By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
When snow blankets the landscape in Northeast Ohio, Deb McIver brushes it aside to harvest thyme. When other herbs are needed in those dark days, she turns to Penzeys for quality dried herbs. (And spices.) Of all the herb companies, Penzeys is her favorite.
Deb is a professional garden designer. She incorporates herbs into her work.
“I discovered Penzeys herbs and spices in the late 1980s when my brother Craig gifted me the company’s herb blends,” says Deb. “And, when we visited Craig and his family near the original store, we would walk two blocks for even more.” Today, the company operates stores in foodie cities around the country. In fact, it operates two in Northeast Ohio.
Not long after that, Deb found the catalog. And, like many who stumble on the company, she became a disciple. “I have always ordered all my herbs, spices, cocoa, and vanilla from them. My husband and I have given their products as gifts for Christmas, weddings, showers and housewarmings. I have turned many people on to the power of Penzeys.”
Of course Deb dries what herbs she can, but must turn to Penzeys for those either not grown in her area or those difficult to find. From them she buys Mexican oregano, cumin, sumac, bay, and a variety of chilies. Her chili collection includes smoked, sweet, and half-sharp paprika; whole and ground chipotle and ancho peppers; and dried Aleppo peppers. (Chilies were HSA’s Herb of the Month in January)
“I have a shoe box of dried chilies, and three lazy-susans filled with herbs and spices,” she notes.
Deb has found recipes in the catalogs to be successful and tasty. “I love reading stories in the magazine, the stories of the unique people who are featured.”
Those stories represent a philosophy owner Bill Penzey summarizes in the company’s first cookbook “How We Became One.” He writes:
“Cooking is ultimately an act of kindness. It may seem like a small thing, but I believe it is the biggest thing out there. People everywhere making an effort to do nice things for others … And the wonderful thing is that this desire to do for others is not the sole possession of any one group or organization. The kindness of cooking transcends all. It does not happen in just one race, one religion, orientation one political party or even one shoe size. … It is the desire to do for those around us that binds us together. It is the one piece we share.”
Who else could make cooking and herbs sound so sacred?
The blog for The Herb Society of America is written by members, staff and guest authors, to promote herb appreciation from cultivation and use to learning and research. It supports the Herb Society’s goals to protect botanical heritage, steward scientific diversity and promote personal enjoyment. Membership is open to individuals and businesses.
Do you have a favorite source of herbs? Tell us more in the comments below.