James Michener didn’t have one either

James Michener didn’t have one either

The year is 1986. The space shuttle Challenger explodes 30 seconds after liftoff. The Chernobyl nuclear reactor explodes in the USSR creating the world’s worst nuclear accident. Civil strife is taking place all over the world. And I just finished reading “The Shocking Slaughter of Africa’s Wildlife” in the UNESCO Courier (a publication of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The destruction of the animals’ natural habitats is described in tragic detail. “The problem is balancing human needs with animal needs.” The animals are losing.

We’ll take the girls before it’s gone, I decided. A few weeks later, the five of us were on the plane to South Africa. (All five of us: my husband, our daughter on summer break from college, our daughter on summer break from high school, my sister and me.) South Africa was chosen because the habitats of the animals were still largely protected by the large game and Kruger reserves. National Park. Once we got to Johannesburg, I was looking forward to getting off the plane. This was my second trip to a continent that I loved. As soon as I took my first breath off the plane, I knew I was in this special place called Africa. Nowhere on Earth does it smell the same. When I breathed in the scent of human life, animal life, and life itself, I reaffirmed my belief that this is where it all began.

We hired a van to drive to the Mala Mala Kirkmans Kamp reserve in the Eastern Transvaal of South Africa. Mala Mala shares a common 26-mile border with the Kruger National Park, making the reserve the ideal place to see rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs and buffalo. Waking up the next morning in our thatched-roof bungalows, we begin our photo safari conducted in an open four-wheel drive Land Rover. From a temporary showdown with a herd of elephants to a sunset viewing of a pride of lions, our safari exceeded all expectations. Even the meals eaten in the open, reed-lined boma were suburban, especially the mallow pudding James Michener mentioned so often in “The Covenant.” Before we go, I reminded myself, ask for the recipe.

As it happened, it wasn’t until we got home that I realized I had forgotten to ask. I wrote to our guide to please send the recipe. Several weeks passed with no response. “The Pact” came to mind. Surely James Michener wouldn’t leave South Africa without the recipe, so I wrote to him.

“I’m sorry I don’t have the recipe for the mallow pudding,” he replied. “I hope you find it”.

It is always darkest just before dawn. The next day a letter arrived from our guide. The year 1986 seemed a little brighter. I shared the recipe with James Michener.

Kirkmans Kamp Mallow Pudding

1 cup of sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon jam (choose your favourite)

1 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup of milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the egg and sugar together. Beat in jam. Add melted butter, lemon juice, and milk. Defeat. Switch the dry ingredients together. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes. For in a baking dish. Cover and bake 1 hour. Remove from the oven and pour the syrup below over the pudding as soon as the pudding is removed from the oven.


1 cup cream

½ cup butter

1 cup of sugar

½ cup of water

Mix in a saucepan. Boil it. Boil 3 minutes.

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