Welcome to the first-ever edition of Feeder!
I hope you and your belly have had a truly wonderful week. In this very first edition of the Feeder newsletter, you’ll learn:
- How to get more flavor from your spices into your food…
- Where to find the highest quality & most sustainable spices…
- The real reason why photos in recipes and cookbooks always look SO much better than anything you try to plate up yourself…
Let’s dive in! 👇
🍛 Tip Of the Week:
Do your dishes often taste bland even after using WAY more spices than your recipe called for?
There’s a good chance your spices may have lost their potency.
For nearly a decade, the only spices I’d ever buy were spices like these… pre-ground and conveniently packaged in a shaker:
And while there’s nothing wrong with buying ground spices, they tend to lose their flavor really fast.
Because they’ve been ground down into a fine powder, they have a far greater surface area than un-ground spices. This causes them to go bland quickly, as their oils break down when exposed to air. By the time they’ve been ground, packaged, and transported to your supermarket, they’re often already a shell of their former selves.
If you want to get maximum flavor out of your spices and into your dishes, try buying them whole instead.
Not only will they stay fresh longer, they’ll also add WAY more flavor to your dishes. Plus, by using whole spices, you can toast them, adding an entirely new dimension of flavor to your food.
In this week’s video, I show you exactly how to do that. You’ll also learn which spices I recommend getting whole, and I even included a quick tutorial showing you how to use whole spices in your own cooking.
Take a look 👀👇
🤓 Further Learning on Spices
Want more resources to spice up your cooking? Check out the following links below:
- From Grind to Garnish: 13 Techniques For Cooking With Spices
From straightforward techniques like grinding to the fancier sounding blooming, infusing, or even tempering, this guide by Burlap & Barrel walks you through everything you can do with spices. While you’re there, check out their shop – they have an incredible assortment of unique and hard-to-find spices – which they ethically source directly from farmers. Sadly they only ship to the US and Canada right now. (PS. If you want to support this newsletter, I will happily accept shipments of B&B spices to my home in Thailand!)
- Beginner’s guide to Buying, Storing & Organizing Spices
This super informative video by Ethan Chlebowski is excellent and should be considered essential watching by anyone who doesn’t hate flavor
- The Science of Spice: Understand Flavor Connections and Revolutionize Your Cooking
Does the idea of a “periodic table of spices” get you hot and bothered? This might be the right book for you
🌍 Healthy Food, Healthy Planet:
Your sustainability tip of the week…
Want to get more flavor into your food, while simultaneously supporting farmers with real living wages? Would you like to cook with spices that haven’t been coated in pesticides and other harmful chemicals?
Consider getting your spices from one of an ever-growing list of sustainable, single-origin spice shops like:
Why Does This Help? 🤔
The global spice industry is notoriously bad for both farmers and the planet. Large food conglomerates use their buying power to pay the lowest possible prices to spice farmers in developing countries. Unfortunately, this forces farmers to take shortcuts, using unsustainable growing systems and prioritizing quantity over quality. As a result, that spice jar in your supermarket is usually nothing more than a bland mixture of low quality spices grown at the lowest possible cost.
The good news is that we have more choice than ever – and in recent years dozens of social enterprises have popped up to help solve these problems!
Their spices may cost a little bit more than in a supermarket, but you’ll probably need way less of them, and you can feel good knowing that you’re helping provide livelihoods to smallholder farmers around the world.
Learn More: How to Find Sustainable Spices (Foodprint.org)
🌮 Best of the Week
A few of my favorite finds from the past week:
- Foreign foods that have become ‘National’ dishes
An interesting thread on Reddit, discussing national dishes that have been “adopted” from abroad. The whole topic of how food culture spreads around the world is so fascinating. Most people forget that cuisines are constantly evolving, and many national dishes that seem like they must date back to pre-historic times are relatively new. For example, tomato sauces are practically synonymous with Italian food, but tomatoes didn’t exist in Italy until they were brought from the Americas 1548 (and were initially met with a lot of skepticism 🍅)
- 14 Favorite Food Styling Tools
Have you ever wondered why the photos in your recipe books look SO much better than anything you can plate at home? It’s probably because you’re not using your heat gun, museum putty, or makeup wedges to their full effect. I love watching Joanie Simon’s videos to see the black magic voodoo happening behind the scenes at food photo shoots. Though I wouldn’t recommend you use museum putty on a plate of food you intend to serve to your guests, her videos do have a lot of great tips on how to plate up and present your food in a more “gourmet” way.
- “GAME-CHANGING” Store Cupboard Ingredients
I was worried this might be another rehashed list of really obvious and generic ingredients (chopped tomatoes, tinned chickpeas, etc.), but this video actually features some really clever ways to use uncommon, long-lasting pantry ingredients. Tofu chocolate ganache? Gnocchi shepherds pie? Yes, please.
🌍 Cooking Around the World
This week, why not try…
The perfect recipe to practice cooking with whole spices!
Chana Masala is cheap and easy to make, comes together in just one pot, and tastes delicious. It’s the perfect meal prep food – I love making it in big batches and freezing it with a bit of rice. If you’re short on time, you can use a shop-bought garam masala spice mix–though I highly recommend giving it a shot with whole, toasted, freshly ground spices. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!
Here are three riffs on this recipe:
- Easy Chana Masala, by Minimalist Baker
- Restaurant Style Chana Masala, by Dindigul Food Court
- How to Make Easy Vegan Curry at Home, by Yeung Man Cooking
👋 Now Over To You!
Let me know your thoughts!
Did you find this week’s newsletter useful? Do you have a delicious recipe or great resource to share? Anything you’d like to see more of or less of?
I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hi, please drop a comment below!
Have a wonderful week, and happy cooking 🍜