NEWSLETTER: Winter 2001

June 01, 2001 posted in Newsletters

It’s the Season for Snuggling Up

It’s the season for snuggling up, sipping hot chocolate by the fire, hot water bottles and all that. (Those of you in the tropics will have to use your imagination!) The nice thing about winter is that all those delicious, comforting casseroles, curries, tagines and stews not only warm you on the inside, but the oven warms your house as well! Remember that putting something in the oven to slow-cook takes very little preparation time, and if you’re well organized, you can even do two different meals while the oven is on – one for now, one for later! And, if you like, enough for two meals in each one, so you find yourself pretty well set for much of the coming week.

Some Easy Cooking Ideas

While most families have favourites called something like “Grandma’s chicken legs”, it is always refreshing to add to the repertoire, and we’ve made that easy by having recipes on the backs of many of our packs. For instance, wonderful blends like Persian Spice, Berbere, Ras el Hanout, Tagine Spice, Curry Mix with Whole Seeds, and Sambar Powder all carry recipes which are ideal for winter cooking.ous amount into a bought bhuja mix. It’s a great transformation – try it!

Other blends don’t have recipes, but they’re so easy, coat oxtail segments with Baharat before slow cooking in a covered casserole dish with vegetables, add some Bouquet Garni or Mixed Herbs to your own particular version of “Grandma’s chicken legs,” or just rub some Crusting Mix onto beef, chicken or lamb for roasting. Lots of vegetarians like to add Chipotle Chilli to their soups for a delicious smokey, “almost-bacon-bones” flavour with a moderate chilli warmth.

Winter Warming Drinks

Winter is also a time for sipping warming drinks. Last year we created a blend of Mulling Spices (with a recipe on the label) which is an aromatic, sweet and fragrant mix of whole pieces of allspice, cassia, ginger, cinnamon, mandarin peel and cloves. You don’t have to be apres ski to enjoy mulled wine! We recently had a weekend lunch barbecue, and when the sun fell below the trees and the evening chill started to bite, we retreated inside for mulled wine – no-one complained!

Organic Herbs & Spices

We’re often asked about organic herbs and spices. Certain things, like our delicious Australian-grown lemon thyme and those more-precious-than-gold Mexican vanilla beans, are organically grown. Many of the other spices, while not certified organic, are grown without the use of chemicals, simply because the farmers are too poor to be able to afford them. From our point of view, organic origins for herbs and spices have less impact than for whole foods … if you add a teaspoon (say 5 grams) of spice to 500 grams of whatever makes up the bulk of your meal, that works out at 1% of one portion of your meal. Is it worth agonizing over? It’s not like, say, an organic apple, where 100% of your snack (or 80% of your dessert) is organic! What we look for in our products is optimum quality and cleanliness.

“Fresh is Best” … or is it?

“Fresh is Best” … or is it? Growing your own herbs is certainly satisfying, and nothing gives more pleasure than bringing a handful of fresh herbs straight from the garden to your kitchen. There are certain applications where your fresh herbs will shine. Think of parsley in scrambled eggs; chillies and coriander leaves in Asian stir-fries; chopped savory with green beans; a dill garnish on smoked salmon; basil leaves with tomatoes; cress, rocket, mizuna, Italian parsley, and lots more in a garden-fresh green salad.

Your fresh-picked herbs will disappoint you, though, in certain other applications. Try making a cup of peppermint tea with fresh peppermint, and you’ll find it has almost no flavour. If you add handfuls of fresh oregano, marjoram and basil to your gently simmering pasta sauce, you’ll probably find that by the time the ingredients are cooked, the flavour of the herbs has cooked out. Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavour which lasts throughout the cooking time. If you want fresh basil in your pasta sauce, add it only in the last 5 minutes of cooking so that you can enjoy the full benefit of its wonderful flavour. While roasting your leg of lamb on a bed of fresh rosemary stalks is appealing to the eye and certainly adds wonderfully to the aroma, a quick rub of dried ground rosemary prior to cooking will boost the flavour.

Cooking Suggestions from our Customers

Thank you to those who have shared food ideas with us … here are a couple of good ones. Sprinkle dukkah into your lentil soup for added flavour – Traci’s mum swears by it! Traci also makes up the Jerk Seasoning marinade as per our label, then adds chopped red and green capsicum and cubed chicken, stir-frying until cooked. She serves it on rice with a yoghurt accompaniment. We’ve tried it too, and she’s right, it’s a nice quick, easy and tasty meal.

Next Spice Tour

We’ve had several enquiries about our next Spice Discovery Tour. The next one will be in January 2003, and as soon as we have more details in place, we’ll let you know. The average size of a group is between 8 and 14 people, so it’s a comfortable environment with on-ground travelling being done in a medium-sized air-conditioned bus. A recent reunion of people from the last two trips resulted in a jolly day with lots of wonderful curries and happy reminiscences.

Aroma’s to Make You Swoon

A journalist asked Herbie recently what are the aromas most likely to make our customers swoon. The first product that came to mind was our Black Limes, with their exotic, complex, rich yet limey fragrance. But after that, it was the blends such as Ras el Hanout, Persian Spice and Chermoula which headed the list. That set us wondering – why is a blend more appealing to the senses than a single smell? Well, why would most people prefer to wear a Chanel or Guerlain perfume or cologne rather than a little rosemary oil or orange blossom water? The answer is in the complexity of a blend – the marrying of compatible elements, creating a layering of aromas and a depth and body to the fragrance that is impossible to achieve with one element alone. It brings to mind an occasion some years ago when a customer smelt Ras el Hanout for the first time and exclaimed, “Oh, I want to dab it behind my ears!” What better complement could a spice blender desire?

Sumac Now in Large Pack

In response to demand, we’re now packing the ever-popular Sumac in a large pack so that you won’t run out so frequently. Now you can put it with your breakfast eggs, your lunch-time cottage cheese, and your evening seafood!

Happy Spicing

Herbie and Liz

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