Yes, this is one more cookbook that came in the mail. Entitled the spice kitchen and subtitled everyday cooking with organic spices, among the many wonders of this orange-y red and other colored book is the fact that the only capital letters on its front cover are all the letters of the authors' names: SARA ENGRAM and KATE LUBER with KIMBERLY TOQE. That, and the Q in the final last name. (For a bit on the authors, click here. And even see the erroneous, I think, comment adding a U to the latter's last name.) Of course, one question I had immediately: is everyday cooking all that different with organic spices as compared to those grown other ways? I assume the main arguments are those we all know -- they're more eco-friendly, likely tastier, healthier, and more expensive. (Or at least allegedly so . . . for all four characterizations.) The two main authors (according to the back cover) "revolutionized the spice cabinet with tsp spices and Smart Spice, two unique lines of organic spices and herbs sold in one teaspoon packages for maximum freshness." (And possibly maximum packaging?) They do, of course, say this in the book, and advocate for use of their products. Hence they advocate for use of dried herbs and etcetera. That is, all their recipes call for these -- though they do indicate you can substitute fresh ofr frozen, and give you a formula for swapping. (Not so different from all those pamphlets you find in antique cum collectible stores -- for baking soda and flour, for mazola oil and. . . this is in part a sales pitch. Today rather than pamphlets you get fancy cookbooks.)
Perhaps obviously, the book begins with an introduction and then a chapter entitled "Spice Basics." After that it moves to those cookbook staples -- breakfast; salads, soups and sandwiches; appetizers and snacks; entrees; side dishes; desserts and sweets; and, finally, metric conversions and equivalents. (All cookbooks should have the latter, even though we all know to check the answers out on line we just go here or here.) One of the oddities -- charming perhaps, though I found it a bit much -- is that the chapter on spices pairs each spice with an adjective. Cheerful coriander. Joyful marjoram. Tres chic tarragon. And queen cardamon. (Hmm. Maybe queen is a title not an adjective.) Quotations and bits of fact are sprinkled throughout (a cookbook tradition) -- On page 73, for example, you learn that in 1305 anise seed was taxed for repairs ot the London Bridge. And, on p. 161 (apropos of the title of this entry) that folks in the middle ages put thyme under their pillows to ward off nightmares. All in all, this is a physically attractive general cookbook liberally spiced with spice lore -- and with a range of recipes that attempts to raise the relatively ordinary up through the intentional use of spices and herbs. If you want a chocolate cake with chili, clove spiced caramel corn, a mac and cheese with basil, or pear cardamon bread, this one's for you.
For a video of the authors on their cookbook, click here.