Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

3 Easy Spice Blends and Growing Green Onions

I chopped the fragrant green onions and set them aside. The roots still looked nice so I scooped a little dirt up from the side of one of my plants and stuck the bottoms of the green onion in. Within days they were growing a vibrant green in my Yuletide kitchen. The ginger plant doesn’t seem to mind. It changes the game of winter cooking if you have some fresh onions or chives to sprinkle on.

Fresh spices are wonderful but since we have a fairly short growing season here, not everything grows here, and I love to cook, dried spice blends fill baskets and bins in my kitchen. I probably have close to a hundred or so spices and blends. It is probably in our budget’s favor that I moved away from my favorite spice shop. I created a few delicious blends myself the other day. These would make great holiday gifts or stocking stuffers. They are also economical for one’s own kitchen if you buy the herbs in bulk. A 4 ounce canning jar is perfect for these.

Mole Spice Blend (pronounced mole-then add a long a. It’s pretty fun to say.)

This delicious blend is a surprising combination used in Mexican cooking. Chocolate, cinnamon, and chilies do not seem like a reasonable combination for savory dishes, but wait until you try it!

  • 2.5 Tablespoons of New Mexican red chile
  • 1.5 Tablespoons paprika
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Garlic and Onion Blend

  • 2 Tablespoons dried Garlic (roasted garlic even better!)
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dried green onions
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt

Vanilla Infused Cinnamon and Sugar

  • 4 Tablespoons of sugar (raw, organic preferred)
  • 3 Tablespoons of cinnamon
  • Blend together and add a small piece of vanilla bean to the jar. Close lid and shake well.

Recipe Ideas

Pumpkin Red Chili– I sprinkled 3 Tablespoons of Mole and 2 Tablespoons of the Garlic and Onion blend into a crockpot with 2 cups of pinto beans and 6 cups of broth. Cook on low for 5 hours. Add a good sprinkling of salt and a can of pumpkin. Continue cooking on low for 3 more hours. Adjust seasoning.

Garlic Toast– Take any slice of bread and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle Garlic and Onion blend on bread along with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. Toast in toaster oven.

Vanilla Infused Cinnamon and Sugar can be sprinkled on buttered toast, on pastries, or on top of coffee drinks.

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

How to Grow, Use, and Keep Fresh Herbs

Herbs are so heavenly.  Not only are they filled with nutrition to lower cholesterol and improve circulation and immunity, they give everything a taste of fresh summer.  A bite of excitement.  A perk to the senses.

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If you aren’t used to having fresh herbs in your food, it may take a little bit to get used to.  One might be more accustomed to mint in their tea than mint in their salad!  Just start small and add more as you go.

Try cilantro on top of Asian, Indian, or Mexican food.

Parsley is nice atop savory dishes.

Basil and Oregano, of course, are the king and queen of Italian food.

Thyme is delightful baked on top of squash halves and potatoes.  Same with rosemary.

Soups adore to be simmered with dried herbs then topped with croutons and fresh herbs.

Rice with mint or couscous or in salad is refreshing.  A mixture of herbs even better.

How to Grow

In the summer, herbs grow wonderfully in the garden.  In the winter, one might want to start some in a window sill.  The plastic containers used to hold washed salad from the store are great for starting plants.  Fill 3/4 of the way with potting oil and dampen.  Sprinkle seeds on top.  Sprinkle a light amount of soil on top.  Spray with a water bottle and put lid on.  Set in sunny spot.  Use water bottle to keep seeds from drying out.  The lid does create a greenhouse effect.  Don’t overwater or the seeds will mold!  If the top soil is getting dry, give it a good spritz.  When seedlings are an inch or so tall, remove lid and continue to grow delicious herbs!

How to Chiffonade

This is the best way to chop herbs.  For leafy herbs, roll several leaves together into a small log then starting at the end slice them into small ribbons.  Smaller herbs can be minced.

How to Store

The best way to keep fresh herbs, whether harvested or store bought, is to keep them in water like a nice bouquet of flowers.  My basil actually grew roots after four weeks!  But usually fresh herbs will last about a week to ten days.  Cilantro likes to be in water in the refrigerator.  They lose their oils over time so do attempt to use them as soon as you can.

Posted in Food/Wine (and preserving)

How to Use Fresh Herbs

20180227_204739Fresh herbs are delicious and very good for you.  It takes awhile to get used to their intensity, but once you start using fresh herbs it becomes second nature.  Those crisp, strong flavors adds pizzazz to any dish.  Most of the time you will add fresh herbs at the end of cooking.

Using scissors is the easiest way to clip or chiffonade herbs.  For large leaves like basil and sage, roll into a tight roll and clip into ribbons.  The best way to store fresh herbs is like fresh flowers.  Place them in a glass of water in the refrigerator.

Sprinkle ribbons of fresh basil on pastas and pizza.

Clip oregano leaves on to pizza or put in crust before baking.  Fresh oregano livens up red and green chile.

Chives top salads and potatoes and soups.

Saute olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, a little salt and pepper, with sage leaves for a delicious pasta with sage sauce.

Roast root vegetables with rosemary, sage, thyme.  Or for a fresher taste, top roasted potatoes with herbs.

Cilantro goes beautifully piled on top of beans, rice, guacamole, or tortilla soup.

Mint and parsley with garlic and lemon liven up veggie meats and vegetables.

Be brave!  And add spice, health, and freshness to supper.  Make sure you plant these lovely herbs.  They are even better straight from the garden!