This morning I whipped myself up some baking spice mix. It probably took 5 minutes, tops. You see, for about the last 6 months, whenever I bake a quick bread, anything that calls for cinnamon, or anything that just sounds like cinnamon would be good in it-well, I throw some Pumpkin Pie Spice in instead~and not that store bought stuff, the homemade stuff.
What, you didn’t know that you can make your own? Well, it doesn’t grow that way you know! Pumpkin Pie Spice is actually a combination of several other spices, usually cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. After that folks can start getting creative and adding some variation. I had made up a big batch of it back in 05 because I make Pumpkin Pie Spiced Nuts for my Family Christmas Baskets every year. Since there was plenty left over, and I rarely bake pumpkin pies, I started using it in other stuff too. It has taken me over a year to use it all up.
Now you may wonder how I got started with all this. Well, when Yankee Bill and I were stationed in Huntsville, Alabama, we had a friend named JuJu. That woman LOVED her spices and spice mixes. Her cupboards full of spices made my collection look like child’s play-and I love my spices (remember my back of the door spice rack?)
For her 50th birthday party we were looking for a gift and happened to stop by a mega-bookstore where I was browsing through the cookbook section. There I found it:
Of course, after flipping through I couldn’t buy just one copy, I just had to have one for myself. Isn’t that typical-go out to buy someone else a gift and find something you love? Actually I usually don’t do that, but bookstores are like Kryptonite to me. That’s why I try to stay safe and just use the library.
Well, I took the book home immediately and flipped through, marking off all the recipes that looked delicious. To be honest, over the years there are probably only 2 or 3 that I’ve really used. The Pumpkin Pie Spice and the Aries Herb Blend are the two biggest ones. Every once in a while I pull it out and try something new though. And it is a great resource if you are out of something (like chili powder) and need to make a substitution. There are also some good ideas of how to use the spices (that’s where I got the Spiced Nuts recipe) and interesting stories in the sidebars about the various herb farms.
This time when I went to make the Pumpkin Pie Spice and was pulling the ingredients out of my spice rack, I saw my bottles of Lemon Peel and Orange Peel and though “hmmm“. Those are two things I always seem to have in the pantry, but never remember to use. They also seem to go well with most baked and quick bread type items. Allspice also jumped out at me as a possible addition. So I flipped through the Pumpkin Pie Spice recipes (there are at least 4 variations) and found a “Sweet Baking Mixture” which was similar and included Orange Peel. Then I decided that I needed to add the Allspice in as well. Thus was born:
Jenn’s Experimental Baking Spice
1TBS Orange Peel
1TBS Ground Cloves
Mix well and store in a cool dark place. Use in place of “cinnamon” in baking or add to quick breads, pancakes etc.
I sprinkled some over my oatmeal this morning and it was yummy!
Little packets or bottles of this with a nice label would make a great homemade gift as well.
NOTE-If you buy those really tiny expensive bottles of spices at your local gourmet grocery store, this is likely to be an expensive project. I consider this a frugal exercise because I buy my spices in bulk at the Mennonite bulk food store for a pittance. Another cheap spice option is to buy them at your local dollar store. If you decide to go that route I cannot make promises for you on the quality-that is up to you and your palate. I buy my lemon pepper and cinnamon at the dollar store and am fine with it, but other things like oregano and basil just seem tasteless to me when they are of poor quality and really old. Of course the most healthy and frugal option if possible is to grow your own!