Learning Your Spice: Garlic


Before you learn to use spices to make delicately seasoned dishes, you have to know your spice. There is a tendency in mainstream American spicing to throw a bunch of spices together and call it good. Many consumers feel others know better than them, but, you are the authority on your own palate.


Garlic grows as a bulb under the ground. It is related to onions and leeks. It has seasoned food and drink around the world, as well as treat a variety of conditions including infection and high cholesterol.

Garlic can be found as whole bulbs with multiple cloves, minced in olive oil, powdered and mixed with salt.

When you are first learning a spice try a dish with just that  spice alone.

Start with a whole bulb. Peel away a bit of the thick fibrous dried stalk and root. Hold it in your hand and cup it to your nose, inhaling deeply the sweet odor with just a hint of spicy bite. Peel one clove off and make sure you have removed the paper thin peel. Smash it on a cutting board with the broad side of a large knife. Chop fine and once again inhale deeply noting the spicy bite has been augmented and the sweetness receded.

You are almost ready to spice, but before you do, take a tiny few bits of the garlic you have chopped and rub it gently between your fingers. Feel the slightly oily quality which will allow it to infuse the dish you will add it to.

Now try the recipe.

Visit the recipe page for Garlic Mashed Potatoes


About Frances Wiedenhoeft

Over the first 22 years of my military career I served with the 44th General Hospital in Lanstuhl Germany for Operation Desert Storm, and with the 452nd CSH in Bagram Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, supporting the efforts of the 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Mountain Division. Nothing prepared me for the brutality I encountered on my deployment as anesthesia support to the 1872nd Head and Neck Surgical Team of the 332nd EMDG at the Ballad Airbase Hospital in Balad, Iraq. Out of the hundreds of critically ill and injured patients I cared for over my career the number and severity of injuries in Iraq, especially against civilians, were the most brutal and devastating war could inflict. For most of both wars the Balad Airbase Hospital was the busiest trauma center in the combat zone. When not deployed I honed my skills at Wisconsin's Level I Trauma Center, the University of Wisconsin Hospital. (1994-2009) While there, in addition to a full anesthesia caseload I performed my own original clinical research on Single Dose Epidural Morphine in Gynecologic Oncology Surgery which was published in American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Journal 1999. I hold a Certification in Nurse Anesthesia from the Minneapolis VA School of Anesthesia (1994), a MA in Human Resource Development from the University of St. Thomas (1994) and a BS in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin (1984). I completed military education through Command and General Staff College. Since retiring from anesthesia in 2009 I attended Madison College where I studied Journalism and creative writing. I write in a variety of genres. I have published academic articles Staphylococcus Aureus Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter Related Infections: A Cause of Catheter Loss and Peritonitis in Peritoneal Dialysis International, Phentolamine as a Diagnostic tool in Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy in Anesthesia and Analgesia and Single Dose Epidural Morphine in Gynecologic Oncology Surgery in the Journal of American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. My journalistic writing includes 20 years of guest editorials for The Wisconsin State Journal such as Return land to Ho-Chunk, Tribes seeking cooperation with the state and Honor a veteran; give of yourself. I worked as a staff writer for The Clarion while completing my journalism certificate contributing such articles as Candidates and your financial aid, A face in Wisconsin’s Electoral College: Fred Risser, and Dedicated to her game. I have published poetry related to her combat service online at warwriterscampaign.org and in print in the 2015 Ariel Anthology. I hold memberships in the National Writers Union, the Academy of American Poets, the Wisconsin Writers Association and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. I have a passion for exploring social issues such as; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the environment particularly water use and conservation, and healthy hearts and minds which I share online through my blog blogground.com. My enthusiasm for cooking and baking led me to create Bubbe’s Nightly Feast: For Cooks Who Are Afraid of Their Kitchens at bubbesnightlyfeast@wordpress.com where I share simple healthy recipes designed for people short on cooking experience. I am also a regular photographic contributor to MadisonCommons.org

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