Perhaps it’s from our visits to fine restaurants, or my lacking sense of smell that makes me desire everything to be uniquely and strongly flavored, or perhaps it is the overflowing creativity that I cannot seem to satisfy, or perhaps I am a natural born chef, who knows, anyway, I must have fabulous oils, vinegars, and seasonings in my kitchen to cook with. I have rarely to never repeated recipes in the twenty something years I have been cooking for myself, and there are no run of the mill meals here.
For instance, I used to make spaghetti. Now I make pasta (sometimes homemade) with homemade spaghetti sauce made with thick tomatoes and colorful vegetables that are cooked down with wine and garlic until thick and fragrant. Herbs from the garden in handfuls and smoked salt. Then added to the pasta and baked with goat cheese and mozzarella. Divine.
I used to grill trout. Now I stuff it with lemon, sage, and rosemary. Fry it in truffle oil after dredging it in cornmeal. A white wine sauce to pour over after deboning. Well, you get the picture.
In baking if a recipe calls for vanilla extract, I use three times more than it says and I use extract that I made. I may substitute required oil in a recipe with an orange infused oil or perhaps a walnut infused oil. If a recipe calls for salt in baking, I reach for the vanilla salt. These slight variations elevate food from sustenance to gourmet with sensational flavors. A basic recipe for pumpkin bread becomes amazing with vanilla and cinnamon extracts, and vanilla salt.
My friend Rodney and I hit the oil stores whenever we pass them. There are not a lot so it is a treat to find one. One day when we were in the Springs purchasing our oils for the next few months we came across the flavored salts. I picked up a small container of black flecked sea salt, fragrant with vanilla beans and took it home. It was on my grocery list to purchase more when I had an aha moment. I had just emptied a quart of vanilla extract to sell at the market. (Read post here to see how to make your own vanilla extract. You will never buy from the store again!) There sat the beautiful vanilla beans. In the past I would have cut them open and used them in baking then discarded them. I cannot grow them and they are not cheap so I had to do something with them. Eye to the list, eye to the vanilla bean, big bag of sea salt in the cupboard. I simply placed the whole vanilla beans, sliced in half into the salt that I had poured into a canning jar shaking occasionally. A few weeks later when removing the lid the smell of fresh, spicy vanilla came wafting up from the eight ounces of salt. It cost me very little and I have plenty to add to baking dishes and a myriad of other meals (such as oatmeal, or goat cheese, or caramel to make salted caramel, or in jams, or salad dressing, or….)
Make your farmhouse kitchen a deliciously gourmet kitchen. It’s easy and a fun way to eat after a long day of weeding rows of vegetables.