I was the lucky winner of The Kitchn's Thursday Giveaway: tsp spices Sweet Heat Package. I received a tin of cinnamon and a tin of ancho chile pepper.
The spices are packaged in pre-measured packets of one teaspoon each, which makes them convenient to take on camping, boating or beach trips. I'm not usually a fan of extra packaging, but in the case of spices, I think it's a terrific idea, since it will help keep expensive spices fresher longer.
Generally, food service guidelines say to replace your opened spices every six months - the tins I got from tsp have a "best before" date of January, 2010, which gives me two years of freshness.
This extra "time to use" is important, because without it, tsp spices seem very pricey, but they're acutally economical if you add up the cost of two years worth (that's 4 bottles of each type) of spices.
And the taste? Wow.
I tried each spice "fresh from the package," fresh in food, toasted, and cooked in food.
I found the both spices to be fresher and brighter, with a gentle taste that lingers on the tongue. The cinnamon has a smoky sweetness that effuses effortlessly and the ancho chile has a subtle green bite that makes you wonder, for a brief moment, "what's that?"
Everyone's using cinnamon and ancho chile pepper in sweet dishes; I decided to give them a test run in a savory recipe. I made Chicken Bog, a traditional low country dish. I eliminated the usual spices and replaced them with one teaspoon of cinnamon and one teaspoon of ancho chile pepper, which I toasted in the pan with the rice.
The spice change took a warming, comforting chicken dish and changed it into a bright, sunny dish that I'd be proud to serve to guests at my table. My husband keep commenting on the unusual taste but in a very positive way - and he's challenged me to adapt more of my winter recipes for the warmer days of summer using these great spices.
Special thanks to The Kitchn and tsp spices for this contest, which gave me the push to try something new.