4 Dec

paleo za'atarSpice mixes are fun. Making spice mixes is fun. You learn so much! Oh that’s how they get that flavor! Plus, if you make them in advance, as opposed to just adding spices to a dish as you’re making it, you’ll have a little jar with which you can now have a real nice way to impress people. No one is impressed with individual spices. Everyone is impressed with a jar of homemade za’atar. Well, you won’t be, because you’re going to make it and it’ll be old hat then.
sumacAdvent has begun. Every single day a Christmas activity must occur. I’m currently making cinnamon and clove scented pinecones. They’re sitting on the stovetop making the kitchen smell so wonderful. I also made cinnamon ornaments. Lots of cinnamon here. Also on the agenda is getting our Christmas tree from the wilderness, paper snowflakes, watching He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special, talking a walk to peer at fancy Christmas light displays in a fancy neighborhood, etc. I’m not in the mood to make Christmas cookies this year. Not like last year. I’m sure it’ll hit at some point, but nothing much this year. I might have gone overboard last year. I am going to make some sort of toffee concoction for my department’s Christmas party at work on Wednesday. Toffee almond salted something. It’s a homemade candy competition and I better freaking win. I should have made it this weekend because I tried making it last night and all was going well in the pot until it just separated and then it crystallized and now I have like one more chance to try it and I’ll probably ruin it again and cry.
sesame and thymeSo this spice mix is part one of a two part recipe. Part two is the actual food. Mostly, I broke it into two parts because I got convinced to go snowboarding on Sunday and there wasn’t enough daylight time when we got back to make the whole thing while being able to take pictures. But, really, I can see how sometimes my more spice-heavy recipes can look daunting. And this way, it makes it seem more manageable. Right? Sumac is a spice that I went out specially to look for. I know that’s annoying. I’m sorry. If it takes you a year to get around to making this and its follow up recipe, I understand. It’s been a while since I’ve initially wanted to make za’atar because sumac isn’t super available. I walk by this one spice shop probably every other weekend. But I’m stubborn and say that I would rather go to a proper ethnic store to get my spices. Those stores are no where near me. So I finally caved and went in and probably paid a nice premium on it. I also got kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves, and asafoetida, finally. The whole store smelled like heaven. I wanted to smell every single jar they had in there.
all togetherThis spice mix is wonderful sprinkled on vegetables, salads, meats, whatever. Or…on roasted winter squash, recipe coming soon!


1/4 cup ground sumac
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons oregano
3/4 tablespoon ground marjoram
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Mix all spices together, adjusting as you’d like by smell and taste. If you have dried marjoram, rather than ground, use 2 tablespoons. Fresh thyme, use maybe 1 tablespoon. Have you made za’atar before? I’d love to hear how you make it. Like a lot of traditional foods, there are a million right ways to make it.


4 Responses to “za’atar”

  1. Donna December 5, 2012 at 04:09 #

    I love your humanity, your humor, your photography, your recipes….you!!!….So glad I happened onto your quality culinary site…Just reading about your musings NEVER FAILS to bring a smile to my face …and I always look forward to seeing a posting from Cranking Kitchen in my email box…Thanks for the giving!!!

    P.S….Relating heavily to those special-ingredient boutiques usually being situated MILES from my dwelling and “caving” periodically to the high price point…Sigh!!!..Must make your za’atar asap…love that particular mix…


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