Mortar & Pestle: Sometimes The Simplest Tools Are Best

I have an old coffee grinder that I use as a dedicated spice grinder. It is great for large jobs, but it is less than ideal for when you just want to grind up a couple of allspice berries and cloves.

I find myself in that situation a lot. I'm generally cooking for two people, and it is easy to overdo things when you are working with whole spices. That's when I turn to my mortar and pestle.

Exploring Ethiopian Spices

One of the cool things about moving is discovering the new ingredients that are locally available. So far, we've discovered a variety of Caribbean and Latin American groceries and an amazing Asian grocery (the infamous H-Mart, which would be perfect if it actually carried fermented black beans).


I really like curry. I don't have any really authentic understanding of curry and thus usually use a powder or paste rather than making my own (I know... I know...) and don't even really make anything "authentic." There are many different styles from South and Southeast Asia, ranging from Iran all the way to Thailand, and up into China, plus various fusion adaptations so I don't feel too bad. I think my favorite is Thai green curry with bamboo shoots, chicken, coconut milk, basil and Thai eggplant.

Burning Things

 Julian BurgessImage by Julian BurgessI've been thinking about smoked food lately. This might be because I have several pounds of beef back ribs in my freezer. I was wondering what sort of wood to use to smoke them with...

Check your spices for freshness

Do you have commercially-packaged dried herbs or spices still in their original containers? Manufacturers including Durkee, McCormick, and Spice Island have online resources that allow you to find out just how old your herbs and spices are.

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