Wednesday, 27 September 2017

In The Sweet By-and-By...

That's the title of a hymn penned 150 years ago by an American called S Fillmore Bennet. It begins thus...
There's a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
It has been recorded by dozens of famous American singers [Johnnie Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Glenn Campbell etc] and is a very popular 'dirge' played at New Orleans jazz funerals. Composer Charles Ives referenced it in several of his works, and Mark Twain mentioned it in 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court'
I have been humming it all week -and I blame Bob and Jon for this. Bob, because he wanted a display for Harvest, and that needed me to source some pigeon peas - and Jon, because when I was in London last week, I asked if he could recommend an ethnic food shop where I might find them. Jon's immediate replay was "Down the Walworth Road, in the by and by" I was slightly taken aback by his turn of phrase, then discovered this was in fact the name of a local African food store!
They were so helpful when I asked about pigeon peas- did I want a can, a small bag or a sackful? I opted for a can and two small bags.
On the side of the can was a recipe for rice'n'peas.
Moro de guandules con coco - which translates to 'Moorish Pigeon Peas with Coconut' is a traditional dish originating in Africa, but it travelled across to the Caribbean with the slave trade, where it is known as rice'n'peas.
I checked out the recipe, and bought a few more items, then served Bob rice'n'peas the other night. We both really enjoyed the meal. I used the can this time, which made it a speedy recipe- in future I shall have to remember to presoak the dried peas. 
1 tablespoonful oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped
400g can coconut milk
300g long grain rice
400g can of pigeon peas
400ml vegetable stock
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

  1. heat the oil, soften the onion and garlic
  2. stir in the rice and milk
  3. stir in the peas and stock
  4. stir in the salt, pepper and thyme
  5. bring to boil, then simmer gently till rice has absorbed the liquid
That's it! [you can add chillies if you must, or use red kidney beans or vary the recipe in other ways - see here] but we were happy with this simple, filling food. Here's Johnnie Cash singing the song...

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