For all the grousing I do trying to convert people into users of high quality ingredients, I have one dirty little secret in my pantry. I buy cheap spices. I'm not even talking the stuff in the stuff in the spice aisle with the red caps. I'm talking stuff like this:
I'm not proud. I know better! For starters, spices break down in the light. These little plastic bags offer no protection from the light whatsoever. Sure, when I get home they are transferred into little metal tins, but I'm sure the damage has been done.
Also, spices should be fresh. Goodness only knows how long these, or any spices at the supermarket for that matter, have sat on the shelf. They only have a shelf life of about six months. I used to tell myself that if I had someplace really cool to buy spices, like Market Spice in the Pike Place Market in Seattle, that I would totally step up my spice game.
Here's the thing though. I kind of do have a place that's devoted JUST to spices, and I've known about it for years. It's called Penzey's. They have a mail order catalog, but I'm lucky enough to have one locally. Well, sort of. It was up in Scottsdale, and then they moved to even farther north Scottsdale. The thought of driving that far for spices wasn't appealing to me. I don't like to shop online either because the idea of paying more for an item and then having to wait for it doesn't appeal to me either. So, I kept on buying my cheap spices.
Well, a few weeks ago I came across a thing on the internet that said if you signed up for the catalog that it would include a coupon for a free bottle of something. Free appeals to me because I am cheap. I signed up with a quickness!
Well, before the catalog ever got here, a little card inviting me to visit their store in TEMPE came in the mail. Even better - the card was good for a free sampler pack of spices if I spent just $5. Tempe is maybe a third of the distance from my house that the other store is, so I was a seriously happy camper to learn about it!
I really wanted to get some pickling spice so I could make pickles again. While I was there I also grabbed some Cajun seasoning for making Crispy Shrimp Pasta
(I was winging it with the seasoning before) and Italian Sausage seasoning so I can make my own sausage and not worry about it containing pig lips and... other unsavory parts. The prices were incredibly reasonable too. Those three items only came to ten bucks!
The free sampler was pretty awesome too. I got four spices (ground pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, and a blend called Mural of Flavor. Not too shabby!
In the bottom of the box there were little cards telling you about the different spices and a coupon for $5 off my next purchase! Kick butt!
Since you can only use one coupon at a time, I headed back to use the coupon from the catalog. I wanted to get some dry mustard so that I could start making my own mayonnaise. I also picked up a little container of pizza seasoning while I was there.
Seriously, I think that there must be a section of Heaven that smells like this stuff. It's awesome! I took a jar of the tomatoes I canned a few months ago, mashed them well and cooked them down until they had made a thick sauce. Then I stirred in about a teaspoon of the pizza seasoning and used it instead of store bought pizza sauce. SO GOOD, and no preservatives, or weird food additives, or DHA from lined tin cans. Kick butt!
I'm definitely going to start buying spices there from now on. Consider my spice game stepped up! If you would like to sign up for your own catalog (they ship! you don't need one to be nearby!) click here
. And no, no one from Penzey's asked me to post about this. Just thought I'd share! :)
Labels: recipes, shopping