Posts Tagged ‘spices’


Book Review: Informative and Interesting

   Posted by: anj68    in Hints

Occasionally, I am asked to review various cookbooks and most of the time I refuse, but when I was asked to review Skinny Spices: 50 Nifty Homemade Spice Blends That Can Turn Blah Healthy Eating Into Flavor-Rich Delicious Dining, I thought I would give it a go.SkinnySpicesFinalCover

The reason I agreed to review the book is on two fronts. 

  1. The author writes about the history of spices (something I am very interested in).
  2. Talks about the struggles with weight loss.  I’ve had personal experience with the weight loss failures and successes.  In 2010, I lost 60 lbs, but two years later I gained 40 of it back, and am fighting it again and have lost over 20 lbs of my 40 lb. goal. 

That being said, I really enjoyed reading Klein’s book.  Although fairly easy to read, it was educational and interesting.  I will probably keep my copy in my reference library to go back to for additional information as I prepare my own articles and presentations.

The spice blends are very diverse with international and domestic (U.S. influenced) flavors. The e-book creates a lot of links to recipes that any culinary enthusiasts would welcome.  Each recipe also contains the nutritional data and nutrient exchange that many are looking for when planning their meals and are very Weight Watcher/Nutrisystem/Medifast/Slimgenics friendly. 

As a cook, I am looking forward to trying many of the featured recipes and recommended spice blends.  If you have a chance, take a look at the book.  It’s worth the read! 

As a note, this review was not a paid review nor am I endorsing any weightloss plan.

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Rosemary Health Benefits

   Posted by: anj68    in Hints, history

In ancient times, Rosemary was used to relieve abdominal pain, gout, insomnia, and for the calming nerves. People would burn rosemary branches on the altars of the gods, considering it a sacred herb and the Egyptians placed the herb in pharaohs’ tombs. The custom of burning rosemary branches was practiced in hospitals in France until the 20th century – and used for cleaning the air. Also because of its antiseptic effect, the plant was appreciated and used for conserving meat, even in extremely hot weather – it was known that rosemary prevents and delays the decay of meat.

Rosemary in known as an analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiviral, aphrodisiac, and disinfectant while stimulating bile secretion and helping eliminate it in the intestines, destroying microorganisms, increasing the quantity of eliminated urine, improving the blood flow and refreshing and energizing the mind. Rosemary helps as a memory stimulant and has calming effects by working against fatigue, sadness, anxiety, calming muscle soreness, digestive pains and also, indigestion caused by stress.

Rosemary improves digestion, fights against obesity, liver diseases, gastritis, hyper or hypocholesterolemia, bronchic asthma, edemas, and adjusts fast heart beats caused especially by irritability, coffee or tobacco excess. Because of its antiseptic and tonic properties, rosemary is extremely beneficial in cases of fainting, influenza, hangovers, asthma, bronchitis, cramps, constipation, cystitis, headaches, polypus, colds, cough, sinusitis or muscular pains. The plant also has a good influence on the blood circulation and blood pressure.

SOURCES:,,, and

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Coming Soon – Benefits of Spices

   Posted by: anj68    in history, News

On my facebook page, fans have asked a lot of questions on spices and herbs. I’m going to begin adding some information on the historical uses of spices and herbs and share a recipe focused on that spice/herb. My goal is to do a weekly story/article. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and just didn’t have the time for it. 

Stay tuned readers, fresh content will be on its way!



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Tandoori and Naan

   Posted by: anj68    in Food, recipe

This past weekend, September 1-3, 2012 was the Mideast Mirage weekend at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  We struggled through the long weekend with the excessive heat, but we overcame it and made very tasty recipes.  Our 12:30 show centered on our wood-fired oven that was funded through Kickstarter.  The campaign concluded on July 1, 2012.

Tandoori and Naan prepared at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on September 3, 2012. Photo taken by Alice the Cook.

Each recipe we use is tested and altered to suit our needs.  The recipes below are the perfected versions of our recipes. 

2 lbs. skinless chicken thighs with bones
1 tsp saffron
1 tbsp hot water
1 cup onion, chopped
1” x 1” fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seed
3/4 tsp coriander seed
1/8 fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp chilies
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp turmeric 
1/2 a lime, zested and juiced
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp of Punjab powder (1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 
3/4 tsp of black pepper, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom) 
1 and 1/2 cup of unflavored Greek yogurt
1/4 cup melted butter or ghee

Preparing the marinade: 
Crush the saffron with your fingers and add to hot water and set aside for 10 minutes. Place whole seeds in a mortar and pestle or grinder and break them down to a course powder.  Mix the crushed spices with the powdered spices and mix in with the yogurt, saffron water, onions, garlic, ginger, lime juice and zest, oil and yogurt and mix until creamy. 

With a sharp knife cut deep crosses into the tops and bottoms of each piece of chicken.  Add the chicken to the marinade and transfer to a ceramic or glass bowl.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for 4-24 hours.  The longer it marinades, the better the flavor.

When ready, preheat oven to 425º F and remove the chicken from marinade and place the chicken in a single layer in a shallow, ceramic dish. Discard Marinate.  Bake for 15 minutes and baste the chicken with the butter/ghee and bake for another 10-15 minute or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly.


1 package active dry yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
1 cup warm water
¼ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 whole egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4½ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
¼ cup butter (one half stick), melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let it stand about 5 minutes. Add the sugar to the yeast water and let it sit for a couple of minutes.  The sugar will help feed the yeast.  Stir in milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough and pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.  The oven should have the fire removed and the temperature stabilized around 700 to 900 degrees F. 

At oven side, roll balls of dough out into thin circles. Use your rolling-pin to roll in the minced garlic into the naan and brush with butter.  Place dough on hearth, and cook until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Cook until browned (about 45 seconds in a 900 degree oven). Remove from hearth, and continue the process until all the naan have been prepared.

Now, if you do not have the advantage of a wood-fired oven, you may do a couple of things instead.  You may use a pizza stone in the middle of the oven and heat your oven to 500 degrees.  This will take longer, but will offer an adequate way of baking the naan.  Naan may also be baked in a cast iron fry pan on high temperature.  My assistant Rissa has used the back part of a pan as it is flat and easier to flip the naan. 


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