Penzey’s Deserves Your Support.

Bill Penzey is a genuinely good guy, and he runs a genuinely good company, Penzeys Spices.

Penzeys deserves your business
Penzeys deserves your business

Now, I’m the kind of person who demands great quality from the companies I do business with, and when it comes to herbs and spices, I simply won’t screw around – And neither should you. There are three outfits I love and buy from regularly – Penzeys, World Spice, and Butcher & Packer.

Personally, my criterion for being a regular goes beyond the quality of the goods – It also encompasses the quality of the company and the people who run it. All three of the companies I referenced herein are good ones that treat their people well.

And in these truly turbulent times, there’s one of the three who stands head and shoulders above the rest, for taking a stand – A stand for what’s right, and very pointedly, a stand against what’s wrong.

That outfit is Bill Penzeys, and as you’ll see below, he’s not afraid to address big ticket issues, or to call out those who need to be called out. Believe you me, he’s taken some heat for it – His company has been targeted by the right for boycotting, and it’s had some impact on them. Fortunately, as he notes below, there are more good folks who’ve come to support him than there are boycotters, but a bunch more won’t hurt any.

if you find yourself of a like mind, and in need of some great herbs and spices, head over to their site, (or see if they’ve got a store near you, and head on in there). Buy some stuff from them, and if you like it, (which you will), repeat said process regularly. Read what he says here, and subscribe to his newsletter. Show good people and businesses that others of like mind hear, agree, and support their efforts – It’s what good people do in trying times.

Bill writes,

Monday is Captain Boycott’s Birthday. Celebrate with
Free Shipping with just $20 in spending instead of $30
$1 Pie Spice & Garlic—$2 Sandwich & Italian Herb—
What if we no longer turned a blind eye to those corporations that lobby and buy politicians to bulldoze the public good for their own gain? In Florida and across the nation, young people are leading the way. What if we said enough is enough and followed their lead?

Captain Boycott’s birthday is this Monday, March 12. History has its lessons and it’s looking more and more like we are on the way to relearning one of them. But it’s a good one. In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and in the incredible bravery of its students since, there is real hope that the corporations that lobby and buy politicians, and the politicians that are willing to be purchased, will no longer be able to escape the consequences of their actions.

Older generations have, for some reason, been more comfortable looking the other way as the same industries time and again have used unlimited political spending and lobbying to make windfall profits off the destruction of the public good. These kids are having none of this. What they’ve already achieved is huge, but if history is any indicator, it’s in where all this is going next that the real hope for lasting change lives.

The lesson of Captain Boycott’s day, and why his name is a word we all know, is that the advantages of wealth and privilege are not limitless. In the times where those who already have so much use their advantages not to help those less privileged, but to take ever more for themselves, inevitably a tipping point gets reached. At some point the people come together and say enough is enough. In the actions of the students challenging the NRA, and the nation’s support of the students, there are all the signs that we are once again arriving at this tipping point.

Now is the time to support this new generation and join with them in taking on those corporations that are anything but good citizens, and the politicians who willingly accept their payments. Please let them know you admire their strength to walk out this coming Wednesday the 14th at 10:00am for 17 minutes in remembrance of those lives taken one month before. And if possible, march with them March 24 in Washington and in cities across the country. Now’s the time to turn the tide. Help them seize the opportunity.

What comes next may well be what future historians will call “exciting times.” The Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have already exposed just how precarious the NRA’s power is, and just how vulnerable the politicians are who’ve accepted the NRA’s money. But this might just be the tip of the iceberg. In the wake of the Citizens United ruling that made unlimited corporate spending in politics legal, we’ve given a free pass to the corporations doing that spending. What if this is the end of that free pass?

What if this is a wake-up call to all those planning this very type of spending in the upcoming midterm elections that, just like the NRA, you too will no longer be allowed to escape the responsibility for your actions? Just like in Captain Boycott’s time, those who have mistaken wealth and connections for power could well be in for a shock at just how fast what they had perceived as power evaporates, and the wealth with it too, when the people decide enough is enough and that the corruption has to go.

So we are celebrating and drawing attention to the Captain’s birthday with Free Shipping with just $20 in spending rather than the usual $30, and really good prices on four great Spices. Of course we too have been facing our own boycott for nearly a year and a half now. It’s had its impact, but it’s going the wrong direction, and that makes it a lot less effective than the original boycott, and the ones that I suspect all the corporations funding the Republican Party will soon be facing.

At the heart of it, we are being boycotted for calling out those promoting inequality. The good thing is that, in America, being for equality still brings in more people than it sends away. Of course it is only through your word of mouth that new people are replacing those who have at least temporarily left. We are greatly appreciative of that. With this in mind, each of the four Spices we are featuring at just a buck or two are great to pick up for yourself, but each also makes a great introduction to Penzeys for anyone you think would appreciate what we do. So please, pick up a few extras to share.

Our Granulated Garlic is a joy. No bitterness, just light, bright Garlic pleasure. Good stuff. And at just $1, rather than the usual $3.45, now’s the time to pick up a few extra for the Garlic lovers in your life. There’s rumors too that Garlic drives away NRA spokespeople, but I wouldn’t know anything about that. To see our Garlic click this link:

Italian Herb earned its place among history’s great Spice blends a long time ago. And with just how good our Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary and Thyme are, they make this blend a gift for the ages. Salads, pasta, chicken, fish, steak, burgers and pizza so easily take on the flavor of greatness with just a couple of shakes. So Simple. So Tasty. And just $2. For Italian Herb click this link:

Sandwich Sprinkle is making lunch memorable across this great country. As Americans, we really do love sandwiches, and Sandwich Sprinkle makes every sandwich even more lovable. And Versatile. There are those who call it Salad Sprinkle and it makes for tasty Garlic bread/croutons, too. Don’t miss this chance to give it a try for only 2 bucks. To learn more about Sandwich Sprinkle click this link:

And please don’t forget Pi day, March 14 (3.14), is a day to celebrate math, science, and all those who spend their lives working to bring us the honest information we need to understand the real world around us. And a good time for Pie, too. Pie Spice is a Cinnamon-rich blend great for Pie, but equally at home in cookies, cakes, French toast, hot or cold cereal, and even sprinkled over a cup of coffee. And at just $1 per jar, rather than the usual $3.95, it is a great introduction to everything we are about. Please pass out a few.

To see our Pie Spice just click this link:

No coupons or codes are needed for any of these great prices either in our stores or online at Just remember that the free shipping with just $20 in spending expires at midnight Pacific time on Monday March 12, so as they say, “act now.”

Thanks for your support,

Bill Penzey

And as always, please like our page and, even more importantly, share this post with those you think would appreciate it. We don’t have free shipping with just $20 spending that often, and it really does help for those placing a first order to give us a try. — Thanks again.

And I just have to say the art of these new up-and-coming post-millennial Penzeys brings me happiness. Love that is not passive at all but with horns and a mischievous grin. And those eyebrows! This is the Love with the strength to change the world.

Morning Glory Muffins

I grew up on Concord, Massachusetts, in the 1960s. Yeah, that Concord – Old North Bridge, Shot heard ‘round the world – you know the place. What I’ll bet you don’t know about, unless you too lived there, was the Concord Bowlarena, one of my favorite local haunts. I spent many a happy Saturday morning there, enjoying a true New England pastime. I live out west now, and unless you hail from my birthplace, you’re probably not familiar with the kind of bowling I’m referencing – It’s called Candlepin, and it was invented in 1880 in Worcester, Mass, (that’s pronounced Woostah, by the way). And yeah, I know the title of this is Morning Glory Muffins – Trust me, I’ll get there.

The Bowlarena, gone but not forgotten
The Bowlarena, gone but not forgotten

Candlepin is notably different beast from the Tenpin bowling most of us are accustomed to. The Pins are skinnier, taller, and well, look kinda like candles. And the balls, well, that’s where things really get interesting – Where a tenpin ball is around 8 1/2”, weigh up to 16 pounds, and requires holes in them to be able to even grasp, a candlepin ball weighs no more than 2 pounds 7 ounces, and has a diameter no larger than 4 1/2” inches. This means that, even when relatively young, you can hold a candlepin ball in your palm and throw it, in the local parlance, wicked hahd, (very fast).

Candlepin bowling - A New England thing
Candlepin bowling – A New England thing

Sadly. the Concord Bowlarena is long gone, but it certainly isn’t forgotten. There was also food at the Bowlarena – a genuine ‘Luncheon Counter’ – and pretty dang good food at that, much of it scratch made. Run by the Smethurst family, and headed by Chet Smethurst, the alley was a fun, safe, and tasty place to go.

There’s a page on Facebook dedicated to those of us who grew up there, and somebody recently started a thread about the bowling alley. And with that, someone mentioned Morning Glory muffins – Now, those folks are younger than I am, and I’d moved away before these showed up on the Bowlarena menu. But the effusive praise for the muffin got me poking around, and is it turns out, the Morning Glory muffin is a New England original.

Nantucket’s Old South Wharf
Nantucket’s Old South Wharf

The muffin in question was first whipped up by Pam McKinstry, the Chef/Owner of the namesake Morning Glory Cafe, in business from 1978 to 1994, the old south wharf of Nantucket. This was the late 70s, when granola and healthy stuff like bran muffins was in its heyday. Legend has it that Gourmet magazine published the recipe in 1991, and 10 years later, listed it as one of their all time top 25 favorites, but I wasn’t able to find attribution to verify that last fact – Nonetheless, it’s a great muffin and worth a bake in your kitchen.

Morning Glory Muffins, a New England original
Morning Glory Muffins, a New England original

Just as the original recipe made it to the Concord Bowlarena, it made it to a bunch of kitchens, so count on the fact that there are plenty of alternative version out there – Try a batch, and then turn it into your own – Here’s our swing at it.

Morning Glory Muffins

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups grated fresh Carrot
1 Cup Avocado Oil
3/4 Cup Bakers Sugar
1/2 Cup Honey
3 large Eggs
1 Cup crushed Pineapple
1 Honey Crisp Apple
1/2 Cup Raisins
1/2 Cup shredded Coconut
1/2 Cup chopped Pecans
1 Tablespoon ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Position a rack in the middle slot of your oven and preheat to 350° F.

Line 16 muffin cups with liners, (or grease lightly with butter).

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt – whisk to incorporate thoroughly.

Peel and grate apple.

Add carrots, apple, raisins, and pecans to the dry mix and stir to combine thoroughly.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla extract – Whisk to incorporate thoroughly.

Add the wet mix to the dry and stir with a spoon until just combined.

Spoon equal measures of batter into the muffin cups.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin pulls out cleanly.

Remove from oven and transfer muffin pan to a wire rack to cool for at least 15-20 minutes.

Try not to eat them all right away, (with, as Julia Child would say, lots and lots of butter!)

That ain’t how we play…

I tweak and republish this post annually; I think you’ll see why when you read it.

See, I’m not out to be tragically hip, in fact quite the contrary. Or maybe Matthew Selman said it best; “I wish there was another word than foodie; how about ‘super food asshole’, or ‘pretentious food jerk’?” I just don’t wanna go there.

Granted, there are a lot of great food blogs out there, but right now, many are judged ‘Great’ because somebody took a really, really nice pic of some food, or is on the fast track to be the next Food Channel Super Food Asshole. Frankly, when the ‘best’ food blog sites reject people because they don’t meet criterion such as that, I’m more than not interested, I’m actively turned off.

I write about food from some pretty simple perspectives. I’m interested in sharing recipes, methods, processes and such. I’m interested in sourcing, using wisely, and preserving food that is good for you, in a world where much of what we are offered to eat is not very good. I’m interested in the science behind cooking, because I’ve never liked simply being told to ‘do it this way.’ I trust that if you’re reading this, you’re interested in these things as well. To be honest, if no one read this blog, I’d write it anyway, because I do it for me first and foremost; I gotta share what I love. That’s just how I’m wired.

So, when I look at ‘real’ food blogs, I see the stuff that, fairly often, folks ask me about here, or more to the point, ask me why I don’t do these things. There are three oft repeated comments, and they are,
Why don’t you list nutritionals and calories,
Why don’t you post prep and cooking times, and
Why do you post exotic ingredients that I’m not likely to have?

So, in a nutshell, here’s why;

Frankly, listing nutritionals means, more than anything, that I am determining what kind of portion size you and yours eat, and frankly, I don’t have any idea about that. If I list a casserole recipe and you make it, how much do you eat? How about your partner? Do you have seconds, are there leftovers, and on and on. This ain’t a restaurant, and I’d bet your house isn’t either; neither of us needs everyone to eat the same portion. For the record, I predominantly do recipes for two, with planned leftovers, the idea being general efficiency, and the fact that anything good will be great the next day. Other than that, you’re kinda on your own. I mean I can give you a great biscuit recipe, but how big you make ’em, and how many y’all wolf down is kinda your gig, right?
Don’t get me wrong, nutrition IS important and should be monitored in some way, shape, or form. The best way to this is to buy carefully and thoughtfully. Buy locally whenever you can. Read the labels on food and avoid the stuff that’s truly bad for you. Grow anything and everything you can. Preserve what you buy or grow so that you can notably extend the time it is available to you. Make everything you can, from scratch, at home. That may sound more intensive than what you do now, but if you really care about nutrition, you’ll do it. And as far as we go, whenever you need or want detailed nutritionals on our recipes, just click on our link for Calorie Count and go to town. There’s a mobile version out for your Apple or Android smart phone as well now.

Next comes prep and cooking time.

Weeeeeellllll, how do I say this? Listing prep time is, in my not even remotely close to humble opinion, one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. The problem is actually pretty obvious. Listing prep time says we all prep at the same level, and nothing could be further from the truth. Heck, I have three preppers in my cafe and they all perform differently… So really, the question is who’s prep time are we talking about? Mine? Yours? Emeril’s? I’ve been cutting things for decades and have pretty damn good knife skills; do you? I can stem, seed and core a tomato blindfolded, without cutting myself, in about 15 seconds; can you? I don’t even think about process and procedure any more, it just comes naturally; does it for you? And if your answers are ‘No’, does that make you slow? If I can prep Dish A in 10 minutes and you take 20, should you not make that dish? Of course not! And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. How about what ingredients you have right on hand when you start your prep, how well equipped your kitchen is, how your day went, how many rug rats are flying around your feet, or how many critters need to go out right NOW?! Get the picture? My bottom line is simple – Who gives a rats ass how long it takes if you have the time and want to make it? If you’re cooking regularly, you either already have a decent sense of what you can and will accomplish in a given time, or you will develop one in time. If you really do like cooking and want to do it, you’ll do it.

Finally, there’s the exotic ingredient thing. Yes, I have a whacky spice cabinet. You may or may not have a pantry like ours, but I really don’t think that matters. We have all this stuff because we dedicated lot of time and energy into developing and perfecting recipes to share with y’all. Whether or not you need that much stuff is up to you. Does a couple avocado leaves and a little annatto really make or break good chili? If you’re asking me, I think the question is rhetorical. And frankly, I don’t buy the ‘why do you use ingredients I’m not likely to have’ complaint for a second; in this day and age, almost anyone in this country, and many others, can get anything they want. I recently shared a bacon recipe with a pal from South Africa. He ended up having to go all over creation to find several ingredients, but he did it, ’cause he really wants to try my recipe. Kinda like that last discussion on prep and cooking, huh? Ive mailed corn meal to Australia and mustard seed to Israel; if you can’t get something you wanna try, hit me up, I’ll help. I’ve also gotta point out that we constantly encourage and desire experimentation, so if you’re making it, put what you like in it: Give us credit the first time, and then it’s yours…
I say that if you love cooking and great food, maybe you should check out Tasmanian Pepperberry, or Urfa Bebir; who knows what you’ll do with them?

We do this because dear friends who love to grow, cook, preserve and explore as much as we do asked us to. We do this because we have a love for good food and cooking shared. We do this because we hope to inspire such in y’all. If that ain’t good enough, so be it.

Gathering Swing

Gathering Swing – It’s what happens once you get here and get into the rhythm of the place.

Music blooms anywhere, any time
Music blooms anywhere, any time

Swing on through. What you’ve come for will be here in spades, be it playing a bunch of hand made instruments, or working on or talking the technical and artistic aspects of building them.

Saturday Night on the Main Stage
Saturday Night on the Main Stage

If none of that is for you, there will be plenty of non-builders here to discuss art, history, philosophy, archeology, geology, and a dozen other things. And if that don’t float your boat, there’s more great food and beer and music than you can shake a stick at.

Yeah, but is it local?
Yeah, but is it local?

Whatever your bailiwick, you can immerse yourself in it, or do as I do, and drift in and out of things as you see fit. Of course, since I’m the Chef, I spend more time on food than anyone else, and that’s exactly how I like things.


Chef swing – A Chef working a thing like this has to do a lot of planning, but probably not as you might think it’ll go – we plan main courses, sides, and deserts, to some degree – But any given meal may need to feed 12 or 60, and everything in between.

Five minutes old...
Five minutes old…

On top of that, folks will bring stuff – some will tell you they’re bringing it, and some won’t, and their level of concern over how and when the dish gets used will vary as well. Blending all that, making enough food, and having ample contingency plans for leftovers is par for the course, and requires diplomacy, humor, and quick thinking.

Never leave home without 'em.
Never leave home without ’em.

Take the chickens that became the main dish for Saturday night. Somewhere around 20 folks who’d said they were coming didn’t, and all of a sudden, we’ve got a bunch of left overs – No problem… They found  their way into frittatas the next morning, or tarts for brunch after that, and finally into incredible chicken pot pies Sunday night, (if I do say so myself – and I do…)

Chimayo, Turkish, Garlic-Lime-Dill, Lemon & Sage
Chimayo, Turkish, Garlic-Lime-Dill, Lemon & Sage

Here’s some eye candy from the weekend – If anything floats your boat, drop me a line and I’ll give up the recipe for ya.

Dinner Time at the Gathering
Dinner Time at the Gathering

And we can’t forget the vegetarian crowd, either…

Caramelized Cauliflower
Caramelized Cauliflower
Lemon-Garlic-Dill Tofu
Lemon-Garlic-Dill Tofu
Heirloom Apple Plum Crisp
Heirloom Apple Plum Crisp
Prepping Smoked Guacamole
Prepping Smoked Guacamole
Brunch Tarts - Fruit, Mushroom, Bacon & Eggs
Brunch Tarts – Fruit, Mushroom, Bacon & Eggs
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Pot Pie