Tasty Thursday: What's on Your Spice Rack?

One of the things I think every kitchen should have is a spice rack. I generally keep a vast array of spices kicking around my house, but I have to be honest when I say when I look at a spice rack, I generally have no idea what half of the spices pair with. There are so many different spices out there that it's hard to know what to do with all of them. Why does rosemary look like a pine tree? What is Italian Seasoning used for? Well, I decided for this installment of Tasty Thursday, I decided to look over some of the spices you may find in your spice rack someday, and what they can be used for.

Sage

Sage is most commonly used in stuffling. In fact, most every stuffing recipe calls for this herb. While most people pair sage with another herb to bring out its flavor (like rosemary or thyme), it is also a great addition to any poultry dish. In fact, some say that Sage is the perfect seasoning for chicken and poultry. You must be careful with this herb however, because it has such a strong taste that it can overpower anything else you add to a dish. Sage is also often times added to mild and soft cheeses to create tasty spreads. Try using sage in your next poultry dish, or when making a cheese spread and see what happens!

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves also have a very aromatic flavor. They are generally used to flavor soups and stews. They are either added in whole, or tied together with other spices (it's called a bouquet garni). When making a stew or soup while including a whole bay leaf, remember to take it out at the end. They make a great flavorer, but are not suitable for eating. They are quite bitter and could ruin a good bite of soup if eaten.

Italian Seasoning

I generally add Italian seasoning to the tops of pizzas. It gives it a nice taste, but I have to be honest when I say I never knew what was in it until I looked it up. Italian seasoning is a mix of various spices including rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme and majoram. This addition to your spice rack is pretty versatile and can be used in just about any cooking excursion. Use it on pizza (like I do), soups, rice, stews , meats and just about anything else you can think of

Chipotle Powder

Chipotles are jalepeno peppers that have been slowly smoked over a natural wood fire. They have a bit of a kick to them, but are less intense then a fresh jalepeno. The powder is made by drying out the peppers and grinding it down. Generally speaking, the powder is used in mexican dishes in condiments and sauces to give them a different taste than a normal spicy pepper. In fact, there is a restaurant chain that is named after the tasty pepper (Chipotle).

Another benefit of having some spices around the house is their medinial uses. For instance, did you know that majoram can be used to help cure a toothache? It's true. Extracting the oil from majoram and putting a few drops on the affected area can help ease the pain. Did you know you can use dill as a stomach soother? It's true. There are tons of spices out there, and I will probably never know how to use each, but it's always nice to know what some of them are for. I can tell you if I hadn't looked, I never would have known what italian seasoning was made of, or that there is more than one use for dill (I always figured it was only used for making pickles). There are many uses for the spices that you have hanging around your house. These are just a few fun facts I found.

What spices do you regularly use?

Seth P.