Viva la Spice!

See the little silver tin with the “porthole” — front row, third from the right — in our spice cupboard? It’s gomasio, a spice we use on a regular basis.


Gomasio is traditional sesame salt used for centuries in Asia. Goma  means sesame, and shio means salt. It’s comprised of organically grown sesame seed roasted and ground with sea salt and three trace mineral-rich sea vegetables — dulse, nori, and kombu.

Perhaps considered unusual, exotic, or non-traditional — at least in our neck of the woods — gomasio enhances many of our nutrient-dense meals, adding a bit of flair and panache.

Each of us has a “spice” — an ingredient or two in our life — that’s considered quirky or peculiar by others. For instance:

  • I can whistle loud. Really loud!
  • I cry when I’m happy.

I’ve never colored my hair.


I can make an awesome mouse face.


What spices do you have that add flavor and pizzaz to your life?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book — Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience — Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence
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98 thoughts on “Viva la Spice!

  1. Now that’s a treat! Finally a new post!
    Never heard of that spice. In our home ground coriander is main, chillies, and Tabasco for me. We also use caraway seeds in quite a lid of dishes…

  2. Now THAT’S a spice cabinet, if I’ve EVER seen one!!!!!!!!!!!! One of the great things about Ecuador is that we have lots of fresh herbs, so the spice cabinet is a bit less important. We live largely on basil and cilantro in our house.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Kathy – Like you, we eat as many fresh herbs and spices as we can get our hands on. Unlike you, they’re not always at our beck and call. Currently, if you open our refrigerator you’ll see three large Mason jars (like vases with water) that contain: cilantro, parsley, and basil. We keep chives in a pot on the counter. Some day I’m going to come visit your open air markets 🙂

  3. Your posts are always short, light, and witty, infusing me with energy for the day. I usually learn something new too. Some observations: You have the most orderly spice cabinet ever. I can’t whistle to save my life. My aunt has a Schnauzer with salt and pepper coloring like yours. (Fritzie bit me once when I was very nice to him, so we are not friends at the moment.)

    How do I add spice to my life? Well, usually with herbs: rosemary, mint, and basil, which I just planted with seeds for the new season. Oh, and there are always grandchildren to spice up my day too. Thank you, Laurie. Oh, the mousie pose is priceless.

    • Marian – I’m glad you enjoyed this post, thank you for letting me know. I love schnauzers (to me they look like little professors), but doggone it, shame on Fritzie for biting you!

      We use whole mint leaves (slightly crushed) in fresh-squeezed lemonade in the summertime. I have a tremendous amount of respect for how far a tiny bit of rosemary will go — a pinch is usually all it takes. And basil — one of our favorites — makes it into just about every soup and salad we make.

  4. Laurie, along with the rest of your readers, I am mightily impressed by your spice cabinet! While I don’t have what I would call a Plain-Jane, White Bread life, I do live alone and many of the activities are certainly on the solitary side. Reading, gardening, drawing are things I do alone, they are things that require some thought but not additional company. People are the spice of my life, they add the sweet, sour, heat, savory, or bitterness that comes with interaction. Some I like, very much, some I try to avoid. Bitterness is not a flavor I enjoy, sweetness is.

    • Sandi – What YOU’VE got that I covet (yes, covet) are fresh eggs from your own hens, and oodles of fresh produce from your own lovely — absolutely lovely — garden.

      I love that POPLE are the spice of your life. And yes, it takes ALL kinds. As our mutual friend, Terrill, said on Facebook today: “We humans are a quirky lot.” 🙂

  5. Me too on the spice cabinet. I like adding just a dash of ground chillis to most savory dishes. And cinnamon to the sweets. My smile seems to add spice to a lot people’s lives.

  6. Laurie before I opened your full post and I was seeing it in my email notifications I read “the little silver lined pothole.” Now I believe this quirky spice is a combination of dyslexia, imagination and a short night’s sleep but it definitely adds some wallop to plain old meat and potatoes kinda day.

  7. What a fun article, Laurie. I especially love the photo of you and your dog–beautiful salt and pepper .
    You asked: What spice do you have?
    I answer: My love of singing. And I sing like none other–on key, off key–any old key. But I sing. Just one of the spices that makes me, me.

  8. What a neat spice cupboard! Love that photo of you and the doggie! Spice? As in actual spices? Or spice like the whistling? haha. Today I don’t feel as if I have any spices in my life. Ugh. One of THOSE days. But for spices, I love sesame oil and garlic oil and smoked paprika, but not together.

  9. One of my quirks is actually that I love seeing other people’s spice cupboards! (For real, Laurie!) My mom is an excellent cook, and I’ve always had a large collection of spices and herbs in my kitchen. (My go-to spices are cinnamon and turmeric, though not always together.)

    I was absolutely shocked to discover that one of my friends only has salt and pepper in her kitchen (!!!), and it was also a treat to go shopping in the Czech Republic and notice that instead of buying a salt and pepper shaker set, you buy the shakers in a set of three: salt, pepper, and caraway seeds. So cool!

    • Dana – I just learned a few new things: You’re a spice cupboard junkie; and about the trio of spices in the Czech Republic — that’s waaaaay cool! We use caraway seeds in our sauerkraut 🙂

  10. I must look for Gomasio, as I love cooking with sesame oil and always fry my rice in it before adding the water: it gives it a very special and delicious taste.
    I can whistle with 4 fingers in my mouth, a very manly trait I learned from my brothers. Not very lady-like, I know, but when I was growing up, I spent more time with my 5 brothers than with my 4 sisters!

    • Fatima – You’ve just taught me a new way to prepare rice. I never thought to fry it in oil before adding the water (I usually add vegetable broth).

      Like you, with four fingers in my mouth is precisely how I whistle loud. Really loud! I learned how to do it when I was a kid 🙂

  11. Ah, this is a classic post, one of your great ones Laurie! Love the order in that cupboard and that mouse face! And I just learned about a new spice today–one that apparently promotes great health! This week we are finally getting a “nutri-bullet” to make blueberry/strawberry/blackberry and nut smoothies. Hopefully, I will eventually get to gromasio. As to the spices in my life, there is one grown in the U.K. that keeps me hopping. It has a lamentable tendency to create some negative energy, but I always do my best to counteract it. Ha!!

    I really do hope that snow misses you and Len. Today we have a 62 degree day, but cold is coming again on Thursday I think.

    • Sam – You and yours are going to have a BLAST making smoothies with the nutri-bullet. As you know from my Facebook wall, we enjoy smoothies on a regular basis.

      I am, indeed, aware of the unsavory spice that you eluded to. I think your counteractive tactics are commendable 🙂

  12. Interesting spice collection and thanks for sharing. I probably use “Turmeric” more than any other spice because of it being a powerful anti-inflammatory. Another fav spice is “Thyme” and use it in “Spring-Thyme chicken-rice soup” for the soul and also cabbage soup, etc.. .Also, use Cinnamon in about everything including sprinkling coffee grounds with it. Will definitely check out the Gomasio, especially with it being a natural source of iodine from Nori.

    As for whistling, I recently posted an article stating within it that you should always keep your whistling skills in tune as that is how I was able to lure a bird out of my house last week “sigh”.

    Enjoy the blast of snow headed our way tonight (smile) . . . hopefully, it will be a “blast of a winter” from our past.

    • Thorns4Roses – I think of Tumeric as practically a “silver bullet” in the world of health. Especially, as you mentioned, as an anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon in coffee grounds — that sounds like it would be delicious!

  13. Hi Laurie! I like the mouse face-when do you use it? 🙂

    Hmmm….let’s see…well, I have colored my hair every color in the rainbow at one point or another. I see it as an accessory, like a bracelet or necklace.

    I seem to attract all kinds of animals. Meaning, of the Animal Kingdom. All our pets just showed up except one. I have a 23 year old cat that outlasted one marriage. Pretty much any dog or lost cat seems to appear on my doorstep!

    I have a huge love for cars, boats, planes, and motorcycles. Not sure why except they all symbolize freedom and fun to me. 🙂

    Another great post! Cheers, Deb

    • Deb – About the only time I use the face is when I’m with small children (not young enough to get scared, not old enough to think I’m a complete nut case).

      What you’re saying is that instead of Deb, I should call you the Pied Piper!

      A TWENTY-THREE year old cat? That’s fantastic! Our Paddy lived to be 20 and we thought that was a l-o-n-g life.

      All of the elements for travel – you’re a gal after my own heart 🙂

  14. Dear Laurie, I love yourYellow Brain Organized spice cabinet! But I an not surprised. Of course, your Green Brain would have a logical system for your condiments! The picture made me laugh and smile. However, no one could hear me laughing because my laugh is unique… I laugh silently. Comedians at a comedy club do not appreciate my uniqueness.

  15. Such a funny heartwarming post! I’m grinning like mad right now. We are crazy about spices too, but my cupboard is nowhere near as tidy as yours.

    I love cardamon the most I think. I put it in my coffee (Arabic style) and love the rich, strong tea karak (native to the Gulf) which is flavoured with cardamon too. I love that cardomon works in savoury and sweet dishes. I cannot make a curry without sneaking in a few pods.

    There’s a Syrian ice cream shop near us and they use it in that – the ice cream is amazing – a lot gummier than the ones we’re used to and it’s pounded with a giant pestle. The men are always keen to let my two join in and they normally get a free sample (which is good as it’s pretty expensive). Pakistanis also use cardamon in their delicious kulfis (ice cream lollies).

    The other week I was running the Scottish stall at an international festival, and on the Sri Lankan stall was the equivalent of Scottish tablet (like hard fudge) but flavoured with Cardamon – it was heavenly. And if you buy oats here, the ‘porridge’ recipe includes cardamon.

    Another lovely spice mix which we discovered here is Zataar, which is a delicious salty sesame and herb mix. You can put it on pastries etc or simply dip your warm khubz (Arabice bread) in olive oil then a bowl of zataar…simple and so yummy.

  16. What a spice cupboard you share and great pictures spice up the whole post. Thank you

    I have 8 Tablespoons of cinnamon a day and mix it with picolinate +(something which I can not think of right now to control my blood sugar daily. Also 3 -5 rounds of buffered Vit C to keep my vision working well. ( I do not have diabetes )
    My newest spice for healing is deeply breathing in rosemary 2 times a day for memory – it works well.

    I am not loving cooking right now – so working with my partner who has Celiac Disease to figure out easy things he can make and not need my efforts so much. It works on some days well. He does not like spicy things or things that are new – so the mess in the spice cupboard is all mine!!!

    I spice up my three hours of exercise a day with my happy Westie , on stair climbing day he does all 12 trips with me = every step of the way. The Rhody’s, Camilla, primroses, daffodils, crocus and flowering myrtle keep our 3 miles walking delightfully spiced.

    • Patricia – Holy Toledo, that’s a LOT of cinnamon. Can you take it in capsule form? How wonderful that you and Zip (I love his name!) get so much exercise together — it’s great for you both! 🙂

      • does not work as well in capsule form, but I do get some it that way. I just put it into my smoothie – it is a bit like powdered sugar it can go up your nose without warning which is quite unpleasant.

        Zip is good company and although one child calls him Zip drive his name is from the song Zippity Do Dah… is that now stuck in your head!!! 🙂

  17. I cry when I’m happy and have never colored my hair, too!

    I put tarragon in tuna salad and love to sneak in cardamom wherever I can. (If I go too far with it the comments start coming from the peanut gallery!)

  18. Laurie, like many of your followers, I love learning new things about you—and that mouse face is just too cute!

    I’m spicing up my life right now by growing my hair out to its natural color . . . which I haven’t seen except for some telltale roots in about 30 years! I have a great deal of trepidation about this: fear of looking older than my partner, fear of acting older because I look older, fear that I just won’t like my “real” hair. But I’m going for it, so wish me luck (especially during the 1/2 and 1/2 phase of growing it out)!

  19. In cooking,I use turmeric as it has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for preventing memory loss.
    To spice up my life,I just try different things each day and sometimes I am surprised.

  20. Your dog is named Willa! Any chance the namesake is Willa Cather? She’s one of my very favorite authors.

    And that mouse face is the best. I don’t think I can duplicate it, even for grandkids. But I will try.

    That’s the way I approach spices also. I’ll try any of them!

    • Shirley – Willa is short for Wilhelmina, but we call her “Whiz Bang Willie!” (I’m definitely going to look up Willa Cather).

      A willingness to try new things adds zest to life, so I’m tickled pink you’re going to try the mouse face out on your grandchildren — they’re going to love it!

  21. Love this post Laurie. In the literal sense I too have quite a spice collection. There as so many things we can’t/don’t eat spices help zip things up. I use a lot of cinnamon and cayenne together — mostly in savory dishes.

    In the more personal sense I’m about as “quirky” as it gets. After all I am kind of a new age artist who likes to dress like it’s still the 60’s and doesn’t mind getting older. And I laugh — a lot. It’s a full on out loud belly laugh that has been compared to a flock of geese. It doesn’t seem to bother most people though. I’ve actually had friends call me on the phone and tell me jokes because they want to hear me laugh.

  22. The one place Laurie lets things get spicy ! In her cooking! LOL Love it. I never heard of gomasio either! So thank you spicing things up!

    I have been using indian spices, grand Masla, turmeric, cilantro in it’s many forms has. I use fresh nutmeg in my cereal, on my spinach…

  23. Oh, Laurie, I LOVE your blog!!! You are just too cute!! I came here to say thank you for being a part of Petals Unfolding. It meant a lot to me. Blessings!!! (((HUGS))) Amy

  24. I read this piece when you first posted it – I was unable at the time to respond – but now I can which is interesting because…. I have a pretty full spice cabinet – thanks to Peyton, my chef. we are always adding and fabricating (rubs). here is where the interesting comes in…Over the weekend, I was shopping (in Crystal Lake) and purchased a few spices. One old – ground mustard and one new – ancho chili powder. I was walking the aisles of Cost Plus World Market and remembered your post and thought “uh oh” I forgot to type my comment!

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