Culinary Feats

Last night I gained new culinary ground: for the first time, I ground my own spices.  Having recently decided to learn more about spices, I’ve been reading The Spice Bible by Jane Lawson and one of the first lessons I gleaned was a chastisement about buying jars of ground spice and keeping them for years on end.

Apparently they lose their spunk.

I bought a mortar and pestle (feeling slightly medieval) and last night broke them in on a Saveur recipe for Iraqi-style Beef and Vegetable Stew.  This stew was the tastiest thing I’ve made in ages and I think it has to do with the spice mixture. I had the whole cloves, peppercorns, and allspice already, and didn’t have any trouble getting my hands on whole cardamom, coriander, and cumin (at a spice/baking shop, not at the grocery store). I toasted them in the pan–instantly the most wonderful smell permeated the house–cooled them, and put them into the mortar. At this point I half-expected failure, but grinding them with the pestle was surprisingly easy (no strength required), and I proceeded with the recipe.

I think I’m a good cook, but a lot of times I wish my food had more distinct flavors. This stew had excellent flavor. I will be on the lookout for more grind-your-own spice recipes to continue testing this theory.

The spices in the pan

The spices in the pan

The spices in the mortar

The spices in the mortar

The general state of my kitchen

The general state of my kitchen

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Culinary Feats

  1. Liz

    Wow that looks awesome! I’ll have to try it! How long does it take to make?

    • unquiettime

      Hmm… well it bakes for an hour, they say to let it sit for 30 minutes (I waited about 10! I was starving)… so there’s an hour and a half time where you can’t eat, but you don’t have to do anything. I’d say the rest of the prep took me about an hour. It’s worth it!

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