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Primer: Spice Rack Essentials


Without spices, life would be bland and tasteless, much like C-SPAN. This primer will show you what you need to have food that is better compared to MTV- flashy, flavorful and with pizzazz. Let’s say you are a new cook, and you want to round out a good spice rack. First I would start out with the 5 essentials:

  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Garlic Powder
  • Italian Seasoning (Mixture of basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, etc.)
  • Season Salt

After the Big 5, I would add the following:

  • Curry
  • Powdered Ginger
  • Dill
  • Cayenne Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Celery Salt
  • Onion Powder/Salt
  • Ranch Dressing Mix (Hidden Valley sells it in shaker jars now!)
  • Cinnamon/Sugar
  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves

Make sure you get a good store of the “Scarborough Fair” spices:

  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

I actually have a very large container of parsley, and it has come in really handy. (I use it in everything from eggs to steak to paad thai!)

Some specialty spices are really versatile, and very tasty:

  • Fajita Seasoning (this commercial mix is heavy on the garlic and spices)
  • Jamaican Jerk Spice rubs
  • Montreal Steak seasoning
  • Zatarrain’s Crab boil bag (a bag of spices geared to boiling live crustaceans such as crab, shrimp or crayfish.)
  • Italian Salad Dressing Mix (this is the closest thing known to man to match the Colonel’s 12 herbs and spices at KFC)
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Lemon pepper
  • Powdered chicken and beef bouillon

Next, get a few pepper grinders and put peppercorns, sea salt and dried garlic in one, peppercorns and dried lemon and lime chunks in another, and sea salt and crushed red pepper in another. This will give you 3 fresh grind spice mills that you can use in a variety of applications.

Don’t worry about taking out a second mortgage for all the spices. Just start with the big 5, and add others as they are on sale. Try mixing and matching flavors with your new spice arsenal and see what you come up with!

Bon Appetit!

The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

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  1. Good guide. What I wish I could find (and, believe me, I've looked) is a primer on when to use them.

  2. Well, that wouldn't be a primer would it? It would be a series of volumes larger than the encyclopedia galactica. Don't panic!

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