Monday, December 21, 2009

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, we know them best as the special gifts of the Magi. They presented these precious items to honor the baby Jesus long ago. All were given out of love, admiration and respect. These are the same fine qualities we still share today in gift giving. Now one might say that they were the very first Christmas gifts ever offered. We all know the story of the Nativity and of the three gifts mentioned. Of coarse gold is well known in today's world but what exactly are the other two?

Lets take a look so we can better relate when we read or hear the words Frankincense and Myrrh. Both are actually derived from resins of trees.
Frankincense is the product of the Boswellia sacra tree. This is a small deciduous tree which can have one or several trunks. The resin or sap is drawn from it and then dried. Since ancient times Frankincense was used in religious ceremonies. This spice is still used in today's society in everything from perfumes to medicinal needs and shows promise as a form of treatment in several medical conditions. Also used as incense and the aromatic aroma helps to reveal a tranquility with ones spirit and mind. To promote an inner harmony and peace within oneself.
Myrrh is derived from the Commiphora myrrha tree. This small and very thorny tree is a native to the Arabian peninsula. It was used in perfumes and incense. Myrrh was also used as an antiseptic and embalming oil for the dead. In some cultures it was also burned during their religious sacrifices. In modern times though myrrh is used as an antiseptic, in toothpaste and mouthwashes. It is also found as an ingredient in some healing salves that are designed to treat mild abrasions and minor skin ailments. Myrrh also shows promise in aiding in many different medical conditions.

Now in ancient times both of these spices were highly regarded as equal or even greater in value than gold. Many times these three different gifts are mentioned through out the bible. So what is the significance of these particular gifts given to baby Jesus in a manger so many years ago?

First the gift of gold was and is a symbol of status and royalty. Known to all nations and people and highly regarded as power and authority. This gift said He would be King.

Second the gift of frankincense is thought to have stimulating, warming and calming properties. It was used as a means of meditation and self awareness. This gift said He would enlighten us and open our eyes to the truth.

Finally the gift of myrrh which seems to be a bitter sweet gift when compared to the other two. Although myrrh was used in incense and perfumes in those days. Its most notable use of biblical times was that of an embalming oil. This gift said one day his earthly life would end because He was born to die for the world. Myrrh was one of the burial spices used in His burial preparations.

So I think the very first Christmas gift wasn't Gold, Frankincense or Myrrh it was the true gift of life through a baby in the manger for all mankind to receive and embrace.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas.

Christmas dinner past and present

Christmas is a time of giving, caring and fond memories new and old. Still the other cool thing about Christmas is the eats. Come on admit it you love to indulge in great tasting foods and desserts during this time of the year. Heck without Christmas treats most of us wouldn't have a new years resolution to aim for. Something like maybe dropping a few holiday pounds before beach weather is on us. Oh yeah you know where we're coming from and there's nothing wrong with that train of thought. The truth is that Christmas dinner and desserts are just about as big of a part of this holiday as gift giving is. When you think about it; sharing our well prepared foods with loved one's and friends is giving a gift too. There is a lot of love, time, effort and thought that goes into a fine Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Then you also have those great homemade sweet treats like cookies, cakes, pies and more. Man you have to love this holiday.

So did you know that Christmas has always been about the food and sharing time with family and friends since it's most earliest years. Back in the colonial days Christmas dinner was the main focus. They would have had either goose, ham, turkey, beef or venison for the main course. If you lived closer to the coast you might enjoy oysters, fish, or mincemeat pies. Now the desserts were more then likely some type of pudding or custard, fruit pies and of coarse the infamous Christmas fruit cake. Egg nog was a very popular drink also but unlike today it was served up hot. There was also a good supply of alcoholic beverages too. Fruit wines, rum punch, old fashion brandy and other alcoholic beverages were all part of the holiday.

So like today there is really no one main "must have dish" on your table for a Christmas dinner. Location, preferences and diversity of people make Christmas dinner unique in every household. There is one thing to take to table though this Christmas and that is a word of thanks. Thanks for the one who has worked so hard to prepare the fine meal your about to enjoy, and for the precious time shared together at this holiday season. Now that's Christmas

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

a new holiday tradition

Well this is the time of year where many family traditions have originated. Handed down from one generation to the next. It's why so many children, teenagers and adults alike look forward to the holiday season. Now we all have at least one or maybe several that always bring back a special moment that we shared with a favorite loved one or friend. Of coarse there is always a new joy of sharing it with that special someone in your family who is brand new to this type of grand treatment. To watch their reactions of excitement and joy, and how knowing you are passing on the torch so to say. These traditions can be anything from a special dessert to grandpa's homemade dressing or those special movies, parades, songs or a social function you might enjoy at this time of the year. Maybe just knowing that you will be able to share the holiday season with your family once again. No matter what your special tradition maybe our main goal is remembering the day, those we share it with and being thankful for what we have been blessed with.

With all of that in mind maybe a new tradition could or should be added to our holiday season. We all know or maybe are even feeling the effects of our struggling economic situation in our country this year. Due to many company closings, lay offs and cutbacks many once thriving citizens are finding themselves in a financial failure of their own. Our homeless rate is now advancing at a speed in which we have not experienced in our country since the great depression. Many of these folks were solid citizens in our nation for many years and many have been forced now to trying to survive on the streets. This also includes whole families too. The growing number of children now living on the streets is terrible. Sure these unfortunate people try receive local help, work, food and a place to stay or sleep but that is also a problem. These organizations and churches that are geared toward helping the homeless can only do so much. As with anything funds are slim for them too.

So what we should do this and every holiday season is try to donate a little, food, money or personal time to help those that are so much in need, Where hope for them is a fleeing dream. This doesn't have to be a huge type of contribution either. Drop off a few can goods at your local church or food drive, or contact your local coalition for the homeless and see what you might can do. There are many ways and places to give a little bit, but a little bit means that maybe a child is not going hungry tonight.

This is the season for giving thanks and for brotherly love, something that is becoming a dwindling commodity in our nation. If we all do just a small thing it will result in a major blessing to so many that are in need. It's amazing to what extremes we will go to help abandoned animals in this country but yet people seem to ignore the homeless problem.

So on Thanksgiving as you are preparing your turkey remembering to baste often so that it is tender and moist. Take time to give thanks for all you and your family have been blessed with for you never know how fast things can change. Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Classic Recipe for Acorn Squash
It has been some time since I visited our local farmers market. So I decided to do just that. The Leesburg Market, located in Leesburg
Lake County is held every Sat. from 8 am till 1.00 pm and located on Main street downtown. There is always a nice crowd of folks
enjoying the many different vendors and their products. With the added pleasure of live local entertainment coupled with a friendly atmosphere it's easy to find yourself in a relaxed mood.

My mission today though was produce so I found myself at the stand of 44 Produce. A local marketeer with a fine selection of veggies and fruit. 44 Produce has been in the area for several years and has a permanent road side stand located on Highway 44,
about a mile past Radio Road. Their vegetables and fruit always look hand picked with care and have excellent presentation. It is family owned and they are very willing to help you with any questions you might have. As I looked around I decided to purchase some Acorn Squash and Zucchini.

Personally I have never prepared or eaten acorn squash before. Even though I have found it to be intriguing in shape, color and size, similar to a gourd. So today I went for it. The folks at the stand didn't mind a bit in sharing how to prepare and cook this squash. It definitely sounded like something I could handle so I headed back home with my treasures and readied myself for a first time ever adventure of acorn squash as for the zucchini well that's like an old friend and we will definitely meet up later in the week.

The recipe in case you too have never tried this particular type of squash goes something like this.

Take one Acorn squash and cut in half Scrap out the seed section. Now add a pad of butter or margarine to both halves
Sprinkle well with brown sugar,
May also add some maple syrup if so desired
Add just a pinch of cinnamon to both halves, I found it really helped bring it all together.
Salt as desired
Now place in the oven on a pie pan and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes

When the outer skins of the squash are soft they are done.
Serve them up just as they are.

Acorn Squash in my honest opinion has a very unique flavor compared to other types of squash, maybe it isn't for everyone, but I found it to be a delightful
change. We welcome your comments on this unique squash.

The Gourds are upon us

The Gourds are upon us !

Well if you have been to the grocery store or an open air market lately, you have probably noticed that fall and the holidays are just about upon us. Why you might ask? That's easy, gourds are every where in all those cool shapes, colors and sizes. So why do you suppose we only see them around the holiday season? It could be because they are a fall harvested type crop. Coupled with their autumn type colors they are a perfect way to bring a touch of nature into our homes. We have latched on to them in a big way and that's a nice tradition to have.

There are two different groups of the gourd family. The curcurbita a day blooming plant which produces a yellow flower and the lagenaria a night blooming plant with a white blossom. Together they make up hundreds of different species of some of the coolest looking fruits found around the world. Gourds are not at all on the edible side of life as we know, so don't try eating your holiday decorations, not such a good idea.
Of coarse here's a little factoid
Did you know that pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon and honey dew melons are derived from the gourd family.
If you think about it you can see the resemblance.

So what do we do with gourds? It takes about 140 days from planting till harvest. That's a lot of vested time for something we can't eat. Well the truth is there are many different uses found around the world. From painted art objects, musical instuments to utensils such as bowls, cups, pitchers or ladles. Here in the good old USA we use them more for bird house, crafted art work and of coarse holiday decor.
The truth is that gourds have been around for a long time and there is a lot of history with gourds and mans utilization of them. It's still nice to see that with all of our modern inventions and technology gourds still have a place in our world.

So the next time your visiting friends or family over this holiday season, you might just see some interesting gourds being displayed on the kitchen counter or table top. They really do bring a sense of change and holiday spirit into the home.

If you've never tried them at your home well it really is a nice inexpensive way to decorate for the fall season, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Just check them out at your local grocery or farmers market. It can really be a fun adventure for the kids too.
Just a little non- food for thought.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Health benefits without the work

Health benefits without the work
In our modern day society you can find cooking spices everywhere. In your grocers, quick stops, health store's, open air markets and on the internet. These spices have been in existence from our earliest times. Sure we know them best as recipe and food enhancers, but through the years they have also been used in cosmetics and as healing potions.
For decades cultures such as Asian and Indian have recognized the health benefits associated with certain spices. Even our great ancestors realized that certain spice's had the ability to help and promote in the healing of their injured and in ailing citizens. As a matter of fact spice's are being looked at and studied more today then ever before. We are just now starting to see and realize the great advantage of utilizing our common spice's. Many posses essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to maintain good health. Plus the advantage of antioxidants, certain nutrients, oils and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron. All of these also add to our overall good heath picture.
We are discovering that the cooking spice's we take for granted can contribute to our health in big ways. From anti-inflammatories, to our digestive system, motion sickness, blood pressure, blood sugar , cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be affected. More resent studies are also showing signs of certain spice's helping in the fight against such disease as Alzheimer's and certain types of cancer.
Lets take a look at the medical benefits of just three different spices.

The first spice is Cinnamon. This exotic spice is actually derived from the bark of the cinnamon tree. It has a high content of anti-oxidants. It can also help improve blood circulation due to it's anti-inflammatory and blood thinning characteristics. This quality makes it useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Cinnamon can also aid in intestinal and digestive disorders.

Our second spice is Garlic. Actually a species in the onion and shallot family these bulbs grow underground. Garlic has shown signs in helping to aid against heart disease and disorders. Such as high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and atherosclerosis. It can also be a factor in the fight against certain types of cancer through its antioxidant content.

Finally the third spice is Turmeric. This is actually the part of the root system that grows off the primary tuber of a tropical perennial plant, also in the ginger family. Turmeric posses many great health benefits. It is probably best known as the additive to mustard helping to produce it's yellow coloring. It is a commonly used spice in many Indian and Asian food recipes.The main compound found in Turmeric is known as Curcumin. For years in Asia it has been used as an antiseptic for cut's and burns. It helps with aid in gastrointestinal and digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome. This spice is also being studied to aid in the fight of Alzheimer's, different type of cancers, autoimmune disease, liver disorders and arthritis. This is a very health spice.

We still have a lot more to learn about the benefits of spices and our health. Although there is one thing we do know. Adding a little spice to our meals on a daily basis is a good start to staying heathier. It is also a good way to add flavor to our foods without adding unwanted calories too.

There is a lot of information on this topic and related subjects on line. Thats why we here at Basil and Things are committed to you our valued customers and reader in the product we sell. Not only in freshness but in quality and great service too.
So please take some time to further explore the great potential in the health benefits associated with cooking spices. Also check out our store and our great selections of everyday,special blends, and baking spices at
Until next month
Take care,happy cooking, and be safe.
Rick and Kathy with Basil and Things

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How much spice is in your life ?

For many of us when it comes to seasoning our food salt and pepper is what we first think of. Sure they are usually sitting on the table so we instinctively reach for them. The problem though is that there is a world of spices out there that can turn an ordinary meal into a masterpiece with little effort on our part, as long as we understand what spices we are planning to use.

With the weakened economy more and more families are staying at home these days and preparing their own meals. This is not a bad thing, but it also brings us to a good point. By adding a few different spices to your everyday meals you can change the flavor of your meal plus enjoy the satisfaction of creating your very own special dish. So you are standing in your kitchen asking yourself what spices would be best, remember you don't have to go crazy just try some simple things such as adding sesame seeds to your broccoli, a little cajun seasoning in your rice or add some roasted garlic with fresh chives to your
potatoes. You can roast your own garlic or purchase roasted garlic granules.The idea is to not be afraid to experiment with different spices and ideas. There are a lot of great sources for recipes on the net or in your favorite bookstore to help you.

That's why Basil and Things carries a nice assortment of seasonings, and spices. From 1 oz. and 2 oz. bottles as well as resealable plastic bags. Our blended seasonings are original and not found in stores. We strive to ensure that our products are always fresh. Great flavor and aroma are a key ingredient to any prepared meal. Sure there are some that may never make it to your kitchen but there is a lot of opportunity just sitting there for the taking. Whether you enjoy cooking or not so much remember that spice's can offer you a whole new world. So explore conquer but most of all have some fun with them.

Take a few moments and visit us at we will be happy to help or answer any questions you may have.

So be safe, take care, and happy cooking.

Rick and Kathy with Basil and Things

Vacation - Nightmare or Blessing?

Vacation - Nightmare or Blessing?

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

August Newsletter

August 1. 2009
Saffron a very exotic and expensive spice
The saffron plant is native to Asia Minor, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. This very small plant was used in medicines, perfumes, dyes, as well as a food seasoning . It has been dated back as far as the old testament bibical days.
Widely used by the Assyrians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans,
Persians and other peoples of that day.
Now you might be asking what is saffron exactly?
and that is a good question.
Saffron is actually the stigmas of the crocus flower. Each purple crocus flower produces
three stigmas. These are picked and dried thus producing the reddish strands or
threads which is the spice. They usually bloom in the autumn.
It takes approximately 14,000 stigmas to produce only one ounce of saffron threads or about 70,000 crocus flowers to produce one pound of saffron. The saffron plants themselves are planted by hand. The saffron flowers and stigma threads are also picked and
harvested by hand. The process of harvesting this spice is usually a two to three week period, which is labor intensive and also explains why this is the
worlds most expensive spice on the market today.
To see a photo of a Saffron Crocus in bloom go to Trek Earth
The finest quality saffron comes from Spain, Kashmir and Iran. Although it is grown in other countries around the world such as Greece, Turkey, Italy, Morocco and India.
Spain is probably the largest exporter of this "Cadillac" of spices.
Some of the largest saffron importers are Germany, U.S.A., Switzerland, U.K.
There are varying degrees of saffron on the market today and they are usually graded according to laboratory measurements for characteristics such as crocin (colour), picrocrocin (taste), and safranal (fragrance) content. These will determine the grade and quality. Despite such attempts at quality control and standardization in today's market many growers do not recognize these types of test.
You will see that company's will sell a saffron thread mixture. This will usually mean that a high-grade say, Kashmiri saffron, is often sold mixed with a lesser grade say an, Iranian import, thus reducing the saffrons uniqueness. A pure Spanish or Mancha grade of Saffron is a good choice when shopping for the fine quality of saffron.
Saffron has a very unique aroma and flavor.
I have heard and read many different descriptions and I guess it is in the nose of the beholder, to coin a phrase. Anyway I will give you some idea here.
I would say that
saffron has a semi sweet woody aroma. Making it a very distinctive.
As for taste, well that too will be determined by the user.
I do find it to be a semi bitter sweet flavor that does enhance many different dishes.
It also blends well with a varied of spices such as:
garlic, thyme, onion powder, fennel, cardamom, lemon,
curry and pepper to mention a few.
There are several ways to prepare saffron for use from full strands, ground, to soaking them. This will depend greatly on the recipe you are preparing.
Lets look at some of these uses.
If you are planning to use saffron threads just as they are remember that a little goes a long way. The saffron flavor will be stronger the second day.
A pinch in soups, stews or rice is generally all that is needed for
excellent flavor and color.
Oh yes and the color produced once cooked is a nice shade of yellow.
You can also soak your saffron threads in a broth water or wine.
A good rule of thumb is approximately
5 teaspoons of liquid for every half teaspoon of saffron.
Mash the threads and form a thick paste . Then add the paste to your dish when ready. You should allow a minimum of 30 minute soaking to a maximum of 2 hours for best results.
If you use a powdered or mixed saffron seasoning
such as the one we offer remember that the saffron will not be as strong in this setting.
Also there will be other spices in the mix to lessen the effect of the saffron.
You should still be able to recognize the saffron flavor though.
Basil and Things is now carrying our very own special blend of Saffron Rice Seasoning.
We have combined a very unique flavor with a variety of spices.
We are offering this Seasoning in a 1 oz. bottle at this time.
We hope you will try our newest blend and find it to be very tasty.
Saffron is excellent in seafood dishes as bouillabaisse, or marinade for fish.
Try it in risotto and other rice and pasta dishes.
Great in beef stew, soups, and broths.
Also excellent to add to your tomato based sauces.
Saffron is also used in bread and cake recipes too.
As I mentioned above Saffron does blends well with a wide range of spices
So let your imagination take hold an see what you may create
with the "most expensive spice in the world".
So until next month "Have Fun, Take Care, and Happy Cooking".
Rick and Kathy with Basil and Things

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Is it Herb, Spice or Vegetable?

Hi everyone and Welcome to our July Issue.

This months topic is Herb, Spice or Vegetable and what gives them
their classification and distinction?

Generally a herb is the leaf part of the plant and is often used in a fresh state; such as: parsley, chives, sage, oregano, basil, coriander, thyme or rosemary to mention a few.
All of these can be purchased in a dried or dehydrated state but they are still considered an herb because they are the leafy part of the plant.

The other parts of the plant such as: Roots (ginger, turmeric or horseradish) Bark (cassia and cinnamon) Berries (peppercorns and allspice) Seeds ( cumin, fennel, sesame, dill just to name a few.) Buds (cloves and rose). Oh and lets not forget the most expensive spice known to man which is the stigma of a flower better known as (saffron). All of these mentioned above and many others that you find on your shelves todary are dried and then commonly known as a spice. This process does perserve the spice and gives it a much longer shelf life. Of coarse it should be stored in an air tight container and out of direct sunlight. If the spice has been sitting for a long time you will not detect it's aroma, because the aroma will be the first to go and also it's flavor will become very week.
Thats why we at Basil and Things always monitor our spice's shelve time frame.

Now some vegetables are kind of unique because they can play on either side of the fence. We're talking about vegetables such as: onions, garlic, fennel, peppers, beets, celery,
leeks (a cousin to the onion) spinach and tomatoes to mention the most common..
When these vegetables are served fresh they are considered as an herb in culinary cooking. Of coarse once they are processed ground, dried, roasted or dehydrated then they take on a whole new life and are known as a spice.

Now all of these that we have talked about are cultivated everywhere in the world. Generally in warmer climates, but the location of growth still plays no real part in their distinct classification. It boils down to how they are served, processed or prepared.

Herbs and spices are also classified from mild to hot.
Now I'm not going to get into all the different one's but just to give you an
idea on some of the more commonly used ones.
MILD: Coriander, fennel, poppy and sesame seeds, parsley, turmeric, paprika and chervil

MEDIUM or SWEET : Allspice, cinnamon, chives, nutmeg, rose,vanilla and aniseed.

STRONG or TANGY: Basil, dill, lemongrass, mint, marjoram, tarragon,

PUNGENT: Bay leaf, caraway, celery seed, cloves, cumin, garlic,ginger, and oregano.

HOT: Chili's ( cayenne or jalapeno pepper) horseradish, mustard, peppercorns.

Even though herbs and spices break down into these different categories each and everyone of them are still remarkable when used properly . Either direct or as a blend.

Basil and Things carries over 95 different herbs, spices and special blends some that can't be found in local stores. Freshness is key when using spices and we take great pride to ensure that your spice will always be fresh.

It is our hope that you are able to find the exact herb or spice needed for your cooking pleasure.
If you have any questions about any of our products please don't hesitate to drop us a line.
We are always glad and ready to hear from you.

Well until next month Take care, Happy Cooking and be safe.

Rick and Kathy with Basil and Things.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June Newsletter

Well happy June to us all.
Volume 2
Now I don't know how it goes at your location but here it means it is time to
pull out the grill and start doing some great backyard cooking.
The concept of grilling food has been around well probably since the
cave man discovered fire and realized he could cook his
catch of the day and enjoy a hot meal.

But lets fast forward some and see how and where this style of cooking
found it's way into our lifestyles.
The best as I can tell it was the Spanish explorers
that first discovered this style of cooking. while exploring the islands.
They came across the locals using this style of cooking to eat
and preserve their meats, also the smoke made a great way to repel the flying insects .
The term originated from the Taino natives of the Caribbean islands.
Their word "barbacoa" is translated to mean "sacred fire pit".
As time does with all things the word slowly became barbecue around the late 1600's.
Of coarse today there is barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-q or my favorite bbq.
I think that sums it up and easy to spell.
Anyway either variation will work it's still all about great tasting food.
The barbecue as a social event became very popular during the late1800s,
when the United States also began building its national park system,
and Americans began socializing outdoors.

However, the barbecue, was also used for political campaigning too.
This dates back to our first president George Washington.
Candidates often held barbecues on the grounds of the county courthouse,
offering free food in return for an opportunity to share their political view
and ideas with the captured dining public.
Although barbecue was initially associated with poorer citizens,
as both a method of cooking and recreation.
It slowly spread to the middle and upper classes over time .
Today it continues to entice people's of all walks of life.
Especially in the southern US regions where grilling food is just a way of life.
Now it wasn't until the European settlers arrived in the New World with pigs,
chicken's and cattle that the open pit style of cooking took it's roots here.
Ribs, chicken, steaks ring a bell.... yes it does; but we're not there yet.
remember back then they didn't have refrigeration like we do today,
so their food had to either be eaten soon after the kill or to try and preserve it
either with winter snows, which was iffy or most used back then, the old smoke houses.

Looking at those options I don't think the open pit grill
was much about great tasting foods like today.
No just more about surviving.

Anyway that's a brief amount of background on the how, so lets talk about the what.
I'm not really sure who is credited for making the first modern style metal grill.
I believe that it was probably invented during the time of Henry Fords day
when production lines and industry was beginning to boom.
I do know that Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer of Pennsylvania
patented a design for charcoal briquettes in 1897.

After World War One, the Zwoyer Fuel Company built
charcoal briquette manufacturing plants in the United States
with plants in Buffalo, NY and Fall River, MA.
Henry Ford created a briquette from wood scraps and sawdust from his car factory.
Then E.G. Kingsford bought Ford's briquette and placed it into commercial production,
and thus the charcoal grill was born.
Today we have charcoal briquettes, lump coal, which is actually pieces of hard wood
that has been charred, gas or electric style grills.
You can find them from very portable to major size appliances.
They are priced from $20.00 on up, and can be purchased from your dollar store,
local hardware and department stores as well as speciality stores.
Now with a market targeting that many places and people
you know outside grilling must be serious business.
I know there is an outside chef in every home and that's a good thing
heck that's what America was built on.

As for us here at Basil and Things
we just want to let you know that we have a wide range of spices
that are perfect for any type of outside cooking your into.
From our Mesquite, Steak Seasoning, Blackened, or our Charbroiled
and specially blended rubs just to mention a few.
I'm sure we have the perfect seasoning for you .
So take a few minutes and look us up and let us know how we can help.
We hope everyone has a great backyard grilling time this season.
Here are some Grilling Tips for a successful cookout

When you are cooking on a grill you want to have a high heat,
first to kill off any gems that may be on the grill itself
and second to ensure that the food will be cooked thoroughly.
This will also require a frequent turning as not to burn or char the outside.
Start grilling when you meats are completely thawed
or near room temperature. This gives a more even cooking effect.
Rub your meats with a little olive oil
or oil of your choosing then apply your spices to the outside.
Use the back of a spoon or brush to spread them evenly on the surface.
This also keeps your meats from sticking to a hot grill.
Very helpful when cooking fish or seafood.
If you are using a gas or electric grill you can add that smokey flavor to any meat,
by adding a little liquid smoke flavoring to your sauce
or brush it directly on the meat while cooking.
If your cooking with charcoal then this step in not necessary.
You should not brush on tomato based barbecue sauces on the meat
until just before it is ready to come off the grill.
The high sugar content of these sauces along with the tomato base tends to scorch
if exposed long to heat causing a crunchy black outside
and giving a poor appearance and flavor.
Some meats with a higher grease content such as hamburger will start flaming up,
it produces a flame broiled flavor which I like.
The trick here is to let the grease burn off but turn them
constantly so not burn the meat.
Make sure you have the proper barbecue tools to aid in your cooking adventures.
Being prepared is always a good thing.

Have fun and we'll see you next month

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hello and Welcome to our Monthly Newsletter.

This month the subject is

Cayenne Pepper

Basil and Things is committed to making our friends and clients aware of the many different uses and positive aspects that our spices can provide for you and your family. We hope you will find it enjoyable as well as knowledgeable along the way.

This month we are talking Cayenne Pepper....... You know the orangey red stuff.
HOT Hmmmm...
These tiny but potent fruits are of the Chile family and contain the ingredient known as Capsicum. This is the oil that also produces it's heat factor and is also used in modern day pepper spray. This plant is believed to have come from Central, and South America as well as the West Indies.
It made it's way to the good old USA quite some time ago by Spanish Explorers who were in fact seeking out black pepper ..... Not really sure how that worked out but never the less we are blessed by their efforts. It is said that the pepper plant received it's name from the city of Cayenne which was actually a French Guiana an overseas department located on the northern coast of South America.

Now cayenne is not really known for it's aroma but more for it's spicy style and heat factor. When the peppers are dried and ground to a powder form they are usually blended to create that orange to red color as well as it's heat level. Almost all Cayenne pepper that is sold in the grocery store has a heat rating of 40. Heat rating ranges from 0 - 100 the higher the number the hotter it is. All pepper has a heat factor even your common black pepper it just is usually not posted on lower rated peppers. Cayenne Pepper also has a medicinal side that many folks don't think about why BECAUSE IT IS ALL SO HOT ???

Seriously though it is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium and contains antioxidants. This is good in promoting good blood flow, our digestive tract and is also used in many pain relievers on the market today just to mention a few.. There is a wealth of info pertaining to this subject online and if you have the time here is a site I find very informative.

Ok so we know that cayenne pepper is on the hotter side of life
so what in the world do we use it in..... ???

Well the truth is it is used in many different recipes around the world. Mexican, Asian, and Indian dishes are at the top but it can be used in many different applications. A good rule of thumb to follow is use or add it sparingly with your recipes to achieve your desired taste. Many Cajun and creole recipes use cayenne as well. It can be added to dips, sausage, hot sauces, tacos, stir fry, scrambled eggs, noodle or potato dishes, grilled meats, poultry or seafood. Cayenne also blends well with other spices. Now if you are into creating your own rubs or special blends and need that element of heat for that extra kick then this is the spice to use.. So if Cayenne Pepper has been something you weren't sure about hey just pick up a bottle and let your adventurous side out.
You just might find it to be fun and exciting
and get some new compliments on some old recipes.

We offer three different Cayenne Pepper's at both our stores. Cayenne #40, #60, and #90.
The #90 is listed in our new 1 oz. bottle and in our 2 oz. bottles we offer #40, #60 and #90
for those of you that are old pro's with the stuff.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask we always enjoy hearing from you.

Here's a recipe for you to try.

Take a fillet of Maui Maui cut away the skin.
Coat the fish with olive oil not to heavy.
Season with garlic salt, onion powder, parsley flakes and Cayenne #40 sparingly.

( for those of you that like it hot try our # 60 or # 90.)
Place on the grill , about half way through the cooking period add just a little bit of wood chips for a nice hint of smoke flavor.
When the fish is done serve up with your favorite side dishes and enjoy..
So take care, happy cooking and we'll see you next month.
Rick and Kathy owners of Basil and Things