On Spice Shops & Hot Toddies

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, and I hope my other culinary inclined readers don’t think I’m revealing a secret (or what would constitute as a secret), but if you know of a place that sells spices, and I do mean just spices (with the odd accouterment for your spices like racks and mortar & pestles or pepper grinders), don’t ever go anywhere else. I mean it. I’m normally not picky about what I cook with since the only things I really have access to are my typical grocery stores until Farmer Market season, but I will always go out of my way to buy spices from my shop. Savory Spice on Lincoln Avenue is AMAZING! Not only does it smell incredible, but they have EVERYTHING you might need, and if they don’t have it in store, they’ll likely have it online and will send it directly to your home! But that’s not what I love about them the most.

It’s the quality of their product and the incredibly knowledgeable and friendly staff. I mean, what foodie doesn’t want to talk with another foodie about food?! [I will answer my own rhetorical question with a literal answer: I DO!] But just as you’re walking around, looking at all there is to see, you can tell that the spices just look better, but for sure they smell and taste better too! I have used all the brands I could find at my local grocer, even the more expensive organic brands, but I would end up using double what I normally use from here! The only other spot that is somewhat comparable are the Mariano’s that have fresh spice stations, but the prices there are just more than you’d like to pay, or what

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These cinnamon sticks? I paid about $2 for 1 oz 4″ sticks, and $5 for 3 oz 3″ sticks! Be still my beating heart!

you’d think you would pay. FOR EXAMPLE! Cardamon pods. You know, the kind you use in curry. At any regular grocery store, you’ll end up paying about $13-14 for a bottle of the pods…at Savory Spice, I can pay $7 for a bottle, and then a little less for the refills! Yes, I said refills, as in, instead of spending money on another bottle, I pay for a bagged refill so I can reuse the jar I already have. Economically and environmentally friendly! Oh, and did I mention that if you order online, they sometimes send you a spice sample too? Or how, when I mentioned that I wanted to make my own vanilla extract while I was in there on Thursday, they offered to sell me one of their bottles to make it in? Not to mention I got some GREAT tips from their website on what alcohol to use with which bean! Have I made it clear how much I love this place? Sure, it’s out of my way and sometimes hard to find parking, but at the end of the day, it’s so, so worth it! Plus you have Gene’s Sausage Shop across the street for some seriously fresh, premium meat at fantastic prices! [Bought myself some Merguez sausages for a recipe I want to make out of the Senate cookbook that arrived on Monday!]

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Why go anywhere else!? Photo Credit: Savory Spice Shop Chicago

But the reason I bring it up is because I happened to make a pit stop there for a beverage I was attempting to make on my own! A Hot Toddy! This past week, Frankie and I have been dealing with a nasty cold & cough, though the cough I’ve been struggling to get rid of has stuck around for over a month. It’s been gross to say the least, but FINALLY, it’s going away and I have two things to thank for it. Normally, my first go-to is a “non-tea” tea that has even caught the interest of a good portion of my work friends! And it’s so easy to make, on top of being so very good for you!

Lemon, Ginger, Honey. Done. Well…okay, some hot water and maybe I added/tweaked here and there after talking with my mom a little bit—add a bag of green tea once you’ve add the hot water and stirred, AND for extra ginger flavor/benefits, you can add these amazing ginger crystals that my mom found before leaving Hong Kong—but it’s simple, it doesn’t taste like tea [Frankie’s main reason for actually letting me make him this stuff when he’s sick], and it’s just so soothing. Plus it’s just plain good for you! I make a giant jar of the stuff (about two or three times a normal serving) and it keeps for two weeks, so I bring a couple jars with me to work and make a cup before bed. Recipe will be included below, but what I wanted to try this time was a Hot Toddy, which I needed some cloves and cinnamon sticks for, and thus my need to go to the spice store since I had zero cloves and my cinnamon sticks at home were not usable (oh, and if I recall correctly, I paid about $7 or 7 for them and they were scrawny little things with no flavor…seriously, find a local spice shop).

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Recently, as I was perusing Pintrest, as I do, I happened to notice a small trend of “Whiskey Cures Colds” and “Best Drinks When Sick” articles. Now, I’m of course very suspicious of any kind of “article” on Pintrest and always push for actual/formal sources over heresay any day, but I had been curious whether, like my miracle tea, if adding a little whiskey would actually help alleviate some of my congested symptoms. Of course, I got articles that said yes, and no, but ultimately the drink sounded too good to pass, so when I was out with a friend one night, I tried one, and it was delicious, and in fact, I did feel a little better than I had originally.

So on a night I felt up to making something (it’s been a very slow & light week in my kitchen with both of us struggling to kick this bug) I made one to sip on! It wasn’t the same as what I had with my friend (but I plan to ask next time I’m there), but I definitely wanted a lot more honey & would include ginger next time. I plan to play around with the whiskey I include too (since we are very much a whiskey household with a fairly diverse selection in our buffet bar), but for the most part, absolutely delicious, it just needs to be fine tuned a little, as any good drink does!img_3260

Stay warm and stay well (seriously, there’s a nasty bug going around so do whatever you can to fend it off)! — Cooking Maggie (finally healthy again and back to picking recipes…thank goodness!)


Miracle Tea

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of Honey
  • 1 Lemon sliced into mini wedges
  • Ginger (about the same size as lemon), sliced thinly

Instructions

  1. Slice lemon into mini wedges. Shave and thinly slice ginger.
  2. Pour honey over ginger and lemon slices in a jar..
  3. To make the tea: boil water, pour about ¼ cup of the mixture into a mug. Pour in hot water, stir, and enjoy!
  4. Can also add ½ packet of ginger honey crystals and steep bag of green tea after pouring in hot water.

Note: Try shaving ginger into batch for extra ginger flavor.


Hot Toddy

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon slice for garnish
  • a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1-2 oz whiskey
  • 3-4 tablespoons whisky
  • Hot Water

Instructions

  1. Heat water up over stove.
  2. In a mug, add honey, cloves, whiskey, and cloves.
  3. Pour hot water into mug, and stir. Sip and add additional honey/whiskey to taste. Enjoy!

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