NEWSLETTER SPRING 2017
Looking back over the Spring newsletter of last year, we see it’s an entire year since we had to make our True Blue Aussie spice kit unavailable due to difficulty in accessing some of the Australian native herbs and spices. Sadly, the situation is still not good, so during the past year, we have circumvented the problems by using what’s available to create two new Australian blends: Bush Tucker Rub (a 30g pack is $8.50), and Aussie Barbecue Spice Blend (a 30g pack is $5.20).
We’ve been so sad to have no spice kit with an Australian focus that we have re-examined the True Blue Aussie kit contents and recipes, and have returned it to our range of $35.00 kits in time for Christmas. Our revamped True Blue Aussie kit contains Desert Oak ground, Lemon Myrtle, Strawberry Gum, Native Lemon Pepper and Aussie Barbecue spice mix. Having recently spent a weekend at Uluru, we are enthused with all things indigenous, including the wonderful flavours of Australia’s own unique herbs and spices.
On the subject of difficulty of supply within Australia, sometimes the Australian lifestyle is just too good to encourage basic hard farming work. This was the case several years ago when a producer of top quality lemon thyme decided he’d rather be surfing on NSW’s lovely northern beaches. We have had good-intentioned folk phone us saying, “We’ve just retired and want to grow herbs on our 5-acre property. What should we do first?” Our immediate response is to suggest they really examine their lifestyle and decide whether they want to be farmers! Growing herbs is just as much work as growing peanuts or potatoes, if not more, and drying a clean, top-quality end product is not for the faint-hearted. We have been proud to bring you some truly beautiful Australian-grown herbs in recent years, and have taken pleasure in knowing that we have been helping Australian growers establish a good and growing business. Much to our dismay, one of our suppliers has just let us know that they are no longer going to supply us, so the rug has been well and truly pulled from under our feet. Did someone once say, life wasn’t meant to be easy?
Chermoula Spice mix – particularly good with pumpkin, carrot, lamb.
Berbere Spice mix – absolutely essential with mushrooms, good with chicken too.
Mexican Spice mix – transforms a can of baked beans, or any beans at all.
Sumac – absolutely essential with any salad, a lamb fillet, or roasted tomatoes.
Ever wondered what our Balmain and Rozelle Spice is all about? What kind of name is that, anyway? It was developed for Tourism NSW, who were promoting the Balmain-Rozelle area and wanted something special for their media launch. While we had our spice shop in Rozelle, it had a sort of raison d’etre, but as the link grows more tenuous with time, we have decided to re-name this special spice blend Sydney Spice. We feel this name brings to mind sunshine, seafood, summer, and the easy-going lifestyle to which this blend so aptly applies. It’s been a huge favourite over the years, and if you’re already a devotee, you will still find it on the website as Balmain and Rozelle Spice, as well as being listed under its new name of Sydney Spice. How to use it? Our rule of thumb is, anything pale in colour, be it potato, fish, veal, chicken, or prawns. Just add it as you cook – it will transform potato or any vegetable soup in an instant!
When you run out of the premium sage, oregano and thyme that we will eventually be unable to supply, you’ll be wanting to remember just how to dry your own home-grown leaves. It’s easy, particularly if you dry leaves with a robust structure – for example, you’ll have more success with thyme, rosemary, oregano and sage than you will with coriander leaves, parsley or chives. Pick the leaves before the day becomes too hot, but late enough that any dew has dried off the leaves. Remove the leaves from the stem, as the stem holds too much moisture and your leaves will take forever to dry thoroughly. Look for a warm, dry, dark area, such as a cupboard that houses an electric water heater, and spread a few sheets of newspaper out. Spread the leaves over the newspaper in a thin layer and ruffle them about with your fingers every couple of days so that no leaves are stuck together, trapping moisture. Depending on the weather, your leaves should be ready to store in an airtight container within a few weeks.
Recently we sent a message to our Facebook followers to ask for suggestions for a new spice kit. Lots of the suggestions are already covered by the kits we already have: Novice Cooks, see Kids in the Kitchen; Top of the Range, see simply the best; Camp Oven, see Happy Campers. The subject that kept appearing was slow cooking, so we have taken your requests seriously and you can now find wonderful, warming, comforting spices and recipes in the new kit, Cook it Slow Spice Kit – for your brick oven, kitchen oven and slow cooker. It’s in our $35.00 range in time for your Christmas shopping, and contains six blends: Baharat, Tempero Baiano, Bouquet Garni, Mole Poblano, Curry Mix and Ras el Hanout. We have loved preparing the recipes for this!
What else is new at Herbie’s? If we had introduced a Turmeric Chai mix soon after we opened in 1997, people would have wondered what it was all about. But the time is right for it now, as everyone is excited about the health benefits of a regular intake of turmeric. Research has shown that the complete spice has more beneficial effect than curcumin extracts, and we have developed a delicious chai mix which contains Alleppey turmeric, cassia (baker’s cinnamon), ginger, cardamom, pepper, fennel, cloves and licorice root. No extra ingredients – just spices – so good made with milk or your milk substitute and sweetened to taste if necessary. We’ve also used this blend mixed with Greek yoghurt to coat a whole cauliflower which we roasted in our brick oven … just magic … and a friend adds it to his green smoothie every morning. It’s just $6.20 for a 50 gram pack, and once you really love it, you can get a 250 gram pack for $22.00.
Herbie is hitting the road in October, visiting Rosebud, Hamilton, Warrnambool, Highton, Shepparton and Albury. For more details, click on the Latest Events tab on our website homepage.
Eat well, be well. Happy spicing! Herbie & Liz