Category Archives: Food

Travel: The New Hampshire Mushroom Company

It is the beginning of spring and an appropriate time to venture out into the world again.  Mask mandates have been lifted in New Hampshire and just across the Piscataqua River in Kittery Point, Maine where we live. This afternoon we traveled west of the Seacoast to Tamworth, NH and the New Hampshire Mushroom Company.  Housed in a large warehouse-type building on the outskirts of town, the company cultivates specialty mushrooms that they sell fresh at the local farmer’s market or at their facility as well as to local produce suppliers. Here is a list of what was available:

Blue Oysters- Mild in flavor with a subtle nuttiness.  Great in lighter dishes, cream sauces, creamy soups, and omelets or quiche.

Black Pearl – A meaty bold oyster.  Strong flavor that holds up to braising.  Great with stir fried, paired with chicken, over pasta, in quiche.

King Oyster – Meaty umami flabor, robust texture similar to a button mushroom but with more flavor.  Great as a main protein.  Can be sautéed, grilled, pickled, smoked. 

Phoenix Oyster

Phoenix & Snow Oysters – Great in lighter dishes.  Over pasta, with fish, in creamy soups, or with eggs.

Lion’s Mane – Mild flavor.  Great with marinara sauce.  Can be used as a seafood replacement in mock crab cakes and mock seared scallops.

Elms – Strong mushroom flavor.  Pairs well with heavy meats and game.  Delicious in a stroganoff, a bourguignon, or on a steak or burger.

Chestnuts _ Strong nutty flavor.  Great for stir fries, roasted with chicken, in gravies, or stuffings.

Shitakes – Strong meaty flavor.  Traditionally used in Asian dishes.  Great on pizza, in stir fries, or in risotto.

We had arrived on a Sunday afternoon to take a mushroom cooking class. There were approximately a dozen people present along with Eric  Milligan, the owner of the company, Alec Malenfant, the General Manager, and Kristen, a young woman on their staff. Eric had founded the NH Mushroom Company in 2013 without any prior knowledge or experience. Now his scientific knowledge of mushrooms is extensive and his creative uses for mushrooms in cooking were impressive. The cooking class was even more enjoyable due to his enthusiasm and sense of humor!

He explained how the textures and flavors of various mushrooms differed.  Although they are composed mostly of water, mushrooms contain 11 essential amino acids and are good sources of protein, comparable to legumes,  However, heat must be applied to break them down.

Eric started by preparing a vegetable dip for us using dried Black Trumpet mushrooms.  They were dried, so he rehydrated the mushrooms and used the water, which he called the “tea,” to thin a container of hummus.  Then he sautéed the chopped mushrooms in White Truffle Oil and added it to the hummus. (Eric said the Fiore brand White Truffle Oil was also fantastic on Brussels sprouts, eggs or pasta.)  The dip was delicious with carrots, celery and cucumber slices as well as spread on thin slices of a baguette. Eric said the sautéed Black Trumpet mushrooms are also good added to white sauce and risotto too.

Mushrooms can be used in desserts too. Eric uses mushrooms to make a “cheesecake” with a Pecan Sandie crumb crust. The filling is two parts cream cheese, one part sour cream with a squeeze of lemon, and Candy Cap mushrooms (which taste like maple syrup) are sautéed with Black Trumpet mushrooms and blended with blueberries to make a fruit compote that is served with the cheesecake.

Next Eric introduced us to dry sautéing King Oyster mushrooms.  He had cut them in chunks which resembled scallops and had scored them on one side.  They browned nicely in olive oil on his gas griddle and looked just like scallops! Using the same King Oyster mushrooms, he grated them with a box grater, sautéed them on the griddle and then added barbeque sauce to create mock pulled pork.  When thinly sliced and added to stock, the King Oyster mushrooms also become Vegan “noodles.”

King Mushrooms as scallops, barbequed pork and hummus dip made with Black Trumpets.

The Blue Oyster mushrooms were next – torn vertically or shredded, they could also simulate pulled pork which were served in butter lettuce wraps.  If you like your pulled pork sandwiches served with coleslaw, he suggested adding a dollop of mayonnaise and some Shitake mushroom power to prepared coleslaw or pickled Chestnut mushrooms as an accompaniment.

The Lion’s Mane mushrooms were perhaps the most interesting.  They looked like giant cauliflowers and could be shredded to resemble crab meat and be used to make crab cakes. Eric roasted them on the grill until they turned a slightly bluish color and then he transferred them to the griddle.  He said never to marinate mushrooms as they get mushy, but adding liquid to them while they grilled was okay.  He made a teriyaki pineapple juice mixture which he drizzled over the Lion’s Mane mushrooms while he continued to brown them on all six sides until they looked like giant fried chicken breasts!  They even tasted like chicken!

Lion’s Mane mushrooms

Lions Mane mushrooms can be sliced and sautéed with apple slices and Candy Cap Mushrooms to make a fruit dessert served with ice cream, custard or whipped cream.

Browning Lion’s Mane mushrooms on the griddle

All the participants in the class received a recipe packet that contained instructions on making Mushroom Jerky, Mushroom Duxelles, Kimshi, Foragers Popovers, and Mushroom and Olive Puttanesca served over pasta. I’m anxious to try them all!

Mushrooms are so versatile I read a recent article about one species of mushrooms that can survive on plastic and may be a solution for reducing landfill waste or helping to clean up our oceans.

I’m looking forward to the next class they offer – Top Ten WIld Edible Mushrooms.

Sour Cream Cheesecake


Crumb Crust

1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs (about 15 squares)

½ c. sugar

 ½ t. cinnamon

¼ c. melted butter

Cheesecake Filling

2 eggs

½ c. sugar

2 t. vanilla

1 ½ c. sour cream

2-8 oz. pkgs. Cream cheese, cut into pieces

2 T. melted butter

1 qt. fresh strawberries


Preheat oven to 400o. Generously grease a 9 ½ inch deep dish pie plate with shortening.  You can buy graham cracker crumbs already prepared, or break 3-4  whole graham cracker squares and put in blender. Blend on high to turn into crumbs.  Dump them into bowl and repeat with remaining graham crackers. Add sugar, cinnamon and melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs in bowl and mix with fork until well moistened.  Using the back of a spoon, press crust into pie plate.  Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. While crust is baking, wash out blender to remove any remaining crumbs and combine eggs, sugar, vanilla and sour cream in blender and mix until smooth.  With blender running, & add cream cheese one piece at a time until blended. (I just remove the handle and drop the cream cheese in the hole) Add melted butter and blend until incorporated.  Pour into prepared crust.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes. It will still jiggle in the center and will firm as it cools. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.  Garnish with halved fresh strawberries that have been tossed with a little sugar.

NOTE: To make this recipe vegan, use Cheerios for the crust (4 c. Cheerios will give you 1 ½ c. crumbs), double the amount of cinnamon and vegan butter for the crust.  For the filling, use Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese and vegan butter.  Instead of 2 eggs, put 4 Tablespoons of arrowroot in a cup and add 4 Tablespoons of cold water, stirring to dissolve. Add to filling mixture. (When baking a cake, you can use applesauce or smashed bananas to substitute for eggs, but these will not work in custard.)

White Bean, Spinach and Pasta Soup with Meatballs


2 c. diced celery

1 c. diced onions

1 c. diced carrots

¼ c. olive oil

1 c. chopped spinach

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts chicken stock

3 cans cannellini beans

2 c. Orzo pasta

1 T. oregano

1 T. thyme

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg

2 c. grated parmesan cheese

1 T. Italian seasoning

1 T. olive oil


In a large stockpot, sauté celery, onions and carrots in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add spinach and garlic and stir until spinach is wilted. Add chicken stock, beans, pasta, oregano and thyme.  Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and prepare the meatballs.

Mix ground beef, egg, parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a bowl.  Shape into bite-sized (one inch diameter) meatballs. Brown meatballs in 1 T. olive oil in a skillet and transfer to stockpot.  Serves 6.

Note:  To make this recipe vegetarian, use vegetable stock, frozen vegetarian meatballs, thawed and cut in half, and to make it gluten free, use GF orzo or rice.

Vegetarian Chili


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 – 15 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1 – 15 ounce can black beans, undrained

2 – 15 ounce cans kidney beans, undrained

1 – 15 ounce can white northern or cannellini beans, undrained

2 cups vegetable stock

Garnishes: sour cream or grated cheddar cheese


In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, the beans and their juices, vegetable stock and bay leaf. Stir to combine and let the mixture come to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, for 30 minutes.

Add salt to taste. Serves 6.

Note: You can use an envelope of McCormick chili seasoning instead of chili powder, cumin, paprika and oregano

Travel: Ashland, Oregon

The town of Ashland is located in Southern Oregon about 16 miles north of the California border. In the early 1820’s early Hudson Bay Company’s hunters and trappers passed through the area via the Sisikyou trail. When gold was discovered in a tributary of one of the local creeks in the 1850’s, a town was established and rapidly expanded. Schools, churches and businesses were established, including a large employer, Ashland Woolen Mills, which produced clothing and blankets from local wool. In 1871, the Post Office dropped “Mills” from Ashland’s name and in 1872 Reverend J. H. Skidmore opened a college, Ashland Academy, a predecessor of Southern Oregon University. In the 1880’s San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon were joined by rail through Ashland.

Today Ashland is ranked in the top 10 of “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America,” and is a cultural hot spot, with award-winning galleries, theaters and restaurants.  Ashland hosts the world-famous Shakespeare Festival, the Oregon Chocolate Festival and is located in the Rogue Valley wine region. Surrounded by the Siskiyou and Cascade, it is a prime area for hiking and outdoor activities.

My husband and I spent two weeks in Ashland in early March, but we were not there for the amenities the charming town had to offer.  We were there to cater meals for a Leadership Academy hosted by Conscious Social Change ( ). Eighteen University of Virginia students had arrived to learn how inner work, mindfulness, and personal transformation could drive social innovation, systemic change and make them better leaders in the future. The retreat was held at the Buckhorn Springs Resort, a rustic lodge and collection of cabins which had once been a mineral springs healing destination for native tribes including the Rogue, Klamath, Shasta and Takilma tribes, and then for white settlers beginning in the 1890’s. The students would be housed in the historically-restored cabins, surrounded by beautiful scenery, fresh air and the babbling sound of Emigrant Creek.  

Buckhorn Springs Lodge
The Meeting Room and one of the Cabins

Although I had hosted large dinner parties in the past, I don’t think I realized what I was getting into. I must admit I have greater respect for food service workers and caterers in particular now! I never could have handled this assignment without the support and energetic assistance of my husband, Craig.  We were responsible for providing three meals a day to ravenous university students.  Conscious Social Change wanted the menu to be vegetarian, and the meals had to meet the dietary needs of one person who was gluten-free, two vegans, and one person with a severe nut allergy! It was quite a challenge, but also immensely satisfying to meet the goals and receive so many compliments for the food we prepared. One student commented: “Thank you for making the best vegetarian food, it made me think twice about eating meat!”

So, how did we do it?  We decided to set up a buffet breakfast that consisted of hard-boiled eggs, assorted yogurts (including soy yogurt), granola (no nuts), assorted packages of instant oatmeal, regular and gluten free bread and bagels, vegan butter, regular butter, vegan cream cheese and regular cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly, bananas, oranges, coffee, tea (regular and herbal) with milk, soy milk, half and half, soy creamer, and oat creamer.

Much as I would have liked to prepare a daily quiche or gourmet muffins, this met everyone’s needs and left us free to begin prep for the rest of the day’s food. These were hungry college students! jjWe loved working in the commercial kitchen and wanted to offer hearty homemade soups for lunch each day accompanied by bread, rolls or a sandwich of some sort. Soups were Broccoli and Cheese, Vegetarian Chili, Tomato Basil Bisque, Red Potato, Leek and Corn Chowder, White Bean, Spinach and Orzo Soup with Vegetarian Meatballs, and a rich, creamy Curried Pumpkin. One girl told us she didn’t eat pumpkin, but she tried it and even came back for seconds!  I think the garlic bread, grilled cheese sandwiches and the vegetarian wraps were all big hits.

Commercial Kitchen

Our evening meals consisted of Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna with a Tossed Salad and Vegan Cheesecake for dessert, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos with Corn on the Cob and Chocolate No Bake Cookies for dessert, Mushroom Bourguignon over noodles (or gluten-free penne) with a tossed salad and Apple Cranberry Crisp for dessert, Asian Stir Fry with Broccoli, Bell Peppers, Snow Peas, Mushrooms, and Water Chestnuts over Jasmine Rice with Banana Egg Rolls for dessert, Ratatouille over Brown Rice with a tossed salad and Peach Crisp for dessert, Beyond Beef Cheeseburgers with Sweet Potato Fries and the Chocolate No Bake Cookies for dessert, and we ended with a Make Your Own Pizza night with assorted ice cream and sorbets for dessert. Bless my husband for slicing more than 20 pounds of mushrooms that week and washing mountains of dirty dishes because the commercial dishwasher was not working.

We loved interacting with the students and it was a great experience!

Conch Fritters



2 cups diced conch meat (see how to prepare below)

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper

1 egg

½ cup milk

¼ cup diced onion

½ cup diced green bell pepper

½ cup diced red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Peanut oil for frying

Lime, quartered

Cocktail sauce


If you have purchased whole conch, place it on a cutting board and using the rough side of a meat mallet, pound the conch to about 1/4″ thickness.  Then use a very sharp chef’s knife to dice the conch meat into 1/4″ pieces.   Transfer the chopped conch to a large mixing bowl.

In a large pot or deep fryer, heat oil to 365°F. Mix the flour, baking powder, egg, and milk in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mix in the chopped conch meat, onion, green and red bell pepper, and garlic until well blended. Drop rounded tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with a wedge of lime and cocktail sauce on the side.


Bahraini Cuisine

Bahrain is an international port and, as such, imports goods from all over the Middle East, India, Pakistan and Africa. Each restaurant in Manama featured a different cuisine and the food markets offered a dazzling selection of bins filled with spice, shelves stocked with oils, dates, honey and staples from around the world.


But what did the average Bahraini eat? Every meal was served with flatbread, and various small plates of egg dishes, meat dishes (usually chicken or lamb), vegetables (I liked the white beans with cilantro which were very spicy), hummus, tahini, and curries. These dishes were shared among diners. The flatbread was torn into smaller pieces and a spoonful of one of the other items was placed on the flatbread and rolled up. Diners ate this morsel with their right hand, utensils being reserved for serving. The population is predominantly Muslim and alcohol is not served except in larger establishments and hotel restaurants. Thus, diners drink water or fruit juices with their meals and follow the meal with Arabic style (strong) coffee or chai tea.

The area is subject to dust storms of very fine, white silt, which was probably the reason there was not any “street food” per se as there is in other cities of the world. The famed “shwarma” was sold at many establishments along the sidewalk where doors could be slid open to reveal the juicy, marinated chicken and lamb roasting on a spit. This Middle Eastern variation of a wrap was available everywhere for the equivalent of $3 US.

The vast array of available spices is incorporated into most menus. The following recipe is for the Chicken Machboos that we made in our cooking class.

Bahraini Chicken Machboos


¼ c. rose water

¼ t. saffron threads

2 T. melted butter

¼ c. canola oil

Whole spices:

3 star anise

2 black lemons*

2 cinnamon sticks

5 whole cloves

2 bay leaves

5 whole cardamom


2 medium onions, diced

2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced

½ t. ground ginger

½ c. fresh cilantro, chopped

½ c fresh dill, chopped

1 medium tomato, diced

Remaining spices:

1 T. salt

½ t. black pepper

½ t. cinnamon

½ t. ground cardamom

½ T. turmeric

½ T. paprika

1 T. curry powder

1 t. cumin

1 2-3 lb. chicken, quartered

2 c. basmati rice

4 c. water

Green chili (optional)


Pour rosewater into a measuring cup and add saffron threads. Cover with plastic wrap and soak for 4 hours or overnight.

In a heavy stock pot or Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium high heat. Add whole spices and sauté until you can smell the aroma. Then add onions, garlic and ginger. Fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add cilantro and dill and stir for one minute. Add the fresh tomato and mix until it softens. Add remaining spices and mix for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes on both sides to lightly brown. Add 4 c. water and bring to boil. Simmer for 40-45 minutes until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Rinse rice with cool water until it is clear. Drain. Add to stockpot. There should be 3 c. water in the stockpot for the 2 c. rice. If not, add more water. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rose water and saffron. Place chicken on top of all other ingredients and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until rice is cooked. Garnish with lemon slices. Serves 4-6.

Thai Cuisine

Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has not been colonized by Europeans. Thus, its cuisine is authentic and has only been slightly influenced by bordering countries or traders.

Thai cuisine is very spicy and focuses on dishes which are well balanced in four areas – sweet (usually palm sugar or coconut milk), salty (fish sauce and salt), sour (lime in several forms and tamarind) and spicy (chilies). Meals served in restaurants are accompanied by a quartet of sauces brought to the table – fish sauce, sliced chili peppers in rice vinegar, dried chili flakes, and palm sugar. Rice is served at most meals, (usually jasmine rice, but also sticky or glutinous rice) and sometimes noodles. Cucumbers are often served to cool the palate. I was told recently that additional ways to counter the spiciness is to add more rice, add sugar, or drink more beer!

Thai food was traditionally eaten by the right hand while seated on cushions on the floor, but today most Thais eat with a fork and large spoon. The fork is held in the left hand and is used to scoop or push into the spoon which is held in the right hand. Chopsticks are reserved only for noodle dishes.

The Thai pantry can be stocked from items available in the international aisle at a grocery store or a local Asian market. Lo’s Seafood in Portsmouth, NH carries Thai canned goods (coconut milk, fish sauce, tamarind paste), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fresh chilies (bird’s eye chilies or very tiny chilies are hotter than larger chilies), Thai basil and cilantro. Green, yellow and red curry pastes (hottest to mildest, respectively) can be made from scratch or purchased already prepared.

The following recipe for Chicken Coconut Milk Soup is one which we prepared at the Thai Farm Cooking School while I was in Thailand recently.

Tom Kaa Gai (Chicken Coconut Milk Soup)


½ c. water

¼ cup of peeled, thinly sliced galangal or ginger

1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced into one-inch pieces

½ cup halved grape tomatoes

½ cup sliced mushrooms

1-5 bird eye’s chili peppers

1 chicken breast, sliced thinly and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 can coconut milk

2-3 kaffir lime leaves

1 stem of cilantro, finely diced

3 sliced scallions

1 T. fish sauce or soy sauce

½ teaspoon light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of lime juice


Combine water, galangal, lemongrass, tomatoes and mushrooms in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to boil. Remove stems from chili peppers and crush open by banging down with your palm on the flat side of a heavy knife. Add chili peppers, coconut milk and chicken pieces to broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is milky white all the way through. Fold kaffir lime leaves in half along spine and remove spine of each leaf to release flavor. Add to soup with cilantro, scallions, fish sauce, sugar and salt to taste. Continue to cook over medium heat for 5 more minutes to intensify flavor. Finally add lime juice (soup will be too bitter if lime juice is added too early.) Lemongrass pieces, kaffir lime leaves, chilies and  galangal or ginger root should be removed prior to serving as they are all too tough to chew. Serves 2.






K’UL Chocolate


I recently had the opportunity to taste some fabulous artisan chocolate crafted by the K’UL Company of Minneapolis. (Wish you were here to assist!)

The name K’UL (pronounced cool) comes from the Mayan word for energy. The chocolate bars are promoted as a superfood providing the energy to do more and to do it better. The K’UL chocolate makers directly import their cacao beans from farms in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru eliminating the middle man. The farms are chosen not only because they have great tasting cacao beans, but also because they are professionally managed, have well-paid labor, and practice sustainable, environmental-conscious organic farming. All K’UL bars are 70% cacao, vegan, gluten free, soy free and dairy free.

Chocolate tasting is an art in itself, involving all five senses. First, use your nose and start by smelling the chocolate. Taste is 75% aroma and these chocolate bars were rich with the fragrance of cocoa. Next, use your eyes as you need to evaluate the appearance of the chocolate. All of the K’UL bars were deep brown in color with a polished sheen. Let’s use our sense of touch. These bars were smooth in texture except where extra ingredients were added for more complexity. What does a good chocolate bar sound like?  When you bite into one or break off a piece, you should hear a distinct “snap,” indicating that they have been properly tempered. (Tempering prevents the dull grayish color and waxy texture that happens when the cocoa fat separates out.) And last, but most important, is the way the chocolate tastes. Did you know that chocolate has 400 flavor profiles? That’s more than a fine wine! Let is slowly melt in your mouth. Using your tongue, move the chocolate to the roof of your mouth. Move your tongue back and forth to warm the chocolate for full appreciation. Mmm! The K’UL bars had no bitter after taste, either.  I must admit they were the finest I’ve ever tasted!


Made from the world’s rarest cacao white bean, this single origin chocolate bar has a distinct orange accent, with a slight butterscotch flavor and floral notes. I compared this bar to a Lindt Intense Orange dark chocolate bar which I had on hand, and the Lindt chocolate  tasted like vegetable shortening by comparison.


This single origin bar was one of my favorites (but then, they all were.) Deep, dark and rich, it felt like velvet on my tongue. I detected malt, fruit, brown sugar and maybe a hint of coffee.


This chocolate bar was chewy and tangy with a slightly crumbly texture. The added bananas and coconut make this one truly healthy and delicious. What a great way to enjoy chocolate for breakfast!


Perfect to tuck in your gym bag, this superfood bar is packed with protein from peanuts and currants!


The Endurance bar combines premium dark chocolate with cranberries, guarana and pumpkin seeds, which add a nice toasted nut flavor.


The stamina bar was also one of my favorites. It was a luscious dark chocolate enhanced with maca root, cranberries, cherries, pomegranate and raspberries. I wonder if this could count in my diet as a serving of fruit?


The rich chocolate flavor of the Saltsation bar is enhanced with the addition of sea salt.

Marcona Almonds

Hand roasted almonds added a crunchy, crispy texture to this velvety chocolate.


The blend of dark chocolate with pure vanilla added even greater depth to the deep cocoa flavor.


Rich and silky smooth, this single origin bar has the flavor of fruit, floral notes like jasmine and a hint of licorice.


The single origin bar from Ecuador has a buttery flavor that made me think of brown sugar and butterscotch.

For more information and ordering these and other K’UL chocolate bars, visit







Week 52: Turmeric


Turmeric is an orange-colored spice native to India and Indonesia, revered for its culinary and therapeutic benefits. Turmeric gives the curry its bright yellow or orange color and contributes to its peppery, warm, and mildly bitter taste. It also provides a tangy and ginger-like fragrance.

Turmeric is a root crop known for its tough brown skin and bright orange flesh. For more than 5,000 years, this root crop has been cultivated in the tropical regions of Asia. During the 13th century, turmeric was introduced to western countries by Arab traders. Its popularity has slowly spread across the globe. Today, the leading producers of this aromatic spice are India, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Haiti, and Jamaica.

First used as a textile dye, turmeric has been used for its medicinal properties in China and India for thousands of years. Turmeric is also used as a food additive to create a rich, yellow color in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, cereals, sauces, and gelatins.

Health Benefits

Turmeric is arguably the most powerful herb on the planet at fighting and potentially reversing disease. It has so many healing properties that currently there have been 6,235 peer-reviewed articles published proving the benefits of turmeric.

Turmeric’s active ingredient is an extracted compound called curcumin. Among the health benefits of curcumin is reducing inflammation of the joints characteristic of arthritis. Other studies suggest that this powerful spice may also help protect us against breast, lung, stomach, liver, and colon cancer, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease by reducing some levels of beta amyloid plaque in the brain, a compound associated with cognitive decline.

Turmeric has the ability to improve the effects of diabetic medications and help in controlling the disease. It reduces the risks of developing insulin resistance, a physiological condition in which the cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the insulin hormone.

Research also suggests that turmeric can help reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides in overweight people with high cholesterol. Turmeric may also relax blood vessels and minimize heart damage after suffering a heart attack.

So for inflammation and more, it appears that turmeric could be the supplement you’ve been searching for. When searching for a turmeric supplement, however, be sure to choose one that includes the black pepper extract piperine. Without it, the curcumin that is ingested gets metabolized before it’s absorbed.


Our local Asian market in Portsmouth, NH sells turmeric rhizomes. You can make your own fresh turmeric powder by boiling, drying and then grinding the roots into a fine powder.

However, its deep color can easily stain, so quickly wash any area with which the turmeric has come into contact with soap and water. To prevent staining your hands, you might consider wearing kitchen gloves while handling turmeric.

Side Effects

Some people have reported allergic reactions to turmeric, especially after skin exposure. Typically this is experienced as a mild, itchy rash. People taking certain medications should also be careful when using turmeric in their food or supplementing with it. Turmeric may interfere with anti-coagulants like aspirin, and warfarin. It also can affect medications such as non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. As with any herb or supplement, use as directed.

So why wouldn’t you try this natural ingredient for better health? It could just be the “spice of life.”