In case you haven’t noticed, Feaston goes crazy for good spices. We prefer to grow our own because it’s really the best way to get fresh spices on the cheap.
But we could fill a small greenhouse with the amount of different spices we use on a weekly basis. We’ve put together a list of our most commonly used spices to help you prepare for future recipes.
Apparently I decided that we needed TWO bottles of crushed red pepper in that photo. Chalk that one up to oopsies. The thing is, we use a lot of crushed red pepper, but not enough to warrant two bottles in one photo.
Our spice list starts with the most commonly used items, then continues on down the line:
- Number One, hands down, is salt and pepper. Technically two spices, but for our purposes they work in tandem quite often. Make sure you get some good stuff. Get coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Stuff is great for cooking and it has a wide surface area, so it actually shows up in and on your food. As for the pepper? Get whole kernels in a pepper mill. The powdered stuff is worthless in comparison.
- Cumin. This guy nips at the heels of number one. We make a lot of southwestern- and Mexican-inspired foods: tacos, spicy chicken and cheese, and countless rubs for grilling meat. Plus, if you cook for a lot of vegetarian friends, cumin is a good replacement for the earthy, smoky flavors that red meat brings to the table. Try it in unexpected places, like on fried eggs. It won’t disappoint.
- Garlic. Again, nearly number one. But I guess if we had a list of number ones, it wouldn’t be much of a list. Fresh garlic is always best. Lots of garlic, in our opinion, is better than not enough. Do yourself a favor and buy a garlic press. It’s one tool with one use that we still love. It’s also best to have garlic salt AND garlic powder on hand — if using garlic salt, remember to cut back on the amount of salt salt you use in the recipe. And one other thing — fresh garlic should never, ever, ever be browned. By that point, it’s burnt and bitter.
- Basil, oregano, rosemary. These are used frequently by themselves and together. We consider them part of the Italian spices family. We use them for a wide variety of flavoring. Rosemary is awesome on chicken and potatoes and oregano makes everything taste like pizza — in the best possible way. Basil is the easiest thing in the world to grow and can be frozen and thawed for sauces, like a basic tomato sauce, at a later date.
- Crushed Red Pepper. See number 2. We also use this in a lot of marinades to crank up the heat. It’s best to let crushed red pepper sit in a bit of warm oil to really get the flavor and heat out, but be warned that if you add this to a sauce or spread, the sauce or spread WILL get hotter as time passes.
So there you go. If you don’t have these spices on your rack, spend the $20 and get them. Spices really make the difference in the quality of your cooking and make for more lively flavors.