From Whoops to Wow!

Curry Chicken Nachos

I love stories about happy accidents. The chemist who was trying to create a super strong adhesive, but failed miserably when he created an adhesive that would give away. But he wasn’t sad for long; that invention was the adhesive that made Post-It Notes possible (at least that’s the story as I heard it).

The discovery of penicillin is credited to the happy accident of Sir Alexander Fleming returning from vacation and finding a moldy growth on a laboratory culture plate. That blessed boo boo led to one of the greatest life saving medications in our modern arsenal.

I know that how someone responds to failure is a key indicator of whether or not I want them in my life. Failure is just a sign that your tried. It is not a statement of your value. Show me someone who has not failed and I will show you someone who has not accomplished much. We should normalize failures. They are badges of effort. All great accomplishments could have been a failure. Maybe this is a good time for a Schrodinger’s cat analogy: that every attempt is both a success and a failure until the attempt is made.

My favourite kitchen accident was not a happy one, but I did laugh my butt off. And that was delightful. It was one of the turkey holidays and I was to bring my supplies to another family member’s house, as I was the gravy queen. (Is Dancing Queen playing in your head? Young and free, only 17. You know it is.) There were confused faces when I was called into the kitchen. “There’s something wrong with the gravy.” I picked up a spoon and yup, it was … sweet. Huh, I looked around the kitchen and bent over laughing so hard I started to cry. I had packed a zippered bag of icing sugar instead of corn starch to use as a thickener. The gravy was inedible and it was perfect. Best kitchen fail ever.

So far, I have had two happy accidents and I am excited to share them with you. I was still sleepy and in my head one morning. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing as I boiled the kettle to make a drink. I was thinking about a chai tea or maybe I was sleepy enough that a hot chocolate would give me the kick that I needed to get the day going. After a few minutes is a fog, I gasped in horror as I realized that while on autopilot, I had made a chai tea in my French press and had just poured the hot chai into my hot chocolate and milk roux in my mug. Arggghhh. What have I done! I stared at the abomination in the mug and thought, what is that going to taste like? As I blinked away the morning sleepy (believe me, I was wide awake now) I realized that a warm spice infused hot chocolate was going to be … awesome. And it was. Do that.

Chai Hot Chocolate

The other happy accident happened in August of 2020. We had just discovered the joy of homemade nachos with chicken rather than the traditional ground beef and were having it as our easy-peasy Saturday night dinner. I had, as usual, taken a rotisserie chicken, organic tortilla chips, cherry tomatoes, onions and hot peppers to our summer get away place. The small diced chicken was put into a frying pan with some water and I looked in the cupboard for the L.o.v.e. Organic Taco Spice (lovingly referred to as L.o.v.e. Potion #1). There was only a dusting left in the bag. Blink. Blink. I thought about the punishment that unseasoned chicken on nachos would be and searched in the spice storage box for something: rosemary…no, cilantro…no, turmeric…no, thyme…no. Then I saw our Curry Powder (yes, L.o.v.e. Potion #4). Hmmm. Definitely flavour. Well, WTF. At least it would be seasoned. The short story is it was CRAZY good. How crazy? Chris asked me the next night what I wanted for dinner and I said, ” What we had last night.” We had Curry Chicken Nachos at least twice a week over the next month. I felt oddly proud of myself as I realized that the dish was a quintessential “fusion” of two styles of cooking…Tex-Mex meets East Indian. I shared this experience and how to make our Curry Chicken Nachos with a number of customers (okay, with anyone who would listen). Here’s what one L.ov.e. Organic faithful customer sent me via Facebook after he tried them for himself.

“I cooked up Curry Chicken Nachos last night. I don’t know if I can eat regular nachos again.”

R.H.

As a tinkerer, I expect and hope for many more happy accidents. Even if they aren’t happy, they mean I tried something new.

Here’s to your next happy accident.

THE Best Taco Spice

L.O.V.E. Organic’s All Organic Taco Spice

We were at the Christmas by the Sea outdoor Christmas Market in Lunenburg on King Street near Lincoln on a fairy tale like beautiful day in November. I kept saying, “When is Julia Roberts going to walk on set?” It was a spectacular day. The Lunenburg community was friendly and curious and we had a wonderful time introducing people to our organic line up of herbs, spices and our growing collection of L.O.V.E. Potions.

In the afternoon, as I was talking with a fairly large group of women, a man pushed up to the table and announced, “Your taco spice is the best I have had.” I stopped talking. Everyone stopped talking. I knew my Mom would tell me to be humble and downplay the accomplishment that was the blend’s development. Inside, I knew that this gentleman, who sounded like a shill, was a L.O.V.E. Organic enthusiastic, and his declaration was an opportunity to engage with him and the others within earshot. As the faces looked at me for a response, I waited, not Justin Trudeau 22 seconds waited, but a few moments for dramatic effect.

I summoned up my best casual “what, this old thing?” casual confidence and looked him in the eye and said,” Yeah, I know. It’s a kick ass product.” My Mom’s jaw would have dropped. A few of the women blinked…perhaps it was the language and not the bravado? Either way, they seemed to not mind, but definitely took note of the unapologetic acceptance and endorsement of his compliment. But seriously folks, if you are going to make something awesome, you have gotta own it. Creating and operating this business along with my fellow spice adventurer and husband, Chris, has provided me with the greatest opportunity to learn to accept compliments.

I had a discussion with the man that the others listened to carefully. He was from Halifax and was down for the day with his wife. He had tried our taco spice, likely from Pete’s Fine Foods, as I did not know him. It’s in his honour, that I title this article.

So, how did this cute kraft envelope come to contain THE BEST TACO SPICE? It started with a child who is highly allergic. As the parents of a child who can die from food, you become obsessed with reading labels. The grocery store varieties of taco spice use wheat flour as a binder, to help the spices cling to the meat. Our child won’t die from wheat, but it is one of many food sensitivities she has. Years ago, I began blending a rudimentary taco spice to avoid the wheat in the grocery store varieties. Once we found the all organic herbs and spices that we now use in L.O.V.E, I started to seriously tinker with our family taco spice recipe over several years. Here’s what’s awesome about our perfected blend:

ANCHO PEPPER Rather than paprika, we use this mild yet boldly flavoured pepper powder with about 2000 heat units as the base. Cayenne is about 35,000 heat units, so you can see it has some heat, but is in no way overpowering. As it has more flavour, you use less. Our 30g package will season 3 to 7 pounds of ground beef, depending on how much you want your food to talk to you. I like my food to kiss me with some enthusiasm, so I get about 3 pounds seasoned from 30g. By the way, that 25-35g package in the grocery store: it’s not organic and it seasons one pound of ground beef. Cue the trumpets: Our all organic taco spice is a BARGAIN.

REAL SALT (TM) Real Salt is a brand of natural salt that is rich in trace minerals. It’s expensive, but we believe it is an ingredient in line with the quality of our products.

ORGANIC TAPIOCA STARCH A binder helps the spices cling to the food. The grocery store varieties have lots of binder, in the form of inexpensive wheat flour, which is one of Canada’s ten official allergens. Our organic tapioca starch is gluten-free and comes from a low allergen mill in Quebec.

MEXICAN OREGANO I haven’t seen another taco spice with an herb, let alone this amazing cousin to Lemon Verbena. What? Lemon Verbena? Yes, Mexican Oregano is not an oregano, a mint family member. It is a relative to the strongest of the lemon herbs, Lemon Verbena. Don’t believe me, check out the leaves. The family resemblance is undeniable. The difference between the two is Mexican Oregano has a LIME tone, not lemon. That’s why it pairs perfectly with various peppers. L.O.V.E. is the only source for Mexican Oregano in Nova Scotia. At least, that is what we are told. Psst…and ours is organic.

So, who cares about Mexican Oregano, Ancho Pepper, Real Salt and tapioca starch? Only lovers of multi-layered flavour awesomeness that clings to your food and is a good value.

Who cares about organics? People who don’t want to ingest chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

So who L.O.V.E.s our all organic taco spice? The man in Lunenburg, the people for whom we make 100g bags, because “I use it on everything.” and people who want foods made without gluten. (Our facility is not gluten free, but our ingredients and equipment are.)

So, do yourself a flavour and try L.O.V.E. Organic’s L.O.V.E. Potion #1, Taco Spice. Try it on beef, chicken and fish tacos, fajitas, nachos, sprinkled on roasted vegetables and drum roll: Shepherd’s pie. Why do we eat blandly seasoned Shepherd’s pie? My newest obsession is home made hummus and I use our taco spice as one of many various seasonings for this healthy dip. Our homemade version is 100% Organic.

You can find our Taco Spice by contacting us directly, through Alderney Landing’s Farmers’ Market, Pete’s Fine Foods in Halifax and Bedford, the Grainery on Agricola Street in Halifax and True North Seafood (AC Covert) on Higney Avenue in Dartmouth. Yes, we can supply businesses such as caterers and restaurants, too.

Want THE best taco spice?

Just ask,”Where can I find L.O.V.E.?”