“A budget doesn’t limit your freedom; it gives you freedom.”
First, allow me to apologize to y’all for Tilly and I being so behind in our posts, but we have been a tad busy with the holidays.
Tilly: Holidays? What holidays? Been more than a tad busy, I tell you.
Olive: The ones I made up.
Word of note here: we are writing this blog post in several parts, like chapters of a book.
Now, on with the blog, it has come to our attention and I am most certain yours that prices are on the rise. So we decided to write a series of posts on just that subject on how to make your dollars or pounds stretch at the market.
Concentrating in the kitchen, because my friends that is where the most money is wasted. For instance, go into your kitchen and look at all your spices and herbs.
If you have basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme, in your spice cabinet and you have a bottle of Italian Seasoning or Italian Blend you and thousands of others may have wasted your money. So, what is the recipe for this blend? Simple, 2 Tablespoons of each herb or if you live in Great Britain that would be 29.6 ml of each herb it is that simple. Now that you have, the jist of this post, allow Tilly and I to introduce to you other tips and secrets.
Tilly: Keep up, Olive, the Brits use tablespoonsful to measure – who in their right mind will bother to measure 29.6 ml of each herb?
Olive: What the Brits use tablespoonsful, WHAT. Then someone should tell those converter apps that info.
The only investment you will need is a coffee grinder, one that you will label for SPICES ONLY. Now I know you are saying, “What the hell is she doing, we are supposed to save money, not spend it.”
Tilly: Hmm , yes, no … I use my coffee grinder for all sorts of grinding – a wipe out with damp kitchen roll cleans it a treat. The herbs, seeds, spices, or whatever I grind, never taste of coffee.
Well, now, hold on, I have a reason. You can take that blend you just made and grind them to a fine powder and use the blend to season your favorite rice dish.
Tilly: Might not justify the cost of grinder if you don’t already possess one. The herb mix will make the rice taste just as good as any powdered blend.
Back to the spice blends to save you money. Does your family like chili or do you use chili powder as part of a spice rub for your meats? Take another gander at your spice cabinet, if you have paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano and garlic powders then you have the ingredients to blend your own chili Powder. Here is the recipe-1 teaspoon of paprika, cayenne pepper and oregano, 2 teaspoons of cumin and of garlic powder. In Great Britain that would be: 4.929 ml of each of paprika, cayenne pepper and oregano, and 9,858 ml of cumin and garlic powder.
Tilly: You may not believe this, Olive, but teaspoons exist in the UK … no one this side of sanity will mess about with 9.858.ml!
You can also make a curry mix and store it in a jar in the fridge to use as and when: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, fresh chillies. Equal quantities of garlic and ginger, with chilli to suit your palate. Blast in the coffee grinder (or processor) and add 1 tbls turmeric, 1 tbls ground coriander, 1 tbls ground cumin. Grind the coriander seeds and cumin seeds beforehand if you are so inclined.
Optional extras: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, green cardamom pods, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds. These may be ground together and added to the paste base, or sautéed when assembling the curry ingredients, I like to add green mango powder for a more hot-and-sour result.
You can, of course, use all dried ingredients to make the base but I favour the fresh basic ingredients route.
A dollop or two added to browned onions and chicken, lamb, beef, boiled eggs (shelled …) with some ghee (or your choice of oil), onions, tomatoes and some stock or water, simmer for as long as time allows (preferably an hour at least), serve with rice and sambals.
Olive: You have teaspoons also… damn that is great. Oh and thank you for the recipes.
What are other reasons for blending your own spices and herbs? Besides saving you money, what about health reasons for blending your own mixtures? For instance, do you know someone who is on a salt-free diet, and then blend your favorite person in your life his or her own spice mixtures. The basic recipe is 2 to 1, for every 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 tablespoon of either garlic powder, onion powder. For my British friends: 29.6 ml of salt to 14.8 ml. Word of note here, if you use Kosher Salt or the more designer salts, you know the ones. The salt all those chefs use on your favorite cooking show. Then grind the salt down and continue with the blend.
Tilly: For my American friend: if you keep pressing us to fiddle with 29.65 ml, et cetera, we should have a serious talk.
And kosher salt is unrefined sea salt, or any of the designer unadulterated sea salts – no aluminium salts to make it easy pouring. (Get the correct spelling, Olive!)
I am rather fond of a spicy low-salt mix (no surpise there) – a mix of pink Himalayan salt (I like the colour), with tomato flakes, celery seeds, nigella seeds, garlic powder, chilli powder, (yes, I cave in on powders for this mix), fennel seeds, coriander seeds, dried herbs – parsley, thyme, basil, oregano and whatever else you fancy. Grind the sea salt if it is coarse, add twice the amount (or more) of the other ingredients to taste. I like it punchy, you may prefer it more herby.
Olive: Well Tilly then I will have to find a measurement converter app that does just that. I don’t mind punchy, but I do love herby…
So look around your kitchen and stay tuned for the next post when Tilly and I will give you more blends. With some surprising twists. Please feel free to leave your comments or questions.
Olive and Tilly
End of Part One.
If you want the recipes see below.
If you are looking for a particular spice/herb blend post it in the comments and Tilly and Olive will help you find it.