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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

For Your Information

Please watch this area for important information like updates, food recalls, polls, contests, coupons, and freebies.
  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures!

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Herbs & Spices

[I'm working on this page so please watch for updates.]

Herbs
Culinary herbs are easy to grow in the home garden or containers.  They add wonderful flavours to foods.  Herbs can be used fresh, dried or frozen.  Drying home grown herbs is a great way to get a nice selection of dried herbs for next to nothing.

  • basil -  There are several varieties of basil each with slightly different flavours.  Fresh basil has a licorice-spice favour while dried basil has a lemony anise flavour.   Use in soups, stews, sauces, seafood dishes, meat and poultry dishes, egg dishes, pestos, fruit compotes and flavoured vinegars.  Basil can also be used as a garnish.
  • bay leaf -  Bay leaf has a woodsy flavour with hints of cinnamon.  Individual dried leaves can be used in casseroles, marinades, rice dishes, soups, stews, stocks, roast beef and venison.
  • chamomile - 
  • chives -  Chives have a slightly sweet, delicate onion or garlic flavour depending on the variety.  They are best used fresh but can be dried or frozen.  Use with fish and soft cheeses and in hegg dishes, herb mixtures, salad dressings, salads and soups.  Chives can also be used as a garnish.
  • cilantro - Cilantro has a distinct astringent flavour that you either really like or you strongly dislike.  Those strongly disliking cilantro commonly refer to the taste being of a strong soap.  Fresh cilanto leaves are used in Mexican and Chinese cooking, biscuits, breads, pies, poultry stuffing, salads, soups, salsas and with roasts.
  • dill -  Dill has a sweet, full aroma.  The stems and leaves are referred to as dill weed.  They can be used fresh, dried or frozen.  Dill seed can be used as well.  The main use is in pickled cucumbers but dill can also be used with fish, dips, breads, egg dishes, pasta dishes, soups and vegetables.
  • fennel -  Fennel has a strong sweet licorice flavour.  Both the bulbs and seeds are best used fresh.  Fennel can be used in seafood and pork dishes, sausages, breads, cakes, pastries, sauces and soups.
  • garlic - Garlic has a strong flavour when freshly cut or minced that mellows when baked, fried or stewed taking on a deep, rich sweetness when roasted.  It is used in sauces, dressings, soups, stews, tomato dishes, and meat, fish and poultry dishes.  Garlic powder has a significantly different flavour than fresh garlic so cannot be substituted for fresh.
  • lavender - Lavender has a bitter, pungent flavour with a floral aroma.  The dried flowers and leaves can be used in salads.  The dried flowers can be used in cookies and ice cream.  The leaves can be used to make an herbal tea while an infusion using water or milk can be made to flavour other beverages and desserts.
  • lemon grass -  Lemon grass is a bulb with long, thin green-grey leaves.  It has a sour lemon flavour.  Dried lemon grass is called sereh.  Lemon grass is used in Thai cooking, with poultry, seafood, and in marinades, salads and soups.
  • lemon balm - Lemon balm is a member of the mint family.  It has a lovely lemon flavour.  Lemon balm springs can be used fresh in lemonade and ice tea or dried for herbal tea.
  • marjoram -  Marjoram has an oregano-like flavour but slightely sweeter.  It can be used fresh, dried or frozen with beef, lamb and pork and in fish sauces, soups, stews, vegetables, pasta dishes and rice dishes.
  • mint - Mint is best used fresh.  It is used in Middle Eastern cooking, fruit dishes, ice creams, vegable dishes, salads and as a garnish.
  • oregano -  Oregano has a strong, pungent flavour.  It is commonly used dried (flaked or ground) but can be used fresh as well.  Oregano is used in Italian, Spanish and Mexican cooking.  It can be used in beans, cheese or egg dishes, sauces, soups, tomato dishes and with meats.
  • parsley - Parsley can be used fresh, dried or frozen.  It is used in egg dishes, marinades, rice dishes, salads, sauces, dressings, soups, potato dishes and as a garnish.
  • rosemary - Rosemary has a potent, almost piney flavour and aroma.  It can be used fresh, dried or frozen in basting sauces, biscuits, breads, egg dishes, soups or with meats, poached or grilled fish and poultry.  A sprig of fresh rosemary can also be used as a garnish.
  • sage - Sage has a rather strong flavour.  It can be used fresh or dried in cheese dishes, dips, poultry stuffing, poultry seasoning and salads.  Combine sage with fennel for fish, veal and sausage.  Sage should not be used in home canned foods as it will turn quite bitter due to the processing.
  • savory - Winter savory has small, thin aromatic leave that can be used with venison.  Summer savoury has a delicate peppery flavour.  It can be used in egg or rice dishes, soups, salads, and with fish, green beans, legumes, lentils, meats, poultry and squash.
  • tarragon - Tarragon can be used fresh, dried or frozen in salad dressing, egg dishes, poached fish, pickles, preserves, vegetables and flavoured vinegars.
  • thyme -  Thyme has a sweet fragrance.  It is used in French and Italian cooking.  Thyme can be used with all meats and poultry, in chowders, marinades, pasta or rice dishes, sauces and vegetables.
Spices
  • allspice -
  • aniseed (star anise) - Aniseed has a sweet licorice flavour with a bit of heat.  It is the dominant flavour in Chinese five spice powder.  Aniseed is used in baking, cocktails, soups and warm milk. 
  • caraway seed - Caraway seed has a nutty flavour.  It is used in German cooking, breads, cheese dishes, soups, and with  cabbage and sauerkraut.
  • cardamon pod - Cardamon has a spicy, sweet flavour.  It is used in East Indian and Scandinavian cooking.  Cardamon can be used in curries, garam masala, pickling brine, spice mixtures and waffle batter.
  • cayenne pepper - Cayenne pepper has a pungent flavour combined with a lot of heat.  It is used in breads, chees dishes, chilies, chowders, cream cheese spreads, egg dishes, guacamole, salad dressings, salsas and sauces.
  • celery seed - Celery seed has the pronounced flavour of celery. It is used in pickles, salads, salad dressings, soups, stews, tomato juice and cocktail drinks (eg. Caesar cocktails).
  • cinnamon -  Cinnamon has a mild, lingering flavour.  It can be used as sticks or ground in beverages, breads, cookies, quick breads, pies and sauces.
  • cloves -  Cloves have a potentent, aromatic flavour.  They are used in beverages, chili sauce, preserves, baked beans, chilies, ham and pumpking pie.
  • coriander - Coriander is the seeds of cilantro.  They have a lemony sage flavour with a bit of sweetness.
  • cumin - Cumin has a deep, woodsy flavour.  It is a key ingredient in curry and chili powders.  Cumin can be used in cheese spread, rice or couscous, chili beans or lentils, salad dressing, yogurt and beef dishes.
  • ginger - Ginger is a hot, sweet spice.  It is used in Asian cooking, beverages, breads, fruit salads, pies and custards.  It can also be used with sweet potatoes or yams.
  • mace - Mace is the covering on nutmeg.  It can be used in place of nutmeg if desired but it has a stronger, more pronounced flavour.
  • mustard seed - Mustard seed is a spicy, almost sweet flavoured spice.  It can be used whole or ground with meats, fish, cabbage, green beans, pickling brine and cream sauces.  Whole mustard seeds can be ground or partially ground for making the condiment mustard.
  • nutmeg -  Nutmeg is best if fresh grated but can be used in ground as well.  It is used in creamed sauces, soups, winter squash, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips and pies.
  • peppercorns - The flavour of peppercorns ranges from mild to rich and spicy to hot depending on the variety.  Green peppercorns are the mildest; black peppercorns are rich and spicy and white peppercorns are hot with a hint of ginger.  They can be used whole, crushed or in a pepper mill to season meat, salads, fruit, baking and side dishes.
  • poppy seeds -  Poppy seeds are nutty and sweet with a grainy texture.  They can be used as a topping for breads and cookiers or sprinkled into noodles, some pork dishes, eggs, cheese and vegetables.
  • saffron - Saffron is aromatic and golden coloured.  It is the most expensive spice in the world.  It can be used sparingly in rice, some pasta and chicken dishes
  • sesame seeds - Sesame seeds are nutty and sweet with the black seeds being more flavourful and aromatic than the white.  The are used as a garnish for breads, rolls, cookies and salads as well as a honey sesame seed confection.
  • turmeric - Turmic has a bitter, pungent flavour and intense colour.  It is used in East Indian cooking, prepared mustard, some rice dishes, some condiments and relishes.
  • vanilla bean - Vanilla beans have a subtle, sweet taste with a distictive aroma.  The are used in baking, vanilla extract, ice creams, salads, and vanilla sugar.
Ground Vegetables 
A wide range of vegetables can be dried then ground for adding natural colour and flavour to soups, stews, seasoning blends and so much more.  Some are available commercially while others are homemade.
  • paprika The flavour of paprika ranges from mild to rich depending on where the sweet red peppers were grown.  Paprika can be used in potato dishes, poultry, stews, soups, chilis, salads and as a garnish on egg dishes.
  • carrot powder -  Carrot powder has a deep, carrot flavour that can be used to enhance the flavours of soups and stews.  It can be stirred into mashed potatoes for both flavour and colour or sprinkled on salads.
  • mushroom powder - Mushroom powder has a deep, woodsy flavour.  It is used for accenting soups, stews, meatloafs, and gravies.
  • tomato powder - Tomato powder has a deep, rich tomato flavour that can be used in soups, stews, meatloafs, sauces or gravies.  It can also be reconstituted for use as tomato paste or sprinkled on salads.
  • zucchini powder - Zucchini powder has a light flavour.  It can be used in soups and stews as a thickener.
Seasoning Blends 
Seasoning blends will vary in composition depending on the brand and if they are homemade. This will result in slight flavour variations as well.   In many cases the homemade seasoning blends taste fresher and they are general less expensive.  Click on the links for the homemade seasoning mix.
  • chili powder - Chili powder is a mixture of ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic, oregano and salt.  It is used in Mexican cooking, chilies and stews.
  • Chinese fife-spice powder - This is a blend of cloves, cumin, fennel, star anise and Szechuan peppercons.
  • curry powder - Consists of a blend of turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, salt, ginger, garlic, celery seed, mustard, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne pepper or various combinations of these ingredients.  Curry powder is mainly used in East Indian cooking, with beef, lamb, poultry and vegetables.  It can also be used in egg, fruit and rice dishes.
  • herbes de provence - This herb blend consists of dried oregano, rosemary, basil, marjoram, thyme, sage and lavender.
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning - 
  • new beau monde seasoning - New beau monde seasoning is a mixture of onion powder, celery seed, salt and sugar.  This light seasoning is suitable for dips, fish, and poultry.
  • old beau monde seasoning- Old beau mode seasoning is a spicy, warm blend with a bold, aromatic note suitable for meats, poultry, dips, sauces, fish and vegetables.
  • pickling spice - Pickling spice is a mixture of cinnamon, mustard seed, bay leaves, allspice, dill seed, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, coriander, juniper berries, mace, and cardamom.  Crushed hot peppers flakes may be added as well.  It is used mainly for pickling
  • poultry seasoning - This seasoning blend consists of sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, nutmet and black pepper.  It is used mainly in stuffings and poultry loaves.
  • taco seasoning - Taco seasoning is a blend of chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper or paprika, salt and corn starch.  It is used for seasoning mainly ground meats for tacos and similar types of dishes.

Garden Gnome
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