The start of a new blog (& recipe!)

Well, here it is…my first blog post. Not a big event, I know (it’s the fallen tree in the woods that nobody hears), but significant in my own little world. I am a notably late adopter (still no flat-screen TV, no cell phone), and I am also an intensely private person (the whole social-media world is difficult for me), so it has taken me a long time to become a blogger.  But — perhaps better late than never — here I am.

A friend of mine is a novelist who writes under the name of Sam Gridley (“under the name of” always makes me think of Winnie-the-Pooh, who lived in the forest under the name of “Sanders”). Mr. Gridley has an excellent blog called “The News from Gridleyville,” which you should check out here.

In his “About” section, Gridley recreates a very funny, very reluctant, conversation with his agent about blogging. The conversation ends with a suggestion for producing an online supplement of one-handed recipes so that novel readers can cook without putting their books down.

Gridley notes that the reason he created his blog was because his agent said to. I confess to a similar reason (sans agent) for starting this one. So many of my writing friends have told me that a blog is a necessity that I have finally bowed to the mother of invention and joined the blogosphere.

Gridley has yet to include a recipe in his blog, but I’m going to start right off with one.

This is a recipe for Groundnut Stew, a West African recipe that comes from the cookbook Ethnic Cuisine by Elizabeth Rozin. Liz is the late mother of Seth Rozin, the founder and director of InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia. Seth is not only a terrific director and playwright, he is also a gifted visual artist (one of his musician paintings is a treasured wedding present). Seth did the wonderful illustrations for his mother’s cookbook, and a few years back he also illustrated a story of mine that was in the Minnesota literary review, The Talking Stick.

That piece, “The Cook in the Kitchen, Cooking a Chicken” was an excerpt from an early draft of my novel-in-progress, Busara Road, which is about an American boy living at a Quaker mission in Kenya in the sixties, shortly after independence. The novel excerpt included a description of making the Kenyan dish kuku na mkate, or chicken stew with bread.

This recipe calls for beef, but I imagine it would work well with kuku too:

Groundnut Stew

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2-2½ pounds lean beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
4 red and/or green sweet peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, mashed
15-ounce can tomato sauce (2 cups)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
½ cup smooth peanut butter

  1. In heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat oil, add onions, and saute until onions are soft
  2. Add beef cubes and brown on all sides.
  3. Add all other ingredients except peanut better, mix well, and cook, covered, over low to moderate heat for about 2 hours or until beef is tender.
  4. Add peanut butter and stir to blend well. Continue to cook, uncovered, until sauce is reduced and thickened, about one hour. Serve stew with plain rice. Serves 4-6.

Happy eating!

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