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strawchicago

What's your favorite seasonings and spices?

strawchicago z5
11 years ago

My two favorites are: McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder, which I grinds into pasta dishes. I like Grinder spices since it's a fresher taste.

My other favorite is McCormick Perfect Pinch Original Salt-Free. It's pretty good on seafood. I like it way-better than Mrs. Dash. I love dcarch's tip of using rolling pin to get more flavor out of fresh herbs. I dried my own sage from the bush in the garden, and it's way-better than store-bought. What are your favorite seasonings and spices? Thanks in advance. Straw (Strawberryhill) in Chicagoland.

Comments (53)

  • User
    11 years ago

    I like the Goya seasonings - their low salt Adobo All-Purpose seasoning, their Sofrito Tomato cooking base and when I can find it, their tomato and onion cooking base.

    Making a lot of vegetarian meals now, with my DD, SIL and family, these add an extra layer of taste.

    I found, remaindered in Tuesday Morning, a bottle of Oregano, Basil and Tomato spice blend, from "The Gourmet Collection". It was very good, even the kids commented on it.

  • gwlolo
    11 years ago

    A few years ago, I switched to making my own spice blends and mostly whole spices. I find that whole spices stay fresh a lot longer and are much more fragrant when ground used fresh. Takes a couple of minutes in my mortar and pestle and very worth it.

    I use whole cumin, coriander, pepper, fenugreek, onion seeds, mustard seeds a lot. Like publickman, I make my own indian spice blends as we cook a lot of indian food and I can customize regional blends. I make it a few times a year and store in airtight jars in the freezer. Usually have some for friends as well. I am discovering salts this year and love fleur de sel from carmagne and truffle salt and himalayan salt. I love culinary bay leaves and tarragn. I prefer oregano and thyme fresh. Not too fond of cinnamon and I often replace with Cardamom which are again terrific whole. I just give it a good mash if I need to infuse flavor say in a pilaf or else I remove the seeds and grind it in my mortar and pestle. I use saffron occasionally. Just discovered some fabulous paprika and thinking about how I would use it and if it is worthy of space in my spice collection.

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  • ritaweeda
    11 years ago

    I use a lot of different seasonings and always have for years. But here lately for vegetables I've been using a lot of lemon-pepper and also McCormick's Salad Supreme seasoning. Lately I have started roasting vegetables in olive oil and the Salad Supreme for a spicy Italian taste, or with lemon-pepper seasoning, salt and garlic powder. I also steam some of them and then season with the olive oil and lemon-pepper. I especially like the lemon-pepper on sugar-snap peas, asparagus, green beans, and brussels sprouts. I rarely boil or stew vegetables anymore at all.

  • cynic
    11 years ago

    Run of the mill seasonings include FGBP, Italian Seasoning, celery salt and lemon pepper. I like Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt when I want to use salt in a seasoning. I've cut down on salts a lot over the years though. I also use and enjoy Spike's Salt-Free seasoning. And on potatoes, I really like the mixture from Country Kitchen for some reason. Yeah, lots of salt in it but it has a nice kick and is good on eggs too. I've used Mrs. Dash Table Blend and it's OK, just not a lot of a kick to it, but it's a nice "bland" blend when you don't want a lot of kick.

    So much depends on what I'm cooking. Ribs of course need a rub, meatloaf needs different seasoning than turkey and other things need different seasoning.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    11 years ago

    I've only been using Penzeys for about two years, but their blends are amazing and I'm addicted.
    Will never be without Ozark, Mitchell Street, Arizona Dreaming, French Four Spice, Northwoods or Bicentennial.
    I have tried through either free samples or bought, nearly all their blends outside of hot stuff which we don't like.

    Ozark is my most used, though.
    I buy many regular herbs and spices there too.

  • booberry85
    11 years ago

    There's a few that I just love. First off I consider the mix of basil, parsley and oregano the "Holy Trinity" of spices. Those come out of the garden. There is a spice blend that I buy from a local-ish restaurant. It's a blend of Greek spices. From Penzey's I love their Tuscan seasoning, the sandwich sprinkle, the pizza seasoning and Sunny Paris seasoning. I also love Zatarain's blackened seasoning.

  • ann_t
    11 years ago

    I prefer using individual herbs and spices to season rather than herb or spices mixes.

    I keep dried basil, oregano, sage and rosemary on hand. But I also use fresh rosemary, thyme and sage year around. In fact I'm still able to pick rosemary, sage and thyme from the garden. Mixed with fresh garlic, salt and pepper these herbs are what I use to season most of the meats/fish that I cook.

  • annie1992
    11 years ago

    I also prefer to use individual herbs or spices, and make my own "blends" for things like breakfast sausage or roasting vegetables.

    Elery likes to use some blends, though, he's not as patient as I am with the mortar and pestle. His favorites include Penzey's Mural of Flavor, Arizona Dreaming and Forward, all from Penzey's, as well as their garam masala.

    unfortunately, I can't grow herbs outside year round like Ann T, so I freeze basil and chives, dry thyme, rosemary and oregano and pick sage for that sausage right out of the snow, you can't kill the stuff. I buy fresh cilantro and parsley year round.

    I do love black pepper and like Penzey's Tellicherry Black and their 4 color blend. I've been trying to cut down on salt, since I like it so well I think I overuse it.

    Annie

  • kitchendetective
    11 years ago

    I used to make all my own blends, but I discovered the bulk spice section at Central Market in Austin. I use their herbes de Provence by the bucket load and always bring some to the kids when I visit. They have garam masalas, etc., but I usually do my own. They also have an amazing array of peppers, smoked and otherwise, fresh, and powdered. Rosemary is the only spice in my little herb garden that has survived our drought and sudden extreme temperature changes. What a hearty plant. I have loads of it, and usually have some hanging from the pot rack to dry. We eat a lot of rosemary roasted chicken. The little pequin pepper plant that I planted near our barn took over the fencing next to the corral and added a nice color coordinated accent to a nearby historic outhouse. LOL. The plant is up near the front of the property and neighbors help themselves. I sometimes flavor vinegars and oils with it. No, no one uses the outhouse, but it was built around 1930, as was the barn, and we're careful to preserve them. Totally off topic? Okay, I find that I use a lot of ancho chile powder and smoked paprikas, both hot and sweet, quite a bit. We also have some mint that has come back and I do make tea of it. Yes, the drought a year and a half ago actually killed mint.

  • chase_gw
    11 years ago

    Another who doesn't use blends instead I may use multiple herbs and / or spices in a dish. Can't really say I have a favourite herb or spice, depends what I am making.

    I probably use more of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, paprika (sweet, hot and smoked) and various salts and peppers than anything else.....but it's all there!!!! My spice cabinet looks like my condiment shelf in the fridge...ridiculous!

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    11 years ago

    I've been struggling to find chervil....I'll have to look at penzey's on my next trip there. I love their Vietnamese cinnamon which really packs a punch and I love their pasta blend.

    For other blends, McCormicks Montreal seasoning is like the perfect seasoning for steak, and I'll use it on steaky fish like tuna or swordfish grill.

    For other fish, you can't beat Old Bay.

    And lately I've been in love with Chinese 5 spice...it has such an interesting flavor blend that seems to be underutilized.

    Does anyone use bitters in cooking? I've also thought it interesting but struggle to use it.

  • triciae
    11 years ago

    Another that does not use many spice blends. I think the only one I had before the flood was Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle. I like that one for quick general purpuse use. It seems to work for just about everything. My standards are fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, dill, peppercorns, and a variety of salts that we use for finishing since I don't add salt to cooking, or rarely. I had most of these herbs in my garden that I could use year around but lost them to Sandy so I'll need to replant spring of 2014 (soil needs a year for the salt from Sandy's surge) to filter out of the soil before we grow edibles again, also lost all of my garlic).

    Mexican is our favorite cuisine so I also keep a variety of dried chilis and make my own spice blends. I really dislike prepared chili powders.

    /tricia

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    11 years ago

    I understand why cooks like to make their own blends but the ingredient list in some is quite above my reach!
    The Penzy's Ozark blend, for instance, has 21 herbs and spices in it.

  • ruthanna_gw
    11 years ago

    I have always loved using herbs and spices to enhance the taste of foods without them becoming the dominant flavor of the dish.

    I don't use very many prepared seasoning blends but I use a lot of Penzey's Fines Herbes in chicken stock and poultry dishes and like their Maharajah style curry powder.

    I'd pick marjoram as my favorite herb because I cook a lot of pork and it's a great partner for it. I also use a lot of fresh parsley and mint, not as a garnish but as an ingredient because I like their tastes. Although I'm one of those people who thinks cilantro leaves taste soapy, I like ground coriander in meat dishes. It's one of my favorite spices.

    My least favorite herb is oregano. I don't even have any in my house.

    Old Bay seasoning gets my vote for most misused spice blend. In most dishes except steamed blue crabs, seems like the cooks used about 4 or 5 times too much so that the natural taste of the seafood completely disappears. I think it's great when used judiciously and I often substitute it for black pepper in dishes like tuna salad or steamed cabbage.

    Speaking of black pepper, I just don't understand why people automatically add black pepper to EVERYTHING whether it needs it or adds anything to the dish or not. So many recipes read "S&P to taste". Why not "appropriate spices to taste"?

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    11 years ago

    ...seems like the cooks used about 4 or 5 times too much so that the natural taste of the seafood completely disappears...

    Precisely! Esp for those of us who don't like the way fish tastes, but eat it because it's good for us....

    ;)

  • jakkom
    11 years ago

    My entire family is on a low-salt diet, even my Gen X niece and nephew. After trying several brands I settled on McCormick's Lemon Pepper.

    Rosemary is the only herb I grow, and winter savory IF I can find a container plant, which isn't often.

    Mix: currently using a lot of Herb de Provence. Blend my own chili powder mix. Love marjoram and have been using it quite a bit lately.

    The Indian/Pakistani/Afghani population in our area is enormous. I pick up various brands of jarred/aseptic sauces and different spice mixes to give them a try; there's always some new local vendor popping up on the grocery market shelves. I don't sweat (oooh, the pun was unintentional) doing curries; it's more fun to go out and try one of the 2,000 curry places within an hour's drive or less from where we live.

    Use a lot of Asian condiments, since we're a Japanese-Chinese-Portugese household!

    I love pimenton and recently bought a wonderful high-end brand, only to have my DH decide he didn't really like it except in certain dishes! Pooh :(

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Hi jkom51: My family is on a low-salt diet too, due to predisposition to stroke on my Dad's side. Our blood-pressure are low thanks to using potassium salt, or Morton's Lite salt. I was elated when I found Lawry's Lite Seasoned Salt with potassium, it smelled great.

    I love Herb de Provence in beans soup. I prefer marjoram over thyme. I have zero luck finding a good thyme herb ... Tone's thyme smells weird. I don't have luck growing thyme either, they die in my zone 5a Chicagoland. After a decade of rosemary died on me every year, I planted one in partial shade next to the house & dumped a pile of leaves on top, and it survived two zone 5a winters. It was blooming this Christmas, pretty lavender flowers ... it was great on roast chicken.

    I like Old Bay, but it's too salty for me ... So I'll look into Penzey. Are Penzey's spices low salt? Can I get them in small amounts? Thanks for any info. I tried McCormick Saigon's Cinnammon ... I'm not impressed, I like Trader's Joe cinnammon better. Trader's Joe spices are decent except for their so-so Seafood Blend.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    11 years ago

    Strawberry, I think the Penzeys blends with salt are much less salty than some other blends I've used. Lawry's regular, for instance, is extremely salty to me and so is regular Old Bay. I get the low sodium version and still use it sparingly.
    They do make salt free blends at Penzeys that are quite good.

  • annie1992
    11 years ago

    Strawberry, you can also try the Spice House in Chicago, owned by the sister of the Penzey family, the brother has Penzey's, based in Wisconsin, I think.

    Mural of Flavor from Penzey's is salt free, as are several other blends. They can be purchased in 1/4 cup jars if you want just a bit, or in bags if you use a lot (that's how I buy the Vietnamese cinnamon, the BIG bag!). I've also found that Penzey's is cheaper than Walmart or local grocery stores, as well as being better quality and fresher.

    Annie

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Thank you, Annie and Bumblebee, for info. on Penzey's spices. I threw away lots of spices in the past since they were icky, including McCormick Saigon cinnamon. I once lowered my triglycerides substantially by eating 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon after each meal ... I should be doing that again. Folks in Vietnam chew on cinnamon bark as a dessert.

    The below link showed someone lowering her triglycerides from 371 to 128 after 6 months of cinnamon. Here's a quote from the link below: "I used the brand Planetary Herbals Full Spectrum Cinnamon Extract in a 60 tablet jar of 200 milligrams each. I took one cinnamon supplement each morning with my regular multi-vitamin at breakfast. You can find these tablets on Amazon for about $18 plus shipping for a 2-pack of 120 tablet jars."

    Here is a link that might be useful: Lower triglycerides with cinnamon

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    11 years ago

    Perhaps this will be of help. They do have a whole bunch that are salt free...

    Here is a link that might be useful: Penzey's

    This post was edited by AnnieDeighnaugh on Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 8:40

  • kitchendetective
    11 years ago

    Penzy's did something that I found very interesting: they announced that, fashionable or not, all those salt varieties that are marketed now still encourage a higher sodium intake, so they were going to quit selling them.

  • compumom
    11 years ago

    Wow, I hadn't heard that news! Big Penzey's fan out here after being introduced during a Michigan Cooking Forum meetup/ canning"party" . DH really likes Mural of Flavor which is salt free, he also enjoys California pepper, Greek blend, Turkish blend ( it rocks on salmon) and their Saigon blend in scrambled eggs.
    I can't eat onion or garlic, so I avoid blends. I love Penzey's own blend of cinnamon and all 3 types of paprikas. Most of my spices are from Penzey's. I'm a lazy cook and It's so helpful to have small portions of many herbs and spices readily available.
    I rely on smoked alder salt from a local place called Savory Spice Shop. They have an amazing selection of herbs and spices too.
    Not really a spice, but a condiment--DH loves Pickapeppa Sauce thanks to to Nancy/ Wizardn's recommendation!

  • compumom
    11 years ago

    I apologize for the typos, poor punctuation and awkward capitalizations. Not that I'm great on the normal keyboard, but the iPad and iPhone really challenge my fingers!

  • arkansas girl
    11 years ago

    I use Tony Chachere's ALL.THE.TIME. Then next I use the McCormick's seasoned garlic salt(Califoria style). And out of my spices, I mostly use garlic and onion powder, dried parsley, dried chives, dried basil, Cheyenne, paprika, and of course salt and pepper.

  • Rusty
    11 years ago

    Another fan of Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning here.

    I also like & use Bolner's Fiesta Brand
    Fajita Seasoning, also Chicken Fajita Seasoning.
    (The salt-free ones)
    They make a really good lemon pepper, too.

    The Chicken Fajita Seasoning is really good
    on fish and vegetables, too.

    I've found as I get older,
    My taste buds are either changing
    Or disappearing.
    Things that I used to love
    now seem flat & tasteless to me.

    Anyone else experience this?

    Rusty

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Hi Rusty: You are right that older folks need more spices. My 10-years old HATE spices. When I was pregnanted I HATED spices, the smell of garlic was enough to make me vomit. Now I'm 51 years old and love garlic & spices. A college professor told the story about his Mom on diabetes medication, which blunted her taste buds. She put tons of salt in the pasta sauce, and her family had to eat out.

    Growing up with an Asian cusine, I must had tried at least a dozen type of soysauce in my life. Some had so much preservatives (potassium sorbate or sodium benzonate) that I broke out in rash. Now my favorite is "Golden Mountain" soysauce, with a picture of a chef in front in yellow/green logo. It has zero preservative, imported from Thailand. I tried other organic soysauce but none measured up.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    I threw out a bunch of old spices before the year's end, and I'm making an order on-line for Penzey's spices. Here's a summary of what cooks in this forum recommended:

    Penzey's spices mentioned: Arizona Dreaming, Sunny Spain, Sunny Paris, Tuscan, Ozark, Mitchell St., French, Northwoods, Bicentennial, Mural of Flavor, Sandwich sprinkle, Pasta sprinkle, Forward (no salt seasoning), and Turkish blend (great on salmon).

    Other spices mentioned: Tony Chachere's , McCormick's garlic salt (CA style), McCormicks salad supreme, McCormick Montreal seasoning, McCormicks salt-free original blend.

    Also Goya Abodo low-salt, Zatara's blacken spice. QUESTION: My kid doesn't like hot red pepper, but she's OK with black pepper. Which one of the above Penzey's is HOT, and I should avoid buying? Thanks for any info.., much appreciated.

    This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sat, Jan 11, 14 at 12:54

  • trudy_gw
    10 years ago

    We have been using Weber Roasted Garlic Herb spice the last year. Really good on potatoes, meats and eggs.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    10 years ago

    They should list on their site the spice ingredients. Or make a phone order and ask.
    To be honest, i'm not at all a fan of Penzey spice mixes. I've been gifted them the past few years and had to tell the 'gifter' that we really don't care for them. I find it a waste of money.
    Any spice mix is ground and looses all fresh flavor the second it is made. (or a few months later?)...Gifted at Christmas and full of pantry larva before bbq season just months later...
    We have been grinding our own for so long that a mix is strange to us. One gifted set was soo salty and the next year was free of salt but again not so good.
    If you do find one that you love...the label will have the spice mix. Eventually consider getting the fresh whole spices and trying your own blend.
    Oh, i'm not such a purist that i don't rely on childhood staples like OldBay and Bells. I could make a Sriracha but love it the way it is...and worcestershire.
    So i would call. They are, i'm sure, good on the phone. My MIL loves the company. (our gifter). In fact, she only buys whole spices from them and makes her own. And she knows we do the same...
    Not sure why she kept sending the gift selections to us.

  • ci_lantro
    10 years ago

    Our favorites are Cavendars, Spike Veg-it, Montreal Steak seasoning and the really cheap 'No Salt Seasoning' from Big Lots. The Big Lots stuff is great on roasted veggies. I've tried a few of the Penzey's blends & just wasn't impressed with them, exception being the Apple Spice blend which is very good. (I struggle getting a good balance of individual spices for apple pies.)

    I tend to use individual herbs with my favorites being thyme, marjoram, cilantro, coriander, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper, basil, fennel, tarragon. And condiments Tabasco & Vegemite. Don't care for oregano much at all and a lot of the time, sage tastes muddy/ musty to me so I avoid using it. Oh, and I love garlic so I use lots of garlic, almost entirely fresh garlic that I grow unless I'm feeling really doggy & lazy and then I'll grab the powdered stuff.

    Love nutmeg and Vietnamese cinnamon...I order the Saigon cinnamon from Atlantic Spice. It's every bit as good as the Penzeys cinnamon & is a fraction of the price. ($5.45 for one pound.)

    Here is a link that might be useful: Atlantic Spice

  • carol_in_california
    10 years ago

    I just go out into the garden and see what I have.....our growing season is almost all year around.
    (Except this year, when we had three or four nights of freezing weather.....rare for this area.)
    I love the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme best, I think.
    Scarborough Fair....remember Simon and Garfunkel?

  • grainlady_ks
    10 years ago

    "Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine." Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, and add basil. What are fresh tomatoes without basil?

    And then there is my new found love affair with nigella (the spice, not Nigella Lawson) . Move over pepper... "The black seeds taste like a combination of onions, black pepper and oregano, and have a bitterness to them like mustard seeds." It's always good to add to our collection occasionally. I put the black nigella seeds in a small grinder and it really gets a workout these days.

    We love freshly grated nutmeg. After a dear friend gave me a nutmeg grater and whole nutmegs 25-years ago, I've never used anything else. What a difference! I've since moved on from the little aluminum nutmeg grater (with the little storage compartment on the top for the nutmeg) to the microplane.

    And a surprising ingredient I use quite a bit are crushed red peppers. How to improve fresh cooked green beans? Make a sauce of 1/4 c. orange juice 1 t. cornstarch, 3 T. soy sauce (I use Raw Coconut Aminos - a soy-free, low-sodium alternative), 1/8 to 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes, 1 small clove garlic, minced. Mix ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear. Stir into cooked and drained green beans.

    I suspect it's the Northern European ancestry influence, but I love caraway, dill and celery seed, and those are the tastes I grew up with.

    I don't like cilantro and tarragon. I don't like garlic much either. I never tasted garlic until I was an adult, and a little goes a long way with me. Never acquired the taste for it.

    -Grainlady

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Thank you, Grainlady,, for that yummy way to make green beans .. I do the same, except with lemon juice. Lemon zest is really yummy on fish too.

    You are right about tarragon .. on summer I grew fresh tarragon, bland to me! Thanks to you great cooks' recommendations, I ordered Penzys spices today. Its free shipping if over $30, so I got $32.14 worth of spices ... they are in 1/4 cup amount, 8 different spice-mixtures:

    Arizona Dreaming, Poultry Seasoning, Sunny Spain, Sunny Paris, Tuscan Sunset, Mural of Flavor, Bouquet Garni, and Bavarian Style Seasoning (for turkey). All of them are salt-free.

    After I ordered, I doubled-checked on the reviews of Penzeys spices ... I read about 60 reviews from various Penzeys locations (Yelp reviews). Folks rave on their Dutch cocoa, orange essence, vanilla, salt-free Chili 9000 (this was highly recommended), Northwoods Fire on salmon, Ozark, Pasta sprinkle, and especially Herbes de Provence. Too late to add to my order. Will have to try them next year.

    This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 19:36

  • Cloud Swift
    10 years ago

    The half-sharp paprika is hotter than I expected - I guess the stuff you buy at the grocery store that is just labeled "paprika" is closer to the sweet paprika.

    Mostly I like to use the individual spices and herbs combining them to get my own blends as needed - and often it is nice to have just one or two herbs/spices complementing the flavors of the main ingredients - using just bay leaves and a bit of black pepper in a stew the other night for example.

    But it is also nice to have a few salt-free blends on hand for nights when I feel unimaginative or rushed. Having a few on hand with different profiles is nice. For example: Mural of Flavor (really good sprinkled on vegetables), Tuscan sunset (Italian herbs and flavors), CA Pepper (for just a little black pepper heat plus bell pepper, onion and garlic), Sunny Singapore (Indian spices plus lemon, onion for an exotic direction).

    I prefer to control the amount of salt myself and also, most of the blends with salt have salt as the first or second ingredient and I'd rather not pay for that. So I stick to the salt free blends.

    I started buying from Penzey's but now usually buy from Spice House for secondary reasons - both have equally good spices and herbs as far as I can tell. I like the bags that Spice House packs their bulk spices in better then the Penzey's ones and I find the Spice House website easier to use.

    I refill small tins in my drawer as needed and keep the bags in the freezer. The Spice house bags seem to be better quality and zip closed more easily.

    Once I put in most of an order on the Penzey's website and got interrupted before I finished - when I went back I had to start over.

    Comparing for 4 spices and herbs, Spice House had the lower price for a 4 oz bag. I've not checked the whole list of things I buy to see if that holds true across the board.

  • teresa_nc7
    10 years ago

    Strawberry Fields, try the Bouquet Garni on red bliss potatoes tossed in olive oil and that blend then roasted.

    I use the Northwoods on chicken and pork - also the Ozark blend on pork.

    The Sandwich Sprinkle makes tasty garlic bread and for cheese bread, mix grated cheese with crushed red peppers and Italian seasoning to top Italian bread sliced horizontally in half and baked to a crunchy, cheesy goodness.

    The 21 Seasoning Salute is good on any steamed vegetables and I use Lemon Pepper in tuna salad and cottage cheese. My BIL uses an entire jar of Lemon Pepper whenever he grills a whole tenderloin......yummmm!

    I picked up a jar of chipotle powder in the Hispanic aisle and add a little to chili and other Tex-Mex dishes.

    Teresa

  • cj47
    10 years ago

    Bouquet Garni is one of my go-to blends for stews and soups. My family loves Mural of Flavor on fish and chicken. Enjoy your new products!

    Cj

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Thank you Cloud_swift for the tip on Spice House. Thank you, Teresa, for tips on Norwoods on chicken and Ozark on pork, 21-seasonings on veges, and sandwich sprinkle.

    Hi Cj47: I'm glad I ordered Bouquet Garni, and Mural of Flavor for fish. I read another forum thread on Penzeys spices ... found that Mural of Flavor has citric acid, so it's best on fish & chicken.

    In the Chow thread, folks discussed about similarities between Penzeys and The Spice House. Here's an excerpt: ggleam Dec 7, 2006 11:29 PM

    "As aelph noted, they're the same family with the same suppliers for most things. Patty Erd, owner of the spice house with her husband Tom Erd, is Bill Penzey's brother. Ma&Pa Penzey founded the spice house and sold it to Tom and Patty some years ago. Bill formed Penzey's on his own."

    ****
    Below link is a long discussion of Penzeys spices, where folks raved about Penzeys curries, Turkish blend, Greek blend, Chicago Steak seasoning, Vindaloo, and shallot/pepper as their favorites.

    Here's an excerpt from Prevention magazine:

    http://www.prevention.com/food/cook/whats-your-favorite-seasoning-blend?page=3
    A Middle Eastern Staple

    "My favorite spice blend is called za'atar. It's a blend of a wild herb that's related to thyme, toasted sesame seeds, and lemony sumac. I use it as a condiment, sprinkling it generously over warm olives, feta cheese, roasted chicken, baked crisp pitas, flatbreads, and thick yogurt. The mix of toasty and herbal flavors enhances these simple foods. You can buy za'atar at a Middle Eastern store or order it online. ��"Ana Sortun, chef and owner of Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge, MA

    ** The Spice House has Za'atar. Pasta Sprinkle from Penzeys is also mentioned in Prevention's magazine link, see excerpt below:
    A Zesty Herb-and-Garlic Mix

    "Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle is my go-to spice blend. It's a mix of California basil, Turkish oregano, garlic, and thyme that livens up my quick crushed tomato-based marinara or any Italian dish. The blend also adds zest to soups, marinades, and nearly anything that might need a kick. You can get it at Penzeys stores or online. ��"Lori Brooks, Prevention reader, Norman, OK

    Here is a link that might be useful: Roadfood.com discussion on Penzeys spices

    This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 10:29

  • Lars
    10 years ago

    I sometimes buy Za'atar at a Lebanese market, but I add extra Sumac to it, to make it similar to my own blend. Sumac is great on chicken, and I often sprinkle it on Basmatic rice, in the Persian tradition. It is usually cheaper go get Sumac at the Indian market I go to, not far from the Lebanese market. My Za'atar recipe is at the beginning of this thread.

    Lars

    This post was edited by publickman on Wed, Jan 8, 14 at 18:00

  • Cloud Swift
    10 years ago

    I was surprised by the price difference in the few items I checked between Penzey's and Spice House so I decided to compare the prices for my recent order from Spice House.

    I didn't include the two blends I bought because even when blends have the same ingredients, the proportions may be different. Also there were a couple of items that Penzey's doesn't carry.

    That left 22 items. For the total order, cost from Penzey's was 39% higher than the cost from Spice House.

  • pkramer60
    10 years ago

    Strawberry, try putting your rosemary plant in a pot for the summer and bring it indoors for the winter. I have mine in a west window on the floor because after 5 years it is now a bush. During the last snow storm, it was great to rub my hands in it.

    As for growing tarragon, be sure to buy the French Tarragon and not the Russian. It can be hard to find in the nurseries but a huge flavor difference.

  • annie1992
    10 years ago

    I go to Penzey's because I have one in Grand Rapids and don't have to pay any shipping. They also send me free coupons regularly with their catalogs, so I go and cash those in and get whatever else I need.

    I also bought at the Spice House when I was in Chicago, Elery really liked the "Vulcan Fire" salt, a recommendation from Readinglady, but the tomato powder turned to a hard brick before I used it. So, I "rehydrated" in water and got a tomato liquid, which I also didn't use, LOL. I just have too many tomato products that I canned myself from fresh garden tomatoes, I guess. I finally threw it out, I never used it.

    Strawberry, if you do much baking, the Penzey's Almond Extract is so good, I just open the bottle and sniff it, like perfume. It's my "secret" ingredient in buttercream frosting, I love the stuff.

    Annie

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Thank you, Annie, for that tip ... my kid loves almond-cookie, so I will get the almond extract. Thank you, Cloud_Swift, for the info. on Spice House to save money.

    Thank you, pkramer, for that tip on Rosemary indoor. It died on me last winter. I grew up near Grand Rapids MI. Now I'm in Chicago's suburb, zone 5a, much colder than zone 5b in MI. What I grew in the summer was probably Russian Tarragon ... no smell whatsoever. The right thyme also makes a big difference ... so I make sure that pinch off a leaf to sniff before buying the herb.

    I'm lucky to have a sage brush that survived zone 5a winters for the past decade. I sun-dried the sage leaves in the fall ... great flavor, no sage-spice can beat. One year I used Organic Spice's Hunter Herbes de Province, that gave good flavor to all my soups. Then I bought some cheap brand recently, and it stank up my entire pot.

    I bought "Imitation Vanilla" last year, and it had a weird & odd chemical smell, so I threw the whole bottle away. The real vanilla is what matters. A friend gave me Organic Extra virgin Coconut oil Nutiva brand. I used 2 tablespoon of that in making granola. The fresh coconut smell perfumed the entire house, and the granola was absolutely delicious.

    In contrast, the coconut milk I bought from Trader's Joe, or Oriental Market has this "soapy" flavor from stale coconut, or else it's so loaded with sulfites or potassium sorbate(chemical preservatives) ... that I break out in rash. I quit using coconut milk a long time ago ... so glad to find Nutiva's extra-virgin coconut oil with the most intense, delightful fresh coconut essence.

    This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Jan 10, 14 at 23:33

  • daisyinga
    10 years ago

    Like ci_lantro I like Cavender's. Also, as others have mentioned, Montreal Steak Seasoning, Old Bay and Tony Cachere's.

    My favorite herb, hands down, is fresh basil. I also love fresh grated ginger, fresh sage and fresh dill.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Hi daisyinga: I also love fresh basil, esp. in tuna sandwiches. Instead of celery I put sun-dried tomatoes, basil leaves, and black olives in tuna sandwich ... really yummy.

    My friend gave me too many gingerroots so I froze them ... found that it's so much easier to grate FROZEN ginger .. I can do it in 1/2 the time of fresh ginger. Ginger freezes very well, and doesn't get dried out.

    I also grow fresh dill besides sage ... those 2 need to be fresh, those particular spices have no flavor in the bottle.

  • daisyinga
    10 years ago

    I didn't know ginger root could be frozen. That's nice to know.

  • annie1992
    10 years ago

    Strawberryhill, I live about 50 miles north of Grand Rapids, I've been here my entire life.

    I cannot overwinter rosemary, but I've picked sage and oregano out of the snow in the herb beds. Chives don't stay green but they come back year after year and they grow well on the counter too.

    Penzey's has a store right on Alpine Avenue, so I can go in, wander about, sniff the spices and buy without shipping costs, plus the customer service is outstanding. I think I keep them in business with cinnamon, almond extract and peppercorns, LOL.

    daisy, I freeze gingerroot and I also freeze basil. I just put it in the food processor with enough olive oil to make it thick, drop it onto a sheet pan in "plops" and freeze it. When it's solid, I put the "plops" into a freezer bag and just pull one out when I want it. It's great for pesto and for basil salsa, as well as dropping one into the soup or sauce pot.

    Annie

  • jakkom
    10 years ago

    McCormick's lemon pepper. We're on low-salt diets in my family and it's the best widely-available brand that I've found.

    Others: herb de provence blend, Busha Browne's hot sauce, and Chinese oyster sauce.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Hi Jkom: I bought a McCormick's lemon-pepper grinder... grind that stuff on salmon, didn't see any difference in taste. I received my Penzeys' order today of 9 glass jars of spices (I got the 9th jar for free). It's free shipping with order over $30. My order was for $32 for 8 jars, they let me change Poultry seasoning to Herbes de Provence.

    The 9th jar that I got for free: Ruth Ann's Muskegon Ave. seasoning. I sniffed it ... WOW !! that's the best smelling spice in my life. A wonderful aroma of freshly grounded pepper, lemon zest & onion ... it's similar to Montreal Steak Seasoning, but MUCH BETTER, without the harsh garlicky and fennel seed of McCormick's Montreal Steak.

    I'm sold on Penzeys .. if that free jar smell that fresh, I'm sure my other 8 salt-free are also good. See below picture of Arizona Dreaming, Sunny Spain, Sunny Paris, Tuscan Sunset, Mural of Flavor, Bouquet Garni, Bavarian Seasoning, Herbes de Provence., and the free Ruth Ann's Muskegon Ave. The glass jars are wide and bigger than the small size McCormick ones.

  • foodonastump
    10 years ago

    Anyone have any experience/opinions about Vegeta? I heard about it for the first time last night on DD&D and googled it. Has a bunch of msg in it so the negative reviews are predictable. But at quick glance it sounds to be pretty much a staple in Eastern Europe and popular across the rest of Europe as well.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Vegeta