musings, mutterings, and creative muddle. . .

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All Spiced Up & Mulling It Over

When we talk about The Holiday Season around here - we automatically think of food. . . Eating it. . . making it. . . sharing it. . . Food!  Food!  Food!

But, even more basic than the food are the ingredients and, namely, the spices.

A long-long time ago in a place far-far away was this wonderful little Guest House.  Guests were welcomed with comfortable surroundings and the lovely aroma of carrot cake, orange rolls, pineapple upside down cake, fruit bread, or any flavor of muffin you can possibly think of.

As this tasty place was far-far away, it was sometimes hard to keep the larder well-stocked.  Then came the internet!  And what do the wondering eyes see, but the World!  And in that world is a delightful little place store in Chicago that sell delightful spices.

Now, there are lots of places who sell spices and most are wonderful and aromatic and exactly what a person expects. If I lived close to a store like that, I may never have even considered searching the internet for such a thing as bulk spices.  In my case, I was looking for orange extract (specifically for my mandarin orange muffins and orange marmalade cake) and high-end herbs and spices I could buy in bulk that would be delivered to my door (generally).  Ta-Da!  I found The Spice House.

It's always a special day when the spice order arrives. . .And so much fun to open one of their packages with the nice little handwritten 'Thank You' right on top

and the swirl of spicy aromas that greet you.  It all looks so unpresuming with each spice selection wrapped in paper and packed so carefully.

And then the fun really begins - unwrapping all those little presents. . . oooh!  Spicy heaven ~Italian Herb Blend and some Mulling spices (for our favorite Mulled Juice, put a couple tablespoons of mulling spice in a cheesecloth bag - or coffee filter closed tightly with string or a rubberband - and place in a microwave safe container filled with 4 cups apple juice and 1 cup orange juice.  Heat on high for 9 minutes.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes.  Remove spices and enjoy the mulled juice either warm or cold). . .  . .

French Thyme. . . and still unwrapping! 

Spicy hot Red Pepper Flakes. . . the smells get more and more wondrous with each unwrapping. . .

Then, all too soon, I'm at the end of the line. . .some Dill Weed and Granulated Garlic and it's over. . . for this time.

But what a lovely haul!

I can assure you that if we lived in Chicago, where The Spice House is located, one of us would be there nearly every day. . . Fresh herbs and spices. . . truly fresh herbs and spices make ALL the difference in your recipes.  Who knew that paprika had a lovely kind of light tangy-spicy flavor and could be used for more than just to make your deviled eggs pretty?  And, one of my favorites, the Cassia cinnamon?  The fragrance is simply out of this world!

I'm sure you noticed that all the spices in my package were in bags and not jars.  The Spice House does offer most of their spices in a couple of different size jars. . . Or. . . you can order refills - or even buy in bulk and use your own containers.  I've been collecting and acquiring jars of all types over the years and now just buy the spices in 'bulk.'

So now that our spice cupboard is, once again, filled to the brim, we are Ready to Cook!  Are you ready?

Have a Spicy kind of day ~

Robin Z

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