|Part of Herb Garden |
From top, clockwise:
Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Lavender, Chives
Oregano is hidden behind the sage
|The Spice Drawer|
Fresh Herbs You Ought to Grow and Use Regularly
Thyme – a workhorse across many cuisines. Very easy to grow.
Basil – summer herb, can be grown indoors in pots.
Rosemary – strong contributor to many cuisines. Very easy to grow.
Bay Leaf – a small tree, more powerful fresh. Can be potted to retard size.
Chives – a wonderful, gentle taste. Purple chive flowers are edible.
Mint – grows like a week. Many varieties with differing taste.
Oregano – least appreciated fresh herb. Unique. Easy to grow.
Sage – grows easily, beautiful purple flowers in spring. Several varieties.
Tarragon – tender, difficult to grow, but worth it. Awesome fresh herb.
Dry Versions of Herbs You Should Stock – just in case
Tarragon – especially important because the fresh plant is so delicate
Dried Spices and Herbs You Should Have On Hand At All Times
The list below is in priority order based on importance to good and interesting cooking.
Whole Black Pepper
Ground Cumin – it's surprising how versatile a little cumin is.
Whole Fennel Seeds – a truly secret ingredient, with a familiar taste
Whole Coriander Seeds – my super-secret ingredient – surprising bright citrus taste
Dried Red Pepper Flakes
Paprika – Hungarian, of course
Chile Powder – a few variations (like ancho) or home-ground are good additions too
Fresh Vanilla Bean – really no substitute
Nutmeg and metal grinder - not pre-ground
Chinese 5-Spice Powder – Unique blend, store-bought is OK. Homemade better.
Dill – not a big fan, as it's overused in most home cooking
Spices and dried herbs for Advanced Cooking or Exotic Dishes
Again in somewhat priority order based on frequency of use
Whole Yellow Mustard Seeds
Smoked Paprika – Pimenton (Sweet, Bitter and Hot versions)
Marjoram – oregano is easily substituted
Whole Allspice Berries
Turmeric – adds bright yellow color and a little unique flavor
Saffron – most expensive spice in the world. No flavor substitute.
Curry - you can make your own blend which is better than store-bought
Ground Cloves (very small portion – buy a small amount from a bulk seller)
Dried Yellow Mustard
Pickling Spices – you can assemble your own blend from other spices
Ground Ginger (not a substitute for fresh ginger) – mostly for desserts/cakes
Spices You Should Never (or Rarely) Use:
Onion Powder – use an onion. PLEASE.
Garlic Powder – use real garlic. PLEASE.
Onion Flakes / Dried Onion
Garlic Flakes / Dried Garlic
Dried Parsley – use fresh, or skip it.
Dried Chives – use chives, which can also be cut and frozen
A Couple Other Staples That Live in My Spice Drawer
Sesame Seeds – buy in Asian markets for best deal, or Asian section of grocery
Black Sesame Seeds – Use almost interchangeably with tan sesame seeds
Instant Coffee (Italian) – occasionally used for tortes, flourless cakes, etc.