Cooking! The great relaxer!


Tamarind Crusted Ham

On Tuesday, March 26th I was at my desk working at my television job when I started having pains on my left side. It started in my arm then moved under my arm into my chest and up the left side of my neck into my jaw. Of course, I didn’t realize I was having the signs of a possible heart attack. It wasn’t until I was talking with the Allegheny County 9-1-1 dispatcher supervisor Ms. Battle that I thought maybe something more was taking place. Ms. Battle while I was on the phone getting information on a story and telling her how I was feeling sent the medics to check me out. I didn’t want her to do so at first, thinking it was just some pain that will go away soon but she insisted I needed to be checked out. Long story short – I ended up at Mercy Hospital where they kept me for a couple of days, providing me with morphine for the pain and scheduling a stress test among other tests.

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Heart monitor

The doctor informed me that chest and jaw pain along with the arm pain are signs of a heart attack or stroke and with my health history. I could never be too careful. It’s when you ignore the signs and don’t take care of early warning signs is when you run into trouble. I must say the doctors, nurses and technicians at Mercy Hospital took great care of me, never making me feel like an idiot and always letting me know what was taking place and explaining what they were doing.

Following all the tests, I was informed I did not suffer a heart attack or stroke. Great news. The not so great news. They still don’t know what’s causing my pain or what’s wrong with me. Apparently, ten other things mimic the heart attack symptoms, so I have to go through a battery of tests to figure out what it may be. In the meantime, one of the things that may cause the pain and other symptoms is good old fashion stress.

Now thanks to having knee surgery in January 2013 on my right knee and putting a hole in my achilles tendon on my left foot August 2012. I have not been able to work out as I usually do to remove any tension from my body. The doctor pointed out I needed to do more to get myself in a relaxed frame of mind.  I may think I have stress under control but my body is definitely saying otherwise. So, until they (doctors) figure out what’s taking place with me I need to do what I can to reduce my stress levels.

When I arrived home from the hospital, I still had some morphine in my system and was still in an unmanageable level of pain so all I wanted to do was sleep. Saturday afternoon with some other pain medication in my system and a beautiful ham. I set out to make my tamarind crusted ham.

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Sauce on before being placed in the oven.

Cooking is my oasis! A place of beauty, fun and positive energy! Even when things are going to hell in a hand basket! Ha! I actually felt myself not thinking about my health scare, the fact I still don’t know what’s wrong or how I was going to move forward with my cooking dreams.

Getting into that kitchen it was all about having fun and seeing the end result of something that I made in my mind and seeing how it turns out. My tamarind crusted ham was a three hour slow process. And oh my, so very worth it! Even the bottom of the ham crusted over and the inside also had that sweet and biting taste. Yes, I added a bit of garlic and pepper to the ham.

Now, if I can only keep many of my friends from raiding my kitchen I may be able to enjoy a bit more than I usually do of dishes I create. Then again, if it’s all gone, it will be a good excuse to get back into the kitchen again!


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