With the arrival of spring time comes a burst of childhood memories. Spring is also a time when we celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day. Each holiday reminds me of the “simple” things that I took for granted when my parents were in my life. Spring was a time when my father would have me paint fences, help him in cleaning up the lawn from the winter, and playing ball in the yard. Many of my childhood memories also include my fussiness in eating what my mother was making for dinner. She would often times explain why she was making a particular meal choice. Making five children and a husband happy and all agreeing on the meal choice would often end with her stating; “It’s because I am the mother and I said so, that is why!” Part of our meal preparation included the insistence that all five Reardon children were to wash our face and hands before dinner. My father would tag team with my mother instructing us to race to the sink. My mother’s meal creations were always delicious. During dinner there wasn’t a lot of conversation but my father would look at my mother with a very tired smile and say “you are the best.” These memories remind me of the importance of sitting down and having that meal together every night.
Have you ever walked into a place and smelled your favorite memories? Smells of cooking can trigger memories so strong and real it feels like you’ve been transported back in time and brings a picture as sharp as a photograph of a special time in your life. Through food we exchange stories of ourselves and our families. Spices were an important part of my mother’s cooking. My memories bring me back to a time when our Sunday dinners were a time of gathering around a table crowded with all of the mothers, aunts and grandmothers as they presented their cooking and discussed the ingredients and spices they used.
Spices have a way of transporting you to another place and time. Whether it’s memories of smelling basil or mint from the garden for the first time, or the favorite dishes that you remember cooking with them. Each spice or collection of spices has a story, and a wonderful, beautiful one at that. Spices are flavor enhancers. That might seem rather simplistic, but it really sums up how to think about spices and get the best from them. Rather than seeing these strange little bits of bark, seeds and roots as something to be used only on special occasions, or just when a recipe calls for them, look at your spice shelf as flavor enhancers to be added to your cooking (or even drinks) in small quantities at any time. You can add pretty much any spice you like to anything you cook - you’ll soon find there are NO RULES to making something taste delicious – the only way to really understand it is through trial and error.
Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store. We carry an assortment of spices to add flavors you have yet to t ry. Meal time is family time. Look at each other, listen to each other, tell stories, and talk about life. Remember my Foodie Friends, “Life Happens in the Kitchen."
TAKE CARE, JOHN AND PAULA
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