“Do you remember what spices you used? That one was good.” Rare praise from my son for my ongoing spicy soup experiment.
Now, I like hot spices. Correction: I love hot spices! But I’m not very used to them. I blame my wife.
My wife’s healthy diet for kids is:
- Serve them small portions.
- Tell them to ask for seconds if they want more.
- Finally, as young as possible, show them how to pour cereal in a bowl and put milk on it, so they don’t wake us up just so they can eat breakfast, especially on Christmas morning and birthdays, and weekends.
The kids are teens and post-teens now, so when the soup is too spicy hot, they stop eating it and go make themselves a bowl of noodles.
Well, they aren’t usually quite that rude. They stop eating, complain loudly, and wait impatiently until the the parental units are finished. Then, finally, they make a bowl of noodles.
A Touch of Spice
I wanted to make delicious suppers in 40 minutes, but vary the flavor without getting exotic or expensive foods. As I said, I love spices, so I had a few in the cupboard. I tried adding some of them to various meals. I’m afraid my family wasn’t too impressed, because I started with a hot soup made even hotter by crushed chili pepper.
Below are some spiced dishes I have enjoyed, although not all of my family enjoyed all of them.
Ginger Coffee Shake
This delicious treat can be served as a snack or a light dessert.
- 1/2 cup (about 100ml) vanilla ice cream, or home-made unflavored ice cream
- 1 oz (30ml) strong coffee, cold
Example: 1/2 tbsp (10ml) instant coffee + 1 oz cold water — stir in a mug until there isn’t much left stuck to the bottom
- 1/2 tbsp (10ml) cocoa powder
- 1/4 tbsp (5ml or less) ginger powder
Scoop the ice cream into a mug.
Add the other ingredients.
Push it around with a strong spoon until it is blended. You can use a blender or food processor if you are making several.
Serve one mug per person, with a small spoon!
If your ginger powder is fresh, use only 3ml.
The tang of ginger should be strong, but the darker flavors of chocolate and coffee should mellow the flavor.
My wife hates the smell and taste of coffee, so, well, too bad.
Gingered Pork and Yam Supper in a Pot
This was a slow cooker meal, but I often cook it in a pot on the stove.
The following recipe fits in my slow cooker, which is fairly small. Generally there are some leftovers from our family of 5, that is, 4 adults and a teen.
- 1kg to 1.5kg pork. (2–3 lbs.) — Slice about 10–15m thick (about ½ inch)
- 4 yams, about 1kg or 2 lbs. — Slice about 10–15m thick (about ½ inch)
- 2 or 3 onions — Cut in quarters and peel
- 1 tbsp oregano leaves or sage (15ml)
- 1 tsp ginger powder (5ml)
- ¼ tsp allspice (1ml)
Put in a layer of yam covering most of the bottom of the pot.
Add a layer of meat.
You probably need one more layer of yams and another layer of meat.
Push the chunks of onion in wherever they will fit.
Mix spices, and sprinkle over everything.
According to the slow cooker recipes on the internet, you have to put in enough water to cover the meat, but I put in just a little less than that, so it doesn’t overflow — more on overflows below.
Cook it as long as your slow cooker info says to cook it. I like two hours on high.
When it’s cooked, I spoon the meat into one bowl and the veggies into another one.
The leftover broth is an excellent starter for soup.
Whatever pot you use, the top of the water should not be closer than 15mm from the top of the pot (½ inch). When the pot boils, the water rises in bubbles about ½ inch and splashes, somehow, past the lid, onto the counter.
Water boiling over from a slow cooker spreads a thin layer of cooling fat on your counter. If you turn off the crockpot without noticing the overflow, because, say, half your counter is covered with other stuff, you might not know where it came from an hour later.
Yes, I am embarrassed to admit that I did this … twice. Did I mention that “I often cook it in a pot on the stove?”
I hope this article and recipes will inspire you and your family in your own flavor journey.
Rob Echlin is a storyteller, and a mystic. He offers practical views, maybe unexpected, on self-knowledge, life with too-smart kids, and breaking, oops, I mean “crafting”, computer software.