Berbere and Coconut Milk Black-Eyed Peas
maybe luck and some habanero will burn the SADs away?
things you’ll need: black-eyed peas (I do think you could sub black or green lentils), onion, ginger, garlic, habanero, berbere (I waited for a sale at Spicewalla and then picked up their harissa too), turmeric, tomatoes (I used canned), coconut milk, stock, and butter or some kind of fat.
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I made this for new year’s day, but have been craving it ever since. Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe is impeccable. The only things I changed were quantities for convenience. I used 1 pound of black-eyed peas (Rancho Gordo, obvi) because they don’t come packaged in 12oz and I didn’t want the remaining 4oz to be lonely and unused. I used the whole can of coconut milk instead of just one cup, same reason, and canned tomatoes instead of fresh chopped ones because I don’t much like out-of-season tomatoes or ones that were picked green and then sent 100s of miles in a truck. Oh, also my onion was yellow because that’s what I had. BUT STILL, use his recipe.
Incidentally gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan if you sub some other fat for butter.
Side note: Happy 250th post to me!
It’s not all the time. It’s probably more often than you manage to say out loud or admit to, even to yourself. Not everything is always for other people to know, like the contents of that one drawer. You don’t want to be dramatic or for someone else to recommend yoga, something about mindfulness, or ask you about sleep or diet or whatever. You aren’t ashamed. Really. It’s just yours.
The people who care will notice and the look will pass over their faces. The look wants to help. The look wants to give you advice. The look doesn’t recognize your experience as their experience and, therefore, wants it to be better. Maybe that look knows exactly what you are experiencing because it does know that experience and, rather than turning the look on its own damn self, that look would rather look at you like “you know it doesn’t have to be like this.”
Sometimes it does have to. You are a walking machine made up of systems that don’t always work to peak efficiency. You don’t know if it’s hormones, brain juices, trauma, grief, or the solid week of gloom out your window. You may never know. Whatever is happening is happening. You have to relieve it somehow, not fix it.
You can say depression the same way you say headache. It serves a function. It tells you that something is wrong. It also passes. If it doesn’t, seek help. This is not meant to be permission to ignore your body or suffer in silence. This is a reminder that everyone gets depressed. Literally. Everyone.
Yes, if it gets too bad or lasts too long or feels bigger than you can survive this time, reach for the help that you know waits for you to want it. That’s not what’s happening. It’s just January, almost February, and this is what happens… every year.
You’ve developed a myriad of remedies and distractions (maybe it IS yoga). Your brain machine is currently requesting something spicy. It’s also reasonably satisfied with the belief that black-eyed peas are meant to be lucky and, at this point, you’ll take luck. Maybe the heat and magic will be enough to convince your brain that you should shower, do laundry, go for a walk, and call a friend. This appears to be the desired solution and who are you to argue with the machine of your body?
Set your black-eyed peas in a pot with enough water to cover them by three inches. Boil for 10 minutes, drop to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40-60 minutes until tender. Remove from heat, add salt, cover, and let it sit while you work.
Chop one onion and several cloves of garlic. Peel and chop about 1-2 inches of fresh ginger (1-2 Tablespoons). Seed, devein, and mince up one habanero. If you really want the full power of the habanero’s heat, keep some or all of the veins and seeds, it’s your mouth.
Melt a big plop of butter (or other fat), in a big enough pot, on medium-ish. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and habanero until fragrant and things begin to lightly brown. DO NOT burn the garlic. Add about a Tablespoon of berbere and a teaspoon of turmeric, warming the spices to their full fragrance, and let the aroma ease your malaise (2min).
Add a can of tomatoes and keep cooking as the concoction darkens a little (5 min). Add a can of coconut milk and a cup of stock (or soup base with water). Simmer. Stare into the pot as you occasionally swirl the mixture and waft the relief towards you (20 min).
Drain the black-eyed peas. Fold them into the sauce, gently coating your luck in the warmth you’ve managed to cultivate. Salt to taste. Simmer until it feels ready (10 min).
Serve with rice, greens, cornbread, or on its own in a shallow-bottomed bowl that likes to call itself a plate.
You are ok and also not ok. Let the mood do what it needs to do and watch for the relief to slowly settle around you. 48 days until Spring. With a little luck, it’ll pass quickly.
Thank you, as always, for your support. I keep going because you keep reading.
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Beautiful photo! I had never thought about cooking black-eyed peas in coconut milk, and now I must!