If you’re anything like me, you think about the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” more often than one would guess. The story, which revolves around a mouse and a boy, shows how one simple action can inevitably lead to another and another.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the story goes a little like this… If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want to wash it down with a tall serving of almond milk. When you give him the almond milk, he’ll ask for a glass straw for more satisfying drinking… And so on, and so on.
This story comes up in my mind because often one stimulus leads to unexpected reactions. Like this: If I turn on PBS and they’re playing As Time Goes By, I’m going to want to put kettle on. If I make chamomile, I’ll need to cuddle up in bed. If I cuddle up in bed, I’ll want to play a calming podcast. If I play a calming podcast…
Or if you take vegans to dinner, they’ll all want to take photos when it arrives. Once they start taking photos, they’ll have to get the best angle. While they’re looking for the best angle, they’ll notice your tempeh tacos look even better than what they ordered, and they’ll want a bite…
And finally, after this very circuitous opening, if you make fava beans from scratch, people will inevitably quote Silence of the Lambs.
I wouldn’t say that Silence of the Lambs is a favorite of mine. At all. Although, I did see it in high school a couple of times at a sleepover.
(Is there any other time in life when it seems normal and fun to watch a movie before going to bed only to turn around and watch it again over breakfast? That’s the only reason I saw License to Drive more than once…)
Still, it seems that the line about the fava beans is something everyone knows. It’s like “Luke, I am your father,” or “What we have here is a failure to communicate,” or “Rock on!”
(You know? Rock on? As said by Rocky Hardcastle in As Time Goes By? No? Man, I’m suddenly jonesing for tea…)
The moral and warning of this story is, if you make fava beans for someone, don’t be surprised if he makes slurping noises at you.
Not one to be scared off by slurping, I was at the grocery store recently when I saw fava beans in the pod. I decided to grab a couple of handfuls and make them.
When I looked up how to make fresh fava beans, I discovered why one doesn’t hear about more people doing it. For most people it’s because it involves a lot of steps for a small amount of beans. For census takers, let’s just say they’re a superstitious bunch.
First, break the tip off of the pod and pull it down the seam like a zipper. Then open the pod and remove the beans. Discard the pods, which have an interior that feels like a soft micro-fleece blanket.
Second, blanch the beans in boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. Rinse the beans with cool water, so that you don’t burn your fingers for the next step.
Third, use a knife to split open the rubbery casing around the bean and peel it off. (If you try to just squeeze the beans out without cutting an opening, you’ll squish them to bits. I know. I tried that too.) Discard the casing.
What you’re left with is a small pile of fava beans. Then the beans can be used anywhere that fresh beans are used – in a bean salad, stir-fry, leafy green salad, pasta dish…
I chopped some young garlic from the farmers market and sautéed collard greens with it and sliced sun-dried tomatoes. I added the fava beans at the end to just heat them through, added a dash of hot sauce and sprinkling of smoked salt, and served them over creamy polenta. The fava beans taste similar to edamame with the texture of lima beans.
Once it was all plated and pictures had been taken, I served them to my husband. You may be relieved to hear that he didn’t make any slurping noises at me. He quietly took the plate, lifted his fork, and said, “Where’s my glass of Chianti?”