When we were in Ohio my SIL Connie and I were discussing their traditional "cookie day".
This is when her daughters come over to the house for an all day bake fest and distribution of the Christmas cookies they had made. When I told Connie that I didn't have that "bake and swap" relationship with any of the women I know down South, she invited me to come back up to bake with them.
"I just might have to do that." I told her. "SM can hang out with Ron, watch football and do all the taste testing."
Which then had Connie rummaging through her recipes for Ron's favorite diabetic cookie. One of the spices in it was ground gloves. I mentioned that I'd never used ground gloves before and that had Connie whipping out a box of spices that her brother had given to her as a gift.
"Smell this." She said, opening the jar of ground cloves. Wow.
I noticed the label on the jar. Penzeys Spices.
Hm. Never heard of em. But Connie is a convert and swears by the quality.
We then sat there sniffing spices like drug addicts and flipping through the catalogs that they send to her now that she's a customer. She told me to take one with me when we left along with a small sample container of the ground clove.
When we left to drive up to Cleveland for the wedding, we had a few hours to burn so I suggested we head over to the West Side Market which turned out to be nirvana for a certain middle aged polish boy I happen to know.
SM has been jones-ing for some good kielbasa (sausage) and kolaczki (cookie) ever since we moved.
Boy, were his eyes BIG as we wandered around the busy market. We bought some cookies but I didn't want to deal with storing fresh meat on the road so we collected business cards instead with the plan to have the stuffed shipped down to us closer to the holidays.
We also noticed that there was a Penzeys store across the street so we headed over.
They had samples of all the spices they sold out so you could sniff before you bought them. Man did that store smell good. This time SM and I indulged and bought some excellent Vietnamese cinnamon, pure vanilla extract, smokey seasoned salt and some chicken soup base. SM also had to have a tin of their hot cocoa mix.
Since my stove is on the fritz, I haven't had the chance to bake with any of my new spices yet. I did make SM some oatmeal using the cinnamon and vanilla and he says the flavor is yummy. We grilled some chicken and chops and used the smokey salt on it. Nice change.
SM is the foodie in the family but even I'm looking forward to the holidays where I'll be baking up goodies and feasting on some authentic polish sausage.