According to my mother, I loved spicy food when I was a baby. After that, I am not sure what happened. I went from eating all kinds of foods, to peanut butter & jelly and Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. I wasn't much for adventurous foods when I was younger. If I could see a piece of onion, that was a no go. Thankfully, with time, my taste buds have developed and matured, (even if only slightly). On a field trip many years ago with my oldest daughter, we went to a middle age (or directly translated) an ancient village in Sweden. Back then, they did not have the local grocery store to buy the spices they needed or wanted to season their food with. I was surprised to learn that they did use thyme when they cooked their pork. I was amazed that it was so good. No salt, pepper, or any other spices. Just thyme. I was super impressed. I am happy however that there is an abundance of flavors, spices, herbs, peppers, flowers, oils etc. to season our food with these days.

My dad was a big fan of BBQ. I do not know how he did it, but anything he put over an open flame tasted delightful. My mother might not have been as adventurous on the grill, but she was just as talented at the stove. I have to this day never had Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes better than hers.

The more time I spent in the kitchen, the more I started experimenting with different flavors. Garlic & butter on tortellini was a HUGE hit. I made it often. My mom put parsley on it, but I skipped the green stuff and just enjoyed it “au natural”. With salt and pepper of course. Every time I made this delicious dish, I felt I was quite the gourmet… (Note: I was young.)

In my late teens, I went to Sweden to visit my grandmother over a summer. She and my grandfather had a restaurant and I got to help in the kitchen. Tasting was my favorite chore. The sauces… Holy moly the sauces. I loved them.

Truffle and wine sauce was my absolute favorite. I had no idea what a truffle was, but the sauce was divine over a rare piece of filet minion with raw fried potatoes and a chunk of garlic butter. I was in heaven. Little did I know it was a super expensive fungus that pigs hunted for in Italy and France. Gross… If I had known that I would never have tasted it. But I did, and for that I am happy.

Anyways, back to the spices. I have a hard time choosing which cultural spices I prefer. Not much beats Italian/Greek in my opinion, garlic, basil, olive oil, oregano, citrus, mmm. But then there is curry and masala and cardamom and cinnamon, and cumin and cilantro and sesame, and chili. My mouth is watering just writing about them all.

I cannot choose a favorite. I love them all, depending on my mood. And the time of day. I am not big on garlic for breakfast, but some basil and sour cream in my scrambled egg, OH Yeah!

The older I got, the more flavors I tried, the more advanced meals I would prepare and the more confident I became in mixing spices, ingredients, and flavors.

And then there is bouillon, broth, stock, fond (a thicker reduced version of bouillon), reductions. The sky is the limit when it comes to adding flavor to your favorite dishes. You can make your own easily with veggie scraps and herbs, a little wine, some chicken, beef, or other animal bones are great also. Personally, I love pork bones and fat to make my own fond, with fresh veggies and a lot of time (not the herb, but the process of the earth rotating around the sun). But even just using the remnants of spices and oil in the frying pan after searing a pork chop will give a lovely flavor to your sauces.

Just imagine how much better a slice of bacon makes your burger… With a sliver of red onion, and some aioli mayo or Caesar crème...

Ok, getting off course here… but it just goes to show you how a little of this and a pinch of that can make a huge difference in the taste of your meal.

In the upcoming weeks I will be introducing products, gadgets, and ingredients to test and compare. One of my favorites will be the almighty salt... Stay tuned.

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Starting this spring..spring... 1. Cooking workshops 2. Menus will now be visible through the blog as well. 3. New product line