Friday, November 25, 2011

Cloves / Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend and Pomander - Margaret Ullrich

Cloves is the strange cousin of the spice family.
It's not an old stand-by, like pepper.
It usually just gets trotted out for holidays.

But, then the oddball becomes the life of the party!

If you're not a 'turkey for the holidays' type, you probably had ham for Thanksgiving.
And what's ham without pineapple rings?
And those little spikey things holding the pineapple slices in place.
See, you do like cloves.

The name cloves is from the Latin, and means nails.
I guess the Romans used them to hold things in place, too.

Cloves are the strongest of all aromatic spices.
It takes from 5,000 to 7,000 buds to make a pound of ground cloves.

Ground cloves are great in fruit pies.
Also in cakes and puddings, especially chocolate cakes and pudding.
Add a pinch to honey and spoon the spiced honey over sliced oranges.

Ground cloves can be used as a garnish on mashed sweet vegetables such as 
beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
It's also nice on onions.
Or you can add a dash to baked beans, chili sauce, or split pea soup.
Just remember a little goes a long way.
Like time spent with that strange cousin.

Okay... now you know what to do with ground cloves.
But, you bought a jar of whole cloves to hold the pineapple in place.
And you don't eat ham every week.
No problem.

A cold winter night is the perfect time for spiced tea, cider or wine.
Just drop a clove in a cup of tea.
Or add a few to the pot of mulled cider or wine.

A few whole cloves can also add a certain something to a chili con carne.

Want to spice up your closet?
Place a few whole cloves in a fine mesh bag and attach the bag to a hanger.

Need a Christmas gift idea?
Take a small orange or apple and insert the cloves into the fruit.
Completely cover the surface.
Cover the studded fruit with ground cinnamon and let it age.
By Christmas you'll have a lovely pomander.
It won't guard against infections - people used to have some strange ideas - but 
it will smell nice.

Are you afraid to buy a spice you don't use very often?
Don't be.
You can make your own spice blends.

Yes, you can.

Here's an example, using your new friend, Cloves.
Do buy the ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice, too.
They'll be covered in future posts.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 Cup ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground allspice

Makes a scant 1/2 Cup

Pumpkin Pie Spice would also go nicely on the mashed sweet vegetables.
And the onions.

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