June 3, 2009 by 8junebugs
Someone needs to make a candle that smells like the inside of a Penzey’s. I went to my local store yesterday (endlessly grateful to have a local store) and came away with:
- Arrowroot starch
- Bay leaves
- Celery flakes
- Dill weed
- Mustard, ground
- Renewed interest in flavor
I would like it noted that I showed remarkable restraint in the face of fleur de sel and pink peppercorns. And the vanilla sugar. REMARKABLE. I was there to replace herbs and spices that were, by my best estimate, at least six years old.
What? The spice rack was a gift and I’d only replaced what I use most frequently. When I went to make pizza the week before last, though, I opted not to use the tired old red pepper flakes. The difference in color, to say nothing of the flavor, between those and the new ones I brought home was enough to convince me to replace all the other dry, dusty, potentially poisonous flakes.
I didn’t always care about herbs and spices. In my pantry, you’ll find the mainstay of my mother’s kitchen: Lawry’s Seasoning Salt. Can’t go wrong with it on meat — garlic, paprika, onion…all good. This is the flavor of my youth, this and the tangy zip of Miracle Whip.
(Does anyone know what makes that zip SO TANGY? Seriously. I don’t eat much of it anymore, but I keep a small jar on hand, because sometimes life calls for a bologna sandwich on white.)
It took years to start to recognize different spices and flavors in someone else’s cooking. I think it’s because Middlebury didn’t have take-out (still has very little, and no delivery unless you’re at the college). Until I had access to different cuisines and cultures, I thought spices led to the five-alarm tongue fires on Tom & Jerry. I couldn’t pick garlic out of a line-up, by look or smell. I was afraid of onions but accepted onion powder. I had never heard of curry.
I’m better now.