Archive for the ‘Spices & Seasonings’ Category
I love bagels. I REALLY love Everything bagels. Then I started to think about it – do I really love the bagels themselves or is it the seasoning on top. And furthermore, why is this stuff not in/on anything else? So I decided to test this out but first I had to make up my own seasoning blend. Yeah… let’s just say this took me a bit to come up with. Now if you cheat and scroll to the recipe below you’ll be like “Seriously Lor, it took you a while to come up with this?” And the answer is yes. I went through a bajillion variations of this – caraway seeds, fennel seeds, celery salt, pepper and powdered spices.
The thing is, it was all me. I honestly just over complicated it. I forgot the first rule of cooking – K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Actually isn’t that pretty much the first rule of life?
Happy Tuesday TKW Family! With the new year just kicking off it’s time to clean out those cupboards and start with fresh stuff. Today it’s all about out with the old and in with the new.. the new spices and boxed items.
So fess up, when’s the last time you bought new dried spices? What about that baking soda? Hmmm… Better yet, how many of you got one of those pre-filled spice cabinets and are STILL using the same spices it came with 6 months later? Yeah, I thought so. Let’s talk – those old dried spices.. pitch ’em. They are useless. They’ve gone to spice heaven and died. They no longer serve their purpose and really need to be put down. Down the garbage can that is. So get your garbage can and let’s start tossing. Remember, keep a tablet and paper nearby so you’ll know what you have to replace with fresh.
If the vibrant color has faded, then usually so has the flavor. Next you can perform a sniff test. If a spice is no longer fragrant, it’s probably best to replace it. Lastly, if a spice has some fragrance left but is far less potent than it used to be, just double the amount called for in a recipe. For me I mark my spices with the date I bought or filled the container.
Make sure you are storing your spices in a cool, dry, dark place. That means away from sunlight, heat from your oven or cook-top, and moisture from your dishwasher. Stashing your spices correctly will help them last as long as possible.
A quick rule of thumb: Whole spices can keep for 1 to 2 years, but pre-ground spices start to lose their flavor after about 6 months.
Does your pantry make the cut?
I love growing my own fresh herbs. However if you’re like me you tend to plant more than can use – yes, even more. I think it’s because when we plant the seeds or plants we see them as teeny, not really knowing that they will get bigger and take over your gardens at times. So towards the end of summer you’re left with gorgeous fresh basil, oregano out the wazoo and enough parsley that you can’t give away. And if you’re like me you can’t bear the thought of letting one single leaf go to waste however you can only make so much pesto or can so many jars of pizza sauce. So what are you left to do?
Don’t let your herbs go to waste, dry them and fill up your spice jars!
First you need to decide how you want to dry them.
→ Less Tender Herbs — The more sturdy herbs such as rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and dill, thyme, summer savory and parsley are the easiest to dry using the air drying method.
→ Tender-Leaf Herbs — Basil, oregano, tarragon, lemon balm and the mints have a high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly. Try hanging the tender-leaf herbs or those with seeds inside paper bags to dry. Tear or punch holes in the sides of the bag. Suspend a small bunch (large amounts will mold) of herbs in a bag and close the top with a rubber band. Place where air currents will circulate through the bag. Any leaves and seeds that fall off will be caught in the bottom of the bag.
→ Gather 5-10 branches together and tie with string or a rubber band. The smaller the bundle, the easier and faster they will dry.
→ Put the bundle of herbs, stem-side up, in a paper bag (or wrap muslin, a mesh produce bag) with several holes around the bundle, and tie it at the neck.
→ Tie the end of the bag closed, being sure not to crush the herbs as you do, and poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation.
→ Hang the bag by the stem end in a warm, well-ventilated room.
→ After a week they will ready to be placed and stored in your spice jars.
→ Place herb leaves or seeds on a cookie sheet one inch deep or less.
→ Put herbs in an open oven on low heat – less than 180 degrees F – for 2-4 hours. To see if the herbs are dry, check if leaves crumble easily. Oven-dried herbs will cook a little, removing some of the potency and flavor.
The oven method actually the most labor-intensive, and the least energy-efficient method. Herbs need to be dried at about 100 degrees, but most ovens don’t go that low. They also need air circulation, and some ovens don’t have vents. You’ll need to get an oven thermometer and experiment. Try turning the oven on warm or its lowest setting for a while, then turning it off (while leaving the light on). You can also try propping the door open slightly with a wooden spoon
For this simply follow your machines instructions. Food dehydrators range in price from $30 to $400 so definitely buy what you can afford. Most that I’ve ready about that give great reviews are around the $150 range. Quality dehydrators have handy features such as timers and adjustable temperature control. Dehydrator drying is a fast and easy way to dry high quality herbs because temperature and air circulation can be controlled. Pre-heat dehydrator with the thermostat set to 95°F to 115°F. In areas with higher humidity, temperatures as high as 125°F may be needed. After rinsing under cool, running water and shaking to remove excess moisture, place the herbs in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Drying times may vary from 1 to 4 hours. Check periodically. Herbs are dry when they crumble, and stems break when bent.
With BBQ Season kicking off in a big way, I often get requests for really great sauces and rubs to use. Now you know me I’m not one to ever, EVER buy a pre-made spice mix or bbq sauce so here are some killer bbq rubs and seasonings that you’ll definitely want on hand all summer long! These will elevate your steaks, burgers, ribs, chicken and even fish to levels that will surely make you the Grill Master on your block! Plus if you make enough, the spice rubs can be put into jars and given away as gifts! For the sauces you can use a pressure canner to seal them and then give away or store for later!
Right before Valentine’s day Finlandia® made an amazing announcement. They were expanding their products from their world-renown cheeses to premium imported butter. Now I know what some of you might be thinking.. “butter is butter, no real difference”, right? Oh folks you are so mistaken. It’s kind of like not all cars are made the same way or how all chocolate is of the same quality. I mean there is a difference in quality and in this case, taste. Finlandia® Imported Butter is crafted from pure, fresh milk, produced on family owned farms in Finland. Finlandia® Imported Butter provides authentic rich and luscious flavor that is still made the way butter should be; the old-fashioned way. It’s simple and pure; nothing artificial and no added hormones. And what I love about it is that it’s made with non-GMO ingredients according to EU standards, with no rBST hormones.
This creamy, delicious butter starts with the purest milk in Europe from small Finnish family owned farms where the cows are treated humanely. The fresh milk is carefully churned and cooled to a perfect temperature that creates a delightfully creamy flavor and smooth texture. Whether you’re one of the most discriminating French chefs creating some of your famous baked goods and croissants or a home baker, Finlandia® Imported Butter is the ultimate butter for baking, cooking and especially, eating! This butter has truly set the bar when it comes to standards of butter!
Seriously this is AMAZING! One taste and you’ll be in LOVE!!!