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Hi guys
I'm hoping some cooks here can help me learn about spices and seasoning.

My mother is unhealthy. Her doctor has been on her case for years, but her checkup the other day rattled her. Her cholesterol is through the roof and her blood sugar is way too high.

She used to make fun of my diet. When I go home, she sticks a spoon into whatever I'm cooking, tastes it, makes a god-awful face and pronounces it "bland."

Anyway, she called me after her checkup. It really upset her. She's asked that I come over and cook for her on Friday. But I have no concept of what to make for her. I don't want to start loading salt onto everything so she'll eat it, but I don't want her to think of herself as a martyr for choking down "bland vegetarian food" when I know it doesn't have to be that way.

*I* like my food - how can I make it to impress other people, though?

What do you all use to flavor basic dishes other than salt? What are good spices to have on hand? I use chili powder and cumin in Mexican things, basil/oregano/fresh garlic/black pepper for Italian, and a basic curry powder for Indian. I also have paprika for a few various things.

What other herbs/spices could I try? What the eff do I make for her on Friday?
 

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I made a vegan spaghetti bolognese and home-made garlic bread for by boyfriend's meat-loving family. They loved it, particularly the seasoning. I chopped an onion and fried it in a touch of oil with a little garlic, added chopped tinned tomatoes and tomato puree along with some soy mince, and from there on it was just down to seasoning. Basil, pepper, a little salt (I never add much salt to my food, bleurgh), a stock cube, some vegan worcestershire sauce (or a little vinegar for acidity) and a dash of mild chilli powder. The garlic bread was just vegan margarine mixed with crushed garlic and parsley, spread onto a baguette and baked for a bit.

Have you tried stronger-tasting spices, like mustard and ginger? My curries usually involve mustard seeds, ginger, cumin and pepper alongside the curry powder. I don't like food that is 'hot', but I like a good strong flavour.
 

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I think the thing with sodium is that you start to build up a tolerance, so you start adding more and more to your food to achieve the same taste. It may seem like torture at first, but it gets easier once your taste buds readjust to a low sodium diet.

I have a couple books on my shelf that were pretty good when I was omni. They aren't veg cookbooks, but there are plenty of recipes that could be adapted:

The No-Salt Lowest Sodium Cookbook by Gazzinga
Low-Salt Cookbook by American Heart Association
The New American Heart Association Cookbook

One general tip that I do.... A pinch of salt is 50mg, and I shoot for 1500mg or less a day (30 pinches). It's hard to get carried away with salt when you are counting out pinches. And I add it at the table rather than during cooking so I can better gauge how little I can get away with and still have the dish taste good.
 

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The first thing I would think of is to ask her what she uses. Not everyone likes the same herbs and spices, there is definite loves and hates when it comes to many.
I want to spit cilantro out as soon as it hits my lips. I love rosemary, lemon pepper, basil, thyme, curries, ginger...
If she likes spicy foods those seem to be the best substitute.
I really do like the taste of salt and don't really avoid it, but I do find foods with citrus, esp. lime, are good without.
 

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I recently had both my mom and my 80year old aunt over for lunch. I made them the eggplant and chickpea curry from 'Appetite for Reduction'. They both LOVED it. They said it was the best curry they ever tasted. I added a bit more red pepper flakes than on the recipe to really made it nice and spicy
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by AeryFairy View Post

Basil, pepper, a little salt (I never add much salt to my food, bleurgh), a stock cube, some vegan worcestershire sauce (or a little vinegar for acidity) and a dash of mild chilli powder. The garlic bread was just vegan margarine mixed with crushed garlic and parsley, spread onto a baguette and baked for a bit.

Have you tried stronger-tasting spices, like mustard and ginger?
The bolded things are all things I'd never have thought to add to tomato sauce. I will definitely try that! I agree with you about hot food...I don't like it to burn, but strong, distinct taste is exactly what I'm going for. I've never cooked with mustard seeds, or even seen them in a store I don't think - where do you find those?

Thank you
That was exactly the type of tip I was looking for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mojo View Post

I think the thing with sodium is that you start to build up a tolerance, so you start adding more and more to your food to achieve the same taste. It may seem like torture at first, but it gets easier once your taste buds readjust to a low sodium diet.
I've heard that too. I read some study awhile back where two groups of college students were given opposite assignments - one, to heavily salt all their food for a week, and two, not to salt ANYthing and avoid added salt. At the end of the week, they tested the sensitivity of their taste buds and group one was numb to a lot of flavors. I took a quick look and I can't find it, but I'll keep looking.

Quote:
One general tip that I do.... A pinch of salt is 50mg, and I shoot for 1500mg or less a day (30 pinches). It's hard to get carried away with salt when you are counting out pinches. And I add it at the table rather than during cooking so I can better gauge how little I can get away with and still have the dish taste good.
That's so helpful...such a practical way of keeping track. I will mention this to my mother


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Originally Posted by silva View Post

The first thing I would think of is to ask her what she uses. Not everyone likes the same herbs and spices, there is definite loves and hates when it comes to many.
She doesn't like spicy food, Mexican or Indian. She always prefers fresh herbs to dried, so I'll definitely pick up some of those. Basically, she's a fan of anything that works on chicken - rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage. She's a HUGE fan of all kinds of chicken.

One thing I did make once that she really liked were the Not-Sausage Rolls from the cookbook "Triumph of the Lentil."
They were really heavily seasoned. The base was oats and lentils, but you add ketchup, "soy" sauce (soy-free coconut aminos), fresh sage, parsley, rosemary, chili flakes, grated apple and onion, and other stuff too as I recall. They were really delicious. The sage was the most powerful flavor, so I know she likes that.

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Originally Posted by SwissMiss View Post

I recently had both my mom and my 80year old aunt over for lunch. I made them the eggplant and chickpea curry from 'Appetite for Reduction'. They both LOVED it. They said it was the best curry they ever tasted. I added a bit more red pepper flakes than on the recipe to really made it nice and spicy
I've been wanting to check out that cookbook. I hear phenomenal things about her recipes. I'll take a look, since I seem to do better when following other people's exact seasoning instructions.

Thank you, all. Sorry about the hugeness of this post. Keep 'em coming
 

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Regulars in my kitchen are veggie stock powder, fake chicken stock, fake beef stock, msg, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, tamarind, kaffir lime leaves, chili powder or sambal oelek, cumin, coriander, tumeric, paprika, cajan seasoning, pink rock salt, black salt, black pepper, szechuan powder, lemon pepper seasoning, chinese five spice and saffron.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by YellowRose View Post

She used to make fun of my diet. When I go home, she sticks a spoon into whatever I'm cooking, tastes it, makes a god-awful face and pronounces it "bland."
A bottle, or two, of red hot chili sauce in the next dish you let her taste should take care of that.
 

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Huge world of spices/seasonings out there for you to discover, just start trying them. I couldn't live without savory spices such as sage/thyme to go with things like potatoes. Then there is the whole chili powder/cayenne/cumin thing with beans. I also couldn't live w/o curry. I've been on a huge kick the last few months to up my spices I have available. Nothing I hate worse than trying a new recipe only to discover I'm missing a seasoning. I found the Frontier brand of seasonings on Amazon and have been stocking up. They come in huge quantities, very reasonably priced and they are so good and fresh. Give all my extra to the kids so they have some too.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clueless Git View Post

A bottle, or two, of red hot chili sauce in the next dish you let her taste should take care of that.
Yeah, hard to screw up a dish by adding some rooster sauce to it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by YellowRose View Post

The bolded things are all things I'd never have thought to add to tomato sauce. I will definitely try that! I agree with you about hot food...I don't like it to burn, but strong, distinct taste is exactly what I'm going for. I've never cooked with mustard seeds, or even seen them in a store I don't think - where do you find those?

Thank you
That was exactly the type of tip I was looking for.
Glad I could help! Mustard seeds are really common over here, you can buy them in any supermarket. You usually add them at the start - a sprinkling in some hot oil and cover really quickly, because they pop and jump like popcorn. The first time I tried it, I took one to the eye because I wasn't fast enough with the lid. Most painful cooking accident ever. Anyway, they release a pretty intense flavour, and they make a good base for a lot of sauces and soups (and curries, but that won't be any use if your mother hates Indian food).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clueless Git View Post

A bottle, or two, of red hot chili sauce in the next dish you let her taste should take care of that.
I loled


Quote:
Originally Posted by AeryFairy View Post

Glad I could help! Mustard seeds
Thank you! I'm glad you mentioned the seeds...I was out today and checked out some ground mustard, but didn't purchase because it was way too pricey and I know where to find spices cheaper. So weird that they jump around like popcorn. I gotta try that
 
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