Over the years, I've loved drawing spiritual parallels to cooking practices (like leaching out tannins, braising meat, no-peek popovers, or gourmet cupcakes), and today, I think about the verb simmer. I've learned from my Southern mother-in-law all about simmering the green beans (stewed to death, I think).
Simmering is all about gentle and slow. It's all about not letting the liquid boil. It's a deliberate calming down, a kind of tempering.
You keep everything just above the poaching temperature and just below the boiling point. The liquid moves a bit but rarely erupts into that boil. It's a delicate, patient kind of cooking over a long period of time.
Nothing seems to be happening, really. It's not very exciting. I think this as my roast simmers. I think this as my green beans simmer. Slow. Patient. Delicate.
Every southern woman knows that simmering matters. It seems like something's being stewed to death, but in that slow, patient, delicate process, something so good is happening.
In a calm and tempered way, things are happening.
In the end, you won't be able to get enough of it.