The New Year conjures up reflections on ones life, the life we wanted to live last year or the life we hope to live this coming year….I for one want to lead a spicy life, a life of excitement, of health and also of slight decadence and excess.

The New Year conjures up reflections on ones life, the life we wanted to live last year or the life we hope to live this coming year….I for one want to lead a spicy life, a life of excitement, of health and also of slight decadence and excess.  What better way to spice things up but with spices themselves.  I am a lover of spices and condiments, they make cooking and entertaining simple yet complex in flavor.

Last year I visited a psychic medium, and before you naysayers shake your heads, listen…This medium is not a typical medium in that she sees your future…she sees you in the present, and can analyze the meaning of what she sees…she saw me through a window in my kitchen surrounded by spices, that I kept in jars.  For those of you who know me, I indeed have a multitude of spices, some I keep in jars, other in plastic bags so that I can take them when I travel to the beach house or someone else’s country house, where I am allowed to run free in the kitchen!

Cardamom Pods-use them to flavor tea and coffee, just crush a few and add to the teapot!  Amazing in rice, just throw a few whole pods in the rice while it cooks…add a little to your French toast batter and be amazed!

Coriander- I love it on fish, chicken, just about anything, again buy the whole seeds and crush them yourself.

Whole Cinnamon Stick- Also great in rice, but even greater in chili con carne, I throw a whole stick in a giant pot of chili and it adds a subtle spicy sweetness.

Whole Nutmeg- I could put nutmeg on everything…Buy the whole nut, and grate it into cream sauces, macaroni and cheese, egg dishes, gratins, and most desserts. It’s also wonderful on fruit poached in wine.

Aleppo Pepper-this is my newest fave, it is hot pepper with finesse, it is subtle and rich and I put it on everything now, and its great for those of you who don’t like very hot peppery dishes, it gives you bite without leaving a scar!

Now on to my favorite condiments…in particular, mustard.  It’s low in calories, cholesterol and all those bad things, but it’s packed with flavor, especially if you find flavored mustard…

While in Paris last summer I went into the Maille mustard boutique…while buying 6 small jars that varied in flavor, I got to chatting with the salesgirl and she informed me that there was an NYC store on it’s way to my UWS neighborhood…well it has arrived and trust me if you are anywhere near it, go!  Last week I bought 6 more small jars…..Saffron with Mascarpone, Walnut, Bleu Cheese, Honey w Spices, Coriander and Fig.

Add a big dollop to macaroni and cheese, it makes even the boxed kind taste wonderful, or put it in your salad dressings to spruce them up.  I’m not a big fan of the boring chicken breast but smear one with a bit of Saffron Mascarpone and it takes it to another place….. or have a cocktail party with ham, crudités and cheese.  Set up a “mustard bar”, line up the small jars with little spoons and watch your guest go at it….