Category Archives: Spice Mixes

Lavender Salt & Sugar

This post is so quick and easy I can hardly call it a recipe.

But pretty? Yes.  Delicious?  Oh, yeah.

Welcome, lavender salt and lavender sugar.  I’ve seen you around the blog universe, and I think even Martha Stewart would appreciate your gift-worthiness.  Plus, lavender grown in my very own herb garden made you extra easy to make–and real cheap.

Lavender Salt or Sugar

  • 1/2 C sugar (white or brown) or coarse sea salt
  • 3 t dried lavender buds (make sure they are approved for eating!)

I gave the lavender buds a quick whirl in my coffee grinder to break them up a bit and release some of those fragrant (not to mention delicious) oils.  I kept them mostly whole, so they were recognizable as lavender buds, though.

Either layer or combine the salt or sugar with the lavender in a glass container (or hey, you could go plastic if you want) with a lid. 

Well, that’s it.  You’re done.

I did a small one with brown sugar (probably only a quarter of a cup of sugar, if that) for sprinkling on top of oatmeal or baked goods.

I also did a bigger one with coarse sea salt–which would also be amazing on top of baked goodies (lavender salted chocolate fudge, anyone?), or fish, or pork.

Lastly, I made a fairly large container of plain white sugar–I figured I could add small amounts to things that I am baking for some extra flavor.  Or imagine rolling snickerdoodles in lavender sugar?  Gosh.

So many possibilities.

And of course, this makes a cheap and easy gift, especially if you tie a sweet label with some ribbon or string.

Christmas is coming up, ya know! 


Filed under Spice Mixes

Cocoa Cumin Steak

That’s right.  I made a steak for dinner tonight.

Fritz was in carnivore heaven.

This is an awesome dry rub recipe that I found in America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook over a year ago, and I could have sworn I already blogged about it because it is just so darn good.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had not.  And because of that, I owe you an apology.

It was downright mean to withhold this recipe from you.  Cruel and unusual punishment.  I’m sorry I did that to you.

So next time you are making a steak, and you aren’t sure what to put on it, try this dry rub.  And even though it may sound weird, trust me on this.

Cocoa Cumin Dry Rub Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 T cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 T freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 t ground cumin
  • 2 t ground allspice

Combine all the spices in a plastic or glass container–it’ll make enough for two or three steaks, so if you plan on using it twice, make sure that you don’t touch the raw meat and then touch the spice.  No diseases or bacteria, please.

Pat the steak dry with a paper towel and rub in the spices.

Grill over high heat for a few minutes until both sides are browned and grill-marked, then move over to medium heat for the remainder of the time.  I wanted it done medium-well, so I grilled it for another 12-15 minutes.

This steak is perfect as is.  No sauces, salt, or other fancy-smancy doohickeys needed.

I served it with a plain and simple green salad with blueberries and chocolate balsamic vinegar.

You might have noticed a little chocolate theme goin’ on here.  I did that on purpose.

Fritz’s sister is here visiting for the weekend, so tomorrow will probably involve lots of girly chat and possibly a haircut, which I desperately, desperately need.  Hopefully I’ll also have more time to play with the new lens.  Sayonara!


Filed under Spice Mixes

How to Store Cilantro (and Other Herbs)

Well, it’s 9:39 and I have yet to start studying for my test coming up (but I did study for a quiz and go over a Powerpoint), so I figured I might as well continue the trend and blog before I get down to business.

Plus, this’ll be another short one (lets see if I can be done by 10:00…it’s now 9:40).

In my CSA box this past week (another one comes tomorrow!), we received a giant bunch of cilantro.  I like cilantro well enough, but Fritz despises even the smell of it.  Seriously.  It makes him gag and whine like a little baby.

That’s not even all of it, and this posed a problem for my ability to finish said herb before it goes bad.  However, there is a solution!  Some herbs take to freezing well (such as basil, mint, chives, and obviously cilantro), and then they are quite easy to use later (or much later!) in soups, stews, and other cooked dishes.

Here’s the trick (9:46–had to upload all the pictures). 

Chop the herbs up veeeery finely and place in an ice-cube tray.  Spoon water over the top just until it’s covered.  Then freeze!

Quick and easy. 

Freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag and label it (frozen herbs look a lot alike when they are finely minced)!  These popped really easily out of the ice tray, and the ice tray doesn’t even smell like cilantro (I was worried, with the whole Fritz-gagging thing).

In other (very exciting) news, we stopped by a garage sale the other day and found tons of lenses on sale that fit my new camera and cost (drumroll!) $20 each!  The owner had something to do with a camera repair shop, and wasn’t sure if the lenses worked or not, so we had to have an impromptu photo shoot (9:50).  Eber quickly complied.

Isn’t she gorgeous?  She was actually standing across the street as I was trying out a  zoom lens (we bought the one that took these pictures).

And one of my personal favorites:

We ended up buying two lenses for $30–quite the steal!  I can’t wait to try them out on some beautiful landscapes when we go on vacation with the family in August to Canada.  Should be a blast.

Unlike studying.  It’s 9:55!  Have a beautiful night!


Filed under Spice Mixes

Lavender, Thyme, and Rosemary Dry Rub

1) Happy Π day! 

2) I wanted to bake a pie to celebrate because any self-respecting science-and-maths-loving food blogger should.

3)  But it’s midterms week…so I didn’t do that.

4)  I took two out of my seven midterms today and did well on them–but I am now completely drained and can’t possibly imagine ever studying again. 

5)  So instead, Fritz and I are watching Wedding Crashers and I’m blogging and editing pictures.

6)  We also just ate a frozen pizza for dinner.

7)  It was incredibly delicious.

8)  It wasn’t frozen when we ate it.

9)  I still have a lot of tests to go, so I should probably get this post moving along so I can hit the books again.

My mom called me a few days ago and told me she bought me a book about herbs–how to grow them, harvest them, use them, etc.  It’s pretty exciting because I started an herb garden last year, and I spotted some babies starting to grow already.

Anyway, Mom was paging through the book and reading me some of the ideas over the phone, and she mentioned a recipe for lavender syrup.  That got my brain going–I completely forgot that you can eat lavender, not just bask in the glory of its luscious smell. 

I had pork chops in the fridge, and a quick google later this dry rub was born.

Lavender, Thyme, and Rosemary Dry Rub

  • 1 t dried lavender (you can buy culinary lavender in some grocery stores if you don’t happen to have some from your herb garden)
  • 2 t dried thyme
  • 1 t dried rosemary
  • 1/4t-1/2 t salt, depending on your personal taste (start low!)
  • 1/4 t ground white pepper

Roughly crush the spices (lavender, thyme, and rosemary) in a mortar and pestle–or use a spice grinder if you want finer spices.

Dry two pork chops with paper towels, and rub the dry rub into it with your fingers on both sides.

Grill ’em up!

Our gas grill ran out of gas, so Fritz broke out the charcoal even though it was a little windy out.  I had completely forgotten how the smell of a charcoal grill is beyond amazing.  It smells like camping and fire and summer nights…


I’m off to study some more–enjoy your last few minutes of that Daylight Savings Time light.


10)  This was the best dry rub we’ve ever had.  So delicious.


Filed under Spice Mixes

Garam Masala (Spice Mix)

Often when I make Indian food (and apparently Moroccan), it requires a spice mix that I don’t have–garam masala.  Garam masala means “hot mixture”, but that refers more to the intensity of the spices included then the actual heat–it’s not really a hot spice, more of just a spicy spice.  If that makes any sense. 

As I was making the Moroccan stew a few days ago, the recipe once again called for garam masala, which I (once again) didn’t have.  As I thought about it, I realized that I probably had all the spices used in the mix, and combined with a coffee grinder, I could probably just make my own!

I was right.

Garam Masala (adapted from this recipe)

  • 4 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 t ground ginger (I didn’t have this, but I will absolutely add it as soon as I get my hands on some)
  • 3/4 t black cardamom
  • 3/4 t cloves
  • 3/4 t cinnamon (two 1″ pieces)
  • 3/4 t crushed bay leaves

If the spices you are using are already ground, simply combine them in a bowl and mix.  For a more authentic (and powerful!) mix, use whole spices, toast them first, and then grind them.

To toast them, heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and add spices.  Move the spices often by shifting and shaking the skillet so they don’t burn–and don’t be tempted to turn up the heat!  Toasted spices taste good, burnt ones do not.  Once they have all deepened a few shades in color, remove from the heat and let them cool.

I used a few pre-ground spices and some whole, depending on what I had.  I toasted the bay leaves, cardamom, cumin, black peppercorn, and cinnamon.

Let me warn you–toasting spices smell amazing!

The pre-ground spices I added to a bowl to await the others (cloves, coriander, and would have been ginger, if I had it).

Once the spices cool, grind them in a spice/coffee grinder (or a food processor may work). I ground the cinnamon first, then added the rest.

Combine with the other spices, mix, and store in an airtight container.  I had just run out of tandoori masala, so I had a nice almost-correctly labeled container to use.

that's my coffee grinder in the background (thanks, Mom--as always!)

I really don’t know how I lived without a coffee grinder before my mom stepped in.  I use it for everything–grinding oats, grains, spices–everything.

I also wanted to remind you of a recipe from a few months ago:  Not Your Grandmother’s Tuna Salad.  I was scavenging through the cupboards trying to find something (anything!) to make for a quick lunch, and I remembered this recipe.  It’s quick, healthy, and uses up those ingredients that you can usually find in the cabinets when you have nothing else.  It’s not the kind of tuna salad you put in a sandwich, but the actual salad kind.  Lovely!

Wondering what Henry is up to?

Fritz calls this “playing Crock Pot”.  Henry climbs up into those shelves and quietly waits for me to notice him.  He also likes being able to survey the activities of the mere mortals who live beneath him.

I woke up super early this morning because the sun was shining so brightly that there was no way I could go back to bed–too  beautiful!  I’m definitely looking forward to Daylight Saving Time this weekend because I love, love, LOVE when it’s light out past five–plus, it’s much easier to fit in dinner after class without having to set up the lightbox for pictures or rushing to chase daylight.

Enjoy the sunshine today!


Filed under Spice Mixes