(Image Courtesy of Natalie Dee – www.nataliedee.com )
I remember three main dishes that my mom always seemed to make when I was a kid. I’d venture to say everyone’s mama made these dishes quite frequently because they were easy to make, cheap and you could make large enough quantities to last for days. All three dishes had pretty much the same spicing and tomato base, the only variation was the vegetable used. The dish I opted to cook this week is called Bazailah and it’s essentially a pea stew that you serve over rice. The other two use either okra or green beans and I’m less in love with those two dishes – though I will learn to make them, too.
I can’t say I was a big fan this dish when I was a kid (big surprise, right?), but as I’ve gotten older, Bazailah has become one of my favorite things to eat. I guess because it is such an easy dish to make, my mama didn’t bother to write down a recipe for it. I pieced together the basics by going off my dad’s memory and it turned out well. I opted to use beef vs. lamb because I just like beef better. The recipe from my past post includes the adjustments to spicing that was made – although I would have added even more pepper. I also didn’t listen to my dad and add a little lemon juice at the end. It didn’t alter the dish a great deal, but the added acidity would have helped.I personally don’t remember my mom using lemon with this dish, but we invited two of my cousins over to eat and they both said that was an added ingredient, so I’ll definitely add it next time. I know I should listen to my dad more often when he’s helping me cook, but I’m stubborn. Go figure.
This was the first time I’d cooked something that was tasted by someone other than my dad and brother. It was really nice to have my cousins over for a meal. It gave us a chance to compare our mother’s recipes and talk about the things we love to eat. We’re all motherless children now and I think it helps to connect to the memories of our mothers in a positive and proactive way. It was really the first time since I’ve started this project that I felt somewhat reconnected to my mother. The experience also made me open to the idea of cooking with and for more people over the span of this project. While I love that I’m finally learning to cook these meals, I’m more excited about the potential connections and stories that will emerge. I’m a little less apprehensive to share more personal memories of my mother – her life, her smile and her impact on me. I think I’m ready for this idea to be the thing it needs to be.