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June 7, 2008

Sugar and spice....

and even more spices! Yes, I am talking about the amazing catalog that is Penzey's spices. I have yet to make it down to the Galleria to visit the Penzey's store (yes, plain laziness), but that is about to change. My sweet sister sent me a gift card to the store, and I have been eagerly circling spice blends that I want to buy in their catalog.

If you don't want to wait for a catalog, download the grilling catalog and you can quickly see what an amazing assortment they carry. Not only is the assortment amazing, but the descriptions are so informative. There is a whole two-page spread on curry alone!

However, lest you think that you need an advanced culinary degree to buy spices from a specialty store such as Penzey's, let me post this quote from the CEO, Bill Penzey:

"I'm a good cook," Penzey says. "I cook every night.

"Those people who cook virtually every day are the people you've got to sell spices to. You have to appreciate people not because they have an arcane knowledge of spices, but to appreciate people who cook every day."

Everyday cooks are the backbone of the Penzeys chain, which has grown from a mail-order business started 21 years ago to now include a chain of 32 retail stores around the country."

Interestingly enough, people think that we are probably better cooks than we really are. For instance, people were impressed the other night when I made my own Oregano Vinaigrette. Seriously, could it be any easier?? If you keep basics on hand (extra-virgin olive oil, vinegars, lemons/lemon juice concentrate, garlic and grown some of your own herbs), it is really simple.

In the linked recipe, I didn't have white wine on hand, so I used 1/4 cup white wine vinegar and increased the olive oil to 1/4 cup. Yes, that does increase the fat content, but we used it sparingly on the greek salad. Just keep tasting until it is to your liking. Easy and inexpensive, plus no preservatives. I would definitely make the dressing again, and it would be great on Mediterranean potato salad, a favorite from Cucina Fresca. We use this cookbook again and again, a must for easy, casual entertaining.

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