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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?

Monday, June 16, 2008

A week of living & eating well

The past week has been one of eating & eating & more eating. Cheryl's birthday was on Sunday, June 8th, & our good friend Keith had his birthday earlier on the 4th. Usually plans are made to have a joint birthday bash centering around an outdoor cookout, but both Keith & Cheryl weren't feeling up to planning and coordinating such an event, so they opted for a small, quiet dinner at Green Street Café in Northampton with Chrissie, James & Alicia joining us.

Keith is our resident foodie & self-made sommelier, and with it being Northampton's Restaurant Week, he'd already been out tasting the local fare every evening. We started off with a nice white wine, which Keith chose & we drank. The featured pre-fixe menu offered Sorrel Soup, Garden Salad with Great Hill Blue Cheese, Snails and New Potatoes in Parchment for appetizers; Entrées offered were Spring Vegetable Risotto, Chicken Escoffier, and Scallops for the catch of the day; for dessert there was Crème brûlée, Goat Cheese Cake, Chocolate Torte & a Carmel Tart. We pretty much tried every item on the menu, excepting the snails, which they had just run out of, and it was a wonderful meal and great company. We'll have to return sometime when it isn't restaurant week. Just around the corner was Bistro Les Gras; Alicia dashed in there just before we met up with Keith, Chrissie and James at Green Street Café to find a present for Keith. They have a wonderful selection of fresh cheeses and condiments available from their take out counter.

The next morning we made sourdough pancakes, fruit smoothies & chocolate pudding cupcakes for Cheryl's birthday, and for dinner Cheryl and I went to Arigato for Sushi in Amherst.

Cheryl's parents were expected to arrive sometime on Monday and would be with us through the week, so we figured we were in for plenty of eating. It's nice to live in the Pioneer Valley area, which in it's own way is sort of an arcade of eaterys; we have yet to try most of the places in the area since we pretty much stick to the ones that have become our favorites: Mi Tierra, Osaka, Soo Ra, Esselon and Gohyhang Korean Restaurant. Of course there are many, many more, but these ones always top the list when we consider going out to eat, especially if we have guests with us.

Monday evening, in an effort to beat off the heat wave that came for most of the week, we went to the Brewery in Northampton. Unfortunately for us, their air conditioner had conked out, so it was only slightly cooler inside than it was outside. Tuesday involved a trip to the outlet stores in Lee, and upon returning we stopped at Webster's Fish Hook restaurant for a huge mess of fried seafood. Then there was Wednesday...

Wednesday was sort of a centerpiece dining experience since Cheryl's parents wanted to go to the Summer Shack in Cambridge. We actually paced ourselves for this event, since we knew we could eat plenty of seafood in so many different variations and combinations. Well, we tried to, but eating at the Summer Shack is an extremely filling experience and I still felt full the next day. All in all it was an enjoyable meal which I would try to recreate here if it all wasn't such a hypnotic blur and, without the aid of a menu I don't know if I can piece together all of the components. Alicia, our bff, (every writer should strive to prove that they can slang with the best of them) joined us there, and we started with drinks, which for most of us were Mojitos. I opted for a local beer. Appetizers included sushi, crab and corn fritters and oysters; entrées included lobster, lobster rolls, & wood grilled Jamaican Jerked Swordfish with sides of asparagus broiled with parmesan & brown butter, and crispy fried vidalia onion strings. We all shared a slice of chocolate cake and three scoops of ice cream which included one scoop of Grand Marnier.

Before Cheryl's parents arrived, she received a three pound package which contained mostly licorice in a variety of styles, plus some sweet coffee candy. We continued this with a stop at an old fashioned candy store that still stocks hard to get discontinued candies from your childhood: buttons, salty licorice, teaberry & clove gum and other goodies. We picked up more licorice, some Necco wafers, anise drops, clove drops & malted milk balls. I was hoping that they might carry the rare, long sought after Screaming Yellow Zonkers that I loved as a child, but that seems to be long gone, along with the quavering soprano timbre of my adolescent voice.

Earlier in the week I had begun planning/ preparing a meal for Cheryl's parents, which we finally got around to having on Thursday evening. We had Asian seasoned country style pork ribs, fresh asparagus from Hadley, mixed braised greens from our farm share & a chilled pasta salad made of Chinese noodles, shitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, scallions & sesame seeds (I'll be writing out the recipe for this soon). This included a sweet & sour tamarind chili sauce and a hot & sweet mustard sauce for the ribs. I made the ever popular ginger syrup to sweeten our iced tea with, and afterwards, we all went to Creamy Delights for soft serve ice cream.

Saturday evening we had Nate and Jen Orie over for dinner. It was a fun evening of sharing and discussing ideas about art and collaboration which left us inspired for what possibilities the future may have for us all - always a well needed boost of encouragement. Get togethers like this always inspire me by how great Cheryl is at sharing and bringing out the artistic & creative potential in others. It's a trait I admire & love in her. For dinner I made smoked salmon fillets seasoned with my Afrikan Malayan Curry Blend & grilled over mesquite wood chips, served with grilled asparagus from Hadley, summer squash & garlic scapes from our farm share (as well as a side salad of mixed greens, carrots, radishes and turnips that Cheryl made, including her own herb dressing), basmati rice with coconut milk, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaf; home made onion bread and home made strawberry ginger sorbet. The strawberries are also from our farm share. It was a very delicious meal and I'll have some recipes for it all soon.

It was a good week of great eating & sharing with family and friends. This really is what our lives are all about and we rarely get to have so much of it concentrated and packed fully into such a short span of time; it's like all of our birthdays & Easter & Christmas & Thanksgiving rolled up altogether. Despite my feeling the need to decompress & fast from so much food, it seems so dreamy & comforting to think that life not only can be this way but it often is.

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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)