greetings - thanks for visiting my site!

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Well, this is it. The spice store has made it's last gasp & is shutting down. Thanks for your support. If you have any requests or questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards to all,

.:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:. .:.

Important Notice:


We're back. I'm still trying to re-figure/ streamline the Spice Selections to make it all more sensible to you and feasible to us. Truth is, y'all just don't use the spices and seasonings as much as I do (despite that, as with all spice & seasoning ingredients, they are best if used within a six month period and not after). That's understandable, but it makes having an online business impractical, is all. Over the course of many months I've been considering ways to make the spices more appealing to first time as well as repeat buyers. I've sought to solve several problems with the product, including:

The tendency for the spice seasonings to clump - I've switched suppliers and am now using ingredients which are ground finer and have less tendency to clump. I've been satisfied with the results and I hope that you have as well.

Packaging: The metal tins I'm using are, at best, a compromise in order to ship the spices as well as make them appealing and functional. When I initially started selling spices back in 2005, I was using 4 oz. glass jars. People really like the jars over the tins, and while the tins cost more, they are easier to ship without worrying that you will end up with a package of seasoned glass shards on your end.

Packaging #2: I have been considering losing the tins in favor of simple, functional, utilitarian plastic bags. Why? I have a lot of plastic bags in stock intended for refills of spices, and that just doesn't happen. If I switch to using the plastic bags, I could probably increase the amount of spice seasoning per order while decreasing the cost of each item as well as shipping. How about that?

Packaging #3: Wouldn't ya know, now they are saying that plastic is EVIL and DOES NOT LIKE YOU or YOUR FAMILY. Oh, plastic - we lived with so many hopes for you that must now go unfulfilled. It was sweet while it lasted.

Scrapping the catalog: That's right. Another serious consideration I've had for some time now is to scrap all of my current product and sell only certain items. What I have been selling over the past several years would essentially be retired. "What will you replace it with?", you ask? Well, let me tell you - I've been thinking of starting a whole new line of extremely hot and spicy seasonings and bbq rubs, so that I can rename it THE BURN WARD. That's right. I don't joke about such things. We're talking (or rather mumbling, since we've been steadily searing off the nerves on our tongues) serious Scoville Units here. What is your vote?

Spice of the Month Club: While it is still a serious consideration, it has never generated enough interest to convince me to do it. Maybe. Drop me a line and tell me you'd support it if I made it available. No, not just you, I mean some of those other people out there who haven't piped up yet.

Gift Sets: Of course - there will always be gift sets, as well as sales, like the ever popular buy 2 get 1 free deal.

Cost: Oy... one could make a living, if only they'd let you - ya know what I mean? Over the past 12 to 18 months, cost just got weird, particularly because import/ export costs that bear on the availability of ingredients for the spices and seasonings. I try to keep that old carbon foot print as small as possible - I've even considered binding my carbon foot to a child's size 2 - but there are certain ingredients that just are not easily available in our area of Western Massachusetts. Things like fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf and Lemongrass which, the last time I had to purchase a bulk of each I was told that I would need to pre-order it as it comes from places with sunnier climates, yet it is also affected by state restrictions which prevent growing these plants in proximity of delicate citrus agricultural regions. So - I temporarily stopped making the Green Thai Curry, which needs a good amount of each to get the flavor perfect. I know - it makes me sad, too, not to have my Green Thai Curry.

So that's the short of the long on the matter. Write me and let me know what your vote is on any or all of the intertwining topics.

And thanks for your support, your patience and your friendship - I really do appreciate it!


This blog is a companion site to my online business at emburke.etsy.com where I sell unique spice and seasoning blends. I will be featuring recipes that use the spice blends here, but you can easily adapt them to suit your own needs. Also, my spice and seasoning blends are interchangeable - you can easily use one blend in place of another to get a different creative result or you can play it safe and stick to the recipe.

I have a variety of spice & seasoning blends available for purchase here - the perfect compliment for your meat & vegetarian entrées or side dishes. Each of my spice blends are made from fresh, organic spices purchased locally and are ground & blended by myself. They can be used as a dry or wet rub, as a marinade or sauce, or as a seasoning to add a little extra flavor.

Also, if you have any ideas, suggestions or challenges - send them on to me and I'll place them on the site as well.

Each quarter a portion of all sales from this site will be given to support a local charity in Western Massachusetts.

I think you will enjoy them as much as I do. Please spread the word!

Thanks, Elliott

P.S. - I'll have some other items available here in the near future.

What would you like to find here?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Adventures of Calcutta Yardbird

or Variation # 157 on ways to prepare simple & tasty chicken dishes that your spouse will love.

We don't keep a fully stocked refrigerator at our house. Maybe you don't either. We tend to go on a mini shopping run every other day to buy just enough to get us through the next 36 hours. Perhaps you do this as well. When I was growing up, this practice was unheard of, and I think my mother would have been distressed by such a routine. At least every Saturday we went out to the local grocery store and bought enough food to cover us for three daily meals through the week, and then some. It was our one unyielding family ritual which, while we kids didn't care much for, it was far better than the alternative of doing a thorough house cleaning or yard work. When my mother remarried, adding a fifth head and stomach to the equation, our new step father took on the task of preparing and cooking all of the weekly family meals and introduced us to the concept of nightly menu planning, something that, while it was convenient, economical, efficient and highly organized, it also quickly became extremely routine, something that we kids were resistant to. Our step father had a set menu for each day of the week: on Sundays it was corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, spaghetti on Monday, taco Tuesday and so forth. There was rarely ever a brain lapse while trying to remember what you had for dinner the other night or in trying to prepare a meal later in the week. It was pre-ordained, predictable and boring, and we've all spent thousands of dollars in therapy because of it. Contrary to what child rearing manuals may insist, routine is not always what a child wants or needs. But I'm digressing.

Often the challenge around the evening dinner topic is whether to go to the store and buy all of the components for the dinner meal or to use what we have on hand, which is often a haphazard merging of scant left overs and small portions of miscellaneous food stuffs that won't make up an entire meal course. Fortunately I'm pretty adept at winging it when it comes to cooking and am able to wring out a meal from what we have available. It's a fun and rewarding challenge. Last night was just such an evening. Although it really wasn't too difficult to produce a nice meal with what we had in the refrigerator - chicken thighs and spinach - I was less in the mood to go to the store than I was to improvise. Here is the end result of what I'm calling Calcutta Yardbird, simply because we went to India for dinner last night & any meat entrée that has it's own nickname deserves to have it featured in a special title.

I baked the chicken thighs in a covered Pyrex dish with Tandoori Spice Blend, curry powder and salt. 420 degree heat for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. That's it. Pretty simple, eh? While it baked I cooked 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of vegetable stock, salt, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 quarter diced onion, saffron and a small piece of lemon grass. As I got closer to both the chicken and rice being fully cooked I steamed some spinach and, at serving, grated fresh parmisan cheese and squeezed fresh lemon juice over it.

I served it with this amazing condiment that I love and will use any excuse I can to serve it with a meal - Patak's Original Brinjal Eggplant Relish! Hold on tight & get your pencils and pads ready 'cause we're going to repeat that for you once more - Patak's Original Brinjal Eggplant Relish! It's indescribable. Sweet and spicy eggplant cooked in oil with Indian spices, it has a wonderful flavor that I've tried to replicate in various other ways, from spice blends to sauces, with limited success. You'll love it, too, and you'll devise your own reasons to use it in everything, scaring your family and friends into an uneasy dilemma of how to enjoy your wonderful cooking without enduring your fanatic zeal. Should you be so adventurous once you've been won over by this amazing yet humble relish, try it as a BBQ sauce for grilling. You should be able to find this item in any good supermarket with a varied ethnic section. If not, then head out to your nearest local Indian store and ask for - no, demand! - Patak's Original Brinjal Eggplant Relish!

Give it a try and let me know how you like it. Who knows - maybe it will become our - and your - regular Wednesday evening dinner.

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Read what some nice people have to say about my spices:"

Some mornings, I just stand in the kitchen alone and sniff Elliotts' spice. Then I'm somehow ready to start my day. And, oh yes, Elliott's spice IS great for cooking. Your eating habit will literally get "spiced up"."~ Tomoko Deeney (TADworks)

"I’ve almost never finished a full jar of spice and I’ve used several jars of Elliott’s spices in a matter of months. They are very unique and full of different flavors without being too salty or overpowering. They get my highest recommendation. Try them and you will love them."~ Keith Brisebois

"Elliott’s Green Thai is the most amazing spice... perfect for tacos, fish, chicken or beef. Once you’ve tried it, you won’t be able to cook without it!"~ Chrissie Henry

"I hadn't really explored the world of spices until this mixture somehow found its way into my cupboard. I had lived a fairly plain sea salt and cracked pepper food life, until this came along. I enjoy the 'kick' it has on my palate. And still the blend lends itself to good eatin'."~ Rachel Wilson

"Having a jar of Elliott's spice blends in my cupboard I feel as if I have been instantly transformed into a fantastic chef. Dishes I would normally feel intimidated to try - Curried Cauliflower, Tandori Chicken, Morrocan Lamb Stew - now feel within reach. Thank you, Elliott for opening up a whole world, literally, of fabulous food!"~ Alicia Pritt

"Filled a void in my life."~ Elizabeth (from Russia)