So many of us are overlooking the easiest thing we can do to start our journey toward good food at home, enjoying cooking and starting to garden.
One thing can lift your mood and improve your food.
What is this magic, you ask?
Stop using lousy herbs and spices.
It may sound simplistic but follow me for a minute.
If your spices are in plastic jars, over six months old and all the green ones smell the same, you are guilty of a crime against food. Those stale bottles of dust are degrading the flavor of your food by adding an unpleasant flavor that taints the other ingredients.
I am not saying you shouldn’t have bottles spices and herbs, we have a few ourselves, but quality matters more than most realize. Get high quality, not stuff that has already been on the store shelves for half a year. Keep the stuff you aren’t using sealed and in the freezer.
We had some of those spices but our epiphany came when we opened a bag of paprika from Monterey Bay. As the smell hit us, the mister and I made eye contact and immediately agreed we were never using stale or poor quality herbs and spices in our food again. It was transformative for our kitchen.
Then we went a step further and made a real effort to grow some ourselves.
You need to do this.
Herbs are generally easy to grow. Rosemary, in fact, prefers total neglect. I doted on and subsequently killed 5, count ‘em, rosemary plants before ignoring one enough for her to thrive and, HELLO, she’s a beast.
Fresh herbs completely make a dish. I cannot stomach that red capped, dried oregano or basil anymore. It might as well be 4 year old hay shake.
The smell of fresh picked herbs and spices is an amazing mood booster. Sometimes I just go grab some and crush them up in my palm and inhale all I can of the verdancy, the spice, the warm intensity…it’s that good.
Not really into gardening? You can still grow a pot or two in your house or on your porch and enjoy the benefits. If you want to garden, herbs are the perfect gateway plantings. Tomatoes have but one season, potted herbs are year-round.
English Thyme and Oregano make nice ground cover.
Cilantro and parsley bolt in the heat of summer.
Oregano, Thyme, sage, and Rosemary are perennial and evergreens in the south. Mint, chives, and tarragon will also come back every year.
Almost anything will come back if you let it self seed.
Mint is in the catnip family. Our Arthur eats it and has completely destroyed a planting.
When they flower, pollinators love them, but many, including Rosemary, repel several insects.
Now, go throw away those nasty old things in your spice cabinet and go to one of these sites, if you don’t have a place to buy them locally.
Frontier brand, which you can get at some grocers, is well sourced and so far, has always been fresh when we order it.
Don’t forget to get growing!
Happy eating, Katy