Six Moments That Changed My Foodie Life in 2006


My happy jar of homemade Ras-Al-Hanout

Based on the Butterfly Effect Meme, and the ProBlogger Writing Project, I thought that it would be an interesting idea to share those Food Items/Events that changed my Foodie Life in 2006! Feel free to add to the discussion by sharing your own ‘foodie epiphanies’ :D

1. An ingredient

Without a doubt, my transformative ingredient of 2006 has been ras-al-hanout. I learnt about it from Homemade, and intrigued finally got around to making it this year. Colour me hooked.

So what is Ras-Al-Hanout? According to Wikipedia

Ras el hanout, also called Moroccan seasoning, is a popular blend of herbs and spices that originated in Morocco and used in other parts of North Africa. The name means in Arabic “top of the shop”, and refers to a mixture of the best spices a seller has to offer.

Because it’s a blend of so many different flavours you can’t quite pinpoint what it is in a dish. You just know that there is something really different going on behind the scenes. As there is also cinnamon I also use it from time to time in sweet dishes. Again I find it gives desserts a certain ‘adult’ kick, where your tastebuds kinda still and go wait… wait… something’s different here… but in a good way :)

My other favorite thing about ras-al-hanout is that I can top it up as I go along based on my moods and whims. Cardamom yes! Cumin? Sure! Coriander? Why not :) It really appeals to my spice wanderlust :) And as it combines all the flavours already used in Trinidadian cooking it never seems out of place. From curries to chillies to omelettes. My ‘special’ glass jar is ALWAYS in use when I’m in the kitchen :)

So…. Ras-al-hanout. My culinary discovery of 2006 (you can look forward to a longer post on it in 2007!) :)

2. A dish, a recipe

This year I picked up my pots and spoons for the first time after a long hiatus (approximately 18 months). I was very worried that I had forgotten how to cook something and that everything would burn! That didn’t happen thankfully and my confidence was gradually restored.

So what was that dish that brought me back to culinary life? It was my Festive Chicken Fried Rice!

Festive Chicken Fried Rice

3. A meal (in a restaurant, a home, or elsewhere)

Due to health and economic reasons I rarely ate out in 2006 (whether restaurant or someone else’s home). One of my fondest memories of this year though is a lunch that I had in February at Le Jardin des Tuileries with a friend and Larry Luxner. Larry was in the country for a few days doing research for an article and it was fun introducing him to some members of the local Jewish community. Le Jardin has amazing appetizer courses and their desserts (their specialty) were out of this world. The service was also quick and very pleasant (def. noteworthy in this country). Le Jardin des Tuileries is located on the ground floor of West Mall.

4. A cookbook or other written work

In September my mother went back to Jamaica for several weeks, leaving me in charge of the daily dinner preparations and a miniscule budget. When I saw the bills in the envelope I wondered how I would survive, and yet when she returned I actually had money LEFT OVER! How did I do it? Through Andrew Scholss’ “Cooking with Three Ingredients: Flavorful Food, Easy as 1, 2, 3“. This is a cookbook that I have returned to time and time again. For a quick entr?ɬ�e, side dish or dessert I think it can not be beat. It is a great way to stretch a dollar, the dishes are delicious. And if you splurge on one dish and supplement your dinner with dishes from this book, no one is the wiser that you actually were cooking on a budget :D

Cooking with Three Ingredients: Flavorful Food, Easy as 1, 2, 3

5. A food ?��Ǩ?�personality?��Ǩ�� (chef, writer, etc.)

I admit it. I love Rachael Ray. Feel free to hate and stone me if you wish. However I will not retract this! She has definitely had the most effect and inspiration on me of any ‘foodologist’ this year. Before this year I had only heard of her, and seen her a few times on the Oprah Show. However once she had her own morning show I eagerly tuned in to see what all the fuss (and division) was about. If there’s one thing that I can say she has done for me cooking-wise it is that she has encouraged me to view ingredients and leftovers in new ways. I have always been one to take leftovers literally. Now I am reinterpreting them and using them to create new things. This has made cooking more fun, and almost a scavenger hunt of skill and ingenuity.

A very close runner up in this category is the entire Food Network. I had not seen the Food Network since leaving the USA in 1999. The Food Network is what had sparked my love of all things culinary in the first place. So when a local channel started showing episodes of it earlier this year I was excited to finally see the faces and personalities behind names I had only read about. It has been very thrilling and inspiring to say the least, except for Sandra Lee!

6. Another person in your life

Without a doubt that honour goes to my college best friend Lynn of RedSheepCrafts.com …. she has inspired me to become more food-literate and adventurous ever since she enrolled in culinary school in San Francisco several years ago and then worked at a restaurant. Earlier this year when the computer I started TriniGourmet.com on sputtered and choked she surprised me with the MacBook that I am currently writing to you on, and even more recently she created a video tutorial on Knife Sharpening for this site with more to come in the New Year. Thanks a ton Lynn. TriniGourmet Love = RedSheep Love!

So, what were your foodie discoveries for 2006? Leave a comment and add to this discussion :D

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • http://www.redsheepcrafts.com Lynn

    And Redsheep {hearts} Trini Gourmet!

    Girl, when you get here, we are going OUT ON THE TOWN. Like, hook ups everywhere! Have the bro-in-law give you da royal treatment at La Folie!

  • http://www.redsheepcrafts.com Lynn

    And Redsheep {hearts} Trini Gourmet!

    Girl, when you get here, we are going OUT ON THE TOWN. Like, hook ups everywhere! Have the bro-in-law give you da royal treatment at La Folie!

  • http://www.redsheepcrafts.com Lynn

    And Redsheep {hearts} Trini Gourmet!

    Girl, when you get here, we are going OUT ON THE TOWN. Like, hook ups everywhere! Have the bro-in-law give you da royal treatment at La Folie!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Awesome!!! I’ll play food critic and use obnoxious terms like ‘almost insolent venison’ and ‘resplendent’ and redolent :D

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Awesome!!! I’ll play food critic and use obnoxious terms like ‘almost insolent venison’ and ‘resplendent’ and redolent :D

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Awesome!!! I’ll play food critic and use obnoxious terms like ‘almost insolent venison’ and ‘resplendent’ and redolent :D

  • boo

    ooo. i have been wanting to make ras al hanout for some months and have not got the spices yet, but you make me want to get them NOW. :)

    boo

  • boo

    ooo. i have been wanting to make ras al hanout for some months and have not got the spices yet, but you make me want to get them NOW. :)

    boo

  • boo

    ooo. i have been wanting to make ras al hanout for some months and have not got the spices yet, but you make me want to get them NOW. :)

    boo

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    HI BOO!!! :D it’s SOOO good to ‘see’ you here! :D Definitely give ras-al-hanout a try :D I know how much you like to make stews and such and it goes really well with those! :D

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    HI BOO!!! :D it’s SOOO good to ‘see’ you here! :D Definitely give ras-al-hanout a try :D I know how much you like to make stews and such and it goes really well with those! :D

  • http://mlaurels.blogspot.com Marsha

    Umm Nikki…You know I am gonna have to copy this blog entry to my own site right? Too good to pass up….MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    I got my turkey yesterday

  • http://mlaurels.blogspot.com Marsha

    Umm Nikki…You know I am gonna have to copy this blog entry to my own site right? Too good to pass up….MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    I got my turkey yesterday

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Merry Xmas Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaazation and all that good stuff :D
    Copy away, it’s good food for thought and I’d love to see your answers :) :) Turkey is a strange bird, take pics in a Santa hat :) :D

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Merry Xmas Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaazation and all that good stuff :D
    Copy away, it’s good food for thought and I’d love to see your answers :) :) Turkey is a strange bird, take pics in a Santa hat :) :D

  • Marsha

    I posted the post already. I will take a lot of pics..my seasonings and application of it to the turkey etc.

  • Marsha

    I posted the post already. I will take a lot of pics..my seasonings and application of it to the turkey etc.

  • boo

    thank you! i am all happy to find your blog here cause i love cooking. do you read e-gullet at all? that is where i ahve learned about lots of stuff like daubes and tagines.

    i put cardamom and allspice on the shopping list, i have everything else for the r-a-h recipe i found — i dried rosebuds from the alba maxima when it was blooming and i have dried lavender and all the other stuff.

    my ingredient of the year is moroccan pickled lemons. have you tried them? they are SO good. i just started another batch, this time with meyer lemons cause i read that those are the closest to the kind of lemon used traditionally. you are supposed to throw away the pulp when you use them and just use the rind but i love the pulp too, it is so nice and sour and salty :) :)

    we are having solstice dinner tonight and i just baked a pumpkin to make pie. it is the last one from the garden this year and it was still nice and hard.

    lovelovelove from boo!

  • boo

    thank you! i am all happy to find your blog here cause i love cooking. do you read e-gullet at all? that is where i ahve learned about lots of stuff like daubes and tagines.

    i put cardamom and allspice on the shopping list, i have everything else for the r-a-h recipe i found — i dried rosebuds from the alba maxima when it was blooming and i have dried lavender and all the other stuff.

    my ingredient of the year is moroccan pickled lemons. have you tried them? they are SO good. i just started another batch, this time with meyer lemons cause i read that those are the closest to the kind of lemon used traditionally. you are supposed to throw away the pulp when you use them and just use the rind but i love the pulp too, it is so nice and sour and salty :) :)

    we are having solstice dinner tonight and i just baked a pumpkin to make pie. it is the last one from the garden this year and it was still nice and hard.

    lovelovelove from boo!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hi Boo! :D I don’t know e-gullet :D I will look them up after I finish my comment :D I love stews and tagines… they are very much like cholents, the traditional Shabbat stews :D Dried rosebuds and lavender sound heavenly :D

    I actually decided to give pickled lemons a try because of your posts :D I have a recipe for them that I had ignored but because of your posts I decided to give them a try :) I have not done so yet though… maybe pickled lemons will be my ingredient for 2007! :D

    Hope you have a great solstice dinner :) Things are quiet and sleepy over here :) Must be lovely to grow your own produce. I don’t have room for it here, but I want to start an herb garden next year :)

    xoxoxo from me to you :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Hi Boo! :D I don’t know e-gullet :D I will look them up after I finish my comment :D I love stews and tagines… they are very much like cholents, the traditional Shabbat stews :D Dried rosebuds and lavender sound heavenly :D

    I actually decided to give pickled lemons a try because of your posts :D I have a recipe for them that I had ignored but because of your posts I decided to give them a try :) I have not done so yet though… maybe pickled lemons will be my ingredient for 2007! :D

    Hope you have a great solstice dinner :) Things are quiet and sleepy over here :) Must be lovely to grow your own produce. I don’t have room for it here, but I want to start an herb garden next year :)

    xoxoxo from me to you :)

  • http://lilandra.com/blog Lilandra

    I discovered Chennette!
    I take all claim and credit for her.

    Well, as a blogger I mean.
    You know how long and hard I worked on her to blog.

    But no, why should I blog? What would I do with a blog? I don’t want to blog. I don’t have anything to say.

    BLAH BLAH BLAH

    So she’s my “discovery”

    And I told her she could just post her flickr thingies there.
    I’m sure I told her other things too.

  • http://lilandra.com/blog Lilandra

    I discovered Chennette!
    I take all claim and credit for her.

    Well, as a blogger I mean.
    You know how long and hard I worked on her to blog.

    But no, why should I blog? What would I do with a blog? I don’t want to blog. I don’t have anything to say.

    BLAH BLAH BLAH

    So she’s my “discovery”

    And I told her she could just post her flickr thingies there.
    I’m sure I told her other things too.

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    lilandra – hehehe :D

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    lilandra – hehehe :D

  • http://lilandra.com/blog Lilandra

    :-)

    (okay, i *forced* her to blog)

  • http://lilandra.com/blog Lilandra

    :-)

    (okay, i *forced* her to blog)

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