Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Best Blog Tips

I'm sorry I haven't been blogging more regularly  I tell you, Vegan MoFo couldn't have come at a worse time for me. I'm madly trying to finish taking the photos and editing them for my new cookbook, and, of course that means cooking the dishes first.  So every spare minute is in the kitchen or with the camera, and it's pretty stressful, I can tell you. (I'm not a natural photographer.) I couldn't even think what to blog about if I had time to do it. But it's getting close, and I'll have more time, so I'd better get serious about the blog.

I made some Cajun Seasoning the other day, tweaking a recipe from Mother Earth News magazine, and it was terrific.  That inspired me to get out some of my other spice mix recipes that I used to make regularly, but have not done so for sometime-- I don't know why, really.  You really save money by making your own seasoning mixes, you can tailor them to your taste, and it's very satisfying using something you mixed yourself with good ingredients.  So here are some all-purpose, popular North American spice mixtures-- next time I'll post some more exotic international ones.

My Homemade Cajun Seasoning

This stuff is great on oven-fries, both potato and sweet potato, as well as in Cajun and Creole dishes. The smoked paprika makes it even better, BTW.

1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp freshly ground white pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp ground allspice (this was my addition--BCG)
2 tbsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tbsp ground smoked paprika
2 tbsp chili powder, or dried chilies
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients with a mortar and pestle or a food processor (I used a dry blender-- BCG). Store in an airtight jar. The little spice jars with rubber gasket seals will keep your homemade spice blends fresh longer than jars with screw-top lids.


Another spice blend that I like to have around is a homemade "Old Bay" type of seasoning.  For years I couldn't find it in Canada, so I learned to make my own.  Now we can buy it, but in very small cans at a price.  So, making it yourself is a great option. Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices marketed by McCormick & Company, and produced in Maryland. It is produced in the Chesapeake Bay area where it was developed by German immigrant Gustav Brunn in the 1940s. The spicy Old Bay mix was used freely in bar foods to encourage patrons to purchase more beverages (!) Old Bay Seasoning is named after the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship line that plied the waters of the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, in the early 1900s. Gustav Brunn’s company became the Old Bay Company, producing the seasoning in the unique yellow cans, which McCormick's continues.  The spice mix was popular in the Southern States and parts of the Gulf Coast, but I remember using it quite a bit when I was growing up in San Francisco, and now it is available all over North Ameria. It was designed for flavoring seafood, but it’s used on popcorn, salads, fried foods such as french fries and potato chips, and corn on the cob. Vegans often add it to faux fish dishes.   

Here's my homemade recipe:

This spicy seasoning is commonly used in the South with "seafood" dishes, but it's great on many of the same dishes you might use Cajun Seasoning on (see above).  Try it in seitan and tofu dishes.
Pulverize in a DRY blender:
3 tbsp ground bay leaves OR 4 tbsp broken bay leaves with center ribs removed
2 tbsp celery seed
2 tbsp sea salt
Add and blend again:
1 1/2 tbsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
2 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tbsp  EACH ground allspice or cloves, ground ginger, and cayenne
OPTIONAL:  3/4 tsp. EACH ground mace and ground cardamom

Store in a sealed shaker jar. (If it doesn't have a lid, place plastic wrap over the top and secure with a rubber band.)


We used to use alot of "Seasoned Salt" when I was a young mother, as I remember.    Wikipedia writes: "Seasoned salt is a blend of table salt, herbs, spices, other flavourings, and sometimes monosodium glutamate (MSG). It is sold in supermarkets and is commonly used in fish and chip shops and other take-away food shops. It is also known as seasoning salt, season salt, chip spice and in Australia and New Zealand, chicken salt. Seasoned salt is often the standard seasoning on foods such as chicken, hot chips and deep fried seafood, or potatoes. Most take-away shops also offer the option of normal salt."

 My #3 son-in-law loves this and makes my recipe all the time.  No MSG necessary. It's good on celery sticks, cheesy things, and on roasted nuts and seeds

Pulverize in a DRY  blender:
1/4 cup sea salt
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. EACH dry basil, marjoram, tarragon and thyme
 Add and blend well:
1 more cup  sea salt
2 tsp. EACH onion powder or granules, garlic granules, mustard powder and curry powder
1 tsp. EACH paprika and black pepper
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1/4 tsp. EACH cayenne and ground nutmeg

Store in a sealed shaker jar. (If it doesn't have a lid, place plastic wrap over the top and secure with a rubber band.)

If  you're a fan of "Spike", try making your own...

I used to make this all the time years ago, but lost the recipe.  I made this up recently from the ingredient list on the bottle of commercial Spike seasoning.

Pulverize in a DRY blender:
1/3 cup sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tbsp broken dried orange or tangerine peel
2 tbsp crushed dried Chinese mushrooms, stems discarded (or 1 tbsp powdered dried mushroom)
2 dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. celery seed
Add and blend well:
1/4 cup vegetarian broth powder
1 tbsp soy or rice milk powder
1 tbsp garlic granules
2 tsp. kelp powder
1 tsp. EACH dried dill weed, savory, tarragon, oregano, basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme
1 tsp. EACH curry powder, white pepper, mustard powder, cayenne and paprika

Store in a sealed shaker jar. (If it doesn't have a lid, place plastic wrap over the top and secure with a rubber band..)



Tiffany said...

The spice blends sound great! Thanks for sharing!

Crystal said...

I could really use the Spike recipe. My husband loves that stuff but I don't love the MSG in it. So glad to have this alternative. I can't wait to try it.

Phather Phlat said...

Proper spicing sure can make a dish. You've got a great talent for it, as well as teaching culinary arts. How the first person inventing gluten must've felt, eating it unseasoned. My dad always told me about Hy's restaurant in Vancouver, known wide for it's signature salt; not to mention the Colonel's secret recipe...

~*Rhi*~ said...

I'm adding these to my collection. My family lives by your Vegan Broth Powder! Thanks.

Gail S said...

Nice info here. Keep us these great posts!

Lee Ann said...

Fantastic post, I hate buying a mix and using once or twice, this is really helpful. Thanks

Kip said...

Thanks for your efforts and best of luck with finishing stuff for the book (exciting!). I'm definitely going to try some of these mixes out!

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

This is amazing! Thanks for the recipes!

Anonymous said...

Just made your Cajun seasoning last night for a sausage and pasta dish. My husband LOVED it. Just the right amount of heat, without being overpowering, and a lovely bouquet. Thanks a bunch.