curry + yogurt + water + $meat = food

Penzeys loves me. I don't have to ask. I just know. Spice companies have to adore customers like me, who, like clockwork, place 2-3 enormous orders per year and turn all their friends into customers as well.

I'm still waiting on Penzeys to be certified as an Official Domestic Crack dealer; their periodic catalogue is ostensibly about spices but more about blatant culinary seduction. Anyone who doesn't believe me has never opened up the catalogue to the 'cinnamon' page, read about the four different types of cinnamon they carry, and found him-/her-self openly lusting over the descriptions of each spice and its origin.

Eventually you catch yourself referring to your spices by their country of origin. Fellow spiceheads can sit together in a kitchen, trying to remember if the cinnamon they each have in their kitchens is from Ceylon, China, or Vietnam. Discussions like this ensue:

"Which one is it that's really different?"

"I think it's the Ceylon. It doesn't really have a bite. It's almost floral."

"So which one's the really strong one?"

"The Vietnamese cinnamon. That stuff packs a wallop. I've got some at the house, if you want to try it."

...and no one even thinks twice about it, because it's an incredibly normal conversation.

The window I'm currently typing in is ostensibly the current Penzeys order for three households. It's going to be rather large order, even by group-ordering standards, and I plan on taking at least a half hour after the box arrives to savor sniffing the packages. I'll open my spice bags immediately, but won't open the ones going to other houses; the person who paid for the order should get the rush of opening the bags for the first time.

I asked Jessica if she'd be interested in getting in on the order, but she said that she still didn't cook much, and wasn't much familiarized with spices. "Oooh," I thought. "Potential convert."

How to explain to someone who hasn't dabbled in such heady things before? Curry powder, for instance; how does one manage a Friday night desperation dinner without curry powder? "Curry powder," in English, translates to "instant food." Wave it over anything, and it becomes not just edible, but tasty, with virtually no work. Here's the formula:

Curry powder + plain yogurt + water + $meat == food.

Simple as that, really. Instant food. A couple of tablespoons of the curry powder of your choice (they're as different and individual as colors - everyone has a favorite, and no two are alike), meat (bone-in or boneless, whole parts or cubed), about half a cup of plain yogurt, and enough water to mostly cover the meat....apply low heat for an hour or so and you have virtually effort-free food.

All you have to do is order once, and the Domestic Crack Catalogue makes its way to your mailbox several times a year. Then you bring it in your house and it taunts you from your coffee table. Time passes, and you find yourself leafing through it and thinking "Kala jeera? I don't know what the hell it is but I have to have it. I'll make something out of it."

I was good this time. I only have five ingredients on this order's list, but two of them see heavy use in my kitchen. I need to replace them soon, before I run out and am in a world of Friday night hurt. After all, who wants to try to do serious, detailed cooking on a Friday night?

Not me.


Oh dear ... I have a feeling my recently acquired thai cookbook may draw me into the spice trade. The spice must flow ...

I got Mom hooked on Penzey's. Yet another convert! I buy all of my dried hot spices there; ancho, chipotle, dundicut, etc. In fact, a few dundicuts thrown into that curry recipe would be mighty tasty. :)

Brian: Thai == gooood. Once you learn the four balancing flavor agents (for hot, sour, salty, and sweet) and see just one recipe for peanut sauce, you'll probably know how to make your own for the rest of your life, no recipes needed. Heather - I agree on the heat - would be yum - but I have to make food that Jeff can eat, too. ;) I save up my flamethrower tendencies for when I go to a restaurant, and slake my chile needs there. It took some work to reorient my thinking toward only buying spices a few times a year, but that was a few years ago and now I'm firmly entrenched in that particular line of thinking. Kat is trying out one of their soup bases this time, and I'm trying the almond extract (I want to make some almond blondies) - I'll let you know how those do.

OK, now I'm hungry. Thursday is curry night in my house. We grocery shop on Fridays so that's already taken care of, whereas on Thursday I've been cooking all week and am feeling burnt out (I don't like to cook). So we started the curryonthursday tradition. My boyfriend has soccer practise on Thursday and he tells me there is nothing better than arriving home late, cold and covered in mud to find a hot curry waiting :-D

Oh, when you say curry, I think Mulligatawny soup. My golly, I love that stuff.

4 TYPES of cinnamon??? That's all I need to go searching through their site... Domestic Crack.... I'm sure I'll be an addict soon too.