I cook out of necessity, but over the years I’ve learned to enjoy cooking. After my divorce, I found myself cooking for my four small children. Not only were my choices for meals limited because the kids would only eat certain things, I also now had to stick to a tight food budget. We were constantly eating chicken, ground beef or pork made into some sort of dish the kids would eat and that accommodated what I already had on hand. Spices and certain seasonings were out of the question. After they grew up, I started experimenting with various spices and condiments and found that it doesn’t take much to spice up your food.
The easiest way to spice up your food is simply by adding salt and some sort of pepper. Black pepper, white pepper or fresh or dried hot peppers can be added to almost any food. I add them to soups, salads, vegetables, pastas and meats. You can add as much or as little as you want and the flavors will be different depending upon whether you add the spice before, during or after cooking. You may also use bottled hot sauce in much the same way
Garlic is another flavor enhancing spice. Since it is a little spicy in it’s raw form, most people either mince it or saute it into their dishes. Garlic is especially good when added to raw vegetables like spinach or cabbage during cooking. Roasted garlic rubbed onto toasted bread or mixed into mashed potatoes is wonderful. Garlic sauteed in olive oil and butter is great on pasta or drizzled over hot steamed vegetables.
Ginger is another spicy root to use in your cooking. Not only does ginger add a different but unique flavor to your food, it can really spice things up. Try adding it to chicken or seafood. I sometimes saute chicken, ginger, onions, garlic and coconut milk together. MMMM… great with white rice.
Spicing up your food doesn’t necessarily mean adding heat. Just by trying a few new flavors, you can bring new life to your favorite recipes. Balsamic vinegar on french fries, a mustard/mayonnaise mix for crab claws, sauerkraut on pork chops or sour cream and chopped chives on a steak give your old favorites a new spin. A little Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, pepper jelly or salsa mixed into your ground beef for burgers adds an extra burst of flavor and makes the burger even more delicious. Try different toppings for your veggies too. Chopped onions, shredded sharp cheese, chopped nuts or lemon juice add flavor and can help picky eaters eat more vegetables.
Now that I am no longer at the mercy of what my children like to eat, I have realized that there are quite a few ways for me to spice up my food. Try some new and different things, I’m sure you will like them.