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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Allure of Spices

Close your eyes. Now think about Christmas. Odds are, you're thinking about cinnamon and ginger along with Santa and twinkly lights. Smells have power. A single whiff can evoke a whole torrent of memories.

I love cooking partly because of the smells. Fresh baked bread. Cinnamon rolls. A pot of chili simmering away. A freshly peeled orange. Good cooking generates good smells.

I have a whole cupboard of spices and herbs. I grow herbs as ground covers and plants in my flower beds. They're beautiful as well as fragrant. Plus, they're very handy for cooking.

Spices and herbs carry so much flavor into food. If you limit yourself to salt and pepper, maybe a few commercial blends, you're missing out on a whole rich palette of flavors.

So take a risk, experiment. Familiarize yourself with some new herbs and spices. Try out a few. They aren't that expensive at the grocery store. I know Alton Brown might suffer a coronary, but go ahead and get the little bottle of pre-ground spices. The premium spices can be costly, but you can start small and cheap. Try growing a few while you're at it. We're planting our new yard with lavender, different mints, chives, oregano, and Russian sage. I can't wait to harvest my own fresh herbs this summer.

My son can't wait to harvest his own catnip. We'll see if it survives the neighborhood cats.

What herbs and spices do you like to cook with? If you have a recipe you want to share, I'd be happy to feature it on a Thursday. And feature a little about you if you want to share.