Monthly Archives: February 2011

Going Cajun!

In my last post,  I had talked about how much I appreciate and count on the support I get from people… Well, let me present Exhibit A!

Let the Cajun education begin!

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing several fellow Andrea Bocelli fans at an event in New York City. During the post-concert dinner, I mentioned to my Lousiana-born friend Judy that I want to develop a Cajun spice blend to add to my collection of ethnic blends. Until now, my exposure to Cajun cuisine has been limited; a trip to New Orleans several years ago, dinner at Emeril’s NOLA restaurant, and watching numerous cooking shows.

 Judy gave me several helpful insights, including this one that cracked me up:  “Real Cajuns don’t do that blackened thing… to them, that’s not blackened, it’s just BURNT!”. 

To my surprise and delight, a package from Judy arrived in the mail today, full of products that she uses and recommends, a list of “staples” for Cajun cooking, and a cookbook to inspire me!  I can’t wait to dive into the world of crawfish, etoufee, gumbo, jambalaya and much more.

 Laissez les bon temps rouller!

Salt and networking

One of the many things I’ve learned, in growing this new business, is the enormous power of connections and networking. It’s not just a catchphrase or trend; without a strong web of professional support all around me, I simply couldn’t do this.

I expect this support from certain areas, especially where I have paid for it, like the Chambers (Southern Saratoga and Columbia County), and other great associations I belong to. The part that surprises me, sometimes, is what form this support takes. For example, I source several items from Webstaurantstore.com because they have great prices and lots of choices. While searching for the perfect little dishes to use for salt sampling, I worked with Joe G, one of their customer service reps.  Right there, just the fact that I actually knew my rep’s name was unusual… but when he invited me to post on their FB page, it gave me some great visibility and of course gave them the credit they deserved.

But that’s not where it ends. Another rep anwered my post with a link to a really neat article on a blog called Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, in which he discussed the pros and cons of gourmet salts.  Well, not only was the article fascinating (hence reposting it here), I saw that the author used a service called NetworkedBlogs.com to help syndicate his blog. So of course I signed up, and I look forward to getting the word out and expanding my blog horizons.

OK, none of this is earthshattering… but it’s the continual process of A leads to BB leads to C, that intrigues and inspires me. Yes, I am technically doing this alone, but without the leads, hints, ideas, suggestions, examples and other inspirations, I realize I’m not alone at all.

Thanks, everyone!

P.S. Look for another post, soon, about the unsual and yummy salts that I have available, along with some cute and handy salt “accessories”!

Introducing: Rockin’ Moroccan

 

I love creating new blends, and the ones that are most fun are the exotic ones!

So I ventured into North Africa and pulled together the tastes that you might find in Morocco and Algeria, for this new blend that is awesome in the traditional lamb stew with couscous!

Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous

There are many variations of this North African stew, both in terms of the spices used and the meat (or lack of meat). Feel free to substitute beef for lamb, or skip it entirely for a vegetarian version. Traditionally served over a mound of couscous (preferably whole wheat), this hearty and healthful dish will serve about 10.

2 lbs lamb shank
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
8 large carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
4-6 zucchini squash, cut into 1″ pieces
2 large sweet potatoes (or white potatoes, or yams)
16 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, with liquid
2 16 oz cans garbanzo beans, with liquid
32 oz chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3/4 tsp salt (opt)
4 tsp Rockin’ Moroccan spice blend

In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown the lamb pieces in generous amount of olive oil until very dark all over. Lower heat and add the garlic and onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring to pick up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the rest of the ingredients. If needed, add some water to cover the vegetables. Cover, and raise heat to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender and the lamb begins to come off the bone (or shred with a fork). Taste for seasoning, and add more salt or Rockin’ Moroccan spice blend as needed.

The stew can rest at this point until ready to serve.  When ready, prepare couscous for the number of people you are serving. If using boxed couscous, follow instructions on box.

If using loose couscous, here is what you need to know:  one cup of dry couscous serves about 2 people for a main dish. For each cup of dry couscous, you will need to boil 1 1/2 cups of water (or you can use broth for more flavor). Once the liquid boils, turn off the heat and add in the dry couscous. Cover tightly and let sit until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve as the base for your stew.

For detailed info on cooking couscous, check out this neat site:  http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/cooking/cook-couscous-00000000002332/index.html

Your Moroccan stew can be frozen, but it is best to freeze the couscous and the actual stew separately.

Do you enjoy Moroccan dishes?  Try these other 2 recipes of mine:  Moroccan Lamb Mini Meatballs and Deconstructed Hummus!

photo credit: http://www.travelvivi.com/israeli-cuisine/

Coming up…

I’ll be at Small Business Fair on Sunday, Feb. 6th from 11AM to 2PM, with a small but very talented group of entrepreneurs! The list is available on the  Small Business Fair at Unity Church flyer.

The church is located at 21 King Avenue in Albany NY (close to exit 5, Everett Road).  If you arrive early you can catch the 10AM service, too!

For more info about Unity, see http://www.unitychurchinalbany.org/

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to this new blog!

I’m Laura Griffin, the owner of Your Spice of Life.  What is that?  A small producer of handmade, organic spice products to make your meals delicious, easy and healthful — hence our slogan of “Yummy.  Easy.  Organic.™”.   I’m located in the foothills of the Berkshire mountains, in the middle of nowhere but accessible to everywhere.

On these blog pages, I’ll be bringing you news, lots of recipes, and info on the amazing health benefits of herbs and spices. At the same time, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on running a small business — the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, as they say!

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