For adventurous cooks of all calibers, few sights inspire more joy than a well-stocked spice rack. A palette of inspiring flavors can turn the simplest meal into an exciting, nutrient-packed, delicious masterpiece. But when you need to bring out the best in a dish, one of the best tools for adding depth and contrast is an ingredient so basic, it is often taken for granted: salt! Whether you need to bring an orchestra of spices into harmony or let one exceptional ingredient shine solo, a well-chosen gourmet salt will make your meal sing.Read More
It is believed that the honor of "oldest alcoholic beverage on the planet" goes to mead. Evidence of this enchanting gold elixir has been found in Chinese pottery vessels dating back to 7000 BCE. While the discovery of mead was almost certainly a happy accident, over the ages this “nectar of the gods” has found a home in many tales, myths, legends, customs, ceremonies, and traditional remedies. Today, mead is enjoyed around the world in a variety of styles and strengths, from session meads to full-strength sack meads.Read More
When summer serves up blue skies with long hot days, I crave lemonade. And not the kind that comes from a powdered mix packed with preservatives, colorants, and artificial sweeteners, but real, fresh-squeezed lemonade. The perfect balance of bright acidity, light tartness, and a hint of sweetness that I long for simply can’t be accomplished any other way. Plus, making freshly-squeezed lemonade only takes a few minutes, and it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.Read More
I love chocolate. I read that Trisha Yearwood once remarked, “I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the days that I’m not eating chocolate cake. But I do particularly like those days when I am eating chocolate cake.” This quote stuck in my mind, because that’s it exactly — that’s my relationship with all things chocolate!
This lifelong romance has followed an interesting trajectory. It began back in the '70s with the kinds of mainstream chocolate treats that you can buy at any market or gas station: candy bars, hot cocoa mix, chocolate syrup … I know, awful stuff, but I was a kid! As I grew up and learned about food science and health, I realized that the chocolate I was eating was so packed with added sugars, oils, and milk fats that you could hardly call it chocolate at all. This revelation inspired me to seek out the story behind my chocolate, to better understand how it is grown, sourced, and used, all of which eventually led me to the queen of beans: cacao.Read More
My first taste of green tea ice cream was after a feast at a Japanese restaurant. Although I was stuffed to the brim, the waiter convinced me to be adventurous and try a scoop. I thought there was no room left in my stomach, but then I tasted a bite, devoured that scoop, and thought about ordering another! The grassy, floral, and fruity notes paired perfectly with a creamy sweetness and a touch of vanilla. I skipped the second scoop and spent the drive home thinking about how to make my own.Read More
As herbs begin to emerge from the garden boxes that we built last summer, and the lavender we started from seed two years ago sends out fragrant new leaves and flowers, our bees become visible once more, busying themselves among our homestead's first brilliant blooms. Reminders of life-renewed spring forth everywhere I look, from the returning plants and flowers, to the bees buzzing from blossom to blossom, to my own little "gardening companion", my cat Theo, who playfully rolls around near me as I carefully transplant vegetable starts into the freshly tilled soil. Our chickens seem to enjoy these brighter days as well, leisurely sunbathing and picking at fresh grass outside of their coop. I savor every beautiful sight, sound, and aroma that surrounds me at this most exciting time of the year — there truly is no greater time than summer in the Willamette Valley!Read More
Never heard of amla before? Let me be upfront: it’s very sour! But more importantly, it’s regarded in the Ayurvedic tradition as having cooling properties. Also known as amalaki or Indian gooseberry, it’s a great choice for balancing any heat that comes your way. Although organic dried amla powder is most commonly known as one of the three herbs that make up the popular Ayurvedic blend called triphala, it has other herbal and culinary uses too!Read More
Every late summer, I go down to a friend’s farm in Southern Oregon to help harvest and preserve the hot peppers they grow there. We smoke the jalapenos in a homemade smoker, then preserve them in jars in an AMAZING adobo sauce that we prepare from scratch. The result is a flavor profile that can transport you to a summer night barbeque even in the dead of winter: rich, hot, and smoky with hints of balancing sweetness.Read More
People who have never homebrewed always ask me why I bother, citing the plethora of amazing craft beer choices available today. While there are a lot of great independent breweries making beers that I adore, nothing beats savoring a glass beer I brewed myself. Plus, homebrewing my own beer ensures I’ll always have access to my favorite styles brewed just the way I like them. Some of my favorite herbal additions include grains of paradise or smoked peppercorns in rustic saison, a big floral pop of chamomile in a Belgian witbier, or adding a kick to a rich stout with bird’s eye chilies and cacao nibs.Read More
My partner and I find great joy in sharpening our novice mixology skills in our kitchen overlooking the Douglas fir-covered hills of Eugene, Oregon. Having daily access to thousands of herbal delights at Mountain Rose Herbs has really upped our homemade cocktail game!