My mom, being the welcoming sort, started to invite him out to family get-togethers right away. Over the years, he shared much with us and we learned so much from him. We still keep in touch at Christmas time and he continues to serve as a missionary priest in the U.S. - albeit in the warmer central states!
At some point, he shared this hand-typed list of spices with my mom, who then shared it with me. I enjoy reading the list every once in a while, and I keep it posted on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. It reminds me of Fr. Peter, and it reminds me to pray for him.
- Bay Leaf -- Used in stews, soup and great with pot roast. Go easy. Bay leaves are strong, especially California bay leaves, which are the kind most grocery stores stock. I use 1/2 a leaf in my stews.
- Basil -- Ah, the taste of summer. who can resist fresh basil and tomatoes from the garden tossed with olive oil and garlic on a plate full of pasta? Dried, it's wonderful in soups, pasta dishes and chicken.
- Dill -- It's not just for pickles. Try some dill sprinkled on fish, chicken or even in a light cream soup.
- Garlic -- Nectar of the gods, well, bulb of the gods anyway. Garlic has a way of making the most ordinary food gourmet. Try sprinkling garlic powder (not garlic salt) into a prepared box of white cheddar macaroni and cheese. Surprise! It's pretty good. Fresh, though, is best. Squeeze it from a press into almost anything. Don't use with chocolate though.
- Ginger -- Sprinkle it in your stir-fry, try it on baked chicken breasts with a little soy sauce and garlic. For fun, get it fresh (it's that alien-looking root mass in the produce department) and freeze it. It will keep almost indefinitely when frozen. To use, hack off a piece, peel it and grate it into your recipe.
- Nutmeg -- I love nutmeg. If you can find nutmeg nuts and the itty, bitty grater that comes with it, buy it. Once you've had freshly grated nutmeg, the powdered stuff in the jar is beneath you. Obiously an ingredient in baking, it's also good grated on sauteed squash, green beans, and carrots.
- Oregano -- A staple in Italian cooking, it's also good in stews and salad dressings.
- Rosemary -- This beautiful plant grows wil in my garden and provides an intoxicating aroma to meats, stews and root veggies. Try some crumbled in your carrots for a change of pace.
- Tarragon -- An almost licorice flavor, this delicate herb takes front and center in vinaigrettes, as a delicious sprinkle on the top of baked or poached poultry and fish.
- Thyme -- Make time for thyme! It's strong and adds a hint of character to an otherwise pretty standard dish. Use it with chicken, soups and beef.
*I must mention that normally I wouldn't refer to a priest by his first name, out of respect. However, it was Fr's wish to be called such, and I didn't ask his permission to use his full name in this post anyway!