Add Spice to Your Food Storage

The old saying that "variety is the spice of life" can be turned around to express the truth that spices give variety to our life by making our cooking more interesting and tasty, thus allowing us to use many of the same basic ingredients to produce totally different dishes.

Here are some products that will spice up your home storage and daily cooking.

Ground Allspice. This sweet spice is useful in sweet and savory dishes alike, and very popular in German, Middle-Eastern, and Caribbean cuisine. It has a warm, woody flavor that tastes like a blend of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Allspice is the unripened berry of a small evergreen tree, sun-dried and ground. It’s excellent in fish and shellfish dishes, soups, pickles, chutney, roasted meats, jerk chicken, sausages, and desserts.

Cinnamon. This time-honored favorite of the sweet spices has been used for centuries to relieve stomach pains and gas. In recent years, studies have shown it to be capable of improving blood glucose and cholesterol levels in people with diabetes. Made from the inner bark of several tropical trees of the genus Cinnamomum, this warm and inviting spice literally makes our mouths water as we think of cinnamon buns, cinnamon toast, cinnamon-flavored candies (and candles), baked apples and pies, pumpkin pie, and spice cake. In some cultures, such as Greek, cinnamon is also used in savory dishes. For a warm and comforting Mexican treat, add a dash of cinnamon to a cup of hot chocolate and top with a dollop of whipped cream. The most popular cinnamon products are premium Korintji cinnamon and cinnamon sugar.

Garlic. Available in many forms, including minced, pepper, powder, or salt, this king of the allium family (which also includes onions, shallots, and leeks) has possible health benefits as well as the well-known savory flavor it lends to Italian dishes, meats, beans, soups, and salads.

For a savory oven pot roast, place any cut of beef roast in a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle your roast with garlic powder and black pepper (or a garlic pepper blend). Top with a few onion slices (or 1 teaspoon minced dehydrated onion) and a bay leaf. Add one cup of water to bottom of pan, cover tightly and bake for 3-4 hours in a 275-degree oven. Toward the end of cooking, check to see if water has evaporated and add a little more if needed. Serve when fork-tender. (You may add vegetables to cook with the roast.)

For a daring and delicious topping for cooked dried beans, reconstitute 2 teaspoons dried minced onion and 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic in a small amount of water. Then add 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, and a dash of chili powder. Mix and sprinkle over cooked dried beans such as pintos, small red beans, or white lima beans. (Fresh garlic and onion can also be used.)

Enchilada Seasoning. This is intended to be mixed with tomato sauce and water and simmered to make a delicious sauce for enchiladas. Think about this option: add 1 tablespoon of the enchilada seasoning, 1 teaspoon dried minced onion, and 1 tablespoon dried bell pepper pieces to one cup of rice as it cooks (or two cups instant rice). Sounds like a yummy addition to your Mexican-style meal!

Italian Seasoning. This is an excellent blend to season pasta sauces or sprinkle on top of Italian bread as it bakes or on slices of garlic toast. This versatile seasoning also goes well in Minestrone, Italian wedding soup, salad dressings, and on roasting chicken. Another option is premade spaghetti seasoning.

Montreal Herb Seasoning. Enjoy grilled steak or chicken? There are varieties of this popular blend—one for steak and beef, and one for poultry and pork. In addition to grilling, this spice gives delicious flavor to broiled, fried, or roasted meats. You may also wish to try Steak Seasoning Supreme, a powdered rub that gives a savory grilled flavor to your meats.

Chicken Broth (vegetarian). This powdered product can be used in any recipe calling for chicken broth. Use it to flavor rice as it cooks, to flavor either fresh-cooked or dehydrated mashed potatoes, and many other dishes. Just one tablespoon mixes with a cup of hot water to provide an instant and versatile ingredient.

Beef Broth (vegetarian). This is useful in any recipe that calls for beef broth. Use it to flavor soups, stews, or gravies. For a wonderful French onion soup, try this recipe: Sautee in a heavy pan 3-4 sliced onions in butter, stirring almost constantly to avoid scorching. When they are limp and yellowish, add one heaping tablespoon flour and stir to coat, and add a liberal dash of black pepper. Quickly add six cups of beef broth and one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for about half an hour. Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Serve over a slice of lightly toasted French bread and a slice of Swiss (or Mozzarella, Provolone, Jack or other white cheese). Cheese should melt—if it doesn’t, place under broiler for a few seconds. Enjoy!

Dasher Seasoning. Need to avoid salt but still want tasty food? Try this blend of spices and seasonings that are guaranteed to bring out the flavor in meat, fish, salads, dressings, and sauces.

Seafood Blend. This tasty blend of lemon juice, garlic, and salt will enhance the flavor of any fish or seafood dish you may serve. You may also want to try lemon pepper.

Remember to have your favorite spices on hand so you can add variety to the life of your food storage. They really will make a difference.

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