The Spice is Right VII: Seasons of Love
Barbara of Tigers & Strawberries created one of my favorite food blog events, The Spice is Right. Every month, she sets a challenge with a spice-related theme. Since she just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Kat, she doesn’t have time right now to run the event. I couldn’t bear the thought of it losing momentum or disappearing, so I offered to host it instead for October and November to give her a chance to recover.
This month’s challenge is: Seasons of Love
Each culture has its own common spice blends, like the Chinese five spice mix or the Moroccan ras al hanout. But familes (or households) tend to have spice mixes they use often, too. For example, when I was growing up, my mother very commonly used a blend of sweet Hungarian paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Now, Dave and I are in the process of developing our own family flavor bases (he insists on adding pomegranate molasses, thick Chinese soy sauce, chipotle, and/or mustard oil to almost everything we make!) and commonly used spice mixes, which I will post more about before this challenge reaches its deadline.
At one recent wedding I went to, Rose and Josh gave out small jars of their favorite household spice mix (thyme and oregano) as favors to all the guests. At another wedding I attended a few weeks ago, the couple gave out a variety of spice mixes for guests to take home and try out. I thought these were wonderfully personal gifts that in a sense drew all the wedding guests into the couple’s new family.
I come from a fairly stereotypical Jewish family, in some ways. Food is love. And so it seems to me that to share the spice blends commonly used in a particular home is to share the unique flavor of that family’s love.
For this month’s theme, I would like us to share that with each other. Please describe one of your commonly used family or household spice mixes and give a recipe which uses it.
Email me your name, a link to the post, and any unposted photographs you would like me to use in the round-up at habeasbruleeATgmailDOTcom by midnight on October 15, 2006.
In Barbara’s own words (with some edits by me), here are the rules:
1. Email me your entry with your name as you want it to appear on the round-up, the url to the entry and any unposted photographs you may want me to use, on or before the 15th of every month so I can do an efficient round-up post. Your post can occur wherever you like in the month–I don’t care when, just send it to me on, by or before the 15th at
helgardeATgmailDOTcom habeasbruleeATgmailDOTcom. Include a link back in your entry to this post announcing “The Spice is Right” so that if other folks read it and want to play, they know where to go to find the rules. One entry per blogger, please. If you have no blog–email me a photo and a description and I will include you in the roundup anyway. (Or, be like the rest of us food-obsessed geeks and start a blog!)
2. Your entry should include some background about the spice you have chosen to highlight. Whether this is something you learned from books, or that was passed down from your grandma or is from your own experience, tell us about it. Tell us why you chose this particular spice to highlight on this particular month. Describe how it tastes, and why you like it.
3. The recipe does not have to contain only the one spice you are posting about, however, the flavor of that spice should predominate. Say, you have chosen cardamom, and want to post an Indian dish featuring it. You could choose kheer–Indian rice pudding–which is predominately flavored with cardamom, which is fine, but you could also choose sindi elaichi murgh– a dish which has other spices in the masala, but the cardamom flavor soars above the other flavors, supported by their presence.
4. Finally, the definition of a spice that we will be using for the purpose of this event is as follows: “Any aromatic substance, fresh or dried, that is derived from the root, rhizome, bulb, bark, woody stem, flower, fruit or seed of a plant that is used to flavor foods.” You will notice that I left yout soft stems and leaves–that is because those are herbs. I didn’t want to step on Kalyn’s toes with her Weekly Herb Blogging event at Kalyn’s Kitchen. I am also not counting minerals, such as salt, as spices, though we may have a special “salty” edition of the “Spice is Right” challenge someday in the future.