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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, May 29, 2009

what's for dinner?

Only because I haven't posted in a long, long time & I don't want the one person who follows my blog religiously to feel abandoned - and because I'm using this as a reasonably plausible excuse to warm up by writing here rather than working on several other articles - I'm going to write about our dinner last night. If I can wake up or get enough coffee in my system to write coherent sentences with words that at least phonetically resemble the ones I'm trying to use. Honestly, I'm stumbling through this paragraph as I try to type what has already fleetingly passed through my drowsy head, but there is hope - I haven't had to resort to using the spell check so far. Hooray for small accomplishments and double hooray for more coffee!

We are starting to reap the first of the local seasonal produce here, which includes rhubarb and asparagus. The asparagus grows so abundantly here that they call it "Hadley Grass", presumably after the prominent farming township that gets to tag it's name and notoriety with the crop. If you like asparagus, you will love it even more when it comes fresh from the local fields. It really can't be beat, and for a very brief period Hadley goes into an orgy-istic asparagus frenzy, snapping up the fresh stalks and putting them into everything, including ICE CREAM. I kid you not. While I have yet to try it, they get points for culinary daring. Maybe someday this season I'll give it a try.

While asparagus does play a role in this post, I'm going to pass over it for a moment and start with dessert first.

Last night Cheryl made an incredible Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, and while strawberries aren't quite in season here, we were able to get some rhubarb fresh from the garden patch next to the farm. Since she made it, I don't have the recipe sitting on the top of my head at the moment, but I might be able to procure it for another post. All the better reason for you to come and visit so you can enjoy Cheryl's Strawberry Rhubarb pie or any of her other amazing desserts first hand.

For dinner I made a simple pasta with a garlic cream sauce and broiled asparagus. Here, approximately, are the recipes. For those of you joining me for the first time, be forewarned - I don't use measurements when I cook, and while I try to recreate a recipe with as much practical accuracy as possible, it is still an approximate. It works for me, which is why I'll share it, but you might get different results. That's the fun and beauty of improvisation. I recommend that you try out any recipe on yourself before using it for that great big dinner party you have having this weekend.

Garlic Cream Sauce

6 Tablespoons of Butter
5 - 6 fresh Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 fresh Onion, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh Sage, chiffonade
1 - 2 teaspoons Marjoram
1 pint of Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

1 lb of pasta (we used linguine)

Prepare the pasta as instructed by the directions on the box, which usually involves plenty of water, some salt and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Bring the water, salt and olive oil to a boil and then put your pasta in it, being careful to make sure the pasta doesn't stick and clump together. Cook for about 5 to seven minutes until al dente or longer if you prefer.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add the garlic and onion and let cook thoroughly. Add the cream, sage, marjoram and your salt and pepper. Cook it on medium to high heat until it begins to rise and thicken, making sure that it doesn't boil over. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, while the rest of your meal cooks.

This amount made enough for four meals. We are always big on leftovers for lunch.

Braised Asparagus

1/4 to 1/2 Cups Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 - 2 teaspoons Sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix well.

Fire up your broiler. Take one pound of fresh asparagus & remove the woody stems by gently bending them. They will break at about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Discard the bottoms. Lay the asparagus out on a baking sheet and evenly brush the marinade over them. You might want to leave a little in case you want to brush them again about half way through braising. Cook them in your broiler for about 3 - 4 minutes, rotating them at least once. You want to braise them slightly so that the are tender but still firm.

Serve with you pasta, either on top or on the side.

For dessert, get your spouse, your significant other or personal assistant to make you a really nice Strawberry Rhubarb pie. For a nominal fee, Cheryl just might be up for making it for you. Give her a call.

Bon Appétit!

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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)