Spices, seasonings, and more

The anticipation of growing my summer herb garden is starting to build for me this month.  I attended a gardening seminar a couple of weeks ago, and ever since the excitement of what I will be growing this year in my edible garden has stayed with me.  I always have my regular list of perennial herbs that I nurture every year, but add in a few other edibles, including vegetables, garlic, green onions, and a few tomato plants.

However, during the winter months, I have to rely on my kitchen cabinet of spices, seasonings and more.  I have finally admitted to myself that I must have an addiction, as I really love to try a variety of seasonings when I prepare our meals. I love my collection and have several favorites that I have acquired over the years.

My kitchen has three cabinets devoted to spices, seasonings, and flavorings.  My rolling rack contains a variety of salts, spices that are not used most days, and some baking decors.

My upper cabinet near my stove contains the spices I use most often for seasoning our meals.  Here I have a collection of salts, peppers, herbs, herbal blends, a variety of special blends, and some of my favorite mixes from Pensey spices.

I have found that using turntables in this cabinet has helped with the organization a great deal, as well as some boxes of spices organized by use which easily pull out to be accessed quickly.  I don’t buy my spices in large quantities, as I prefer to have fresh available all the time and would not use enough to justify large bottles of any particular seasoning.

I have a third cabinet for liquid flavorings and baking spices, along with more baking decorations.  Having an organized kitchen has helped me to be more efficient while preparing meals.  It has also helped me when planning to purchase ingredients for a new recipe, as I am able to easily check my current supply as I know where every one is located.

Springtime is a great time to get organized in the kitchen!


Simmering Spices

One of the fastest ways to make your home feel inviting to guests is to put a pot of simmering spices on the stove top.  I often like to slice fresh fruit and add different spices depending on the time of year.

For Fall and Winter months, I especially like the scents of cinnamon, cloves, and star anise.  There are just an wealth of combinations that can be used in a simple pot on the stove.  I usually start with water, apple cider or apple juice, and then just make the mixture depending on my mood.


Assemble the ingredients on a plate and make sure the scents coordinate.  Some people prefer stronger scents while others like a more subtle fragrance.  Remember you can control the amount of both by turning up the flame on the stove or decreasing the heat.

None of these spice mixtures will be as strong as any store-bought heavily processed mixture.  I think that is why I especially like making my own.

Here are some suggestions where you can become the creator of your own home fragrance.  Simply make a selection of some of the following:

pine cones, pine needle branches, herbal tea bags, bay leaves, rosemary, pumpkin pie spice, cranberries, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger root, whole nutmegs, vanilla beans, slices of apples, oranges, pears, limes, pomegranate seeds, almond-orange-or lemon extracts. Also, the peels of any of the fruit can be used instead of slices of the fruit for this mixture.

I have a simmering pot today which really adds to the cozy feel in my home on a cold winter afternoon.


shopping for spices

On a recent trip to Grand Rapids Michigan, we stopped at one of my favorite places to purchase spices.  I first found this store in Philadelphia over one year ago, and then saw another sister store in West Hartford, Connecticut last year.

At that point, I realized that Penzeys Spices was a family of stores located throughout the country. Located in 28 states, Penzeys is known for an incredible selection of herbs, spices and seasonings, including everything from soup bases to pepper blends.


The Grand Rapids shop is 2 1/2 hours away, so when I travel, I often look to see if one of their stores is nearby during my trip.  In Michigan, we also have a shop in Beverly Hills, which I have not yet visited.

In the past year, I have especially enjoyed their bonne herbs and fine herbs blends. Penzeys offers a nice selection of spices for baking, with cute store displays and recipes within their catalogs.

I have also enjoyed a variety of their other spices, and have ordered through their catalogs by mail.  They often offer free samples and free shipping with mail orders.

Here is their website link:  https://www.penzeys.com/