Spice of Life

SpiceSpoonsWhen I first started this experiment, the one thing I was most afraid of were spices, those mysterious ingredients that caused the discovery of America (Columbus was sailing west to find a better route for the spice trade) and have nursed countless people back to good health over the millennia.   I’m not kidding when I said my favorite food is was white food.  That’s not any kind of ethnic statement.  I mean I literally love things that are white.  I even blogged about it when we were first starting out.

Spices are those things that I would resolve to make friends with, spend a lot of money on, and then throw away unopened every year when they reached their expiry date.

Ah, spices.

Then Sobha started feeding me a little and I discovered Indian cooking.  It’s a good thing the nearest Indian restaurant is forty-five minutes away or I’d really have a weight problem.  The only thing on me that would be slimmer would be my wallet.

Now I’ve started cooking with spices and I’m discovering a whole new world.  Spices do not need to mean hot (as in burn off the lining of your mouth).  I love the smell of a well spiced dish as it is cooking.  The entire house seems to come to life just a little bit more.

I’m still a beginner at learning about spices but I have challenged myself to keep them in a recipe and actually try them out.

I went to the library and got some cookbooks.  I’m actually going to read them and try some dishes while Sobha is distracted.  They just moved into their new house, so she’s getting the family settled, working full time and entertaining her in-laws.  I don’t know why she doesn’t have time for us!

The first cookbook I’m working with is going to be is Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express.  He presents “404 inspired seasonal dishes you can make in 20 minutes or less”.  I thought I’d see if I could build up a collection of nutritious dishes that come together quickly.  I have found a lot of good eating that you’ll be seeing here, but the thing that struck me about his recipes was the lack of spicing beyond basic salt and pepper.  Hmmm… I’ll have to put on my spice hat and do a little experimenting.

Are you a spicy believer or a salt-and-pepper stalwart?  Do your spice bottles serve as more than decoration?  What is your favorite spice?

Chris Donner also writes the popular blog for introverts, 61 Musings.  Cee Neuner’s photography blog hosts five weekly challenges for bloggers.  Sobha Vadlamani is just beginning her blogging adventure.

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11 thoughts on “Spice of Life

  1. I too am just discovering spices. Hubby’s heart condition means he can’t consume any salt so I’m looking for ways to make dishes tasty. I’m going to pick the brains of my friend when she visits in April, she is from India and I’m hoping she can put me on the right track as I also have a fear of burning my mouth with over-spiced food!

  2. We love Indian, Asian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Eastern European–all kinds of spice-laden foods, and we cook them often. No such thing as a salt and pepper meal in our house. Except for macaroni and cheese–that dish wants to be pure.

  3. My husband is a chef and we both love to cook. I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite spice–we have shelves and shelves of them, and we actually use them ALL (replenishing them frequently). So, for favorites, I’ll name the 5 spices and we run out of soonest: cumin; coriander, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon. (interesting–I never noticed before that they all begin with C). We often buy whole spices and grind our own–they taste fresher and more intense that way. None of those spices has any “heat” to them.

    Both of us really like heat, and that comes from adding peppers–cayenne, black, white, chili, ancho…. and we use those a lot, too, unless we’re cooking for people who can’t tolerate them.

    We also use a lot of fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and fresh herbs, especially parsley and cilantro.

  4. Oh I couldn’t live without: Chili, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, curry, lemon, different kinds of pepper… and so on…
    I’m a very boring cook, I’ve realized. A lot of lentil soups with chili and vegetables runs through my kitchen… spicy…

  5. I was loving spices before I knew what cooking was.. Being raised that way, by the time I began my journey into cooking I knew which were my favorites.. Garlic is my “go to” spice for almost any dish.. Ceylon cinnamon is my sweet spice, with nutmeg and cloves right behind.. Salt is lightly used in some dishes I make but I usually “salt” instead with lemon or lime juice concentrate.. Just a little squirt gives the tang we crave from salt, without an over salt flavor.. Cilantro is my favorite Mexican dish spice and I use it in many Asian dishes too..
    Ginger and Thyme are used in a lot of my cooking, they just go so well with meat and poultry for me.. Smoked Paprika is in most meat rubs I make and perks up salads and chili.. Tumeric is great in veggies and dips.. Fresh ground pepper, is the only grind I use in black pepper.. And I’ve decided to make 0% fat Greek yogurt a spice 😄 .. When I want to add a slight tang and creamy consistency to something, in goes a dollop of GY.. With complimentary spices, the tang can be made to go away, sugar being the best to do this.. There isn’t too many spices that I don’t use, that you can buy in the U.S. but those are the ones I use the most..

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