How Make Salt-Free Poultry Seasoning

Simply combine the ingredients and grind together with a mortar or pestle or a small food grinder. I set aside a coffee grinder for milling whole spices or mixes. If you want to use a coffee grinder that’s been employed for beans, you can clean it by adding in rice and salt and grinding thoroughly and then wiping clean with a paper towel.  This is a versatile seasoning that can be used in a lot of applications, including … [Read more...]

How to make Cajun seasoning

I generally don't add salt to my seasoning mixes; instead I add it separately when cooking. A recipe that specifies a commercial blend assumes it has salt, so adjust accordingly. Be sure to use garlic powder and onion powder, not the salt form of either. 2 teaspoons cayenne, red chili flakes or a combination 2 teaspoons dried oregano 2 teaspoons dried thyme 2 teaspoons onion powder 1 ½ tablespoons paprika 1 teaspoon … [Read more...]

How to do a Comparative Tasting and Why You Should

Salt to taste. If you've ever read a recipe, you've probably seen that line. Though common, it's also a common source of confusion for home cooks. "Whose taste?" some ask. The answer, your taste, often leads to more questioning: "What is my taste?" or "What if my taster's no good?" Salt to taste just means salt your food until tastes right to you. That means there are no right or wrong answers. Maybe I like a little more … [Read more...]

Firehouse Challenge: Stuffing

Next up came stuffing. Arguably, this has the most "active" time of any of the traditional side dishes. There's chopping and sauteing involved. I made this dish twice, once manually cutting up the vegetables as a home cook's pace and a second time using a food processor which dramatically cut the prep time. Otherwise, it's just a matter of cutting up bread and letting it go stale or toasting it  in an oven.  In the photo … [Read more...]

Challenge: Real mashed potatoes vs. Instant

I can understand the lure of instant mashed potatoes. You want comfort, you want it now. According to, a Canadian scientist developed instant mashed back in 1962. Nutritionally speaking, instant mashed potatoes offer roughly the same vitamins and minerals as the real mashed potatoes with the exception of Vitamin C. To please palates, they tend to be higher in sodium, significantly higher than the amount of … [Read more...]

Firehouse Holiday Dinner Challenge: Gravy

At its heart, gravy is a sauce. Sauces flummox home cooks. I interviewed a woman at a supermarket who told me, "I've burned gravy, I've made greasy gravy, I've made lumpy gravy, I've made bland gravy. So, I add a packet of seasoning to my homemade gravy and it somehow works out."  Her reasons are why many cooks turn to packaged gravy, either in the form of a packet or in a jar.  Homemade gravy Homemade gravy is … [Read more...]

Firehouse Challenge: Cranberry sauce

Growing up, I assumed that cranberries grew in the shape of a can. I am not alone.  When I was nine, my Aunt Judy made cranberry relish from whole berries and nothing was the same again. Of all the classic side dishes, cranberry relish is by the far the least challenging. If you can open a can, you can make it from scratch; it's a pour and stir operation.  Homemade Cranberry Relish My family recipe calls for adding in … [Read more...]

Challenge: Supermarket turkey vs. Organic Bird

A turkey may seem like a humble, if popular, bird but it's yielding increasing discussion in the food world. One study found that generic turkeys contained high levels of bacteria; researchers pointed to the use of mass antibiotics as the culprit. Turkeys raised on smaller farms tend to get more humane treatment than those cranked out by the millions at factory farms.  A movement began more than a decade ago to save … [Read more...]