While sixteen was culturally significant, seventeen is personally significant. Having just celebrated my 34th birthday last month, that means I’ve officially been blogging for half of my life.

That’s longer than most people hold down a single job. It’s longer than it takes to start and finish compulsory education. In many states, BitterSweet could have its own driver’s license by now. Time has always felt like an ambiguous, fleeting concept, but this milestone is truly mind-boggling.

Arriving at this considerable age in blogging years feels like an incredible accomplishment, but at the same time, nothing at all. There isn’t any specific way to celebrate the 17th year of life, nor the 17th year of marriage, were this an anniversary. There are no specific foods associated with the number 17 that I could find… Except for one.

Salt-free seasoning may seem like an odd way to commemorate this milestone, which is actually quite fitting given the unconventional path that brought us here. Lawry’s Salt Free 17 Seasoning was the only thing that even remotely fit the theme after tireless Googling for inspiration.

What Is Salt Free 17 Seasoning?

Leaning on a broad array of herbs and spices, along with whole vegetables, this distinctive blend was designed as a salt-substitute, boosting flavors rather than sodium. Technically, there are more than 17 ingredients all told, with a tiny sprinkle of cornstarch added to keep things dry and a pinch of citric acid for prolonged preservation. For the sake of simplicity, those don’t count in the final tally.

How Do You Use Salt Free 17 Seasoning?

How DON’T you use this incredibly versatile flavoring? I have yet to find a bad use across all savory applications. Sprinkle it on to your heart’s content, starting with a few of my favorite suggestions:

  • Soups or stews
  • Vegetable sides of all sorts; steamed, roasted, or sauteed
  • Dips and dressings
  • Popcorn
  • Avocado toast
  • Eggless scrambles

How To Make Dried Vegetables

You could easily toss together this whole mixture in a minute if you buy dehydrated carrots and peppers that are ready to go. Otherwise, it’s a snap to dry your own at home, albeit more time-consuming.

  1. Dice a red bell pepper and one or two carrots finely, keeping the cuts as consistent as possible for even drying.
  2. Spread them out evenly on separate sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Make sure none of the pieces are overlapping.
  3. Bake in the center of your oven at the lowest heat setting possible. For me, that’s 170 degrees, but your oven may be different.
  4. Stir every hour until the vegetables are greatly reduced in size and dry to the touch. It could take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on the size of your cuts and temperature of your oven.
  5. Let cool completely before using.

Ultimately, I think this seasoning blend turned out to be the perfect way to kick off the 17th year of life for my darling BitterSweet blog; they both make everything taste just a little bit better.

Continue reading “Well-Seasoned”

Sending Home the Bacon

What do you get for the man who has everything? More importantly, what do you make for the man who isn’t particularly thrilled by birthday cake, lives on the opposite side of the country, and would never so much as drop a hint about any particular wants or needs? This is the conundrum I face every time my dad’s birthday rolls around. Proving that the ones who give the most are terrible at accepting the same kindness, he’s notoriously impossible to shop for, even when it comes to the most basic necessities. Appreciative of the gesture, he will always accept the typical gifts of shirts, books, and ties with grace, but really, you shouldn’t have. Really.

The only thing I know for sure is that my dad loves music, obscure movies, and ever-so-slightly burnt popcorn to enjoy with both. I have strong memories of working diligently upstairs in my room, only to smell the distinct aroma of toasted, vaguely blackened kernels wafting through the air, and I’d know it was time to take a break. That meant it was 9:00, our designated TV hour, which always came with a heaping handful of his homemade snack mix. Crowning this simple blend was a generous shake of bacon salt, the curiously vegetarian seasoning with a smoky, savory edge. It was a comforting routine, and one that I still miss almost three years since moving out.

If I can’t be there to share the flicks and snacks in person, then I had to find a way to send an edible understudy.

Vegans are making everything into bacon these days, from eggplant to coconut, but my unique blend goes back to a classic mixture of meaty tempeh and deeply umami mushrooms. It’s a simple yet remarkably satisfying seasoning that adds an extra punch to any dish, not just freshly popped corn. Think french fries, avocado toast, veggie burgers, roasted Brussels sprouts, corn on the cob, bar nuts, and so much more. It could quickly become the new savory staple that you suddenly can’t live without, even if you’ve never tasted the “real” thing.

Birthdays come and go, but the opportunity to treat loved ones to a special delicacy is fleeting. This successful, universally appealing formula may just be an ideal gift for equally discerning recipients in your life, too.

Yield: 1 Cup

Bacon Salt

Bacon Salt

A savory sprinkle of tempeh and mushrooms that's simple to make yet remarkably satisfying tor seasoning any dish.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 8-Ounce Package Tempeh
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1/4 Cup Dried, Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1/4 Cup Coarse Sea Salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and set aside an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.
  2. Stir together the soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup, oil, nutritional yeast, paprika, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Crumble the tempeh as finely as possible and toss it in, along with the mushrooms. Mix thoroughly, coating the pieces.
  3. Pour everything, including the excess marinade into your waiting pan. Bake for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, stirring every 15 – 25 minutes or so to keep the entire batch cooking evenly and preventing it from burning. The edges can go from soft to scorched surprisingly quickly, so standby and keep a close eye on it the entire time it’s in the oven.
  4. Cook until brown all over, dry to the touch, and highly aromatic. Be aware that your kitchen may smell like bacon for the rest of the day, but I would hardly consider that a problem.
  5. Let cool completely before transferring to your blender or food processor along with the salt. Pulse until the pieces are completely broken down. Strain through a fine mesh sieve if you would like a particularly even grind and re-blend any remaining large pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 683Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 30965mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 3gSugar: 13gProtein: 54g