Monday, February 27, 2017

26 February 2017

It has been a week of ups and downs. I spent three days at a retreat with my fellow Council members, the Mayor, our City Manager and Communications Director. The retreat was intense at times, but very productive. We worked to define and prioritize our goals for 2017, and I am excited about our plans to keep moving Canton forward as a connected, active and vibrant city. It is an honor and privilege to work with such a dedicated and passionate group of individuals that care deeply for Canton, and I look forward to implementing the goals and tactics that we defined in the retreat.

On the down side, a lot of friends are dealing with serious health issues, such as cancer and heart disease, but I am hoping for healing and full recovery. Sadly, our dear friend TJ lost his father last week after a long battle with cancer. Terry Cochran was a very kind and courageous man, and he will be greatly missed by TJ, his wife, Darlene, his other son, Josh, and the rest of the family and friends. Mr. Cochran always had a smile on his face, even during the darkest of times, and he set an exceptional example for others. His funeral was on Friday, and I hope his wonderful family finds peace and comfort in the days ahead. From my own experience, you never stop missing your parents, but their love and guidance is always present.

After Friday, the rest of the weekend was relatively uneventful, for me at least. Jeff's business, Mountain City Auto Parts in Jasper, is converting to NAPA as they celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary, so it was all hands-on-deck for he and his parents. My team at Grant Design Collaborative have been working with them to rebrand the business, and it's been a fun experience. The first vehicle in their delivery fleet was delivered with the new graphics today, and new signage is also in progress. I wish them success in the next phase of their company.

With all of the highs and lows, I did manage to dream about cooking on Saturday night. Yes, I even dream about food! With friends' health issues on my mind, I had a dream and idea for a healthy Sunday Supper that involved okra, shrimp, garlic and onions. Okra has strong cancer fighting properties, and garlic and onions are good sources of antioxidants. I woke up with a very clear ingredient list in mind, so I entered the main ingredients into a Google search to find recipes or dishes that utilized them. One dish included all of them, and it was a Guyanese Fry Okra with Shrimp. Of course, I was fascinated by this discovery and proceeded to learn a lot about food from Guyana. I had never heard of Guyanese comfort food, but now I am hooked. I looked at several recipes and modified them to suit my style and personal taste. I read where Okra Fry is often served with Roti, an unleavened griddle bread that originated in India, but there is a Guyanese version as well. So, I made homemade Roti bread to accompany the main course. I am not a huge bread baker, but I enjoy when I do make an attempt. The roti required a lot of steps, but it was fun to make and delicious. Since the Fry Okra packs a lot of heat from the scotch bonnet peppers, I made some orange rice to serve on the side by just substituting fresh orange juice for water. It was refreshing and helped calm the spiciness of the dish.

I certainly hope your week had more highs than lows, and I wish you all comforting food dreams, good health and happiness.

The Menu:

- Guyanese Okra Fry with Shrimp

- Orange Rice

- Homemade Roti

- Cheesecake with Fresh Organic Strawberries

The Recipe – Okra Fry with Shrimp


1 lb okra
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 - 1 scotch bonnet or other hot pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions (green onions)
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2-3 tablespoons celery leaves, chopped
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved



Wash and dry okra thoroughly and cut off ends and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.

In a large frying pan, heat oil with medium fire and lightly fry the shrimp until it turns slightly pink.

Add chopped onions, scallions, garlic, celery leaves, hot pepper, okra, salt and black pepper. Stir occasionally, and cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes or until okra is darker and tender.

Add salt to taste and cook for another 5 minutes. Toss in cherry tomatoes and stir to warm before serving.

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