The infatuation of my soul with Cajun food continues. I love getting books that include not only recipes, but stories of people’s lives and their connection to food. “In a Cajun Kitchen” does just that: a multi-generational history of a family living off the land in Louisiana. The crawfish in the bayou, the corn in the field, the chickens plucking at the ground–it’s like a very elongated version of my own short visit to Cajun Country; a place in which I have longed to return.
In reading through the book, there were certain recipes that just had to be made. Whether it was something that I had tried a different version of before, or a page that made your mouth water just by reading it, it had to be done. That was the case with Mama’s Sweet Stuffed Peppers on Page 101.
As I mentioned, much of what the family in the book ate, came from what they grew and raised. I love a roasted bell pepper and the chance to have that be a big part of a Cajun meal was tantalizing. You slice the peppers in two, cut out the seeds and ribs, and boil for a few minutes to soften them up. While the peppers are cooking, you make the rice, ground beef, tomato and onion mixture.
The book is mouth-watering just to read, but after a couple of recipes, you realize that some of the food is dry. That is what they did back then. There were no sauces that they added to the dishes. It was whatever fresh ingredients were included that provided the flavor.
As I made the rice, onion and ground beef mixture, I could tell that it was a little dry. Rachel is rolling her eyes here as I often try to add something to the food; I can’t just leave it alone. For better or for worse, this is a lot of fun. In this case, I felt that some seasoned tomato sauce to the rice mixture. This worked out beautifully. We also melted some cheese on top when we stuffed the peppers with the mixture.
The word “stuffed” in the recipes, just doesn’t refer to the peppers, it refers to how you will feel when you have finished one. It is a blissful full however as you have found a new kind of peace in your life.
Wow, the freshness and the simplicity here are wonderful. Much of Cajun cooking is a one-pot stew–a loose term. They added the ingredients and let them flavor each other. Nothing really fancy here–no hard to pronounce sauces or special cooking methods; just tried and true country food.
In our current busy lives, many dishes are meant to be eaten quick and soon forgotten about; it’s a utility to get you on with your day. Some however, like this dish, are a near romantic transformation to another time and another place–one which I could happily return to, early and often–sitting on the back porch of Bayou Cabins in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. It’s on the banks of Bayou Teche. Somehow sitting there, time stands still and all your worries melt away. Cajun food isn’t just a utility, it’s a social way of life.