We’re always grateful when one of our customers takes the time to drop us a line to let us know what they think about our products. Awhile back we got a nice message from Gina, a customer in Minnesota, telling us she was a fan of our spices. We shared her kind words in our internal employee newsletter.
We thought we’d reconnect with Gina for a more in-depth conversation to share with you. Happily, she was willing to share some thoughts and a recipe. We can’t say it enough: our customers are the best.
Hi Gina. We know you cook and bake often. Let’s start by talking about which spices you use most in your kitchen.
OK, I had to clean out my spice cabinet to get a good idea on this one. And I hope you don’t mind, I grouped them!
- Pepper: we use fresh ground peppercorns every day. It’s the first bulk spice I bought after getting a nice pepper mill.
- Cinnamon: fresh cinnamon is great in both sweet and savory dishes; I love to use several varieties for different dishes and baking. My current favorite is Vietnamese because it has a great kick!
- Ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves: key for making my son’s favorite, molasses ginger cookies. I recently tried mace because I love to experiment and try to concoct the perfect match to make a great taste.
- Garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes are needed to make my daughter’s most requested dish, Gramma’s spaghetti sauce with pork.
- Cumin, cayenne, and paprika for chili, pulled pork and ribs.
Wow, that’s an array. You really know your way around your spice cabinet. And we don’t mind that you grouped them, we do that often in our web features. It really helps when you’re learning about flavors and uses.
So where did you get your love of cooking?
My mom is an incredible cook; even at 85 she experiments with new recipes. I owe my love for everything in the kitchen to her. She encouraged me, and I had a chemist for a father, so I’m still hooked solving the science of cooking and baking.
But interestingly, my mother used very few spices. Honestly, even today when I cook at her house I have to bring my own. So my love for spices is something that came about when I started cooking for friends and family.
Here’s that recipe I mentioned earlier that my daughter loves.
Gramma’s Pork Spaghetti Sauce (serves 6)
2 tablespoons butter
3 pork chops
1 chicken breast
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes, preferably with basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
grated Parmesan cheese
Heat butter in a large pot or skillet over medium heat.
Add pork and chicken and simmer until browned.
Remove to plate to cool.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes with puree, oregano, and crushed red pepper scraping bottom bits into sauce.
Simmer sauce over medium-low heat until thickened, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, season with salt and pepper.
As soon as you can handle the meat, remove it from the bone and add it along with any juices back in the sauce.
Cook until meat falls apart.
Serve over spaghetti, and top with cheese.
Do you buy spices in bulk? If so, which ones? And go ahead; give a shout-out to your favorite co-op.
We joined a co-op in 1995 to get fresh organic produce and bulk spices right away when we moved to this community.
My first choice is always bulk for spices, because I buy just what I need, and that way it stays fresh. There are so many varieties of paprika and cinnamon to explore and bulk allows me to do that. My next adventure is to enhance fresh berries using flavored tea in baking.
I’m very fortunate to have River Market Coop in Stillwater, MN, less than 1 mile away and they have a large assortment of tea and spices.
Thanks so much, Gina. We expect a report on the intriguing-sounding fresh berries baked with tea! See you in the spice aisle.
And now, readers, we’d love to hear what spices you use most often in your kitchen.