Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cooking Tools That Rock: Mortar and Pestle

I can't tell you how much in love I am with my marble mortar and pestle. I was looking for an affordable mortar and pestle ever since I saw the one that my father-in-law uses, a wood mortar and pestle that is over 40 years old. It's all worn down and absolutely gorgeous.

I was very intent on not spending a fortune on my purchase. I kept on stalking the kitchen items section at TJ Ma*xx and Marsh*alls, until I found one last year. The following is a link to a 4" marble mortar and pestle on Amazon (I think mine is 5" or 6"), and it's $10 cheaper than the one I purchased, of course:

Fox Run 4-Inch Marble Mortar and Pestle

It sat on my kitchen windowsill for a few months as I really did not have many whole spices to use it with. I was finally inspired to crush some whole cumin seeds with the mortar and pestle to add to my cholent last Friday.

I put in about a teaspoon of cumin seeds, crushed away (man, that was FUN), then leaned in for a sniff.


I almost passed out.

Freshly ground spices are amazing!

Freshly ground cumin smells about 100 times better than jarred ground cumin. OMG.

Anyone want some bottled ground spices? Between this cool tool and my new microplane grater, I'll be using as many whole spices that I can pretty soon and will have lots of spices I no longer want. I feel a shopping spree coming on.

Not only do freshly ground spices taste better, whole spices last a lot longer than ground spices. According to The Frontier Natural Co-op, ground seeds, barks and leaves lose their potency after one year, and ground roots lose their potency after two years. Whole seeds and barks last two to three years, whole leaves and flowers last one year, and whole roots last 3 years.

I'm warning you try freshly ground spices, there's NO going back.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Sorry people, but I'm talking about Chanuka. It's not a very stressful time for me, I get to cook yummy things, and it brightens the cold winter nights.

First, I have to link to the Baker's Banter post about Potato pancakes without the frying pan: Easy-Does-It Latkes. I've been wanting to bake latkes instead of frying them, but was always wary of other people's recipes. I think I can trust the brains behind King Arthur Flour (their White Whole Wheat Flour has changed my baking!), so I'll definitely give it a try.

The bonus is that I can multi-task a little better, and bake batches of regular potato latkes while frying my favorite sweet potato latkes. Yummy.

Note to self: Make sure to do a self-clean on oven this Saturday night, to prepare it for dairy baking. Oh yeah.