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Stores of food staples are meaningless without the proper add-in ingredients. Remember, you need to be prepared to provide meals for your family that are as “normal” as possible in order to help alleviate the stress of change and chaos and to literally provide comfort. This is why I’m sharing with you my “never be without” spice list. This list is actually in addition to what I hope would be standard in everyone’s kitchen such as salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, Tabasco sauce, soy sauce, barbeque sauce, Worchester sauce, Italian seasoning, caraway seed, and All Spice.
Liquid Smoke: This powerful little ingredient is a great addition to a pot of beans and a stew or soup including meats. Use it in your barbeque sauce, as part of a marinade, or in a stuffing. You get a wonderful smoke flavor without having to take the time to smoke the meats or beans. It marries especially well with pork—and even SPAM. A tablespoon of this goes a long way. Some folks may get a headache from it though, just as some do a red wine. So try it on your family prior to stocking up on it.
Chinese 5-Spice: If you’ve ever eaten those famous Chinese Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang’s restaurant, you’ve not doubt had a taste of this yummy flavor mix. It’s amazing on spare ribs, chicken, tofu, and vegetables and is a great substitute for salt. Recently I was on a high protein, low carb eating regime and I never would have made it had it not been for this delightful spice. I recently sautéed shrimp in this delightful mixture and served it atop a bed of spinach. Mmmmmm… delicious!
Ginger: The odd looking ginger root is nothing short of a piece of heaven in my book. Growing ginger is actually quite easy as well. Simple rough up a piece of the root and plant it in a shaded area. It’s used often in meat dishes, vegetable dishes, and even as the key ingredient in a broth or a tea. It also has a convenient anti-nausea factor to it as well. You can easily store the root in the freezer for long periods of time. I also buy mine in a paste form, found in the fresh vegetable section of the store. A little ginger goes a long way and it also works well in concert with garlic. I use it to season turkey and chicken burgers. Create a drizzle of it combined with soy sauce and a touch of honey and you’ve got a great dressing to revive even the most dull of vegetables.
Montreal Steak Seasoning: Don’t let the name fool you. It’s definitely not just for steaks. I’ve used it on fried potatoes and chicken quite successfully. It’s a perfect mix for a brisket or hamburgers as well. Just a dash in an omelet also adds the right amount of spice.
Johnny’s Garlic Bread Seasoning: Again, don’t be misled by the name. I use this spice on salads, chicken, potatoes, omelets, as well as my “secret ingredient” on garlic bread. It also goes great with deviled eggs. I also love it coated on grilled zucchini pieces. Yum!
Enchilada Seasoning: Rather than purchasing this in the little envelopes that may or may not contain sugar and may or may not season my meats appropriately, I save money and the hassle of guessing by purchasing this in a jar as shown in the picture. Not only does it work well in your typical enchilada concoctions, I’ve used it successfully in flavoring my homemade tortillas and pizza sauces as well.
Taco Seasoning: Again, something that I will never buy in an envelope again. This is just far too handy to be stored in any other way. Just a shake in a soup or an omelet or a casserole, and Voila! You’ve got something a little different that begs for a dollop of sour creams and some black olives!
Ranch Dressing Seasoning: Since I’m on a roll with the boycotting of envelopes, let me introduce you to this handy-dandy spice as well—but in a jar. I love it in dips, on vegetables (especially corn on the cob or corn out of the can) in buttered noodles, in a creamy pizza sauce, rice and bean burritos, and it’s my “not-so-secret-anymore” ingredient to my homemade mashed potatoes. Even if you have to use the boxed or packaged kinds of mashed potatoes, a bit of this seasoning will add a sense of freshness to the dish. That’s one thing I’m constantly on guard about… to be sure that my family never suffers from “appetite fatigue.”
Curry: Most folks aren’t aware that curry powder is actually traditionally a blend of about 20 spices, herbs and seeds. Among those most commonly used are cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel seed, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg, red and black pepper, poppy and sesame seeds, saffron, tamarind and turmeric (the latter is what gives curried dishes their characteristic yellow color). When combined with cream and a dash of garlic, you’ve suddenly got an elegant sauce to put atop various meats including seafood and ham. It’s also a fantastic seasoning for fresh vegetables AND fruits as well, including apples, bananas, passion fruit. Contrary to most opinions, curry in and of itself is not spicy unless you use the red or Madras versions. It simply has some power behind the taste, so a little does a lot to your rice, meatloaf, pasta, or barley dish.
Cumin: (powdered) What’s a chili without a sprinkle of cumin in it? Sure. But have you tried it on lamb or pork? It’s also amazing in lentil dishes and on roasted potatoes. Yum! I even put it in a fried rice including SPAM recently and it was dang good! It’s a great substitute for black pepper which is how it was used primarily by the Greeks and Romans for centuries. As an alternative use, it’s been successfully used as an anti-septic, as well as an aid for digestive and stomach disorders. Cumin is an excellent source of iron and helps the body to absorb nutrients better. It’s also been used successfully to treat coughing and pneumonia and is also a natural diuretic. A paste made from cumin seeds and peppermint oil placed on the abdomen is said to relieve abdominal pains and liver disorders. It can also relax muscles and prevent muscle cramps. It’s even been said to help mothers produce more breast milk. So bring it on, right?
Mrs. Dash: Frankly I rarely use salt for my regular meals. I primarily use Mrs. Dash even on my cottage cheese and as a seasoning in vegetable dips
Johnny’s Seasoning Salt: Anytime I can avoid just plain salt and use a seasoning salt instead, I’m all for it. And this is sold in bulk at Costco and my family has come to LOVE it… on meats, seafoods, vegetables, fresh salads, deviled eggs, you name it. Yum yum.
Salad Supreme: Other than using it on the obvious salads, I also use this on my fresh baked rolls. In fact sometimes, I even roll out the dough to the shape of a bread stick, dip it in melted butter, and then sprinkle them all over with this Salad Supreme mix. I’m always being asked for my “recipe” for my breadsticks. There you go folks. The secret’s out. I use salad seasoning on my bread. Ha!
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