I did the most amazing and mouth-wateringly beautiful thing with these beans. I layered my ten-year-old, weathered crockpot with chicken thighs; charred potatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash; these beans, par-boiled; a few shakes of Herbes des Provence; and a few liberal grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Set on low, and simmered all day while I was at work, until the chicken fell apart at the mere sight of a fork. It was heaven and Christmas morning all wrapped up in one. And besides these beans, not a single picture was taken. I shared with no other living person; I ate it all myself.
When I was younger, my father used to have to remind me to relax.
“Relax!” He’d say, as I struggled and sweated over my homework. “Relax!” He’d say as I complained about this problem and that problem at school.
I still sweat the small stuff. I worry about the minute details and the big picture, the present and the future, and the whole perfection of it all. I’m a worrier. And my worries grow into fears, which manifest into problems that need fixing. Immediately. Or, surely, the world will End. Right. Now.
I’ve been trying to tell myself lately to relax and to breathe and to, quite simply, just experience. But it’s difficult. A lifetime of constant worry wears on the soul and you forget how to relax, how to simply experience life.
But I’ve been trying.
Yesterday, I sat on the back porch. We had workers out fixing our windows and after they left, I went on the porch and just sat. I perched my feet on our tiny little outside table and closed my eyes. I let the sun warm my face and listened to the sound of the frogs in the creek that runs behind the house. I didn’t think of what time it was, I didn’t think of work, I didn’t think of how I needed to vacuum or move my sheets to the dryer or wash the dishes from last night. I simply sat, face to the sun, and listened.
I don’t know how long I was out there. It could have been ten minutes or it could have been thirty. I just know it was the frogs, the sun, and me: relaxing.
And so, I have no recipe for you today.
Except to say that some boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fresh cowpeas, and charred (quick broiled) red-skin potatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash can be pretty wonderful when slow cooked for eight hours with Herbes des Provence and a liberal amount of ground sea salt and black pepper.