Author Topic: Help with spices... and dinner tonight  (Read 1447 times)

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aka

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Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« on: November 21, 2012, 07:26:29 PM »
I have come to a point in my life where it is imperative to my wallet and my waistline that I learn how to cook.  To start this adventure I visited Whole Food bulk spice section and purchased the following

  Cumin, Curry, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Rosemary, Parsley
Basil, Cinnamon, Cloves, Thyme, Chili Powder, Paprika
Nutmeg, Celery Salt, Oregano, Peppermill

So now I have many pretty spices, but I still have a few empty jars.  Any suggestions for other essential spices?  Whole Foods was out of Ginger, and that seems important.  Obviously, I needs salt.  I welcome any suggestions!

That said, I also need to cook dinner tonight.  I don't have very much food, so I was planning on baking a chicken breast and heating up a can of black beans.  For me, this is practically gourmet.  So, what spices can I put on my chicken breast?  In addition to these spices I have actual garlic too, but I don't know how to use that.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 08:22:01 PM by aka »

EmmaJ.

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2012, 07:59:31 PM »
Chicken is like a blank canvas - you can cook it in a thousand different ways.  Any of those herbs and spices you purchased would be delicious with chicken (except of course the baking spices - cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg).

My personal favorite is a little salt, paprika, and garlic powder.  And congratulations on doing your own cooking. The savings will be amazing!

PastryGoddess

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 08:02:44 PM »
Your pictures aren't showing and they're a bit large as well.

That being said I would add in the following
Herbs de provence mix
Allspice
Cardamom

Luci

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 08:33:09 PM »
Marjoram. Our favorite meat maninade is rosemary and marjoram with some other stuff.

Allspice. Whole is used in a lot marinades I make, and ground is used with ground ginger and cloves and cinnamin for all many flavor and Christmas foods.

You need chives, unless you get fresh every time you want them on potatoes and cottage cheese. That is actually a great windowsill plant.

Amara

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 08:44:20 PM »
Congratulations on starting down this road. There are incredible creative possibilities here.

Ginger is a root. It's best if you buy it fresh. To use it, peel it with a paring knife, the mince (chop very finely) or grate it. You can also get ginger juice if you squeeze some in a garlic press. You can freeze the rest if it is wrapped up in foil, but if you get smallish roots you can just buy it almost as you need it. If you want to use horseradish, buy it fresh; it tastes far different than the bottled stuff. Also, garlic. Fresh only.

There's more but that's probably a good basic overview of three main ones. Oh, and by the way, the way to get a garlic smell off your hands is to rub them on stainless steel--a sink, silverware, etc. Or wear gloves.

ETA: If you are interested in exploring the world of cooking at a comfortable level, allow me to recommend the magazine Cook's Illustrated. It is an excellent publication, and even a beginner will feel at home with it.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 08:50:04 PM by Amara »

JenJay

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 08:58:54 PM »
When I was new to cooking I found allrecipes.com and ehow.com to be extremely helpful!!  :)

aka

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 09:17:12 PM »
Thank you all for your replies  ;D

Project dinner is a no go - I just realized that I do not have a meat thermometer and I do not trust myself with judging doneness.  That said, I did make some scrambled eggs with feta.  (I added ground pepper-my favorite, and a little bit of the only salt I have- celery salt, which was probably unnecessary with the cheese)
Scrambled eggs is kind of my go to - with good reason; they are delicious. 

I am now unpacking my coffee maker - no more buying coffee out for me!  I also got some silicone baking cups and I plan to make little egg thingy's that I can heat in the microwave for breakfast. 

I can feel the savings - lol

Hmmmmm

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 09:35:27 PM »
I think you have a great collection of basic spices.  I would stick with those until you come across a recipe that asks for something else. 


Outdoor Girl

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2012, 09:39:36 PM »
I agree with Hmmmmm.  That said, I'm a pretty simple cook but here are the spices I use the most:

Tomato based cooking - various basils, oregano, black pepper, salt, fresh garlic, maybe some chives or garlic chives

Poultry based cooking (not all together, necessarily) - salt, black pepper, tarragon, sage, rosemary, thyme, summer savoury, fresh garlic, maybe even some mint

Potatoes (not all together, necessarily) - rosemary, fresh garlic, wild leeks, seasoned salt, black pepper, chives and garlic chives

Grilling beef or pork - Montreal steak spice

Fish - dill, black pepper, salt

I started my own herb garden now that I have a house with a decent sized yard.  I grow rosemary, sage, parsley, Italian parsley, 3 or 4 kinds of basil, summer savoury, chives, garlic chives, cilantro, tarragon, dill, mint, mojito mint, lemon balm, wild leeks and garlic.  It is actually in my front yard and I share it with all the neighbours, particularly my next door neighbours.  They plant some of their own stuff in the bed, too, and help me harvest in the fall to hang for drying.  I give them about half and keep half for myself.

I also grow some cat nip/mint for my kitties.
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MrsCrazyPete

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2012, 10:31:00 PM »
I would add some ground mustard. I like to add this to chicken or pork dishes, or even on roasted potatoes!
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PastryGoddess

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2012, 12:16:27 AM »
I second the ground mustard as well.  it adds a hint of spice to things without adding heat

cicero

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2012, 02:37:17 AM »
I also like allspice.  and different kinds of paprika - hot, regular, in oil.

I don't actually have a LOT of spices - you have to be careful with buying in bulk because spices can lose their potency, attract bugs, or just go rancid and clumpy after a while. Since you already bought these - maybe pour some from each container into ziploc baggies and keep in the freezer - that should keep it fresh. Also, don't pour from the container directly into a boiling/simmering pot - that lets steam in and causes clumps. instead, use a clean dry teaspoon.

For herbs - i've found that fresh are better. and I even *make* my own dried herbs - come out better than store bought (i stumbled on this by accident - but i dry my own thyme, oregano, mint, savory etc. ).

Garlic - i use fresh for cooking and dry (granules) for making tahina or hummus. just peel the white and take out a few bulbs - peel them as well and the slice or crush or leave whole.



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mmswm

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2012, 04:31:05 AM »
I second the ground mustard as well.  it adds a hint of spice to things without adding heat

I third the suggestion for ground mustard.  I use it in almost everything.  My father once got in a ton of trouble by asking me what I did differently in my chicken soup, as it was better than my mother's.  The only change was the addition of the mustard. :) .

I would also suggest white pepper.  I use it with a smidgen of butter on nearly all my green veggies and it gives it a wonderful flavor.
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Thipu1

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2012, 10:43:49 AM »
A small can of Colman's powdered mustard will be a good addition but be careful, the stuff is hot.   A small jar of Gravy Master and a container of adobo is also handy to have in the kitchen.

When we make chicken, as we will today, we crush a garlic clove or two and rub it on.  We also rub on a mixture of cumin and turmeric. The flavor is mild but very good.  The seasonings help the gravy more than they help the bird but they give the bird a lovely color.

A good rule of thumb is to smell the spice and decide how it will work with the finished product.  We've never gone wrong that way. 

Frog24

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Re: Help with spices... and dinner tonight
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2012, 02:01:36 PM »
Bay leaf -- it adds that certain "something" to soups, sauces, and especially homemade mac & cheese.  You buy bay leaves whole, and use them whole in whatever you're cooking.  When the food is finished, pull out the bay leaf and discard. 

My mom used to tell us the one who found the bay leaf in her soup was the lucky one for the day. However, I think it was just something she made up to keep us from complaining that there was a bay leaf in our soup!