Holiday spices

by kath_red on 21/12/2012

in Food

yum yum.

I made some speculaas (or speculoos) recently. A big batch of dough. I froze the dough in rolls and so can slice and bake and have fresh speculaas baking aroma in the house whenever I want.

I have seen plenty of recipes around. And have tried the joy of baking version and the Action Pack version. Both excellent — but with slightly different spice mixes and dough consistency.

I have also been making ginger snaps. My go-to holiday cookie. I love ginger. I have a free recipe download here from the Action Pack.

I love the speculaas spice — cinnamon-y. But there are lots of versions of spice. And lots of different holiday spices all over Europe, more cinnamon, or more cardamon or more ginger.

Speculaas spice mix (Netherlands and Belgium) is strong on cinnamon:

  • 8 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Gingerbread spice mix (throughout Europe) heavy on the ginger:

  • 6 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Piparkukas spice mix (Latvian) — are heavy on the cardamon and cloves — not so gingery — more peppery

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ginger

Pfeffernusse spice mix (Germany) heavy on the pepper and nutmeg

  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 2 teaspoons ground red and black peppercorns

Lebkuchen spice mix (Germany) is a traditional mix of holiday spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg with the addition of coriander, cardamom, and star anise):

  • 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground aniseed or star anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of paprika

Try these spice mixes in ice cream, mulled wine, hot apple cider, pies and cakes — for that spicy holiday smell to fill your house.


Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement edited by Paula Manalo, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, Zoe Ida Bradbury. Storey Publishing (May 8, 2012).

Greenhorns is a series of essays written by beginner farmers ‘for the benefit of other beginner farmers’. Inspiring, sad, funny, interesting and quirky stories written by ordinary, sometimes naive, but always motivated, newbies to the farming life. You’ll laugh and cry right alongside these folks as they blunder their way through their early farming venture and maybe you’ll be inspired to give this life a go too!

Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen by Alex Lewin. Quarry Books (July 1, 2012).

Real food fermentation author, Alex Lewin, is realistic and visionary about food at the same time. In the ‘know your ingredients’ chapter he discusses where and how to find ‘real food’, he is not fanatical about using organic produce over other produce, he instead advocates a more realistic approach of trying as best you can to get the best produce that is available to you. And as a huge fan of Sandor Katz (author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation) he doesn’t try to replicate the recipes from those books, instead he adds to them — giving detailed instructions about certain areas he is passionate about and providing incredibly good how-to photographs to go alongside.

The recipes — quite a lot of space is given over to sauerkraut in all its manifestations, there is a good chapter on fermented dairy (buttermilk yoghurt etc), fermented condiments have some space (chutneys and preserved lemons), beverages (apple cider, kombucha and ginger ale), and finally fermented meats are mentioned (salami). This book is by no means extensive it its range of subjects – rather the areas that he is passionate about is deep and detailed.


Giving handmade gifts at this time of year can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it is so lovely to devote yourself to handmade gift giving, on the other hand where did all the time go?!

You might want to make a big batch of these ginger cookies — wrap them in pretty ribbon and give half a dozen to all your friends — also makes a great hostess or teacher gift! This ginger snap cookie recipe is from the Celebration mega issue of Action Pack from last year, and contains a whole bunch more cookie recipes and holiday decorations from around the world. Click on the link above to take you to a print ready pdf of the recipe.


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Whole Larder Love: Grow Gather Hunt Cook by Rohan Anderson. powerHouse Books (October 9, 2012).

I was very excited when I received a copy of Rohan’s book Whole Larder Love, I am a big been a fan of his blog and his food and his life philosophy. His book is lovingly put together, Rohan’s rustic cross processed style of photography is beautiful, he manages to capture the essence of the food and the love that went into growing, catching and preparing it. Rohan lives his ideals, he hunts, fishes, forages has a prolific vegie garden, he is passionate about where food comes from, and about how it is prepared for consuming. He is a pretty down-to-earth guy, he is a dad and he loves life! Here a video of a day in the life of this guy.

I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Hi Rohan I love your new book and have been a blog fan and follower for ages. I am very interested in your philosophy of food. Can you explain this to our readers?

It’s a very simple approach really. My aim is to rely less on other people and corporations for my food, in doing so I reckon I’m reducing my carbon footprint significantly. In all reality I’m living a peasant life, the good life, a lifestyle that I believe is what’s needed as an alternative to the crazy busy current ‘normal’ lifestyle of desk job, long hours, extensive work travel, money stress etc. I’ve rid myself of those things, I have less money, less stuff but a happier life. It’s amazing how better life is with less.

Another major aspect of your blog, which has attracted me and countless others — the lack of perceived political correctness is very refreshing — and real. Many people appreciate this because of your love and respect of food and where it comes from. Can you talk about this?

I’m a free man, I guess I’ve always thought I was free but now I truly am. I can think for myself, I take real action in my life and I stand by my beliefs. If that’s politically incorrect then so be it. That’s the beauty of our freedom of choice! No one is force feeding us our food for example, we the individual make that choice. We also make the choice to either play on entertainment systems on a large plasma screen or we can choose to get out bush and explore nature. I used to watch a lot of television and I never seemed to have time to do things. Then I stopped and now I remind myself that I have no excuse not to do the things I can do, I have that extra few hours up my sleeve now. And there’s also an upside to not watching so much telly. I’m no longer a marketers dream viewer. Instead I’m even more syndical and untrusting of brands. I put my faith in real things, not marketed ideas.

Your photography is beautiful, it has a earthy rich quality to it that is lacking in a lot of food photography. Can you give readers some tips about photographing food and produce?

I’m massively colour blind. I denied it for years. When I was married, my wife used to joke with me about it then I had a medical and failed the eye test dismally. We had a great laugh and now I accept it. So when I process my photos I use the colours that I like. My photos usually tend towards cooler tones. And I’m not a professionally trained photographer, nor do I really consider myself to be an actual photographer. I just use the camera to capture visuals that I then use as a communication medium for the blog. The camera is a tool as important as my guns, my fly rod or a garden spade. I don’t really like talking about photography, there seems to be a lot of ‘photographers’ out there in internet land, a good deal of them appear to be wankers too. I can’t stand people comparing what brand of camera, or lens and how much they paid for it. Just take the damn photo!

The food and recipes in your book are full of flavour, colour and texture. You love to hunt, fish and forage, but one aspect that I really enjoyed was the chapter on stocking the pantry. Can you tell us a few of your favourite ways of putting food by?

At the end of summer I start to do a lot of preserving. It’s an approach that’s been used for centuries to harvest summers produce and store for the winter months when things slow down. That’s all I do really, is spend my time acquiring food for the family. I have no ‘normal’ job, my job IS food. Most people have space to grow the easiest veg of all to grow, zucchini. And if you plant a few too many plants you’ll find yourself in a glut some time in the middle of summer. That’s when I start making jars of Zuc relish. There’s a recipe in my book, which I suggest using as a base and then add to it — add chilli, add peppers, add more onion, more sugar. Do what you want to suit your tastes. In the end however, you’ll have a ripper relish to go on burgers and in winter toasties that you made from stuff you grew. Nothing beats that!


Welcome to the Family Cooking edition of Action Pack Magazine for kids. 

  • In this issue there are 30 recipes – all tested and tasted by kid chefs – Orlando and Otilija.
  • Plus we have included a crafty how-to-sew a chef’s hat as well as a convenient printable recipe card section.
  • As well as this we have a included cooking essentials like how to separate eggs, make bread and butter and lots more besides.
  • Action Pack guide to family cooking is divided up into sections:breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner, bread + butter, and dessert. And each recipe is rated ‘super easy’, ‘easy’, ‘medium’ or ‘bit harder’.
  • Plus there are baking tips, safety advice and a kitchen conversion chart.

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [which can also be viewed on a Tablet or iPad].

Do you like to cook? Do your kids?

Cooking is a great skill to have. If you can be confident in the kitchen, know how to use a knife safely and to be careful around boiling liquids and hot flames, then you are well on your way to becoming an independent and capable person in the kitchen and in life. This Action Pack: Family cooking, will help cooks of all ages to become confident in the kitchen.

Cooking not only teaches you about healthy eating and good quality food, but also makes you aware of the ingredients that go into your food. Kids will begin to appreciate all the time and effort that goes into cooking a meal for the family too. They might not even complain so much if it’s not their favourite food served up at dinner time. Enable your children to become confident cooks and experimental eaters with these 30 delicious and easy to make recipes.

Cooking is part science, part art and part practical skills. Knowing how food reacts and why you need to include certain ingredients in a certain order and cook them at a certain temperature is all science. Why baking powder and yeast makes flour rise. Why cream turns to butter if you over beat it. Why milk curdles if you add lemon juice to it. Knowing these things will make you and your kids more inventive, creative and scientific cooks — you’ll learn all these things and more in this issue.

Cooking is about being independent, learning about food and ingredients and the effort that goes into cooking, but it can also be a really fun, creative and artistic activity. Experimenting with flavour, colour, texture and shape is part of the cooking process. In this e-cooking book, you’ll find food for inspiring this creativity.

Orlando kneading dough

This here little cook book is for kids who like to cook, but it’s also for the whole family too. The recipes inside are practical and uncomplicated and use easy to find everyday ingredients. I hope you and the whole family enjoy this cooking e-book.

Welcome to the Family Cooking edition of Action Pack Magazine for kids. 

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [which can also be viewed on a Tablet or iPad].

Chocolate choc-chip brownies

Be prepared for mess, for fun and for some seriously good food.

I want to encourage everyone to give cooking a go. Parents don’t be afraid of a little mess – kids, you’ll have to clean up after cooking if you want to cook next time.!

Cooking with kids takes longer – this is just a fact, which is fine – slow and steady will get you there in the end, just read through the recipe, gather your ingredients and do one step at a time.

None of the recipes in this book are difficult, although some recipes might take a little more experience in the kitchen than others – and a little more time. However they are all achievable and we know this because the chefs who cooked the dishes featured here are 9 and 12 years old – younger children will need more supervision, while older ones will only need a little advice now and again.

So get cooking – what are you waiting for?!

This is an e-magazine – you will receive a download link to a high quality printable pdf [which can also be viewed on a Tablet or iPad].

Instructions: After you have purchased the Action Pack you will receive an email with the link to where you can download the pdf. Save it onto your computer and then print out. It is a full colour 20+ page document – print the pages all at once or you need as you need them. For optimum quality choose ‘best quality’ when printing, especially for the pages with illustrations. However feel free to print it out in black and white too. Your PDF can also be saved and viewed onto your Tablet or iPad.

Important: The pdf magazine will be automatically delivered via e-mail as soon as your payment is received. The email address that it is sent to is the email connected to your paypal account. The e-mail you receive will include a link to download the file directly to your computer. Please note that the link will only allow you to access the file for a limited period, so please make sure to download and save the file on your own computer as soon as you receive it. Lost files may be replaced for a period of 30 days following purchase.

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