Salt is not really a four letter word! In moderate portions, it’s good for most everyone by keeping the body’s fluids in balance. But for some people, too much can be a bad thing. So watch the amount of salt – or sodium, which is the main component of salt – as it hides in processed foods. A little salt and pepper helps almost everything taste better and remember that salt was, and still is, a preservative. (No, a lot of salt won’t make you live forever!)
Other seasonings help make flavors in foods POP, too. Experiment…try lemon or lime juice, herbs, spices. Some spices are ‘sweet’ like cinnamon and nutmeg; others are ‘hot’ like chilies and some curries (I’ll tell you about curry another time).
Meanwhile, try the herb mix recipe below…I use it on eggs, with chicken, and fish and even in salad dressings. Remember, a little dab’ll do ya until you know how much you like!
- 1/4 cup dried parsley
- 1/4 cup dried oregano
- 1/4 cup dried basil
- 2 Tbsp dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp crushed dried bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp crushed rosemary sprigs
Place all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting cover. A small mason jar works perfectly. Use 1/4 to 1 tsp at a time to taste. If you like things spicy, add some red pepper flakes.
A note on herbs and spices; always crush them in your hand before using to release their essential oils and aromas.
If your recipe calls for fresh herbs and you only have the dried, use 1/3 the amount of dried for the amount in the recipe. Use them dry…don’t try to hydrate them. Dried herbs are more strongly flavored. The longer the item cooks, the milder the flavor becomes. So, if you save a pinch or two from the recipe, put it in at the very end to brighten the flavor.
If herbs and spices are not brightly colored with a fresh aroma, discard them. Don’t buy large quantities unless you do large quantity cooking. They will only stay fresh for 6 months to a year, depending on how they are stored. They should be stored away from light, heat and moisture.
Whole spices (whole nutmegs, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, herb flakes, etc.) last much longer than ground spices and herbs and have a longer shelf life. If you can’t smell their aroma, they won’t flavor your food!