Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why I Love Herbs

 “Until I discovered cooking, I was never really interested in anything.” - Julia Child

 I love to eat, but I was never interested in learning how to cook. It was too slow for me and I was much happier reading to take time and ask my mom or dad to show me how to make something more complicated than a bowl of cold cereal. I was also taught that something that took time wasn't really worth doing when there was more important things that I could have been doing. So I never learned how to cook.

This isn't to say that my mom and dad were bad cooks. Everything that they learned to do came from one amazing woman, my grandmother. They are good cooks, but when I was little they were so busy that every other day was one fast meal after another. It was a treat for holidays when they slowed down enough to cook extravagant meals or when my mom slowed down enough to bake a cake or a loaf of bread.

A few months ago I was having problems with pain whenever I ate anything that contained meat or a lot of fat. I was at college and my first instinct was to change my diet and just not eat the things that would make me hurt. This resulted in me going vegan for a few months until we figured out that it wasn't any weird sudden allergy to food, but it was my gallbladder causing me the trouble. During this time I got interested in cooking.

I started out small. stir-fries became my best friend during my stint as a vegan. After a while, my pile of veggies became less and less appetizing because they started to taste the same no matter if I used soy sauce or another type of stir-fry sauce. That was when I had to admit to myself that I really didn't know how to cook.

Fast-forward to now and my problem with my gallbladder is gone (thanks to my wonderful doctor and surgeon), but my desire to learn how to cook is still the same. I remembered that my parents have a spice rack and I discovered it in a big way. I have started to make savory pancakes with thyme, nutmeg, and allspice. Garlic is not the only herb that I throw into my stir-fries any longer. Now they are packed with mustard and basil if I want to up the heat or with rosemary and lemon if I want to play up the sweeter flavors. Sage makes an excellent punch in scrambled eggs or even on a plain fried egg along with a little fresh ground black peppercorn.

Herbs and spices have made exploring cooking fun and interesting.What most people don't realize is that using herbs does not mean "spicy", it just means more flavor. People need to open up their minds and their spice cabinets and just see what one new herb can do.

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