It is week six of my self-imposed sentence, and yesterday and today, a friend and cousin called while I was in the kitchen. They both said, "I didn't know that you cooked." I laughed because I cook almost every day, and at first I struggled with this sugar free/grain free/gluten free/fruit free regimen. Angels have come to my aid along the way. The Angel-of-the-Week award goes to my old buddy, Corey Thomas, who suggested we meet at one of his favorite places for lunch - a Chinese restaurant with an Oriental Supermarket. I was pleasantly surprised after discovering they sold fresh fish, including bass and red snapper. I pass this place all the time! I scooped up the snapper at a great price and made Tanzanian fish stew. Today, I cooked cabbage and lamb shank using a Senegalese recipe from NY chef Pierre Thiam's cookbook Yolele! We met during a trip to Senegal years ago. For the first time I tried one of his recipes, and he became one of my angels. Here's the proof (Herman and Sara) that KT can cook.
Another angel is the butcher/manager at the Fresh Market in Ridgeland. Tip: Get to know the produce manager and butchers by name. Once we started talking, he introduced me to all kinds of hidden gems in the spice aisle, and best of all they didn't have wheat and very little or no salt. He is a former military man who has lived in Morocco and other parts of Africa. He convinced me to try the lamb shank in a stew and turned me on to Urban Accent's Moroccan Tagine and Madras Curry - all natural one-pot spice packs.
I've cooked lamb chops, rack of lamb, and leg of lamb, but I had only eaten the shank in a restaurant. It wasn't my favorite, but I'm glad I listened to the butcher's recommendation and gave the shank a try in a crock pot with moroccan tagine. The sweet smell of coriander, cumin, black pepper, basil and a few other herbs and spices filled the house like potpourri. It's an earthy rich mix. The curry was my favorite and made an easy curry chicken.
My lesson of the week is that fresh tomatoes or tomato paste along with red peppers add just the right touch to the Mediterranean and Caribbean dishes that I've tried recently. In fact, I added tomato sauce to homemade crackers made with fresh basil, thyme, and cumin.
The wonderful thing about this journey? I'm constantly learning new things about cooking and myself, and I'm meeting people who love to cook or eat, and realize the importance of healthy eating habits. More often than not, restaurant employees are happy to answer questions about what's in the food and how it's prepared. I'm thankful for these angels, and on this Memorial Day weekend, I'm thankful for the angels who died in service to our country and those still defending our nation. Next Adventure: Pound Cake With Coconut Flour, Stevia And Vanilla Beans. I am scared of this one because a pound cake needs a good pound of buttah. Bon Appetit.