04 August 2014

Spice Things Up

I was cleaning the spice cupboard on Friday, after doing the shopping. I'd picked up some herbs and spices to top up the jars and before I put them away I gave the cupboard a quick wipe out and replaced the bay leaves (bay leaves repel weevils, but they do need to be changed often).

Tom wandered in and commented on the number of jars and it had me thinking. Before I learned to cook I had basic herbs and spices in the house. Mixed herbs, cinnamon, mixed spice, garlic salt (I can't believe I used it!), ginger powder and curry powder.

Once I started cooking from scratch I realised that was a pretty meagre spice cabinet and started to buy different spices and herbs as a recipe called for them.

These days the spice cupboard holds:
Sweet Basil
Oregano
Thyme
Rosemary
Parsley flakes
Garlic granules
Onion flakes
Chives
Dill flakes
Sweet Paprika
Hot Paprika
Cayenne Pepper
Ground Chilli
Chilli powder
Curry powder(s)
Mustard powder
Mustard Seed
Coriander
Cumin
Sage
Tarragon
Thyme
Turmeric
Rock salt
Whole Black Peppercorns
Ground Black Pepper
Ground White Pepper
Ground Cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks
Whole Cloves
Ground Cloves
Nutmeg
Mixed Spice
Vanilla sugar
Vanilla beans
Vanilla extract (MOO)

That's quite an improvement in my cooking skills right there in the spice cupboard. They all get used regularly, definitely before they go stale (herbs and spices have a shelf life of around 6 months once opened, then they start to lose their potency).

Having such a choice of seasonings meant I have had to learn what flavours go best with different foods, that was a learning curve once I started to adjust recipes to suit my grocery budget.

Here's what I've learned:

Beef goes well with: allspice, basil, bay leaves, coriander, cumin, curry, lemongrass, mustard, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme.

Chicken goes well with: bay leaves, basil, coriander, cumin, curry, ginger, lemongrass, mustard, rosemary, sage and tarragon.

Fish goes well with: Dill, basil, chives, curry, coriander.

Lamb goes well with: rosemary, garlic, basil, coriander, cumin, curry, mint, sage and thyme.

Eggs go well with: chives, parsley, dill, basil, curry, rosemary, sage, thyme.

If you've become a little boring and rely on salt, pepper and garlic to season your meals be daring and spice things up with a new seasoning. You probably have some of the common herbs already in your spice cabinet.

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