Spices 101: Storing Spices (Recipe: Black Pepper Shrimp)

If you’ve been following our Spices 101 series, you may have had some spice myths debunked, and also may have decided to invest in quality spices.  Today, we’ll learn how to store your quality spices properly so that they’ll maintain their maximum freshness and potency.

It may come as a surprise to you, but a decorative spice rack conveniently situated above the stove is not doing your spices any favors. Sure the row of little glass jars are pretty to look at and the rack itself may be a space saver, but with all the heat, steam, gas and fallout from your cooking, your spices are no better off than the Icelandic cattle living in the path of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano spew.

OK, maybe a little better.

Here’s how to store everything from anise to za’atar.

What Your Spices Should Avoid

No sauna’s (or volcanoes) please! When storing spices, your biggest enemies are:

  • Air
  • Light
  • Heat
  • Humidity

What comes to mind? Can you think of someplace that’s airtight, dark, cool and dry? Read on! [Read more…]

Spices 101: What You Need to Know About Buying Spices

One might think that learning which spice to add to which dish is one of the first things you would be taught in Spices 101, but they would be wrong.

Learning to source and purchase fresh, quality products is paramount when learning to cook well with spices. Would you make a fruit salad with moldy fruit? Spread rancid butter on fresh baked bread? Of course not.  Likewise, you should aim to use the best spices and herbs possible, for reasons we will discuss below.

This is the second post in our Spices 101 series. In my first post, I debunked common spice myths and pointed out how proper selection and addition of good quality spices  to a dish can elevate the flavor of a dish with little effort and minimal cost. Next week we will talk about how proper storage is important for preserving your newly acquired quality spices, followed by how to grind whole spices and finally,  learn what spices to stock your pantry with.

For now, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly facts about buying spices. [Read more…]

Three Recipes to Keep in Your Pantry

Unpredictability is to be expected when you have a family. No matter how organized and steady YOU are, the rest of the family doesn’t always follow suit. As parents, we have to learn to be flexible and roll with the punches.

Mealtimes can be a harried affair when things don’t go as planned and the run to the grocery store has yet to transpire or you haven’t had even a moment to think about what your family is going to eat for dinner. Those are the days when you wish your fairy god-mother would pay you a visit and make a meal magically appear before you.

Fortunately you can have the next best thing. You can be your own fairy god-mother by stowing away recipes that will be there at a moments notice, to whip up in a jiffy and satisfy your hungry family. It’s as easy as picking a couple of recipes made from ingredients that you always have on hand.

Let’s look at a couple of ways you can find some pantry meals that are tailored to your family. That way you can make sure these items are always available for when those crazy days arrive. [Read more…]

A Guidemap for Finding Real Salt

All photos by Shannon
We cook with salt every day and if you’re not cooking with it, then someone else is adding salt in your food for you. Maybe the wrong kind.

Most of the discussions surrounding salt are negative. We often hear about lowering our intake levels, but then aren’t we missing the deeper question: “what salt should we be eating?” In fact, there are quite a few professionals who argue for the health benefits of the right kind of salt.

In attempting to eat a real food diet, it makes sense to find the healthiest form of this everyday ingredient.

So what is a healthy salt? [Read more…]

Head of the Class: Eco-Friendly Lunch Containers for a Smarter Planet

I know that Simple Bites readers will be interested in Mariah’s post on Simple Kids yesterday. Even if you don’t have children of your own, you can take advantage of these excellent eco-friendly lunch container ideas anytime you need to pack your own lunch. Mariah also give tips on what to pack!

From her post:

We decided to shed our plastic baggies and set out to investigate eco-friendly lunch containers. As a family, we learned a lot along the way and feel great about the choices we made for both the planet and our bodies. [Read more…]