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Après le Déluge: Mushroom Risotto

What Cooking Means to Me: Back to Black Beans

This past weekend Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria and I were at my mother's house. Sunday morning I woke before everyone and slipped downstairs to the kitchen of my childhood. The clock on the wall that told me when to leave for the school bus is gone, but little else has changed. My mother still has an electric stove, and the wooden cabinets, flower-print wallpaper, and three-globe chandelier are all the same.

On our recent vacation together, I cooked up a huge pot of my black beans, and they lasted all week. One of the people who seemed to be enjoying them the most was my mother. On this visit to her house I wanted to leave her with a batch of the beans, so she could eat them after we were gone.

The house was quiet, and I had the kitchen all to myself as I started chopping the onion and garlic. When my heart wasn't in my throat, it was full of joy. Standing at the stove, I couldn't help but think of one thing--how many times did my mom slave away at this stove for me and my siblings?

Simple Black Beans

  • 1 onion diced finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups dried black beans, rinsed but not soaked
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (about half a bunch; more is better than less)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • the juice of two limes


           Saute the onion in a large stock pot, using a little oil, until translucent.

           Add the garlic, saute for a minute or two more.

           Add the beans and the water, and bring to a boil.

           Turn down the heat and simmer for an hour or two, or three or longer, until the beans are tender.

           Add the cilantro, salt, and lime juice.

           Note: the recipe can easily be doubled, and the beans freeze very well.

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