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Archive for December, 2009

Hello.  On the mend from some surgery and back at the helm if not the seat!    Ouch!

Today, family, friends and followers we are going to address Tongue.  No, this isn’t one of my Dougray Scott fantasies, this is real important stuff to cooks.  Yes, as you can clearly see, spices, herbs, cooking=SEXY.  The field of fine spices, fine cooking, fine wines, well almost everything fine that goes in our mouth, is dependent on our palate.  Our palate is dependent on how good our tongue is.   We have an average of 10,000 taste buds on our tongue.  These little buds, helped by the saliva in our mouth that helps break down what we eat, have what are known as receptor cells that send messages to our brain to interpret the flavors we eat.  Cool.  What is even more cool is that different parts of our tongue taste different flavors.  Yep, specialized places on each and every tongue, to pick up flavors that are either bitter, sweet, salty, sour and now………..umami!  Not you mommy–umami!  We’ll get there later.  For now, back to the Tongue.  Our tongue is roughly divided into individual states, or areas, or zones, or……  Each area is responsible for a taste sensation.  At the front of the tongue are taste buds that are responsible for recognition of sweet and salty foods.  Sour sensations arise on each side of our tongue.  The back of the tongue is responsible for our ability to taste bitterness.

If we look solely at the biology of things, it stands to reason that we are able to taste bitter things, since our ancestors associated bitterness with foods they should not eat.  Survival meant eating foods that tasted salty or sweet–that is, high calorie food like fat and carbs.  Part of the issue with obesity in society today is the overload of salty and sweet in our diet.  Our brain says it is good for us and yet we have access to so much of it.  Making matters worse, sweet no longer means unprocessed sugar, but processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup (almost 10 x’s sweeter than unprocessed sugar).  Everything temps us and we find it hard to resist.  In fact, as we have grown in the foods available to us, our desire for sour and bitter foods has even grown, especially when manufacturers pair it with plenty of salt and then hide the salt with plenty of high fructose corn syrup.  If you’re carrying those extra pounds–blame the Tongue!

We’ve heard so much recently about umami.  When I first heard about it I was indeed confused (not that I’m any less confused now).  The explanation for this so-called fifth taste left me a bit unsure of what the heck it was.  The Japanese have known about umami for centuries (or so it is claimed ;)).  Essentially, as I understand things, our tongue can taste a chemical called glutamate found in seaweed and other foods (mainly Asian foods like Soy Sauce).  Umami is said to have an earthy, meaty or “savory” taste.  It is said that mushrooms, soy sauce, some meats, seafood and even some meat and bone broths contain umami. 

Many experts believe that a great palate–a tongue with many taste buds in all the important areas–is truly what makes a great chef.  It is said that you can teach someone to cook, but if they can’t flavor the food they are cooking appropriately, you might as well not train them.  I agree.  I’ve had fun with friends over the years and we put various foods, spices, herbs, and drinks in various containers and see who can identify the most.  Try it–great fun!  Hey, anything with tongue play has to be good, right?

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Hello fellow bloggers.  I’m up for another night.  Just want to make a comment regarding comments. 🙂  Had a relatively naughty one today.  Evidently Santa had put coal in someone’s stocking.  Must be a bit of a bummer.  You naughty folks remind me of parents who complain that their kids are exposed to adult subjects on TV and thus those subjects shouldn’t be on TV.  Hey, we live in a democracy with freedom of speech.  Don’t complain, just don’t let the kids see it.  Same applies here.  Don’t like it, just don’t read it!  Now how easy was that!  Just to let you all know that should you place a naughty comment I will have to “spam” it.  I like to Blog not only because I love spices and love to write, but because, here, I AM QUEEN.  Hey, sounds like an idea for a T-shirt.  Yep, time to start another blog on T-shirts!  But, I’m not a “trained” expert on T-shirts.  Good, I’ll do it!  After all I’ve played with T-shirts for over 50 years and learned a lot about them in that time.  So, in a way, I know a lot about T-shirts.  Just like that–I’m an expert!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of spice making, generally accepted principles of spice mixing, and all the really fun stuff, you should know something about herbs, spices and allergies.   I read that only about 2% of allergic reactions occur because of spices.  How someone knows this I have no idea.  Usually, but not always, folks who react to certain pollen categories can react to certain spices that are or mimic those pollens (saffron is one example).  The most common spices/herbs that cause allergies happen to be (now this must be correct because I found it on the internet–right?):   Sesame Seed, Mustard, Celery Seed, Coriander, Caraway, Fennel, Parsley, Dill Anise, Saffron, and Paprika.

Sadly, in addition to these ingredients there are additives to spices that can cause some folks a lot of problems.  Believe it or not many spices have additives (aside from MSG) that extend the spices (i.e., make them go farther), add color only, act as a thickening agent, or, finally, additives can act as flavor enhancers.  The first ingredient we have to be on watch for is nuts.  Yes, NUTS.  We now see everything marked, “Food Prepared Where Nuts are Processed.”   If you are allergic watch out for this warning.  Secondly, we have to watch out for gluten.  Gluten in spices comes in the form of wheat flour.  Wheat flour adds weight, is used as a thickening agent and can even be used to make powdered blends “light”.  Personally, I react to gluten and there are options to its use.  I rely on potato starch for thickening when I cook.  Now, potato starch is not potato flour.  Two different things.  Potato flour is processed potato flesh.  Potato starch is processed starch derived from a potato’s flesh.  (Oh, now its getting spicy–she’s talking about flesh.)  Starch’s, in my opinion, are beautiful, silky, smooth and luscious to cook with.   I have also used Arrow Root (in my oriental dishes) and Rice Starch (for our gluten intolerant pup).  I know, you’re thinking, she cooks for their dog?  Yes, I do.  He is one lucky pup!

   

A acquaintance of mine, who is a trained chef, informed me that in his Moroccan dishes he actually added purified Red Clay.  Yep, Moroccan Red Clay.  Evidently a nice thickener and, he says, lends a mushroomy, earthy flavor.  I’m sure!  Well, this should settle the matter.  You should care what is in the spices you purchase!

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Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season! 

 

Now  for a bit of spice advice.   Do you ever notice that a dish you made one evening tastes more intense and aromatic the next day when leftovers are served?  Well, there is a very good reason for this phenomena.  Spices and herbs have oils that take a while to release their flavors.  So, if you really want the dish you are preparing tonight to taste as good as it will tomorrow, you’ll want to read this!

Take a small amount of olive oil and place it in a microwave safe container.  Add spices to the olive oil and stir vigorously.  Warm the oil and spices in the microwave and remove.  Let the spices sit in the heated oil for at leat 45 minutes before you use them on whatever meal you are preparing.  The heat of the oil will bring out the spice notes and a veritable symphony of aroma and flavor will begin.  This is one small way to ensure your spices release their flavors and ensure you dish is a winner!

Should any of you want a specific topic to be discussed, let me know and we’ll go from there.  I love your suggestions!  God Bless You All!

 

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Ah yes, a spicy afternoon spent with Dougray Scott’s lips and accent in “Enigma.”  I’m sure you all are wondering why I don’t mention anything but Dougray Scotts lips and accent.  Well, I am a piece of this and a piece of that kinda woman.  Arms from him, hair from that other him, rear end from some other fellow, hair from another, eyes from yet some other stranger, legs from that one over there, humor from some one else….you get the picture.  Dougray Scott just happens to be the lips and accent in my overall picture of a sexy guy.  It’s taken over 25 years to find these lips and I can’t imagine not seeing them frequently.  There you have it:  I like to keep things fresh!  Which, incidentally, is a great dove tail into our topic today.  We all like freshness.  Freshness in our love, our lives and our herbs and spices.  Without freshness, what is life?

Most of you know that spices and herbs contain aromatic substances called “essential oils” which give the spices and herbs their aroma and taste.   In ancient times, it was learned that these oils were best kept at the height of their pungency by keeping spices and herbs in their whole form.  As we approached modern times and profit was still a motivator the population of those able to afford spices increased.  And, since the “common man” had no knowledge of what spices went where, when and why, spices and blends were made for us in ever-increasing varieties, until today, we are inundated with hundreds of spice and herbs blends, each blend a slightly differently recipe than another.  Often times, we find a wide variety of spices available at the grocery store and in larger and larger containers, so that by the time we find out if we like the spice or can use it, the spice itself has lost that initial fragrance of love and must be thrown away (much like many marriages : ).

Given that many spice companies offer their varieties in larger quantities, what, we must ask, can we do to store our herbs and spices so that their retain their aromatic oil for the longest time possible and thus save us our hard-earned dollars.  Of course, the better course of action would be to purchase spices in quantities one ounce or under so that we can use them in 3-5 meals and be done with them so that nothing is wasted.  But, short of that being an option we can aspire to store our herbs and spices as best we can to enjoy them as long as possible.

What exactly, you are thinking, is the shelf life of herbs and spices and how should I store them optimally?  Well, your answers are here.

Whole Spices:  2 – 5 years

Ground Spices:  6 months – 2 years

Leafy Herbs Dried Whole:  3 months – 2 years

Dehydrated Vegetables:  approximately 2 years

If only Dougray Scott was a master spice maker–now that would be perfection!  Yes, on to some basics of spice storage.  : )

1.  Spices (ground or whole) should best be stored in glass or stainless steel containers in a cool, dry, dark place.  Sounds kinda of sexy doesn’t it?  Ah, Adult Indulgences.  Make sure the caps on the containers are screwed on tightly.  Underneath the metal lids should be a plastic barrier (preferably on the lid itself) to keep the metal and spices aroma separate.

2.  Never keep spices near heat sources or in hot spots.  That means don’t store them near the refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, stove, etc.  Heat is a spice and herb enemy.

3.  Definitely keep spices and herbs away from dampness.   Dampness causes clumping, molding and mildewing.  That also means use clean and dry utensils when measuring out spices. 

4.  Don’t put spices in countertop or wall spice racks.  Light deteriorates plastic, metal and even spices.

5.  Storing spices in the refrigerator (like love in a deep freeze) destroys their freshness.  Humidity rises and all sorts of bad things can happen to a happy spice and life!

In conclusion, fellow friends, loved ones and readers, spices and herbs are delicate things, despite how pungent some can be.  Same can be said for the psyche of many a man and women.  Thus, I recommend that you find a good spice source that sells in quantities of one ounce or smaller so that in 2-4 meals you can use all of the spice and won’t be throwing away half a bottle of unused, un-flavorable, un-aromatic, spice or herb a year later.  Also, I highly recommend spice and herb blends from smaller, gourmet spice companies where you know the quality is high and the blends fresh.  Spices from large spice houses and grocery stores often do not turn over quickly enough for spices, herbs, and blends to be at their optimum!

Hope this made for as lovely reading as my “Enigma” movie with Dougray Scott made for sweaty viewing.

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Ah, Computer, my old friend.  Hello new friends.  Tonight we ask the question, “Why should I care about using fresh herbs and spices?”  Many of you are also asking, “Why the heck isn’t she sleeping?”  Let’s leave the latter question for another time and address the first.  Oh heck, why not answer the first.  I’m not sleeping because I am watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol 2.  Just had to work that out of me, didn’t you.  Now, on to the real question of the day.

Besides the wonderful tastes to be imparted to fine food by fresh herbs and spices, there is a long history to the health benefits of these delicious gifts of nature.  Abundant literature exists as to the effects of herbs and spices on the human body.  Here we will concentrate on the benefits to the human body and not the multiple difficulties that can arise from abuse and misuse of spices and herbs. 

Most of us are well aware of the general knowledge of how spices and herbs can help our bodies:

1.  Cayenne Pepper/Tabasco Sauce:  Can increase burning metabolism up to 25%.

2.  Ginger.  Inhibits nausea and vomiting from motion sickness and speeds metabolic rate.

3.  Peppermint.  Treats gastric and digestive disorders.  

4.  Mustard.  A stimulant that effectively inflates “that certain part of the male anatomy”.  Just kidding.  This is another example of my pulling your leg.  No really, mustard is a stimulant and has been used to treat respiratory complaints.  Really!

5.  Horseradish.  A radish that has been used to help horses to horse around.  I knew you wouldn’t fall for that one.  Horseradish stimulates the digestive tract. 🙂

6.  Cinnamon.  An antidote for diarrhea and a bacterial inhibitor.

7.  Allspice.  Relieves gas.  Hey, bet if 60% of you men had known that a few years ago, you still all be married, huh?

8.  Garlic.  Decreases blood pressure/cholesterol and seems to help diabetics regulate blood sugar.

9.  Tumeric. Antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals.  This decreases your chances of getting cancer.

10.  Foxglove.  The chemical found in Foxglove, digitalis, is a common heart stimulant and has been used extensively in history as a poison to get rid of one’s rivals, lovers, wives, husbands, etc.   Now don’t go getting any ideas.

11.  Licorice.  Licorice causes increased mucosal production in the digestive tract and has been used to treat ulcers.

12.  Valerian Root.  Common use is for treatment of insomnia.

13.  Peppermint Oil.  Often used to treat irritable bowl.

14.  Lemon grass.  Common use is to lower cholesterol.

15.  Fenugreek.  Also lowers cholesterol.

16.  Milk Thistle.  Used to protect and restore liver function.  This one is a great one and I’ve seen it work myself!  Darned amazing.

Yes, much of this is common knowledge, but major research is ongoing into the anticancer and antitumor qualities of herbs and spices.  Pharmaceutical companies are combing the globe with scientists looking for plant cures.  It seems like the medicine men of old knew their business after all. 

In fact anticancer drugs are focusing on Flavonoids (or plant pigments).  In addition to preventing cancer Flavonoids have been proven to act as antioxidants and protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation.   Anti-inflamatories and antitumor agents include:  Chamomile, Dandelion, Green Tea, Hawthorn, Passionflower, Onions and Yarrow.  Researchers have also found that Onion, Chives, Basil, Mints, Oregano, Sage, Thyme and Rosemary have chemicals that decrease your chances of developing cancer or having cancer re-occur.  Finally, Tumeric, Ginger, Anise, Celery, Chervil, Coriander and Fennel also help to prevent cancer.

So, we can see now that you should care about herbs and spices.  Really, you should care so much that in fact you purchase yours from a reliable source that you know will attain the freshest spices available and grind them just so for the making of spectacular blends.  Since this is my blog, I can plug my own spice blends (http://adultindulgences.etsy.com).  You won’t be disappointed in the freshness, uniqueness and tastefulness of my blends.  Think of each teaspoon as an anti cancer pill and you’ll enjoy your delicious food even more!

As a by the by,  love the fight at the end of Kill Bill Vol. 1.  Rarely get to see women fight to the death in movies.  Nice.  Got to admit, though, I doubt any spice blend could cure those wounds.  Ikes.  Guess after watching Vol. 2 I’ll plug in another Dougray Scott movie and ponder those absolutely beautiful lips and that accent that makes me quiver all over!

Well, fond farewell until I we meet again on the page!

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Hey there fellow bloggers!  Good Evening!  I gave some thought to my little blog yesterday and it dawned on me last night before sleep (as things often do), that I forgot to mention one of my favorite places to order Herbs.  I want to make sure I give them a shout and they are incredible.  Just make sure you know what you are ordering and what amounts you can use, because some herbs can have quite an effect on the body (not always a good effect if not used properly).  Please visit:  http://www.bulkherbsusa.com/.  There, that is taken care of with one last warning.  KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ORDERING AND HOW TO USE IT!

Right.  Now for tonight’s business and fun.  Gear for spice and herb mixing?  You probably think I’m joking.  No, I am not pulling your leg, mixing spices is serious business.  Let’s say you have asthma, you’d probably want to think twice before you mix spices and herbs, especially if they are powdered.  Same goes if you have any lung condition.  And, if you don’t want to develop a lung condition I recommend gear — period!  I started out not using any gear to mix and I tell you what, inhaling spices and herbs can cause a lot of strange things to happen to your body  (not many of them good–in fact–none of the reactions are good).

I’m trying to keep this short, so slap me around a bit if I rattle on.  You wish.  Here’s a list of the gear you should have and why:

1.  Hair Net.  Let’s face it, this is for other’s protection and not yours.  You don’t want to serve your quests a brand new concoction of love and have one or more of your hairs show up in the process.  Wear a hair net when mixing spices, even if they are for you, your friends and family.

2.  An Apron.  Seems elementary, but again you need to protect your blends.  Who knows what could be on your shirt, even a clean shirt.  Make sure your apron is clean and washed frequently.

3.  Medical Quality Nitrile Gloves.  Wash your hand before putting gloves on–it just makes sense.  I prefer medical quality Nitrile gloves.  They don’t tear easily and hold up to dried spices than can be sharp, pointy, and sticky.  Gloves also protect the eventual folks who eat the spices.  I’m one of those folks who takes germs and virus critters to heart.  Keep your working environment extremely clean and clean all surfaces before and after mixing with a 20% Clorox solution.  Also, try not to use plastic mixing utensils and bowls.  I use only stainless steel to keep things clean!

4.  Goggles.  Yep, four eyes!  Goggles are a MUST.  When you are grinding spices or powdering them (you pay less for purchasing organic whole spices and then grinding them yourself), you’ll be thankful you have goggles to protect your eyes.  When you decide to grind up hot spices, like Scotch Bonnet Peppers, you’ll be oh so glad you listened to me.

5.  Spice Grinder.  You will find that to save time and energy most of your spice mixes will not be in powdered, but whole or semi ground form.  This is how most Americans know their spices.  Europeans considered whole, or partially ground, spices to be for the poor people and fine ground, or powdered, blends were used by Royalty as the spices wouldn’t be “felt” in their mouth.  There, a little tid bit to pass along to your friends who might be interested.  I tend to medium grind to powder all of my spices.  I, also, dislike spice blends that have whole spices in them as stomach indigestion can occur and the spice pieces (Rosemary, Thyme to name only two) can get caught in teeth, gums, and throat.  Not cool! 

Spice grinders come in all shapes and sizes from the home version to the huge commercial version.  A small countertop model will fit you well.  They run around $45.00-$60.00.

6.  Respirator.  All of us know the damage that can occur to our lungs from smoke, pollution, dust, pollen, etc.  If you mix spices without a respirator you are just plain out old asking for lung problems.  Spices can severely irritate the respiratory tract and taken in quantity can cause asthma, COPD, etc.  Granted you would have to inhale a lot, but what if you are the one person that has a pre-existing condition that you don’t know about and WHAM–you develope lung problems.  You don’t want that. 

So, what is a respirator.  It is not a cloth mask like you see used in emergency rooms.  It is not a mask like you see to prevent inhaling the flu virus like the SARS mask.  It is in fact a respirator.  Usually fits over mouth and nose like an oxygen mask, but on either side is a filter to remove particulate matter.  The mask usually as a two-way fastening system that positions on top of the head and below or above the ears.  You can find a respirator on the web, at a hardware store (beware you can get various types of filters), and even at medical supply houses.  Don’t mix spices without one!

7.  By far the most important item to have handy when playing with spices is a large glass of your favorite wine.  No kidding.  Can’t mix spices without it! 

There you have it–a spicer’s essentials.  Told you I would keep it short.  God Bless you all and goodnight.

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Today, fellow spice bloggers, we are going to have a very basic lesson on the similarities and differences between herbs and spices.  I remember watching a cooking show on Food Network several years ago when someone asked this very question.  “What is the difference between an herb and a spice.”  The show’s host seemed a bit thrown, but covered well and answered, “Well, from what I have been able to determine one is fresh and one is dried.  Spices are just dried herbs.”  This is a good example of the old adage, “Don’t believe everything you hear or read.”  Same goes for this blog.  I promise never to purposefully lie to you or impart knowingly incorrect information.  However, I will feel free to pull your leg (figuratively of course) and have a little off-the-wall fun with you.

So, let’s get down to the business at hand.  Let us first look at the similarities between herbs and spices.  Both herbs and spices are plants.  Well, that about covers it.  Just kidding (i.e., I just pulled your leg there).  Both herbs and spices are best served fresh and not dried.  Herbs and spices are both dried to preserve them.  And, finally, some plants are both herbs and spices.  How, you may be thinking, can this last statement be true?  Simply, it just is.  An example is Coriandrum Sativum.  It’s leaves are known cilantro and its seeds are known as coriander.  Another example is dill.  Yes, dill.  Dill seed is a spice, while the weed itself is an herb.  There you have it.  And, this is where the similarities between herbs and spices begin to fall apart and move us along to what differentiates the two.

Herbs.  A wonderful place to begin.  I just want to begin by saying that, yes, Herb can be something you smoke, but really, that’s a whole different subject that we can address at a later date.  The herbs we are discussing here, you don’t put in cigarette paper or a bong and inhale.  Nope.  Herbs, as we address them here, come from leaves of non-woody plants (known as herbaceous plants).  Hence the word herbs.  (Wink. Wink.)   Herbs are often thought to have medicinal value and many have been used over the centuries to treat everything from anemia to syphilis.  Herbs are often used in greater amounts than spices, as they can be less concentrated in flavor.  Finally, in agricultural terms, herb means any herbaceous plant that dies back at the end of the growing season. 

The most common herbs that most all of you will know are:  Rosemary, Mint, Chives, Thyme (many of you have asked “If I could save time in a bottle…..”  Thanks to the singer Jim Croci we can.  Again, I pulled your leg.), Basil, Marjoram, Parsley, Oregano, and Sage (no, it doesn’t make you wiser).

Now, lets take a look at herbs rival–spices.  Spices are obtained from roots, flowers, fruits, seeds and bark.  Spices were originally native to warm, tropical climates (there are some exceptions and your home work assignment is to find some and let me know what they are).  Spices are often more potent and stronger than herbs and thus used in small amounts than herbs.  Finally, some spices are used not only for taste but as preservatives (again–look that up and let me know your answers).

Some common spices that you all know are:  Cinnamon from the bark of the Cinnamon tree, Ginger root, Cloves which are a flower bud, Saffron as you know is the stigma on Saffron Crocus, Nutmeg which is a seed, Cumin is a seed, and finally, Vanilla which is the undeveloped fruit of an orchid. 

Hopefully, we are all clear now on the differences between herbs and spices.  I do want to issue a written word of thanks to the Iowa State University Extension Office publication, “Horticulture and Home Pest News” for their wonderful articles about herbs and spices.  I relied on them for most of my information.  The humor, though, is entirely my own. 🙂

As our world has grown smaller (not literally, of course) we see even more herbs and spices becoming more common.  A sampling of these wonderful new spices include:

Espazote – An Herb known as Mexican Tea.  It tastes a bit like licorice. I find it definitely powerful but not so licorice like.  Maybe I have a horrible palate and can’t admit it.

Aji Escabeche Powder – A Peruvian Chili Powder.  It seems a bit fruity, has some heat and maybe a citrus hint.  Don’t trust my palate, however.  Try it for yourself.

Ajwain Seeds or Ajowan Seeds – A seed from Ethiopia.  Haven’t tried this one myself, but I read it tastes like Cumin.  Sure, and alligator tastes like chicken.  I know what you’re thinking!

Chia Tung Hing Cassia – I chose this one because the name was cool.  It is Chinese Cinnamon or Cassia bark.  It is a slightly warm spice with a bit of sweetness.

Hibiscus Powder – Dried Hibiscus flower is one of my favorites.  It is used in East Asian cooking.  I find it quite tart, almost lemony, and use it in some of my custom mixes.  It is often used as a food coloring due to its deep red color.  It is definitely one of my “happy” spices.  I do want to add, by the by, that it makes a wonderful red skin dye when mixed with water–all sorts of uses with this mixture to be sure.  We’ll take about this late, late at night some other time.

Juniper Berries – Hey, we have those right here in the good old Pacific Northwest.  O.K. most places have some sort of Juniper, but I’m proud of this one for sure.  Juniper berries are really tart, with a bitter end note on the back of my tongue.  I swear there is a little sweetness there towards the first frost, but I could be wrong (I have been wrong before–honest).  I once read that hunters and Native Americans used Juniper berries in old days to flavor and dry smoke their game. 

Fenugreek – Also has been called Bird’s Foot.  I prefer the term Fenugreek as it just doesn’t make me think of something walking in chicken poop or carrying the Avian Flu virus.  I leave it up to you which name you prefer.  Fenugreek is used in many spice blends, but mainly Indian cooking.  It is a very strong spice, slightly sweet, with what I call an after taste of celery with a bit of bitterness.

Not to leave out our friend the herb, here is a short list of some unique herbs used in cooking in many cultures of the world.

Acai Berry

Acerola Berry extract

Bloodroot (Wow, so that’s how they make blood pudding.) 

Butchers Broom (This sure doesn’t bring up pleasant images in my mind.  How about you?)

Shavegrass (Sounds sharp.)

Gravel root ( A bit of a rustic crunch to this one.)

False Unicorn Root (As opposed to what–True Unicorn Root.)

Schizandia Berry

Wormwood (Ummmm–a truly evil herb.)

Cramp Bark (I know just what I’m fixing for my mother-in-law this Christmas)

Chaparral Leaf (If you can’t remember the High Chaparral and Blue ask your folks about this leg puller.)

Patchouli (Oops we’re right back to smoking Herb.  Great circular writing, huh?)

So, we near the end of todays blog.  I just want to say–BE CREATIVE.  Personally, I like taking long walks in the woods near our home.  There are so many plants and trees and I don’t have any idea what they are.  But, I hope to discover the next big “thing” in cooking herbs/spices.  So, I pick those leaves, dig those roots, and scrape that bark.  Then, when I get home I prepare a feast of a dinner for my husband using my new found leaves, bark and roots.  It’s the least I can do, you know!  He always seems satisfied.  I watch the him closely from first bite through the late evening.  Flatulence and excessive burping is never a good sign nor is frequent visits to restroom.  Grasping of the chest and wheezing while passing out should probably warrant a 911 call.  When these symptoms manifest I cut the herb/spice from my list of potentials.  To make a long story short, if my husband survives past midnight without any effects I try out the meal.  I’ve yet to find my new big “thing,” but I’ve learned a great deal about the gastric distress caused by the use of un-named plants, bark, flowers, etc.  But, in the name of gastronomical progress a few select individuals must push ahead of the pack, breaking trail so to speak, to a new world of herbs and spices.  (I’m pulling your leg again.)  SPICE LOVERS UNITE!

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