Thursday, 2 February 2012

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

I haven't seen Vivien for most of January, as her Mom was visiting from Birmingham.  So, when we finally did meet up Monday we had a great time catching up.  We had lunch at Subway, where she'd never been, and then just wandered around Newcastle chatting as we went.  I had decided as another of my 'good intentions' to reduce my salt intake.  I love salty foods and sour.  I put salt on things like pickles and lemon slices, apples, oranges, loads of weird things.  I told Vivien I practically put salt on my salt.  Even though Bill and I eat very little processed foods and so there aren't many other sources of salt in my diet, I did feel that this was pretty silly.  I've done reasonably well at ignoring the salt shaker up until the last week when I caved a couple of times.  So, another plan needed to be put into place.

In The Frugal Gourmet, Jeff Smith proposed an alternative to salt:

Herb Blend:

1 tsp fresh-cracked pepper
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp whole oregano
1/4 tsp marjoram, whole leaves, dried, work best
1/4 tsp savory, whole leaves, dried, work best
1/4 tsp basil,whole leaves, dried, work best
1/4 tsp thyme, whole leaves, dried, work best
1/4 tsp rosemary, whole leaves, dried, work

Crush all the ingredients together with your fingers, and store in a tightly capped jar.  No need to refrigerate.  Use in any way you like for a little extra flavor in your cooking.

I decided that my first job was to find a dispenser.  I had in mind the large shakers that used to hold red chili flakes at Pizza Hut.  When we didn't find them I described this to Vivien and she said I was looking for a 'flour shaker'.  We turned up a 'sugar shaker' with a Cath Kidston sort of design at Fenwick's for £6 so I had a bench line to beat or a fall back if we didn't find anything else. 

Vivien suggested Lakeland's in Eldon Gardens shopping mall.  We had a blast looking at all the gadgets!  And lo and behold, I found a 'multi-purpose' shaker on sale, down from £4-something to I thought £2.99 but at the check out counter it was all of £1.49.  Big score!

 It is one of those fun gadgets you didn't know you needed.  Press the rubber top and it springs open to reveal the rather general holes.  Press it back down and it keeps the contents dry and air-tight.  Brilliant design.

Now, in no way does my kitchen stores normally include half of the fancy ingredients listed above, but I figured I'd use what I had and add the other to the grocery list, not that I expect to find dried whole leaves anywhere.  I put in 1 tsp each:  black pepper, marjoram, oregano, celery seed, tarragon and 1/2 tsp of Cajun spice.  I may regret that last on top of the black pepper, but we'll see.  I may add the bay leaves and I could have put in cumin or coriander, but I didn't.  Maybe next time!

Do you love salt or do you manage to resist?


Suburban Princess said...

I like salt but I buy a sea salt kelp blend. I think if you slowly added kelp to your salt shaker/grinder and keep adding more and more kelp you will find your salt addiction switches to a kelp addiction...which is actually good for you!

I even found one for you in the UK!

Anonymous said...

I love this container and the price. We keep the salt shaker off our table and I'm very sparing with it in my cooking. If someone at our house desires salt, THEY have to go dig it out. I've made mixes like you're proposing to do--celery salt is an important ingredient for my palate.

Revanche said...

That is a really neat gadget! We keep our kitchen gadgets to a minimum, or have so far, but there are a few I would still really like and this looks like one of them.

Shelley said...

SP, Thanks so much! I'll have to check that out.

Terry, I'm the only one who has decided to forego salt, so the shaker remains temptingly in place. I'll keep celery salt in mind for my next batch; just now pepper is the overwhelming flavour! However, this too shall pass...

Revanche, Lovely to 'see' you here, dear. I agree, kitchen gadgets are largely a waste. We laughed at loads of the things we found in the various shops.

Rick Stone said...

Growing up my Mom cooked using lots of salt. She also used a lot of sugar in her meals. (You can look at her sons size to see the result.) Joanne went the opposite direction using salt very sparingly. After 23 years with the great lady I never even think of adding salt to anything. (I think maybe watching her parents reach for the salt shaker before ever even tasting their food turned her off to salting everything.) Anyway, I think I am much better off for her redirecting my habits and I am thankful for that. Actually, I'm thankful for many things she taught me over the years.

Anonymous said...

I love salt. Truly! Yet I have cut back as my husband's family is susceptible to heart disease and salt is not considered a helpful part of his diet. Herbs are a great alternative.

The shaker is so interesting!

BigLittleWolf said...

I love pepper. I rarely cook with salt, and rarely add it to anything on my plate, except perhaps for potatoes.

Every now and then, I crave crave crave something salty like pretzels or salted peanuts, but not really very often.

I make a point of not cooking with much salt in part because nearly every processed food here (even many we don't expect) is loaded with added sodium.

And that's just part of why I cook with fewer processed foods and eat fewer prepared snacks these days. Trying, anyway.

(And pepper? Garlic? I'd have a tough time doing with those!)