Thursday, September 9, 2010

Herb/Spice Mix Day - 3 Spice Mixes I Cannot Live Without

Hey there Hy There Ho There Mouseketeers.... um, I mean Food Blogeteers.

As we all remember, Wednesdays are "Anything Can Happen Day"!

Go ahead, click the little arrow so you too can have the "Anything Can Happen Day" theme song running through your head (and look for the all too brief Annette appearance during roll call, and you will see why she remains my first true love... but I digress)

Whenever I mix my spices, I have in the back of my mind that with these three mixes, in my oven and stovetop, anything can and does happen.  I made  a batch of each 3 weeks ago, and I am almost out of each. So, on Wednesday of this week, with visions of a dancing Annette doing an Arabesque, I made a fresh batch of my mixes.

I have three "signature" spice mixes that I always keep on hand.  I freely substitute my "Sodom and Gomorrah" black and white sesame seed/garlic flake/sea salt mix for table salt.  I can easily add a little brown sugar to my "Big Easy in a Jar" Cajun spice blackening mix to create a BBQ rub.  And my beloved "Not your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence" has turned into my most used mixture.  Having a baggie on hand makes it easy to make a loaf of herb bread, or add za za zing to anything from savory bread pudding to potato salad to soups.

I have been known to whip up other mixes on a need to basis, but one of these three are used almost everyday in my kitchen.

Best of all is the taste, but second best of all, it saves money to make your own mixes...  Those pre-made grocery store blends are usually out of date (freshness wise) before they make it to the store.  I know exactly how old my mixes are and get the maximum taste from each.  But, not to be ignored, buy the raw ingredients and mix your own and you save the substantial costs of the middleman.

But not to be ignored is the salt factor.  With the exception of "Sodom and Gommorah",   Salt is not the dominate spice (and even in S&H, it is an even mix).  High Fructose Corn Syrup is the most evil of food crimes perpetrated on us (and sponsored by our tax dollars... but I digress), the amount of salt in processed foods is evil as well.  When you make your own mixes, you control the taste, expense and the amount of salt.

When you make your own, you are a cook.

It may take a little letting your fingers do the walking to track down your towns spice store.  If you live in or near a town of a hundred thousand people, I would bet there are several options for you; from an expensive specialty store to a labor of love, ethnic grocery, to maybe (like me) your local big time farmer's market features a spice guy.  These stores are worth the hunt.  These stores are worth supporting economically.

Alternatively, there are many many spice stores on-line.  Plan ahead and your front stoop becomes a spice store.  A simple Google search for "spice store" came up with dozens of choices.  It also led to a discussion thread of which was the better choice (click HERE).

Saves money...

Tastes better...

Controlling Salt intake...

Convenient (and fun) to find...

But wait, just a couple suggestions...

  • Mix with your hands.  It will help to break up clumps if you can feel them.
  • Use consistent proportions.  If you are experimenting to get the right mix for you, write down what you did.  Once you get a mix you like, you want to be able to recreate it.  I do my formulas in "parts".  You can make big batches using cups as a part, or smaller ones using teaspoons as a part.  But my big batches and small batches should taste the same in a recipe.
  • Store properly.  Once you have your mix, store in an airtight container (I use ziplock bags).  Also, dry and dark... If you use up the mixes as fast as I do (once a month or so is my Anything Can Happen Spice Day), tossing your baggies in a drawer is fine.  If yours lasts a little longer, seal the bags in a tupperware bowl, burp the lid and store in the fridge.  Air, moisture and light will weaken the flavor.

OMG, enough already... let's get cracking... Here are my three must makes...


Black and White Sesame Seed with Garlic Flakes and Sea Salt

This is the easy one...

Equal parts...

  • 1 part Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 part dry Garlic Flakes
  • 1 part White Sesame Seeds (the Sodom)
  • 1 part Black Sesame Seeds (the Gomorrah)

the Big Easy in a Jar

Cajun - Blackening Spice Mix

  • 1 part Garlic Flakes
  • 1 part Onion Flakes
  • 1 part Dried Thyme Leaves
  • 1 part Dried Oregano
  • 1 part Black Pepper
  • 1 part White Pepper
  • 1 part Lemon Pepper
  • 1/2 (one half) part Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 part Ground Bay Leaves
  • 4 parts Sweet Paprika
This is a great little spice to have around.  Add brown sugar (1/2 the amount of spice mix) to make a BBQ rub.  And add a little to a soup to zing it up.


Not Your Grandmother's
Herbes de Provence

A Mediterranean mixture perfect to add to most anything that calls for several herbs

  • 1 part dried Tarragon
  • 1 part dried Oregano
  • 1 part dried Dill
  • 1 part dried Thyme
  • 1 part dried Rosemary
  • 1 part dried Garlic Flakes
  • 1/2 part Sea Salt
  • 1/2 part Fresh ground Pepper
  • 1/2 part dried Lemon Zest
You will be amazed how much you use this mix.  Really adds a lot of flavor to almost anything.


Got a favorite of the three, sprinkle a little on your morning eggs...

How about next time you are making bread, do an egg wash and sprinkle a little of the mix of your choice on the top for a "be a cook" look to your efforts.  And my, my, my does your kitchen smell great when you bake using the "Sodom and Gomorrah" Sesame/Garlic/Sea Salt mix.

And fresh sweet corn with real butter and one of these mixes... Well, once you go mixed, you'll never go back!


So, that's how I spent my "Anything Can Happen Day".  I slept well knowing that I have a drawer full of extra flavors I can add to my food at the drop of a hat (and one quick dream of Annette that I really don't want to talk about... but I digress)

Do you have a favorite mix that you always keep in stock, what's your favorite way to use 'em?



  1. I love checking out spice shops and have been mixing my own for years. I've invested in some stainless steel containers to store them in...keeps the light out! Buying in bulk you can also replace seldom used or spices that end up at the bottom of the jar easily and cheaply! Thanks for sharing your recipes!!

  2. What a great post! I have a few rubs that I keep premixed together, but it seems like every time I need to mix spices I just do it right then for the recipe. I'll bet I'd use the mixes more often if I premade them and stored them that way. Thanks!

  3. dave, you need to start marketing these. I mean with names like Not Your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence and Sodom and Gomorrah...they would be instant top sellers. I'm serious.

  4. When I was a much younger person I might have fractured a law or two and having a bag of herbs would have meant something else.

    Alexis and I were laughing about that last weekend because all of our bags of our dried oregano, basil in our kitchen.

    Thanks for sharing these three mixes Dave, I'll be trying them for sure.

  5. I just found your blog and am having fun! I'm intrigued by your spice mixtures. I have finally discovered that I just do not like dried thyme (tastes like dirt to me). Should I just leave it out or replace it with something else like like basil?? Or should I leave it in and hope that in a mixture such as this that it is not so noticeable. Please, I would love your suggestions. These would make great gifts in cute little jars. Can you tell I'm excited??

  6. After reading you Rosemary bread post; I had to come and check this one out. Nothing beats home made; that herbes de Provence is a must try. Thanks Dave.