We all have certain spices that we rely on when we cook. I would wager most of us have our basics that we saw our parents use frequently and those would have informed our tastes. My most basic spices are fresh ground black pepper and salt. I guess I use those two in over 95% of things I make. The next most common things I add are Worcestershire Sauce, minced garlic, and onion. Beyond this, well, there are a whole host of spices available in the world.

Spice rack

Spice Rack

One of the difficult things about spices is finding – and using – fresh spices. I know that right now in my spice rack I have outdated spices. I will see a recipe that looks interesting and it will call for some spice that I do not regularly use, I go and purchase it, use it then it sits in the rack waiting forlornly until next called upon to add some flavor.

Depending on what I am cooking, I add more or fewer spices. When I make a pot of chili, I add the chili powder, red peppers (powder and flakes), cumin, oregano, garlic, onion, and paprika. The fried chicken usually just gets salt and pepper though occasionally I add garlic salt and/or paprika. Beef stew will get the garlic, onion, bay leaf, and Worcestershire sauce. Pot roast gets a little garlic rub to go with the salt and pepper. Meat loaf gets salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onion, chopped celery, and maybe a touch of paprika.

As I say, I use a very small, basic group of spices yet I do experiment occasionally, based on recipes and wind up with those one off use spices setting on the rack gathering dust.

What are your go to spices? What are the spices that you might try one time then let sit on the rack for years at a time? Are there any spices that you have discovered that have become a standard part of your cooking style? Let’s talk about those speecy spicy meatballs.


Photo from Vagabond Shutterbug licensed under Creative Commons