Thirty plus years of turning up at the stove—finding happiness in practice—has taught me a lot.
This above all else.
Build a solid foundation. Make it taste good.
Look at that pot. That's my basic recipe.
There are a few more things:
Discard the soaking liquid. Give the beans a cold, fresh rinse.
Bring them to a simmer without flavourings. Scoop the clouds of foam from the surface—more than once.
Then add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and parsley. Always.
Open your cupboards and imagine what else—chillies, tomatoes, marjoram, summer savory, chipotles in adobo, curry leaves, and lemon slices.
Cook gently to tender. Don't let the shells split or the guts pop out.
Turn off the heat and add salt until the flavour makes you smile a little.
Let them steep in the pot until cool.
Discard the flavourings.
Ladle the beans into containers. Freeze.
I gave some to Jessica last weekend. A few days later, she sent me this text:
"Those beans were soooo good."
Share what you have. It lifts the spirit.
Make Melissa Clark's Indian butter chickpeas. Five stars and over 2,000 reviews—it's saucy and good. I add chillies for heat and lime juice as a bright finish. It feeds many, or there'll be some for the freezer.
Let me teach you how to make the River Cafe's, chickpeas and cavolo nero. On a platter, finished with extra virgin olive oil, it's nice with roast chicken, fatty grilled pork chops, or a well-made green salad.
The only time I cook chickpeas to near collapse is for hummus. Baking soda speeds the process—but too much, and you'll taste it. Resist the impulse to hurry to the finish and take the time to remove the skins—the silky finish is worth it. Michael Solomonov's Hummus Tehina is the gold standard. Make it beautiful to bring to the table.
The sky's grey flannel. Bursts of cerulean blue.
Half-hearted rain. Sidewalk saturated in patches.
People in shorts and t-shirts and jackets and sweaters.
The foyer to fall.
Put this song on repeat. Not ready to let go.
"Just bees and things and flowers."