What shall we discuss this week? Again, we’re investigating tidbits from the book Hints from Heloise so we can find ways of stretching our dollar in this tight economy.
But not all of Heloise’s tips are all about frugality. Some are just neat tips that she’s learned along the way, things that can make all of our lives easier. She has an entire chapter on Seasonings, Condiments and Preserves, and I think this segment can fall under that category.
Heloise writes, “But before you read further, do me a favor. Put down this book and check out your spice shelf. Count up those jars. Now count how many you really use. What’s the answer? I’m willing to wager a fortune cookie that there are jars on that shelf that have never been opened. They came with the spice set and, from force of habit, you automatically ignore ’em and reach for your old favorites.
For shame! Where’s your sense of adventure?
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue in search of spices — that’s how highly prized they were and are. He discovered a New World — and you will too if you learn how to spice up meals with a dash of this or that. Nobody will enjoy the good results more than you.
There’s a bonus to using spices: they not only make recipes taste extra good but also add an aroma that whets the appetite and gets you in a just-right mood to enjoy.”
I know I’m guilty of not using all the spices that I own. Yes, me! The girl who uses all kinds of crazy spices every day, I don’t use everything I own. Like Heloise says, some came with the spice set, and I just never did open them. I don’t think I’ve ever used marjoram, and coriander (not to be confused with cilantro, which is what the Brits call coriander. In the US, coriander generally refers to the seeds) is another spice I tend not to use, though I use cilantro like it’s going out of style.
Here are some of Heloise’s suggestions:
Allspice: For yum-yum results, add a sprinkling of this baking spice to squash, turnips, beets or baked beans. Dee-lish!
Apple Pie Spice: You can substitute apple pie spice in any dish in which cinnamon or nutmeg are called for.
Basil: Add a few basil leaves to tossed salads or a pinch to creamy scrambled eggs.
Bay Leaves: Some people say that putting a bay leaf in the flour canister will keep those nasty weevils away!
Caraway Seed: Always add caraway seeds when you cook sauerkraut. They’re good with pork and add tang to cheese dips. I sometimes toss in a few when steaming cabbage.
Chervil Leaves: Instead of parsley, add chervil leaves to salads, stuffings, sauces, omelets and seafood. Also great with peas.
Chili Powder: Chili powder, that hot, heavenly, spicy mixture, really zips up Mexican dishes, eggs and stews. Try a dash in meat loaf..
Chives: There’s nothing like chives to spark vegetables and salad dressings. Sprinkle some on cream soups to add color, taste and texture.
Cinnamon: Stir hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick. Or use one to stir mulled wine.
After you’ve cooked cabbage, fish or anythign else that will smell up the house, place a teaspoon or two of ground cinnamon in asmall pan with some water on the stove and very slowly let it heat. This produces a wonderful aroma throughout the house.
Shake a little powdered cinnamon over your coffee some time. Mmmm-good.
Cloves: You can stud a pork with this spicy-sweet flavoring. Cloves also go great with yellow squash.
Coriander Seed: This lemony spice adds oomph to cookies, cakes, biscuits and gingerbread. Try it with a mixed green salad, too.
Cumin Seed: Use cumin when you make deviled eggs or sauerkraut to add zest.
Curry: Curry’s not one spice, but a mixture of sixteen to twenty spices (ginger, turmeric, fenugreek seed, cloves, cinnamon, red pepper, cumin seed and others). Add curry to seafood to really pep it up. Fantabulous!
Dill Seed: Crushed dill seeds give homemade potato salad an out-of-this-world flavor. I also like dill in sour cream and mayonnaise sauces.
Fennel Seed: Fennel is a little like licorice and mighty good in chicken dishes, seafood sauces, bread or coffee cake recipes.
Garlic: For some folks, garlic goes with everything — and it practically does… if you’re discreet. It can spark meat, chicken, seafood, soup or salad. Dont’ you just love it with butter spread on hot French bread?
For the barest aroma of garlic, use about one-eighth to one-sixteenth teaspoon of garlic powder or minced garlic for six servings of meat or vegetables. But use lots more if you’re a garlic freak [I am!!!].
This is for those of you who like to cook with garlic but hate to use a big chunk of it. Remove both ends and the outside skin of any dry garlic bud and cut it in very tiny pieces. I usually do this in a small wooden or crockery bowl that I save just for this. Sprinkle lots of salt in the bowl with the garlic. Now — this is where the magic starts — using the end of anything wooden, like a spatula, smart smashing and stirring. The garlic bud dissolves and it’s now ready to use in sauce, salad dressing, etc.
Want to get garlic odor off your hands? Wash them with baking soda and water.
From Illinois: “Here’s a great idea for crushing whole garlic cloves: Peel the garlic and put it in a plastic sandwich bag, but do not tie it closed. Crush the garlic with a hammer, etc., then invert the bag over your hand and rub the salad bowl. Holding onto the bag with your fingers, turn the bag right side out, and discard. Your hands stay free of the smell and mess.
A thoughtful hostess in Utah came up with this goody: “I don’t want anyone to bite into a garlic clove so… When I stuff garlic into the sides of a roast, it’s skewered on toothpicks so I can pull it out before serving the meat.” [Kurt would think this utter sacrilege. When we had garlic-studded pork roast at Jen’s for Christmas, he couldn’t get enough of the garlic.]
And that’s not quite half of her suggestions! Maybe tomorrow I’ll post the other half, starting with more tips on garlic, one of my favorite flavors.
Please leave any suggestions you may have for fellow readers in my comments. You never know what will help someone else!