Friday, August 06, 2010

Cooking with Joe - spices

Las Vegas just finished up it’s hottest July ever. That’s not because of record high temperatures but because of the high average temperature. The average temp for July was 35.6 (96.2f) with only two days hitting 45 (113f). The records are kept from the measuring station down at the airport; temperatures can vary around the valley. We also had the longest hot stretch: five days straight with the nighttime temps not going below 32 (90f), we haven’t been under 27 (80f) since July 8. Usually we have a 16c (30f) change between daytime highs and nighttime lows, so that we get a chance to cool off just a little, but with the hot nights that hasn’t been happening. And no thunderstorms ran through the airport, so no recorded rainfall for the month either. Ah well, we knew it was a desert when we moved here. (numbers taken from a Review Journal article)

On to a brief cooking segment: the importance of good ingredients.

We signed up for cable TV service down in Temecula when we found a rooftop antenna would not pick up signals from stations on the other side of the mountains that surrounded us. Since then there has been a proliferation of cable only channels, resulting in the current dilemma of having 300 channels available buy yet there is nothing on you want to watch. Don’t say it has never happened to you: at some point everyone sits with the remote control just pushing the next channel button until eventually you realize that you’ve been around the entire selection list three times and there is still nothing you want to stop at. But I usually end up at one of the home improvement channels (we get three) watching somebody destroy their kitchen, or one of the cooking channels (three again) that are usually showing some type of competition. But I sometimes catch one of the cooks that makes things that I can make. No, not the Iron Chef, that is a little beyond me. The two I go print the recipes for are Alton Brown and Sandra Lee who always adds a cocktail at the end (and seems a bit tipsy from sampling them at times).
One of the things that Alton recommended was purchasing spices from a place that supplies good stuff rather than settling for those jars at the supermarket that might have been on that shelf for a few years. I took his advice and started ordering things from the Spice House on line and have been very pleased. I like to use a lot of cinnamon and vanilla in things, and they have several varieties of each, all very good. In one order I got three types of cinnamon and some ground cloves, and when the box showed up and was opened it seemed like heaven. The scents from that sealed box were magical, and made the whole place smell marvelous for quite a while. So go to their web site and get some good cinnamon and vanilla and whatever else you cook with; it’s all good. Here is a sampling of things I’ve gotten from them:


Let’s see, that’s one bag of cinnamon, two jars of vanilla, dried orange peel, a marvelous ‘French’ blend (great in omelets and soups), cloves and some smoked paprika. You have the option of getting these nice jars with shaker lids or bags of refill spices. I use so much cinnamon that I get the big bags (this is a smaller one of one kind). Their cocoa is also really good, nice cakes and all.

So there is my cooking tip for today – buy good spices.

11 comments:

Don said...

Good idea about the spices. I'll go check out their site.

Will said...

I know what to do with Old Spice ... but all those powdered ones, I dunno. That's for someone who uses more than the microwave!

ps: I'll mention your spice source to the chef of the house.

Andrea said...

Is that more expensive than regular supermarket spices?

Farmers Wifey said...

Spices are wonderful...Just visiting from Australia...I spend some time in Las Vegas a few years ago..it was so cold there, I loved the place all the same!!

Pamela said...

making my mouth water....

Pamela said...

ps. there is never anything on to watch. You're right.

Lisa said...

I'm imagining opening that box and smelling those cloves and cinnamon. Aromatherapy has nothing on fresh spices.

Froggy said...

I LOVE Iron Chef!

You know, we had the Aussie version of Cable a few years ago, and eventually we discontinued it because most of the channels were sport or little kids shows, the movies were all repeated several times through the week, and the other shows like Discovery played the same 8-10 shows for months on end. It got to the point where it just wasn't worth it anymore. That's probably why we haven't resigned now it's vastly improved. Too expensive to sit and channel surf all day.

Love the spice tip. I must check out our local suppliers to see if we have anything worth looking at!
x

Quixote said...

all sorts of yumminess going on over there, JinV!

DA

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Marjie said...

Have you ever checked out the Spice Barn? They're pretty awesome, too. It's exciting to get a nice box of fragrant spices. Now I have to go check out your Spice House cocoa!