Variety may be the spice of life, but seasonings are what bring variety to cooking. We eat mainly chicken, salmon, tuna, and the occasional meal with pork or beef. It is possible to have chicken or salmon 5 meals a week and have interesting meals each time with just a little creativity. I’ve had the privilege of living in or visiting several different countries and enjoyed the cuisine in each of them.
I grew up watching Julia Child, The Galloping Gourmet, The Frugal Gourmet, and my Mom and Grandmas. Later in life I discovered Food Network and especially enjoyed Alton Brown’s “Good Eats”. Many other shows, as well as the website, inspired me to try new things. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and, although I’ve had a few failures, have come up with some pretty tasty dishes.
Deb is constantly commenting on the crowded seasoning cabinet, but she enjoys the results. The wide variety of seasonings provide a lot of flexibility.
- Salt – Kosher, table salt, pink Himalayan salt, and grey French sea salt.
- Pepper – Yes, I have a big jar of ground pepper. There is also a grinder of 4 pepper blend that I use almost every day.
- Allspice – besides baking, also used in Caribbean, African, and Indian cuisine.
- Basil – I enjoy fresh basil, but having dried basil on hand is better than having no basil at all!
- Bay Leaves – great in soups, stews, Mediterranean dishes.
- Cardamom – aromatic and pungent, adds nice kick and smell to sauces, rubs, and baked goods.
- Celery Seed – because you may not always have fresh celery available.
- Chili Powder – earthy and a little kick of heat.
- Cilantro – because you may not always have fresh cilantro available.
- Cinnamon – baking, and a surprise spice in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian cuisine.
- Cloves – baking, bbq spices and rubs, Middle Eastern, Indian, Caribbean, and Asian cuisine
- Coriander – Bright and citrus flavors, used in cooking around the world.
- Cumin – Smokey and earthy.
- Curry Powder – Indian cuisine, also great in a bechamel (white) sauce over chicken or pork.
- Creole Seasoning – I got hooked on Tony Cachere’s when we lived in Louisiana. I’ve found a recipe to make my own without salt. I’ll share it down below.
- Dill – goes great on salmon, chicken, pork, and in vegetables
- Garlic – powdered and dried diced. Prefer fresh, but this will do in a pinch. Powdered is essential for making a variety of seasoning blends.
- Ginger – baking, bbq sauce, rubs, and especially stir fry.
- Italian Seasoning – can also make your own blend with basic seasonings so you don’t duplicate.
- Marjoram – Mediterranean dishes, stews and soups.
- Mustard Powder – used around the world to add “zing” to dishes.
- Nutmeg – warm, sweet, spicy, used around the world.
- Onion Powder – essential for making a variety of seasoning blends.
- Oregano – a classic Italian flavor, but also used in Tex-Mex and Mediterranean cuisine.
- Paprika – pungent and earthy, gives a nice red flavor to food and used around the world.
- Parsley – when fresh isn’t available, or when making a spice blend.
- Pepper, Cayenne – I use it in just about any kind of cooking to provide a nice touch of heat.
- Rosemary – a classic seasoning, great with pork, chicken, beef, and many vegetables.
- Sage – can you imagine Thanksgiving without sage dressing? I can’t. Also great in stews and poultry dishes.
- Savory – great in stews and tomato sauces. I use it on grilled chicken and salmon.
- Tarragon – bittersweet with a strong flavor, use it lightly. Chicken, salmon, vegetables.
- Thyme – widely used in Mediterranean cooking, a classic Italian seasoning. Goes great with chicken. Use lightly or it overpowers other seasonings.
- Turmeric – pungent and bitter, a staple in Indian cuisine. Gives food a nice yellow color.
- Vanilla – a kitchen without vanilla is a sad place!
Yes, I have each of these in my seasoning cabinet. Poor Deb often complains about the quantity of herbs and spices in the cabinet, but never complains about the food! We eat beef or pork maybe once a month. The rest of our meals the protein is either chicken or fish, with most of the fish being salmon. With the seasonings in the cabinet, we can have salmon several nights in a row and it will never taste the same. Learn the basics of sauces 5 Mother Sauces of Classical Cooking, and you can enjoy world class food at your dining room table. Most of the sauces aren’t difficult or time consuming either.
Spend some time smelling and even tasting seasonings to become familiar with them. Visit sites like The Spruce Eats, Food Network, Pioneer Woman, Betty Crocker to get recipe ideas and cooking tips. If you don’t own a cookbook or more, take a trip to a local bookstore, thrift shop, or visit Amazon.
I’ll cover making your own seasoning blends, sauces, and favorite quick but delicious recipes in future articles. Stay tuned, and Bon Appetit!