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Great Food, All Day Long

Maya Angelou shows how to have your cake and eat it too!

Created date

January 25th, 2011

It s been a month since everyone jump-started their New Year s resolutions, and just about now, many of us who resolved to lose weight by following strict, tasteless diets are hungry. For those looking for something savory, there is the wonderful new cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart by Maya Angelou (Random House, Hardcover $30). A welcome respite from all that is bland and uninteresting on your dinner plate and otherwise Angelou s second volume of recipes comes with a heaping helping of life lessons and advice from a woman who has accomplished much in her 82 years. Known as a global Renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Dedicated to those who would love to eat and love to lose weight at the same time, Great Food offers an approach to eating that nourishes the soul as much as the body. Scan the table of contents and you will see recipes like crown roast of pork, meat loaf, buttermilk biscuits, and corn pudding. Peruse the recipes themselves and you ll find ingredients like butter, lard, sugar, and real eggs. Hardly the stuff of any classic diet regimen.

Portion control

Remarkably, Angelou says that over the course of a year, she actually lost weight (35 pounds to be exact) by eating the recipes in the book. The key, she says, is portion control. Rather then filling up with bland diet food and remaining hungry, Angelou had small portions of great food and she had it all day long. (To help the reader along, she is very specific about what a portion looks like.) She says she waited for about 20 minutes after eating and if she was still hungry, she allowed herself a little more. Because she was never hungry, she was likewise never inclined to over-indulge and, as a result, she lost weight. Beyond portion control, Angelou revives another tradition by embracing the concept of leftovers. She says that she loves to cook and she loves to eat and refuses to let the fact that she lives alone impede either of those passions. In a chapter titled A Brand New Look at Old Leftovers, Angelou creates entirely new dishes out of what is leftover. So Sunday s roast chicken becomes Monday s chicken curry and Tuesday s chicken tetrazzini.

Cooking for others

Another reason to cook large meals, says Angelou, is for others. She enjoys entertaining and a number of the dishes included in Great Food are perfect for gatherings. Take, for example, her recipe for mixed London grill (see sidebar) which is said to serve six but could easily serve twice that. This is a great meal to serve to a large party of carnivores, she says. There are plenty of vegetarian options as well roasted vegetables, kasha, and California green chili and cheese pie. In an age when losing weight often means expensive juice cleanses, complicated calorie counting, or unappetizing pre-packaged meals, and the concept of simply eating less is so simple, so obvious, and so low tech, it hardly registers as a worthy approach to dieting. However, as Angelou points out, if you can successfully master the art of portion control, you will have a much easier time keeping the weight off. Angelou sGreat Foodis a welcome breath of fresh air a reminder that as long as the portion is small, you can indeed have your cake and eat it too.

Mixed London Grill

Serves 6


1 lamb or veal kidney, halved 2 teaspoons salt 1 whole bratwurst or other sausage 2 lamb chops 2 thin slices pork loin 2 pounds top sirloin, sliced 2 pounds veal cutlets, sliced 2 pounds calves livers, sliced ' teaspoon pepper 8 strips bacon ' pound onions, sliced 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


1. ' Wash the kidney halves and remove all the veins and fat. 2. Soak in water with ' teaspoon of the salt for 1 hour and pat dry. 3. While ' kidney is soaking, season the bratwurst, lamb chops, pork loin, beef, veal, and livers with pepper and the remaining 1 ' teaspoons salt. 4. Grill the pork loin in a grill pan on top of the stove until cooked all the way through. Then grill the kidney, bratwurst, lamb, beef, veal, and liver until medium done. Set aside in a warming dish. 5. In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crispy, turning frequently. Remove the bacon and add to the dish with the grilled meats. 6. ' Return the skillet to the stove, and fry the onions in the oil. 7. Mix all the meats and the onions together and put over low heat for 5 minutes or until all are warm and cooked through. 8. ' Serve on a warm platter with a 1-inch-thick slice of grilled or toasted sourdough bread. Serving size: 1 spoonful of onions, 1 forkful of each meat, 1 slice of bacon, and ' slice toasted bread. Be careful with portions, and be discreet. You can always go back.
Excerpted from Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart by Maya Angelou Copyright ' 2010 by Maya Angelou. Excerpted by permission of Random House Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.