Herbs and Spices

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About this Blog

Melissa Spencer has long had a fascination with plants and doesn’t discriminate between wild, weed or cultivated. She owns Attar Herbs & Spices located in the beautiful Monadnock Region of NH and is celebrating 50 years of service. She actively writes, speaks, and shares ways to infuse herbs and spices into everyday life.

Herbs and Spices really are little bundles of aromatic seeds, barks, berries and leaves. They can enliven the family meal turning the ordinary into the extraordinary and into a fragrant delight of the senses. They can open up a world of exotic cuisines connecting us with faraway cultures and they provide us with amazing health benefits. Follow her blog for endless ways to spice up life for the taste of it, the joy of it, and the health of it.

June 13, 2017

Lavender is more than just a pretty plant. This fragrant perennial has been revered throughout the ages for its ability to breathe a sense of clarity and calm into every cupboard, room or beauty product in which it dwells. It has long been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue.   Lavender, Lavandula, of which there are several known species, is a shrub-like herb that can be found in gardens countrywide where it is adored for its lovely... more

May 1, 2017

Try cooking with herbs! This lavender lemon chocolate chip pancake recipe was a huge hit with my family, and is great for Mother’s Day—or, any weekend breakfast!   Lavender Used for Cooking Lavender, belonging to the mint family, is a perennial herb that has more of a reputation for belonging in the spa with it’s delicate, fragrant purple-blue flowers and for its aroma-therapeutic stress-relieving properties rather than it’s culinary properties. However, used correctly in cooking and... more

March 20, 2017

Did you know that three spices in your pantry fight colds or the flu? Yes, add some healing spices here and there to help you out! It was a rough winter for colds, flus and bugs in our house. While sometimes a virus just has to run its course, there are some things we can do to help alleviate some symptoms, bring about some comfort and give our bodies what it needs for a recovery to optimal health. As spices became popular for their gastronomic prowess, they were also revered for their... more

February 8, 2017

Where does cocoa come from? What’s the difference between cocoa and chocolate? Is chocolate healthy? Enjoy this delightful post about cocoa—plus, a delicious recipe. It’s that time of the year when cupid takes flight and the love of one’s sweetheart is met with sweets for one’s love. Chocolate is purchased and consumed in huge amounts.  Well, I certainly don’t need a special time of the year to appreciate the flavor and nuances of the divine cocao bean but it did get me to thinking. Since a... more

November 21, 2016

Guess what friends, cookie season is on! Here’s a seasonal take on the pinwheel cookie recipe, adding color and flavor with cranberry and cardamom.  I’ve already received two invites to a holiday cookie swap and asked to bake for the school bake sale this week. The time of year when the kitchen counter and floor takes on a constant film of flour for weeks to come. It’s all good though. It comes and goes so quickly and brings joy, and perhaps an extra pound or two… but who’s counting. An... more

October 25, 2016

What is pumpkin spice made up of? Who came up with pumpkin spice? Where did this spice blend come from and how has it seemingly tapped into a national craving? Indeed, pumpkin-spiced everything has been pleasing our autumnal palettes for quite some time now. This fall flavor has infiltrated food stuffs up and down each and every aisle of the supermarket, our coffee shops, bakeries and even the local brewery. WHAT IS PUMPKIN SPICE MADE UP OF? The traditional ingredients of pumpkin spice can... more

September 27, 2016

Most of us have a pepper shaker on our kitchen table, but do you know how pepper grows? Find out all about piper nigrum, the history of pepper, and pepper’s health benefits! I got a package in the mail the other day. As I opened it I saw a bundle that was wrapped up very carefully with lots of shredded paper spilling out from around it. When I unearthed it from all the wrappings I thought at first it was an ivy plant. Then I read the tag attached to it: Piper Nigrum. Whoa, I was thrilled! A... more

September 21, 2016

Every season has a star spice, and there’s no doubt that autumn ushers in the call for cinnamon to shine. Discover more about using this delicious and healthful spice. Whether it’s  apples, squash, sweet potatoes, mulled cider or wine, cinnamon is essential. It’s sweet and warming ways lend beautifully to the harvest of the season. But did you know that not all cinnamon is created equal? THERE ARE FOUR MAIN CINNAMON VARIETIES While there are hundreds of types of cinnamon growing in the... more

August 29, 2016

Ever tried adding fresh mint to your ice cream? It’s so easy and beyond compare!  At this point in the summer we’ve got mint coming out of our, well everywhere, what do we do with it all? My ten year old daughter, Autumn, had her best friend over and it was a hot and humid, lazy afternoon. They had a hankering for ice cream but the freezer turned up empty. They decided that they wanted to make their own but couldn’t decide on a flavor. Earlier in the spring I opted to pot-bound our mint and... more

August 5, 2016

If you love pickles, you will be as intrigued as to learn about the history of pickling and pickling spices. The word “pickle” comes from a Dutch word ‘pekel’ or northern German ‘pókel’ meaning “salt” or “brine,” two components that are essential in the pickling process. Pickling in America is largely synonymous with the act of submerging cucumbers (or other fruits or vegetables) into a salty brine or acidic solution along with various spices to create an environment where no unhealthy... more

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