Allspice: No, this isn't a mixture of everything in your spice rack, but rather a dried berry of the pimenta tree. If that's a surprise to you, imagine how Columbus felt -- he thought it was pepper (thus the name pimenta, which is Spanish for pepper). The berries look a little like plump peppercorns and the flavor is pungent, but it is not pepper. The best allspice comes from Jamaica.
For the freshest flavor, you should buy allspice in berry form and grind or crush it as needed. The taste is a pleasant mix of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Used in jerks and for pickling, it goes great with meat and gives a nice kick to soups and stews.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen, just like its cousin cassia. It has an ancient pedigree, even being used to embalm a few pharaohs. That may not sound appetizing, but it has been found to be good for the heart, the stomach and the joints. Not impressed yet? Well consider that it also seems to mimic insulin and therefore helps diabetics moderate their sugar levels. So don't be shy with this tasty and healthy spice.

Nutmeg: What would egg-nog be without nutmeg? But this sweetly aromatic spice is good for much more. As well as flavoring cakes and fruity desserts, it works wonderfully with strong vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower.
Nutmeg quickly loses it's flavor when ground, so get whole kernels and grind them just before using them. The taste is a sweet blend of woody pine and cloves.

Pumpkin Bran Bread

prep time: 10
cook time: 90


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded bran cereal (such as All-Bran)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 2 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Dust pans with flour. Combine first 8 ingredients in medium bowl, stir to blend well. Whisk eggs, sugar and buttermilk in large bowl. Add dry ingredients, stir to combine. Add pumpkin and oil, stir until blended. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake until tester inserted into center of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let loaves cool 10 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen loaves, if necessary. Turn out loaves onto racks, cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature 1 day or freeze up to 1 month.)