While I do like to stir things up (pun intended) in the kitchen, what I enjoy most is spicing it up in the kitchen. I want the food I’m eating and serving my family to taste good and not have lots of additives, chemicals, msg or salt. These are my secret ingredients for making food taste good while cooking or preparing a meal and sitting down to a nightly family dinner. Spicing it up in the kitchen is easy with a few items that are probably readily available at your local grocery store or market.
1. Pepper, freshly cracked
There’s nothing better than freshly cracked pepper. Get a pepper grinder and some fresh pepper corns from the bulk spice section of your grocer and get cracking.
2. Frank’s Red Hot Original
Frank’s is hot sauce that’s not very hot but tangy. It’s the main ingredient in Buffalo wings and another family favorite, Buffalo shrimp. I like the original version.
Tabasco is hotter than Frank’s with a more distinct flavor. It’s good in just about everything (eggs, soups, hummus) but you don’t need too much of it. Much like adding horseradish in a recipe, start slow, taste test, and then add more.
4. Tony’s – Lite
Hands down, our favorite. Tony Chachere’s Creole Lite Seasoning (don’t ask me how to pronounce the name – we just call it Tony’s) is the official title. I used to order it by the case (I’m not joking) from the company and this was back when you had to call the company on the telephone. Now, my local grocery store has started carrying Tony’s Lite. It’s great on everything but I had to lay down the law here – it’s not to go on apples. Come on, people! Don’t spice the fruit. I only buy the Lite version for the lower sodium.
5. Salt, finishing – Fleur de Sel
Large crystals of finishing salt are best added prior to eating. Don’t cook with this salt, it’s too good. The crystals really bring out the flavor of your food when eaten. These are from France but it seems every country has their own finishing salt. Experiment and see which you like the best.
Honorable mention: Old Bay
If you’re from Maryland like my husband, you know about Old Bay. Pasta salads, seafood, tuna fish salad, salmon burgers, even chicken noodle soup all taste better with a little Old Bay. While this isn’t on our dinner table nightly, it gets used often.
Our spices get transported to and from the dinner table every evening in this sweet little basket.
Whenever I read a recipe I’ve written down, it reads something like, “3 shakes of Frank’s” or “2 shakes of Tony’s” or even “3 cracks of pepper.” What does it all mean this secret code? (And no, my husband’s name is not Frank or Tony so it’s not a hanky-panky type of spicing it up in the kitchen.) It’s how we cook around here. I love this recipe for fish sauce one of my kids wrote down. Notice the “8 cracks of pepper” and the “8 cracks of Tony’s” which I think was supposed to be “shakes of Tony’s” but you get the idea.
These go-to spices we use and wouldn’t dream of cooking or sitting down to enjoy a meal without them. Try them at your house.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the additives in your food and what’s good or bad, check out this book, . The sub-title is one that I totally agree with – never eat what you can’t pronounce. It aligns with my rules of eating healthier, numbers 10 and 11. The book is short, easy to read, and rates every food ingredient.
What’s on your go-to list of spices? Something I should try?