The Health Benefits of Cooking with Spices
My grandmother and I spent many happy times cooking in her kitchen. I remember she used a few basic herbs and spices; salt, pepper, garlic and oregano. Though I cooked with these spices for many years, I began to experiment with and add more spices to my kitchen herb and spice collection. Now I cook with minced, flaked, powdered and whole spices. It is amazing to discover how differently a spice will taste depending on the manner in which it was processed.
Spices enhance everyday cooking. Whether mild, tangy, sweet or savory they give that unique flavour or added “punch” to your dish. Knowing how to use spices is an art that every good cook has had to learn. If you are a new cook, you will learn this by experimenting. Most recipes will direct to exact amounts – I prefer to suggest “optional” with regards to the quantity of the spice called for in a dish. Taste and enjoy as you prepare your dish, seasoning it to your liking. Let caution however, be your guide when introducing new spices or increasing the amount of a particular spice in a dish. One can always add more of a spice but once ‘in the pot’ it can’t be removed. Take heart, with practice, imagination and basic knowledge of herb/spice combinations the meals you prepare will be perfect and delicious.
SPICES & HERBS: Spices are parts of plants that usually grow in tropic regions. The parts are like the bark, leaves, seeds, shells, stamens or any other part suitable for seasoning or preserving. Herbs are always the leaves of temperate zone plants. Many of the familiar favorites like rosemary, basil, parsley and mint are herbs. For the most part we often generalize by classifying both herbs and spices as spices.
HISTORY: Spices have had close connections to the gods; have been used for currency and for medicinal purposes (still today used for health). The Egyptians prized them as rare jewels and the search for them have actually changed the face of history.