RawSpiceBar Saved My Christmas Dinner

Nordic gingerbread cookies ready to set out for Santa. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.
Nordic gingerbread cookies ready to set out for Santa. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

Food lovers looking for a way to spice things up in 2016 should give the subscription box service, RawSpiceBar a try.

The idea behind RawSpiceBar is to receive spices from around the world that have been toasted, ground or blended just days before being shipped. This will not only introduce the subscriber to new flavors and cooking ideas, but gives them an a chance to enjoy spices that haven’t been sitting on a grocery store shelf for several months.

This service works on the same premise of many other subscription service boxes. Each month, subscribers receive set of three one-recipe sized samples of spices representing a different region of the world, along with corresponding recipes for each sample. The recipes serve around 4 to 6 individuals, and include some history and facts about the regions of which they represent.

Past boxes have represented flavors from Istanbul, Memphis barbecue, Punjabi cuisine and New Mexican Navajo spices, among other areas.

The spice “box” is really a nice, tidy, plain brown little envelope, easy enough to fit in a regular mail slot, which is always nice when those little shoebox-sizes shipments from other services start to take of space after a few months.

The RawSpiceBar mixes are ready to use with the provided recipes. Image:Lisa Kay Tate.
The RawSpiceBar mixes are ready to use with the provided recipes. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

The package also included an introductory offer for another subscription service, HelloFresh.com, which delivers the fresh ingredients to create one full meal to the doorstep. The service is available to most U.S. states, and includes options for vegetarian meals and family-size meals. I’m not planning on taking advantage of this myself, but it looked like a pretty good idea for foodies with busy schedules, particularly in urban areas.

The actual sample I received for December 2015 was a set of three Norwegian-inspired spice mixes: Gingerbread Spices, Winter Herb Blend and Gravlax Spices. This was an appealing choice for December, since the flavors Scandinavia just seem so perfect for the holiday season.

This little set, in fact, saved me quite of bit of Christmastime decision-making and scrambling for recipes on two occasions.

The first time this little sample package came through was on Christmas Eve, when my youngest reminded me we had forgotten to make cookies for Santa. With only a couple of hours before Christmas Eve service, followed by family obligations, and getting excited kids to bed, I turned to the Pepparkakor (Nordic Ginger Cookies) recipe that accompanied the Gingerbread Spices.

For those who usually rely on cookie mixes, baking cookies from scratch is really not that much harder, but the cookies always taste better. This recipe was quick and easy to follow, the baking time was only five minutes, and most importantly, the cookies were just plain yummy. These tasted like fresh gingerbread, not any type of cookie mix. As a result, Santa was able to get his cookie fix in plenty of time for every other Christmas Eve duty to be met.

The next recipe helped on Christmas Day itself, when I needed a side for our roast beef. I used the Winter Herb Blend and its accompanying Potato Herb Gratin recipe. This turned out to be another easy recipe (the hardest part was just slicing the potatoes) and, due to an unfortunate Yorkshire pudding mishap, became the primary side for our family dinner. Like the gingerbread, this was also extremely tasty.

Potato Herb Gratin using the Winter herb mix. Image: Lisa Kay Tate

In just two days, this little set of spices became a culinary savior, something that any busy person in charge of family meals would appreciate at least once a month.

In addition to the recipes included each month, there are several links to cooking tips and additional recipe options for use with the included spices. For example, the gingerbread spices could have also used to make spiced bread pudding with rum sauce.

As for the third packet, the Gravlax Spices, well, that one should help me save New Year’s Eve.

The RawSpiceBar subscription is $6 per month, and includes free shipping within the United States.

GeekMom received a sample of this product for review purposes.

 

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.