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February: Sichuan Peppercorns

Recipe: Crispy “Sichuan” Hash browns and Egg

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Russet Potato

  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

  • 1 scallion or green onion sliced

  • 2 cloves chopped garlic

  • 1 tsp. minced ginger

  • 1 tsp. soy sauce

  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar 

  • 5 eggs (4 for meal, 1 for potato mixture)

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 tsp. Sichuan Peppercorns

Instructions

Grate the potato using a box grater, or a course blade in a food processor. Place grated potato in the center of a clean towel, wrap, and squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a bowl. Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and 1 egg. Mix ingredients together until thoroughly combined. In a 12” skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add in the peppercorns and allow them to toast in the oil for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Using a slotted spoon, remove peppercorns and discard them. Turn up heat to medium high. Divide potato mixture into 4 portions, add them to the pan in order to make 4 pancakes. Use a spatula to press each into an even circle and cook until the bottom is golden brown (5-8 minutes.) Make sure to shake the pan to prevent sticking or add additional oil as needed. Flip the pancakes over and cook until golden brown as well. Meanwhile, cook the eggs sunny-side up. Serve with eggs over the pancakes, and enjoy!

History  & Uses

Sichuan pepper is an important spice in Chinese and all the cookery of the Himalayas. Sichuan pepper has a citrus-like flavor and induces a tingling numbness, akin to a 50-hertz vibration, in the mouth due to the presence of hydroxy-alpha sanshool. While whole, green, freshly picked Sichuan pepper may be used in cooking, the dried Sichuan pepper is more commonly used.

 

Sichuan pepper usually known as huajiao 花椒 (flower pepper) in China today serves as a good example to show the historical "piquant" flavor of Sichuan cuisine prior to the introduction of the hot pepper. The application of Sichuan pepper to food and drinks in China dates back more than two millennia. The native Sichuanese use the peppers to make flavors in their tea, wine, and of course, in daily cooking. After the 16th century when most Chinese cuisines had abandoned the Sichuan pepper as a common spice, the people in Sichuan kept using it in cooking to produce a unique tingling flavor, which along with the hotness generated by the newly introduced hot peppers, produced the distinct taste of today's Sichuan cuisine.

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Additional Recipes

March: Marjorum

Recipe: Spaghetti with Sautéed Onions, Feta, and Herbs

Ingredients

  • 1 LB. dried spaghetti

  • 4 TBSP Meyer Lemon olive oil (May sub. regular olive oil)

  • 2 Large red onions, cut into 1/4” thick rings

  • 2 tsp marjoram

  • 8 oz. feta cheese, cubed

  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender but still firm, about 8 minutes. Make sure to stir the pasta occasionally. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. 

 

Meanwhile, heat 2 TBSP of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender and beginning to brown. This process should take about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the marjoram, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the cooked pasta and the remaining 2 TBSP of oil. Toss with some of the reserved cooking liquid, ¼ cup at a time to moisten the pasta. Toss in the feta cheese, season with salt and pepper.

 

Scientific Name: Origanum majorana

Common Name: Marjoram

History  & Uses

Marjoram is indigenous to the Mediterranean, Turkey, Western Asia, The Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant. Researchers say the herb made its way to the British Isles during the Middle Ages. In the United States, marjoram was not widely used until after WWII. Marjoram was a symbol of happiness according to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greeks believed that Aphrodite created the plant. Romans thought the herb increased lifespan and was commonly used an antiseptic

 

Marjoram is a cold-sensitive perennial herb with sweet pine and citrus flavors. In some Middle-Eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano. Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry. For culinary purposes, the tops are cut when the plant begins to flower, and are dried slowly in the shade. Marjoram is used in herb combinations such as Herbes de Provence and za'atar. You can find the herb in soups, stews, salad dressings, sauces, and herbal teas.

 

In ancient Greek culture, a few drops of marjoram oil sprinkled on a pillow, was said to help promote relaxation and induce restorative sleep. Marjoram is said to promote healthy digestion and intestinal health. Marjoram is generally non-toxic but pregnant or lactating women should avoid the herb in large amounts if possible.

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Additional Recipes

April: Juniper

Recipe: Garlic Potatoes with Juniper

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 Tbsp. dried, slightly crushed juniper berries

  • 8 large garlic cloves

  • 1 ½ lbs. tiny new potatoes

Instructions

Heat oven to 350° F. Pour some oil into a heavy, shallow baking dish large enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle the juniper berries over the oil and place the dish in an oven for a few minutes to warm. Trim off the stem ends of the garlic cloves and rub off any feathery outer skin. Place the potatoes and garlic in the warmed dish and roll them in the olive oil to slightly coat them. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the potatoes and roll them in the oil once more. Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F. Bake the potatoes uncovered for 50 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender when pierced by a fork. Roll the potatoes in the oil a final time and plate. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano!

History  & Uses

Junipers are coniferous trees and shrubs in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending upon the taxonomy, there are between 50 and 67 species of junipers. These plants can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa, parts of western, central, and southern Asia, and the mountains of Central America. Decreases in fires and a lack of livestock grazing are the two major causes of the spread of Western Juniper. When junipers increase in population, there is a decrease in nearby woody species like sagebrush and aspen. The juniper plants even compete with one another. This results in lower berry production. Juniper plants are also the most popular conifer to be cultivated as ornamental subjects for parks and gardens.
 

Wood from the juniper plants is traditionally used in making hunting bows among some of the Native American cultures in the Great Basin region. The bow staves are typically backed with sinew to provide tension strength that the wood may lack. Some indigenous peoples of the Americas use the plant as a medicine. Juniper ash was even used as a way of consuming calcium for the Navajo people.

 

More commonly, you will find Juniper berries used as a spice. It is as a main flavoring agent in gin (which is a short form of the word Jenever, the Dutch word for Juniper.)

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Additional Recipes

May: Rosemary

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Rosemary History:

 

The first mention of Rosemary was actually on cuneiform tablets that date all the way back to 5000 BCE. Though not much is known, we do know that the Egyptians used it for burial rituals. Pliny the Elder wrote about the spice in his book “The Natural History”. It was then Rosemary was naturalized in China around 220 CE during the Han Dynasty. Then in 1338, Rosemary was naturalized in England when cuttings were sent to Queen Philipa by her mother. The clippings was planted in the garden of the old palace of Westminster. Rosemary, along with holly and ivy, were used as Christmas decorations. Rosemary is used to flavor various foods, such as stuffing and roast meats.


 

How to Make Rosemary Tea: 

 

Prepare Rosemary tea by adding 1 ½ teaspoons dry rosemary needles to a cup of hot water. Let the tea steep for five minutes, then strain. This makes a savory herbal infusion. If you prefer it sweet, add some honey! Drinking 3 cups a day is recommended in the treatment of digestive ailments.

Additional Recipes

June: Fennel

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Fennel Seed History:

 

The Fennel seed is a spice with a warm, licorice-like flavor similar to anise seed. This makes the perfect addition to any sweet or savory dishes. The fennel seed is a part of the carrot family. Fennel was prized by the ancient Greeks and the romans who used it as medicine, food and insect repellent. Fennel tea was believed to give courage to the warriors before battle.


 

How to Make Fennel Tea: 

 

Over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Then, add the fennel seeds and steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain the mixture into a teapot. Afterward, add the honey. Stir to combine and set aside. Put a slice of orange in a glass and then pour the fennel tea over it. Serve warm and enjoy!

Additional Recipes

July: Spearmint

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History:

 

Spearmint is native to Europe and southern temperate Asia, extending from Ireland in the west to southern China in the East. It is used as flavoring in foods and herbal teas. Spearmint is documented as being a cash crop in Connecticut during the American Revolution at which time mint tea was noted as being a popular drink due to it not being taxed. Spearmint can readily adapt to grow in various types of soil. Spearmint tends to thrive on plenty of organic materials in full sun or partial shade.


 

Recipe: Green Chai Smoothie (Dried Spearmint Leaves): 

  • Place pineapple, kiwi, avocado, ice, orange juice, yogurt and mint leaves in blender. Process on speed 5 (liquify) 1 minute.

  • Spoon chia seeds into blender and pulse on setting 1 (mix) 2-3 times.

  • Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Additional Recipes

August: Himalayan Pink Salt

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History:

 

Himalayan Pink Salt is a rock salt mined from the Punjab region of Pakistan. The salt has a pink color due to trace minerals and is used as a refined table salt but is also used in cooking, lamps and spa treatments.


 

Recipe: Avocado Toast

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices sourdough bread (toasted)

  • ½ avocado

  • 1 drizzle olive oil

  • 1 squeeze lemon juice

  • 2 dashes of Himalayan pink sea salt

  • 1 pinch of red flakes

While the sourdough is toasting, mash the avocado. Pro tip, just mash it in its shell/ skin part. When the bread is toasted, drizzle olive oil on it and top with the mashed avocado. Squeeze the lemon juice on top. Sprinkle some sea salt and chili flakes. Enjoy!

Additional Recipes

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