One Christmas I was wandering around Melbourne with Ryan, and we found a beautiful bookshop. No glossy best-sellers here, but the quirkiest collection I'd seen anywhere. I lusted over a beautiful old atlas, and ogled some beautiful cookbooks. Then I lingered in the biographies, torn between heart-tugging stories. One title jumped out at me, "hallelujah! the welcome table". It was subtitled a lifetime of memories with recipes. The author was Maya Angelou. How could I go past?
I have to admit that although I knew her name, and vaguely her story, I hadn't read any of Maya's stories. These ones jumped out at me - and I read the first two chapters before I even left the store. The recipes are a bit intimidating - as well as the Southern food from her childhood, there is cassoulet, beef wellington and souffle. Clearly Ms Angelou is not a cook to mess with. So although I've read through the book several times, I've only cooked one recipe, a simple one for red rice.
The stories are evocative and beautiful. And so are the recipes. One day I am going to attempt the double layer caramel cake. But I thought I'd start with something easy. This is my entry for Novel Food. It's cheating a bit, because it's a memoir, not a novel. But I thought I'd add it anyway.
225g thick back bacon rashers
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small red capsicum, seeded and chopped
475 ml canned diced tomatoes
175g tomato paste
ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
450g cooked white rice
Fry bacon in a large skillet on medium heat until brown, stirring with fork. Add onions and capsicum. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove lid and add remaining ingredients; mix well. Bring to boil, about 3 minutes. Stir vigorously, cover again, and cook over a very low heat for about 15 minutes until rice and liquid are totally mixed.