Making Your Own Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin pie spice is always a useful thing to have around the house, especially in the fall when pumpkin and winter squash are cheat and abundant.  Or if you are like me and simply like to eat a pumpkin pie or pumpkin custard most any time of the year.  However, I find making your Pumpkin spice is best because you can adjust your spice volume to meet your taste and dietary needs.  Ginger something gives people trouble with heartburn and I find that orange zest gives the spice blend and nice citrus edge which appeals to many.  Here is a basic Pumpkin spice recipe, but feel free to experiment with it to best accommodate your family’s tastes.  

Pumpkin Pie Spice Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger or ground dehydrated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Pumpkin Pie Spice Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl whisk together thoroughly.
  • Pour the pumpkin pie spice into an airtight container
  • store the sealed pumpkin pie spice container in a cool dry place.
  • The pumpkin pie spice should be used within 6 months for best results.

Cook’s Note

  • I use my coffee bean grinder to make the ground orange zest, which works fine if you start with either purchased or home make dried orange zest. however, you do want to make sure that all the orange zest is finely ground without large bits, so, it will distru=bute evenly in your recipe.

Steak Seasoning Mix

I find that many commercial seasoning mixes rely on the use of too much salt, so, with a little experimentation, I have settled on this seasoning mix as my go-to mix for beef; especially, for steak, roast beef, and finger streaks.

Steak Seasoning Mix Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Bay leaf (crushed or ground small)
  • 1 tablespoon dill seed
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sodium free beef bouillon powder (Optional)
  • 2 tablespoons ground white or black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons paprika (optional)

Steak Seasoning Mix Directions

  • Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Store in a small sealed glass container on a cool dark cabinet or pantry shelf.
  • The mix can safely be stored for three or four months.

Steak Seasoning Mix Cook’s Note

  • White pepper is milder for those people who find the flavor of black pepper to strong.

Related References

Salt In the Kitchen

 

Salt In the Kitchen
Salt In the Kitchen

Salt

Salt, a very important ingredient in cooking has two basic ions- sodium and chloride, which easily penetrate food because of their smallness. Its types vary in color, shape, and size as well as in mineral content, texture and taste delivery. It is therefore imperative that one has basic knowledge of salts to enable him to make the right choice for his kitchen.

Basically, three major types of edible salts exist:

  • Unrefined salt – a sea salt with no chemical additives.
  • Refined salt – a rock salt with added folic acid, potassium, chloride and some edible chemicals that prevent caking.
  • Iodized salt – a refined table salt with iodine added to protect against thyroid issues like goiter, slow metabolism etc.

Within these major groups are many different choices:

  • Kosher salt: large-grained with a clean, bright taste and no additives except for its Morton brand which has an anti-caking agent. Its flavor and large grain make for easy pinching – a quality that helps control the quantity of salt that is added to food.
  • Table salt: fine-grained with added chemicals; made in factories.
  • Sea salt: usually appear in either large or fine crystal; made by evaporating sea water.
  • Flavor salt: a sea salt to which flavors have been added.
  • Grey salt: a hand-harvested sea salt that is naturally high in trace elements such as iron, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Hawaiian salt: a sea salt that is harvested from the waters off Hawaiian coastlines.

Some common ways of using salt

  • Balances brain fluids.
  • Preserves food.
  • Cleans dishwares and ovens.

Salting tips

Salt once added cannot be subtracted. Stock/sauce left to simmer for long gets increasingly more salty as it reduces. There is, therefore, need to apply utmost caution viz:

  • When making sauce or gravy, be very light-handed with salt until you taste at the end.
  • When cooking pasta, add plenty of salt to the water. This draws out the flavor making the pasta taste like the sea.
  • Brine meat to help it retain moisture while letting the liquid infuse; gives a more tender and favorable meat.
  • Pre-salt cuts of meat to tenderize tougher ones. The meat is more palatable.
  • Salt meat like chicken and lamb 24 hours before cooking; comes out tastiest.
  • Salt meat like pork just before cooking. This way, the salt does not draw out juices thereby making the surface wet and difficult to brown.
  • Add salt to water when blanching vegetable to add flavor.
  • Watery vegetables like eggplants which are prone to bitterness should be disgorged { slice or grate them; sprinkle a thin layer of salt on one side; allow to stand for 10 – 15 minutes}. If the vegetable is sliced, flip over and salt the other side too. Drain away and/or blot out any excess liquid or salt. This takes care of the bitterness.
  • Salt vegetables before roasting so as to enhance its flavor and play down the bitterness.
  • Salt steamed vegetable with the smallest bit of salt after steaming. This way, its inherent sweetness, and flavor is drawn out.
  • Salt grains and legumes when nearly cooked, as early salting toughens them.
  • In sautéing mushrooms, salt at the end. These guards against the possibility of drawing out water thereby inhibiting the desired brown, crispy surface.

Some salt brands and their one teaspoon equivalence of table salt:

  • Maldon sea salt –  2 teaspoons (3.5grams)
  • La Baleine. – 1 teaspoon (7.25grams)
  • Morton coarse kosher salt –  25 teaspoons (5.8grams)
  • Fleur de sel –  25 teaspoons (5.9grams)

How best to store salt?

Storage life for salt is indefinite so long as it is not contaminated. Although it is not perishable but serves better if served fresh, it should be stored as it is, away from rodents, dirt and toxic substances using waterproof, air-tight containers.

If it absorbs water from the atmosphere, it should be dried and crushed again.

Salts that have been flavored with herb, if exposed to air, can diminish in flavor. Such salts should be opened only when needed.

Iodized salt may, with time, turn yellow. It is still harmless and may still be used.

Common salts used in the kitchen

  • Table salt is best for brining and bulk seasoning because the fine and tiny crystals dissolve easily and penetrate deeply into the food.
  • Coarse sea salt with chunky crystals is perfect for red meat as it creates a crust on the meat.
  • Finer kosher salt does well as finishing salt. It is also excellent when cooking whole fish or game bird in a salt crust.
  • Morton’s sea salt with its fine delicate flakes is very good for roasts.
  • The finer version of La Belaine brand is an excellent choice for baking as it dissolves in very little liquids.
  • Iodized salt is great for people that don’t have sea food in their diet and may be iodine-deficient.
  • Red Hawaiian salt is excellent on pork.
  • Fleur de sel is added as a finishing salt to many different dishes like salads, fish, meat, desserts, fruits, and vegetables at the absolute last second, serving to give the dish that little extra pop just before it is consumed.

Related References

Herbs and spices – Bay leaves

Bay Leaf or sweet bay (Laurus nobilis)
Bay Leaf or sweet bay (Laurus nobilis)

Bay leaves add a dimension to a host of soups, sauces, and stews. Bay leaf is, especially, useful in dishes containing chicken, beef, tomato sauces, and stocks.  If you use a Bay leaf, be sure to remove the bay leaves before serving. If you don’t intend to use the leaf whole or in large pieces, then make sure it is a very finely ground when incorporating it into your recipes. If not removed or not finely ground, Bay leaf is tough to chew and detracts from your overall dish quality.

Flavor Characteristics

  • Typically used as whole dry leaves or ground leaves, Bay leaves have a strong flavor. Especially, if whole leaves or torn or crushed.

Usage

  • Bay leaves are used in meat and poultry dishes. Notably, soups pot roast, and stews.
  • Bay leaves are, also, sometimes used in pickles and stuffing for poultry and meat.
  • Frequently, Bay leaves are used as an ingredient in a bouquet garni.
  • Bay leaves are commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking.

Perennial – Rosemary (R.officinalis ‘Prostratus’)

What Rosemary Looks Like

Common Rosemary grows in shrubby clumps of branching stems with, needlelike, green leaves.  Sometimes described as a woody shrub originates from the chalky hills of southern France. Pale blue flowers bloom along the stems, usually, starting in late winter through early spring, depending on temperatures and rainfall.

Drought Tolerant

The Rosemary, once well rooted (normally, the second year) are drought tolerant and, actually, doesn’t like to be over watered.  In southern climates, Rosemary is grown as an ornamental in the landscape where it can reach 5 to 6 feet tall and, approximately, the same width.

Soil And Location

A light, sandy, rather dry soil is preferred by Rosemary and plants should be in a sunny to partially shaded locations with plenty of space.

Hardiness

Rosemary is hardy in hardiness zones 8 through 10.  In more northern climates, Rosemary can be grown in pots, even indoors with plenty of light,  or has an annual.

Planting and Propagating

Rosemary can be grown from seed, buy plants is, generally, easier.  I, usually,  grow my own by rerooting stews and, then, pruning the stem and carefully transplanting them.  I have even had friends and family take home transplants for their gardens.

Harvesting

Cut fresh sprigs as need and stip off leaves.  leaves can be dried for later use, but fresh is usually better for most culinary purposes.

Culinary Uses

Rosemary has many  culinary uses including;

Meats

  • Lamb Roast
  • Lamb Stew
  • Beef Pot Roast
  • Lamb Shish Kebab
  • liver Loaf

Eggs

  •  Omelet
  • Scrambled
  • Souffle
  • Shirred

Breads

  • Muffins
  • loaf
  • Focaccia

Poultry

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Bread Stuffing
  • Cornish Hen

Salads

  • Chicken Salad
  • Turkey Salad
  • Seafood Salad
  • Lamb Salad
  • French Dressing

Soups

  • Chicken Soup & Broth
  • Turkey Soup & Broth
  • Lamb Broth
  • Tomato Soup
  • Fish Chowder

Vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnips
  • Rutabaga

Seafood

  • Fish
  • Scallops
  • Croquettes
  • Tuna Loaf
  • Stuffing

Sauces

  • Lamb Gravy
  • Cream Sauce for Chicken, seafood, or lamb
  • Butter sauce