Every year in the fall I go on a silent retreat at a Buddhist meditation center. It’s amazing what five days without a computer, cell phone, television, and talking can do for the mind and body. One of my favorite parts of the retreat, besides the peacefulness, is the new focus and dedication that I can give to meals. It’s hard to rush through your lunch when you have nowhere else to be and nothing you’re supposed to be doing.
When you are truly present, even a simple dish can taste amazing. You begin to notice all of the small things about eating that you are usually too busy to experiece: the aroma of the food, your watering mouth, what it feels like to chew, the feeling as the food reaches your stomach. Not only does food taste better, but my body digests it better and I don’t overeat because I’m present enough to realize when I’m full.
With that being said, it’s time for me to unplug for a little bit again. To remember life outside of emails. To be outside. To relish all of the beauty in my life and the blessings around me. To enjoy what quiet and simplicity feels like. And to be present. To be present at every meal, in every moment of my life, and with all of the people I love.
Soak the beans overnight. Drain the soaking water. Add the kombu and beans to a large stock pot. Cover with double the amount of water. (This doesn’t have to be an exact science because any extra water will be drained at the end.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a very slow simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until beans are cooked. The beans are done when they are chewable, but not mushy. If there is any extra water, drain from the pot and remove your kombu.
1 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of chile powder
Simmer for about 20 minutes, until beans are soft, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and serve.