly crisp remains lurking in a sooty pot alas, far distant relatives. Somehow the holy name alluding to levitating miraculous eats falls surprisingly short. The beans get pushed to the side, waylaid until composure is composed.

At the same time but different place, M_ has the face of spring innocence which captures my breath off balance and fills me with maternal protection. She conveys constant eagerness to please with pushed up voice to match. In unpredictable moments when I’ve called catching her unaware, I hear instead a voice from the inside that is dead with a flat eerie edge. It is the escaped sound from the environs of the heart that records and reveals the more intimate truth. She stands before me all prior lightness thrown off, underneath a thin huddled shadow. Suddenly I am in the position to understand and reassure, just like that kindly professor did for me all those years ago when I stood in disastrous almost collapse. He granted me asylum, a kindness and understanding for my suffering, this relative stranger. And in just one moment, he touched my heart although I couldn’t really fathom that kind of generosity at the time. It has been years since I’ve thought of him- but I do now.

Another kind of Christmas.

My attention back to my overcooked-yet-underdone DHL delivered Rancho Gordo heirloom Christmas Lima beans. With loving compassion and a tiny cry of protest, they get one last treatment as they are herded into a blender. Finally-- elevated bean dip, albeit one with stellar flavor. The path indeed is never straight forward or obvious*. Disappointment, surprise, and occasional disastrous almost collapse gets thrown into the mix. However if lucky, they too might be received with a generous smatter of big heartedness.

*Dedicated to Sher, your generous presence touched me. Thank you- for sharing the journey.

Christmas Lima Bean Salad/Dip

1/3 lb of dried Christmas Lima beans, soaked
4 garlic cloves sliced
¼ C chopped sweet onion
6 oz. reconstituted porcini mushroom slices/ shitake
Thyme sprig
Sage leaves
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
Optional: finely chopped jicama/celery

Direction: Soak and properly cook your beans. Do not use an immoderately small pot with makeshift lid like I did. In a separate pan gently fry up your garlic and onion. After they begin to sweat, add mushroom slices and toss in fresh herbs. In a bowl, place drained beans and herb mixture. Toss with olive oil and dress with chopped jicama/celery/apple. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If all else fails, dump into the blender and whirl until satisfied.


Lucy said...

Beautiful, dappled pods, but dammit, it is so, so disappointing when they stubbornly refuse to soften! I have been known to cry with frustration over a pot of rock-hard chickpeas...

Acts of generosity. To be able to reach out to another, to understand?


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

My new passion is to cook beans in a slow cooker, for 18 hours (I let them go overnight -- it's wonderful to know that I'm multitasking, sleeping and cooking at the same time!). The beans don't even need a presoak, and they always come out perfectly cooked.

Callipygia said...

lucy- oh this frustration, so so wrong! But understanding? A very wonderful thing indeed.

lydia- you know I love those slow cookers and pressure cookers too for that matter. I dunno why I don't rememer to do either! Thanks for the reminder.

Anh said...

I am learning to love beans more. And like Lydia said, a slow cooker really makes the job a breeze...

Callipygia said...

Me too Anh, it is hard to imagine not liking them before. And yes a slow cooker is not a bad idea in bean eatery.

Tea said...

I think only you could make beans--and disappointing beans at that--sound so poetic.

I hope you're doing well!

Gattina said...

Calli, how have you been? Hope everything great. always love the ingredients you chose and your illustrations... together with Sher... will remain in my heart...
btw, I am starting ah-be-ce (spanish), really want to talk to locals at their farmer markets.