If you love to cook at all, you really need to go to the Penzey’s web site and order something – or, at least, sign up for their mailing list. The recipes in their catalogs are worth signing up for.
Penzey’s is a Wisconsin-based mail order company which sells herbs and spices. They’ve now added some brick-and-mortar locations as well, but the closest one to me is in the Memphis area, so for me they’re still a mail-order house.
They have a variety of different products:
- Individual spices: These range from the ordinary to the exotic, and are all of high quality. Ever seen a chef on the Food Network scrape out a vanilla bean, but you can’t find whole vanilla beans in your local supermarket? Penzey’s has you covered. Need some exotic spice for Indian or Thai cooking? Ditto.
- Seasoning blends: They have a number of their own proprietary seasoning blends, including five or six different types of chili powder, salt-free blends, and on and on.
- Gift boxes: This was how I first learned about Penzey’s; one of my sisters-in-law gave me a gift box. They have them in every price range, from stocking stuffers to big expensive housewarming or wedding gifts that let the happy couple set up shop with all new, fresh spices. Some of the gift boxes are packed in actual, usable bay leaves and whole nutmeg nuts. (Whole nutmeg, by the way, is the way to go. Grate it when you need it, and the taste is much, much better than the pre-ground stuff.)
- Pepper mills: I’d love to have one of their pepper mills – I usually buy cheap ones from Walmart and then just replace them when they break or wear out. Of course, they have a variety of different peppercorns to go in the mills. They also sell matching salt shakers, with slightly larger holes than the normal shaker to accommodate coarse salt.
Seriously, this is a good company that makes good products. And, as I said, they have great recipes in their catalog, so it’s worth signing up for the mailing list (or just go ahead and order something, which I assume will put you on the list as well).