_Sugar And Spice And Other Things Nice

Serves: 5



In the dim recesses of my mind, I vaguely remember a grade school teacher telling our class about wars being fought over spices. At the time it seemed rather foolish, but the teacher is supposed to be right. Anyway...as I’ve matured, my palate, along with various other body parts, now requires some assistance. Consequently, my use of spices and herbs has increased accordingly.

A couple of friends, for medical reasons, have had to suffer through a bland diet along with whatever ailed them. Both of them told me they didn’t know what was worse. Being sick or eating "bland" food for weeks on end! Now, imagine an entire nation on a bland diet, and those long ago wars don’t seem quite so unreasonable!

To a kid growing up on meat and taters in SE Idaho, exotic included anything other than salt and pepper. After twenty-five plus years of eating my own cookin’, I’ve learned how merely varying the spices can turn a "ho hum plain jane dish" into something to brag about.

Spices and herbs are to cooking, as makeup is to women! Women utilize makeup to accent and highlight their natural beauty or to make the transformation from everyday to elegant. Herbs and spices perform the same function in the kitchen. Wise and judicious use of each will produce amazing results. Conversely, excessive use of either will ruin even a blind man’s appetite!

Whether rafting, horsepacking, or car camping, my kitchen always contains a variety of spices. On a short trip and at home I use fresh herbs whenever possible. A huge difference exists between most store bought stuff and herbs fresh from the garden. Basil being a case in point. Dried basil from the supermarket more resembles green cardboard than anything else, when compared with fresh basil. When you pack your spices, start with salt and pepper as a minimum. After that the upper limit will be determined by personal choice and room in the chuck box.

I suppose there have been entire books written on just spices and herbs and their uses, but I confess I’ve never read any of them. However, I am a graduate of T I T T & E*. The basic premise of T I T T & E is to expand upon seasoning called for in any given recipe. This philosophy can on occasion create truly phenomenal new dishes. Along the way many "trials and errors" result. "Trials" usually are edible depending on how hungry the diners, while "errors" may result in a trip to the vet for any neighborhood dog who might tip over your garbage can. On a more serious note though, don’t be afraid to experiment.

In my case, because I never use exactly what the recipe calls for, variation to some degree always results. Besides the amount of seasoning, the timing of its’ use may alter the finished product. For example, when making an Italian red sauce which should be simmered for a long time, I’ll add a small amount of seasoning about 20 - 30 minutes prior to serving. When using fresh herbs this really enhances the flavor.

Whether you’re an up and coming cook or someone like myself who falls in the category of "sagebrush chef", experimentation with spices and herbs should end only when six of your friends show up wearing clean shirts, bearing flowers, and wiping their eyes.


A Back Country Guide to Outdoor Cooking Spiced with Tall Tales - Vegetables in Camp

This _Sugar And Spice And Other Things Nice recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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