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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,
Elliott

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Important Notice:


6/7/2010:

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!

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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.
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What would you like to find here?

Friday, February 29, 2008

what's in your pantry?

One of the papers in Boston - I forget which one - occasionally does a small feature column on local chefs, and they always ask them what they have in their cabinet. It's the sort of put 'em on the spot tabloid inquisition that foodies and gourmands find risqué. Outside of the kitchen we're an easy lot to satisfy, generally, and just reading about what someone else uses in their weekly cooking is to us exotic, sensual & erotic, bordering on pornographic. I mean, really, really spicy.

Now and again, when I open my own cupboard, I fantasize about being asked the same question in an interview.

We keep a well stocked stash of spices & etcetera that most people might find a bit unusual. I've come to consider them nearly indispensable to have on hand. So, too, does Cheryl. Despite that I don't label my spices & she often has to call me over to locate or identify something for her, today I got a surprise package in the mail which contained four moderate sized baggies of fresh powdery spices. Talk about pandering and procuring - I felt like a drug fiend on a red letter day.

What Cheryl bought for me - for us - was a new supply of smoked paprika, urfa bebir pepper, chinese chile & something even I have never encountered before in powder form -worcestershire. Apparently it can be gotten as a dry rub or to mix as a baste or marinade. Who knew?

I like that gal. She's sly, mischievous, surprising & she's an enabler.

To commemorate the surprise gift I immediately grabbed the camera and took a photograph:





She found these online at World Spice Merchants in Seattle, WA. I've already pored over every picture of their spices, reading each description, savoring the pre-endorphinic ecstasy that they create with my vulnerable, weak & poor willed imagination. I realize it's a problem but I can't decide if I need to form a support group or a rock house...

For your own bemusement, here is how I would answer the question "What is in your cupboard?" To me, they are inessential essentials: I could get by without them, but why should I? There is often a use for them in something I am interested in creating.


In addition to the standards - pepper, salt, basil, oregano, thyme, etc. - here's the list:

Smoked Paprika
Urfa Pepper
Aleppo Pepper
Marjoram
Sage
Cardamom
Curry Leaf
Lemon Grass
Kaffir Lime Leaf
Tamarind Paste
Pomegranate Molasses
Rose Water
Rose Paste
Za'atar
Grains of Paradise
Sumac
Espazote
assorted dried spicy chiles, mostly extremely hot
Smoked Salt

Chocolate

and some curious & useful ingredients such as Bolivian Rose salt, Coconut & Lime Smoked salt from Bali, and Mango powder, which we found was great to put into smoothies.

I won't bother explaining what they are here or how you might use them - I'll leave that up to your own imagination & for your own discovery - but I did want to mention a few books that you will find worth checking out.

Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Anna Sortun, the owner & chef of Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge, MA.

Cheryl received this book belatedly for her birthday in 2006, and it came so close to my own birthday that I saw it as a highly auspicious arrival. We haven't tried too many of the recipes yet - we are slowly savoring the joy of discovery and exploration - but Cheryl did make me a wonderful birthday meal using several recipes from it. Auspicious, I tell you.

Ethnic cuisine: The flavor-principle cook book by Elizabeth Rozin. This one may be a little hard to track down, but it is a great book to use for getting started in better understanding the correlation between spices & cuisine. She has also written several other books including Crossroads Cooking: The Meeting and Mating of Ethnic Cuisines - from Burma to Texas in 200 Recipes & Ethnic Cuisine: How to Create the Authentic Flavors of Over 30 International Cuisines.

Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook by Joetta Handrich Schlabach. This book has a great selection of simple to make recipes from cultures all over the world. I believe there is a companion cook book published as well. It can also be found at 10,000 Villages.

1 comment:

cheryl said...

sweetie - Such a wonderful and well written post! You're making me blush!

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)