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One of my greatest passions in life is cooking.  I love to be in the kitchen, cooking for myself, for friends, for me and Shawn.  I wrote a while back about fridge essentials and had promised a follow-up about pantry staples – and that’s still on the agenda – but this week I’m thinking about what’s in my spice cabinet.

I’ve got a good collection going and I’m always looking for more.

If you have nothing else in your spice rack, I think these are the absolutely-must-haves:

  • sea salt
  • black pepper (freshly ground is best – so much tastier!)
  • garlic powder (for when you don’t feel like mincing fresh)
  • basil
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • crushed red pepper (for a little heat)
  • cayenne (if you enjoy a little more heat, like I do)

Soups, pasta, you name it – these few will get you through most anything.

Then there are the baking essentials:

  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • clove (whole and ground)
  • vanilla extract
  • coconut oil
  • dried peppermint

Other leafy spices that are a must for all kinds of cuisine:

  • sage (mushrooms and sage.  mmm.)
  • rosemary
  • thyme (do you have that song stuck in your head now?)
  • marjoram (another sweet leaf – try it instead of basil!)
  • tarragon (great with mushrooms and asparagus)
  • cilantro (salsa, bean dips and fillings, Indian curry top-off)
  • bay leaves (a must for soups)

I love Indian food, so I keep some other must-haves around:

  • turmeric (bitter root – essential – stains your clothes, watch out!)
  • ginger (another essential bitter root with lots of great uses)
  • cumin (whole and ground)
  • coriander (ground – this and cumin are also great in Mexican cuisine)
  • cardamom (pods and ground)
  • saffron (so expensive and so wonderful when cooked into basmati rice)
  • paprika (just the smell of this is worth keeping it around)
  • yellow mustard (whole seeds and ground)
  • garam masala (I cheat and buy it. I’ve actually never made my own – but I should try!)

Other miscellaneous spices/flavors that I use on occasion:

  • onion powder
  • celery seed
  • kelp granules
  • dill
  • chili powder

When Shawn and I were on the road in Florida last year, we found an amazing place in St. Pete called Savory Spice Shop.  I could’ve spent thousands of dollars in there!  Dozens of varieties of sea salt, peppercorns, leaves, roots… holy moly!   I did finally settle for a few things:

So.. this is what I’ve got.  What’s your favorite spice, or combination of spices?  Any suggestions of spices I should try?  I’d love to hear from you – especially if you’re into vegan cooking!