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Spicing Up Your Shelves

If variety is the spice of life, then, according to my kitchen logic, a variety of spices can contribute to both the craft and the finesse of cooking solo! Starting with flavors you know already enjoy, whether it’s a Mexican blend in taco seasoning or Italian herbs for pasta, you can build a spice shelf that becomes part of your weekly food preparation.  However, buying dry herbs and spices can be frustrating since they often spend far too long on a store shelf, losing their peak flavor.

As with many parts of ingredient shopping, seeking out a specialty shop will yield superior products and knowledgeable shop owners whose passion for food preparation will become beneficial. A company I cannot recommend more highly is Penzeys Spices, Their products are highly useful in stocking a kitchen for solo eating. Most of their spices can be purchased in varying sizes, including tiny jars, often less than ½ cup in quantity. These are ideal for small quantity cooking, trying new flavor blends and utilizing them before they become stale.

The quality of their products and customer service is excellent as shown by their growth to 69 retail stores, in 29 states.   Their website is tremendously popular.  I am not receiving any compensation for my enthusiasm but have been a customer for decades since they are based in my hometown of Milwaukee, WI.  Sign up for their on line mailing list and you will receive fantastic special deals on products and lots of preparation ideas.

Their spice blends can have multiple uses. Dehydrated veggies including garlic, onion, peppers, and celery are certainly useful to us preparing solo meals when we don’t want to purchase a large quantity of fresh vegetables that we are not sure if we will use.

Stocking spices will be a useful way to turn basic items into a variety of flavors.  A routine comfort food like a baked potato can be varied with various ethnic flavors and preparations. Even when preparing food for one, you will start to bake four potatoes at a time as you expand your planning for future meals.

To bake potatoes, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash four medium Idaho or Russet potatoes. Rub the wet potatoes with coarse salt. Place in oven. Start to test after 45 minutes. Bake until a fork that punctures a potato shows that it is soft completely to the middle. 

The first baked potato, popped open in its jacket, can be a warming meal by adding toppings and some microwaved frozen broccoli.  You many have sour cream and shredded cheese on hand because nachos are already one of your quick options.  

The remaining potatoes can be diced into a potato salad for lunches to be taken to work or school, simply by tossing with an Italian vinaigrette, dry basil, salt and dehydrated onion and pepper. Or, they can be refrigerated then later chopped and sautéed with olive oil as a companion to eggs or chicken. My current potato favorites are chili powder and salt or Greek spice blend and lemon pepper.

A crucial step in cooking solo is effectively stocking your kitchen shelves.  Having seasonings on hand provides a framework for food preparation that is less of a chore.

Photo Nov 21, 10 07 04 PM