As the leaves start to change and the days get shorter, thoughts turn to comfort foods – those favorites that warm the soul. One of the all-time favorites is meatloaf. Served up with buttery mashed potatoes, gravy and a veggie, there is nothing that says “home” like this classic dinner.
The secret to truly good meatloaf lies in the seasonings. For my easy meatloaf recipe, I insist on freshly ground herbs – nothing else will do. Even when dry, if kept whole until use, herbs and spices can retain a tremendous amount of flavor and potency. Many times I used to take out my old-fashioned mortar and pestle, but then I discovered something that blows it out of the water. This wonderful gadget is theJamie Oliver Flavor Shaker. Now I am not sure how I got by without it!
Jamie Oliver is an utterly brilliant chef in the kitchen, and apparently he is also incredibly talented as a kitchen device engineer, because this fantastic invention of his is no exception. At first glance it appears to be rather unassuming, shaped somewhat like a pear and sitting about 8” high. Put it to work, though, and it’s anything but demure! This little powerhouse will do the toughest herb and spice grinding jobs without complaint. The secret is in the round ceramic ball that nestles perfectly inside the body of the shaker. About the size of a ping pong ball, it effectively does in seconds what it can take minutes to do in a traditional mortar and pestle. Add dried herbs and spices, seeds, nuts or fresh or dried garlic and shake, and the ball pulverizes the contents, releasing their flavors. It’s ergonomic design makes it incredibly easy to use, with a lightweight plastic body and easy-grip rubberized exterior, so you don’t accidentally lose control while shaking up a storm! Its two-piece construction ensures that it is a breeze to fill and close.
It is powerful enough to crush cinnamon sticks and star anise, but is equally at home grinding delicate herbs like dill and thyme. It is even useful for creating sauces, pestos, pastes and and dressings in small amounts – anything that require pulverization. It’s a great alternative to the messy blender method.
I do digress. I sometimes get caught up in the nuances of things and forget the main topic. In this case, kitchen technology. This wonderful kitchen gadget makes grinding the myriad of spices and seasonings a breeze. Occasionally, to add a little nutritional value (unbeknownst to my family), I will grind up flaxseed for an added EFA boost. This works particularly well with my easy meatloaf recipe, as it is so flexible on what you can add. A tablespoon of flaxseed, some dried garlic from our summer garden, a few sprigs of dried thyme, a few rosemary leaves, peppercorns and coarse salt, a few good shakes, and it’s ready to go!
If you are going to splurge on one good, highly useful kitchen implement anytime soon, I can highly recommend you choose the Jamie Oliver Flavor Shaker. It will become your new best friend and your cooking will reach new heights of flavor.