This week I got an e-mail from Rich saying, “My brother inherited Grandpa and Grandma’s house. He cooks, but they had no spices in the house. What are the basics he should have in his kitchen for simple, but exciting meals? I would greatly appreciate your comments!”
I have often heard to look at your 10 favorite recipes and keep the ingredients necessary to make them in your pantry all the time and that may be a very good way to start your personal spice and herb collection. These days there are dozens of spice mixtures available as well as collections of the necessary flavors for regional and international cuisines but the lists that follow suggest a few basic herbs and spices as well as two classic spice blends to get you started. If you want to add spice or herb mixtures to your collection be sure to look for ones that are salt free.
For Cooking: I’d start with Black peppercorns (or ground pepper), Cayenne, Cumin (ground), Oregano leaves, Paprika (sweet), Rosemary leaves, and Thyme leaves as well as salt-free versions of the spice blends, Chili powder and Curry powder. As soon as possible, I’d add Bay leaves (Turkish), Marjoram leaves, Mustard (dry), Paprika (smoked and hot), Red pepper flakes, and Tarragon.
For Baking: I’d start with Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Nutmeg, and Vanilla, and as soon as you can add Allspice and Cloves.