Twelve Days of Spice-Mas

AllSpiceGiftsUnderTreeDid you realize? There are only twelve days left until New Year’s Day. Which, of course, reminds us of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song.

But seriously? Maids a-milking? Drummers drumming? Lords a-leaping? How are you going to fit all those people (and cows) in your living room? Other than FIIIIVE GOLLLLDEN RIIIIINGS, would you really want any of those traditional “Twelve Days of Christmas” gifts anyway?

You know what would be really cool? If that song was all about the best spicy holiday flavors: The Twelve Days of Spice-mas, if you will.

So here they are, not really in any particular order (except the last one) —

Day One: Cinnamon. From dense carrot cake and main dishes, to hot drinks like chai tea and spiced cider, who knew that tree bark could be so versatile? Here are lots of recipes using cinnamon. (We carry cinnamon sticks and spice from Saigon, Sri Lanka and Indonesia).

Day Two: Cloves. Ground cloves add depth to desserts and cookies like gingerbread, and whole cloves are often used to “stud” hams and pork. Check out these recipes using cloves.

Day Three: Nutmeg. Nutmeg is the spice many of us associate with holiday treats: apple and pumpkin pies, cookies, spice cakes, eggnog.** Good in savory dishes, too. See a full selection of Nutmeg recipes here.

Day Four: Ginger. A staple of holiday cooking today, ginger was used to fight the plague in the Middle Ages. How do you want it? We sell ginger crushed, ground, crystallized, diced and sliced – every way you need it to make Triple Ginger Cookies (kit available here), fancy soups, spicy nuts and more.

Day Five: Vanilla. Delicious with complementary flavors like chocolate and coffee, our vanilla beans, paste and extracts (and yummy vanilla sugar) has a creamy, sweet, velvety flavor that is perfectly suited for a range of foods from baked goods and candies to ice creams, and even salad dressings to barbeque sauces.

Day Six: Peppermint. It’s not just for candy canes: you can use peppermint extract in all kinds of holiday cooking: ice cream, candy, cookies, cakes, baked goods. Peppermint is especially bracing when paired with chocolate [the darker, the better!]. Our peppermint extract is strong, so use just a little to flavor a whole batch of frosting or candy. Check out our peppermint recipes here.

Day Seven: Hot Chocolate and Cacao Nibs. This week’s blizzard got us in a holiday mood, and gave us a hankering for some really good hot chocolate. Ours is organic and fair trade — just add not milk. Pair it with some (organic fair trade) cacao nibs — straight, or in one of these dessert recipes.

Day Eight: Worcestershire Powder. What? Not familiar with this special holiday ingredient? Worcestershire Powder is the secret ingredient in both Chef Amy’s Spicy Chex Mix — and her amazing Bloody Mary drinks.

Day Nine: Pie Spices. Sure, you can make pie with our Apple Pie Spice Blend, and our Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend, but did you know they’re also delicious in cakes, breakfast pancakes, batter breads, hot tea and coffee (!), and oatmeal?

Day Ten: Maple Sugar Powder. Easily dissolved in hot drinks, and a delicious addition to wintry breakfast foods, Maple Sugar Powder is also delicious in these shortbread cookies, or sprinkled on top of other desserts.

Day Eleven: Mulling Spice Blend. It is almost worth the weather getting cold and gray every winter, knowing that we have warm spiced drinks to look forward to again. Our Mulling Spice Blend jazzes up apple cider, tea, or wine for a festive holiday drink — and makes your house smell delicious.

Day Twelve (New Year’s Day): Snack Time. Many cultural traditions dictate that what you do at the start of a new year sets the precedent for what happens in the year ahead. Why take a chance of a bad year with yucky Jan. 1 snacks? Play it safe, and kick off 2013 with the very best snacks: Beer and Cheese Dip with raw veg, Roasted Chickpeas, this State Fair Award-winning Chili Snack Mix, a big bowl of popcorn sprinkled with our Cheddarhead Seasoning, or our exclusive Tangy Herb Dill Blend.  Any of these (plus your special favorites) are sure to bring good fortune in the new year.

**[Little-known non-culinary fact: Nutmeg contains myristicin, which is reputed to be a strong deliriant [i.e., makes you delirious]. Never mind that it can make humans sleep for over 72 hours, one site says, “it is recommended not to feed eggnog to dogs.” Um, okay.]