It still amazes me that it’s the new year. In the last 3 months, I’ve been occupied with training our new helper (housekeeper/cook), a very disruptive period of construction rectification work at home, the school holidays, a short birthday getaway with the family to Thailand, my first mission trip to Cambodia with some kids from church, year-end work at the office, Christmas preparations, cooking and celebrations, and then preparations for the new school year. We’re just starting to resume a more normal routine, with the kids’ new schedules finally in place, and I’m just starting on a renewed exercise regime, with my first half marathon for this year lined up for end March. And then it just hit me yesterday that Chinese New Year is only 2 weeks away!
It’s usual for me to do some reflection at the end of every year, but this time round, I felt there wasn’t anything meaningful I had to say about the past year, nor were there any insights about myself or life in general which were worth sharing or even thinking about. Much of this had to do with a spiritual emptiness I’d been experiencing for awhile, stemming either from doing generally too much (or perhaps too little of any real significance), but mostly from failing to take time to spend in quiet reflection and meditation on a more regular basis. So I’ve resolved that it shall be different this year.
Anyway, over the weekend, we had the enviable task of clearing out the freezer of the last of the lamb racks from our Christmas stash. I cut it up into lamb chops, trimmed off all but a very thin sliver of fat, covered the chops with a mixture of chopped garlic (2-3 tbs), dried mint leaves (1tsp), ground cumin (2 tsp), ground turmeric (1 tsp) and salt (1 tsp), let it stand for about an hour, then arranged them on a cast iron grillpan, which was then placed on the top rack of the oven to grill until cooked to medium (about 12-15 minutes). Easy and yummy. In fact, I couldn’t believe how easy it was, particularly because there wasn’t much cleaning up to do. If you’ve ever had to clean up your kitchen after cooking on a grillpan over the stove, you’ll probably know what I mean.
We had the lamb chops with saffron-spiced couscous. I’d sauteed some chopped garlic (2 tbs) and sliced shallots (3 tbs) in olive oil in a pan until softened, added some ground turmeric and ground cumin, and mixed it with the garlic and shallots and continued to saute for awhile. Then I added into the pan 3/4 cups water in which I’d soaked a pinch of saffron threads, and brought the pan to a boil. I then added 3/4 cups couscous and some salt, stirred with a fork, covered the pan and turned off the heat. In the meantime, I toasted some pinenuts in the oven-toaster (about 5 minutes). Then I turned on the heat on the stove back on to low, fluffed the couscous with a fork, added some softened butter (about 1 tbs or so), and salt to taste before turning off the heat. Finally I tossed some chopped coriander and the toasted pinenuts before serving.
Well, if you ever try this out, I hope it works for you as well as it did for us. I consider this a fuss-free lamb chop recipe, because it entails so little preparation, and doesn’t stink up your whole kitchen. And that is always a good thing. Have a good week!
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42