Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shopping Spree

My mom use to go on shopping sprees for shoes. I remember her telling me, if my foot can fit in the shoe, then I just had to have it! LOL!! Well, I'm not quite that bad, but I do have a "thing" for spices. I don't have a "spice rack", I have a "spice cabinet" - yep 8 slide out drawers devoted to just spices!! I guess it's somehow genetic - oh well!
So last weekend I found myself with about an hour of free time - what to do? No kids, no laundry, no emergencies - I was basically helpless for a few minutes! But then it came to me: Penzey's Spices!! I beelined over to their store and for the next 45 minutes I roamed around studying all the unusual herbs and spices in those pretty little glass containers - I was beside myself!!
One of my favorite things to do is find an unusual spice, then begin "googling" it to find recipes. You'd be surprised what you can find and the tangents it will lead you on. Granted, this is only done when I have time (LOL!!), am bored (ha! never a dull moment around here!), or just plain lazy and don't want to do housework (you're best bet!!). Here are a few quirky spices I'm looking forward to working with in the next few months:
This was one of my more unusual finds. The back of the bottle says to simmer 1/4 cup of seeds in 1/2 cup corn oil or shortening for ten minutes, filter out seeds, then store oil in a clean jar. Gives a natural yellow color and flavoring to rice, seafood, fried chicken, fish, stews and casseroles. Here's another one that is a little different. The bottle reads, "Use for grilling or braising pork, beef and rabbit. Also for making poultry stews with wine, meat pies, and pork sausages. Add to white sauces, cream soups, and egg dishes." Well, I doubt I'll be fixing up any rabbit soon, but I did like something different to add to cream based soups and egg dishes, which I make a lot.
Exactly why do I think I need two types of paprika? Good question! I like the Smoked Spanish Paprika for grilling whole split chickens (I'll try to get to that post sometime soon!), and the traditional Hungarian Sweet Paprika for any dishes calling for "paprika". The sweet paprika doesn't have as much "bite" to it and gives a more subtle taste. I know many people haven't heard of Fleur de Sel, which translates from the French to "Flower of the Salt". It is a specialty salt mined by hand during a short period of time each year off the French Coast. Sometimes you can get it in different colors (pinks, sometimes a shade of blue - very rare), but mostly the white, which really has a tinge of gray. It is a wonderful salt to add at the very end of cooking, just before serving. This is not a salt to add to your cooking, since it doesn't hold up very well. One recipe I have that uses Fleur de Sel is a Christmas carmels recipe that is very good. Once August comes around, and we start thinking "back to school", I get a good hankering for bratwurst. No, I don't make my own, like this seasoning suggests. While you can make your own with this, I like to use it to make a broth to boil my bratwurst in first. Bratwurst seasoning and some fennel seeds, simmering in a pot of apple cider, make a great broth for the traditional bratwurst. Simmer about 20 minutes, then drain and grill your bratwurst. They plump up and have a delicious flavor!
Yep, pizza seasoning and pasta sprinkle - is there really a difference? Well, I think so. The pizza seasoning is a little stronger and is best sprinkled on an actual pizza, just before baking. The pasta sprinkle will be used to make my spaghetti/pizza sauces. After doing some research, I've discovered the best way to make these sauces is to first cook down my ripe tomatoes into almost a paste and freeze. When I want to make a spaghetti/pizza sauce, I'll use some of the cooked down tomatoes with this sprinkle and add ground beef, sausage, etc. I think I'll be using a lot of sprinkle this winter!! Here are some dried Ancho Chili Peppers. For several years now I've wanted to enter a local chili cook off, but just haven't been able to. Well, this is going to be my year - and these chilies are going to be my secret weapon! I'm going to dress my boys up in ponchos, sombreros and give them some morocco's to dance around my table - I'm a "shoe-in"!! LOL!! I know, dehydrated red and green bell pepper flakes don't seem unusual, but this photo doesn't do them justice. These are simply stunning!! Add a little water and it's magic - you've got wonderful red and green bell peppers, already diced up, to add to meatloaves, stews, you name it. They are even good in salads, just not as crunchy. My husband doesn't like green peppers, but he likes these. I think it's because the flavor is more intense and not as watery. In addition, I got some specialty salts, taco mixes, and some rib rubs. Basically, if it was a spice, I bought it! LOL!! I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in my family!! ;)
***Tomorrows Post: Paula Deen's Broccoli Salad and a post about my home grown broccoli!***

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you post tomorrow's recipe. It certainly brings me back for more. I just might borrow your idea if you do no object.