This is a free excerpt from the book, God's Banquet Table
MUSTARD ...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. (Matthew 17:20) I am sure the Pharisees considered themselves to be men of great faith. They prided themselves in their long, phylacteries and their equally long, repetitive, boring prayers, even causing the angels to yawn. Yet, in all their grandiose displays, they could not muster enough faith to believe in Jesus, in spite of the miraculous signs He performed. So with an eloquence that only Christ could display, He used the tiny, humble mustard seed as a symbol of the size of faith which men need in order to tap into God’s awesome power. The mustard seed story illustrated that it is not the greatness of faith, but faith’s focus.
There are two varieties of mustard seeds. The reddish brown or black seed, and the pale yellow or white. The latter has a delicious, nutty flavor, whereas the black seed has a much more pungent taste. The hot bite of mustard is the result of the volatile oils that the seed contains. Mustard powder is a mixture of either seed with the addition of turmeric or saffron that gives it its brilliant, familiar, yellow color. Vinegar and salt are added as the acid in the vinegar increases and stabilizes the mustard’s strength and flavor. Mustard is an excellent addition to vegetable salads, cooked cabbage, sauces and dressings. It is said that adding mustard to your bath water relieves muscular pains.
There are endless varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and seeds. On top of all these wonderful foods, God has supplied herbs and spices, tools to allow us to express creativity, aroma and flavor.
The quiet gentle flavor of chamomile, or the blaring overpowering shouts of cayenne. The sweetness of cinnamon and bitterness of hops. The sharp bite of horseradish and refreshing lift of mint. None of these flavors are by accident. Each one was carefully thought out and purposely created for our blessing and enjoyment.
We would like to take you on a journey through the flavors and uses of spices and herbs. Many have been used for thousands of years for medicines to relieve suffering and contribute to healing.
Herbs are plants with a fragrant bouquet that may consist of leaves, stems, flowers, seeds or roots that are used in flavoring dishes or as medicines. Preferably they are used fresh, but are also effective dried.
Spices are dried, aromatic plants associated with tropical climates that may include seeds, flowers, leaves, roots or bark. They may be used in preserving food, assisting in digestion, providing flavor or as medications.
Herbs are generally milder in flavor and used for delicate seasoning, whereas spices are strong and distinct, adding a piquant taste. The words herb and spice can be used interchangeably according to culture or tradition.
Spice trading has a great history. Joseph was sold to a spice trader from Gilead for 20 pieces of silver. The Queen of Sheba presented precious stones and spices to King Solomon. Spices were often valued more greatly than gold. Nations fought wars over the occupation and control of spice territories. Political power shifted according to their availability.
Growing your own herbs and spices indoors is a wonderful hobby. Not only do indoor plants act as air cleaners, but they also provide a continuous fresh supply of seasonings for culinary art. These plants can be grown in pots, which can be placed in the window sills of the kitchen. Mint, parsley, chives, and dill are some examples of herbs that can be easily grown indoors. When the warmer weather comes, they can be transplanted outdoors providing you with a bountiful harvest that can be dried or stored in the freezer.
When drying herbs in the oven, the temperature should not exceed 90ºF, allowing their color and flavor to remain intact. Spread the herbs on trays, keeping the door ajar. Once the herbs have been fully dried, it is best to keep them in an airtight glass container stored in a cupboard. Light will destroy the herb’s color and distinct flavor.
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