NEWSLETTER: February – March 1999

February 01, 1999 posted in Newsletters

You can tell the new year is firmly established once you can write the date without making a mistake! We trust you had an enjoyable break over Christmas and are ready to face the new year with renewed energy.

Kids in the Kitchen

One of the lovely parts of Christmas is catching up with friends and their families, and we were interested to hear about the children of friends being keen on cooking. Can this be true? Aren’t people always saying that the younger generation isn’t learning to cook, that they are all junk food addicts, that the next generation of new homes will be built without kitchens – or are these ideas being sprouted by doom-and-gloom merchants who can’t see anything positive in anything? We thought about the people we know who run wonderful cooking schools for kids in the school holidays, and we realized that we must not allow an anonymous “they” to take the joy of cooking away from our children by telling them they don’t do that any more.

With thoughts like these fresh in our well-rested minds, we returned from holidays with plans for yet another kit – you guessed it, it’s called “Kids in the Kitchen.” Although our children are grown up now, we well remember that they were somewhat impatient when it came to cooking. More often than not, they would drink the jelly rather than wait for it to set! So for the kit we have chosen recipes that don’t involve too much waiting around, and have included such favourites as things on sticks, potato wedges and pancakes, (with flavourful and not-too-hot spices) which will appeal to adults for their low-fat, nutritious elements as well as to the young cooks. To make it fun and a bit different, the box of this spice kit is a combination of yellow and purple bases and lids, and retails for $24.95 like all the others.


While we were on holiday, we found a great book called The Mexican Gourmet. It’s full of good recipes and useful information. Did you know, for example, that the exotic-sounding chayote is none other than our humble choko? And that Mexico is one of the world’s largest users of cinnamon quills? The book also explains the name changes that occur when chillies are dried, for example:

  • fresh jalapeno chillies become chipotle when they are dried and smoked
  • fresh poblano chillies become ancho when they are dried if they are red, and become mulato when they are dried if they are blackish
  • fresh chilaca chillies become pasilla when they are dried

Also of interest is that annatto seeds are also called achiote.

The Habanero chilli is probably the hottest in the world, despite its delicious caramel aroma. Most Mexican chillies, however, have a fairly mild and fruity flavour. Dried chillies can be soaked in a bowl of water for an hour before chopping – it brings them to the consistency of a roasted capsicum, perfect for chopping, and the water can be used as a kind of mild chilli stock or a booster for chicken stock. If you see The Mexican Gourmet book anywhere, it really is worth having, as it shows just how much more than tacos and tortillas is involved in this rather under-valued cuisine.

A Touch of Class

One of our mail-order customers has asked us to publicise the dates of our weekly Spice Appreciation Classes. He pointed out that when he makes one of his occasional trips to Sydney, he would like to be able to book for a class while he’s here, and he suggested that other people might like to know the dates for the same reason. So – in case you’re planning to visit Sydney this year, here’s the entire 1999 calendar of class dates! The five shaded dates indicate the “Stage Two” class, which covers spices and topics not touched on in the original class.

Dates on Wednesdays (W) and Thursdays (T) in 1999:

Thursday February 18
Wednesday April 21
Thursday June 10
Thursday August 12
Wdnesday November 17

COST: $30.00 per person per class

Nothing succeeds like excess

Although we try not to be excessive about anything here at Herbie’s we’ve decided, due to demand, to introduce a few of our mixes in large packets. You can now get Chermoula Spice Mix in a 90g pack for $5.20, Curry Mix with Whole Seeds (90g for $5.85) and our Cajun Spice Mix (80g packet for $5.20). A good idea, either for the sake of convenience as you won’t run out so quickly, or you can simply feed a bigger crowd! Before you run to your calculator, it means approximately twice as much spice for about 60% more cost – not to mention the convenience of not running out of your favourites so often.

Although we try not to be excessive about anything here at Herbie’s we’ve decided, due to demand, to introduce a few of our mixes in large packets. You can now get Chermoula Spice Mix in a 90g pack for $5.20, Curry Mix with Whole Seeds (90g for $5.85) and our Cajun Spice Mix (80g packet for $5.20). A good idea, either for the sake of convenience as you won’t run out so quickly, or you can simply feed a bigger crowd! Before you run to your calculator, it means approximately twice as much spice for about 60% more cost – not to mention the convenience of not running out of your favourites so often.


One of the delights of the spice business is receiving a new shipment of vanilla – the aroma is delicious! Our vanilla beans are organically grown in the traditional way by fourth-generation farmers in the highlands of Papantla, Mexico. Vanilla is the only crop we know of that needs human intervention to come to fruition. By a quirk of nature, there is a little membrane in the orchid flower which prevents natural pollination. A bee native to Mexico (in fact, the smallest bee in the world) does the job, but as there are more flowers than bees these days, each flower is hand-pollinated by means of a toothpick-like stick which moves the membrane aside and allows pollination to take place. The farmers then know that the bean will be ready to pick nine months to the day from the date of pollination. Freshly-picked vanilla beans have no smell or flavour, but a lengthy process of alternate “sweating” and drying brings about the enzyme reaction which creates the wonderful creamy aroma we know and love. Sometimes the vanilla bean is referred to as a pod – it doesn-‘t matter, it’s the same thing. But if someone refers to a vanilla “stick”, stay well away from it, because by the time a luscious, succulent, flexible bean has become a brittle stick, it is a “has-been” rather than a vanilla bean.

A Heart in Summer

Also in our vanilla shipment were more of the hearts and flowers that have become familiar to our regular customers. For those who can’t visit the shop, we should explain. The flexible vanilla beans are twisted and bound into fragrant heart and flower shapes – small enough to fit into the standard-size Herbie’s spice pack. Store with your caster sugar so that you have vanilla-scented sugar. They fit nicely into a greeting card for a little ìsomething extra. (Perhaps a sweet heart for your sweetheart?) Flowers are $5.75 each, and hearts are $7.70.

Happy Spicing!

Herbie and Liz

Explore All

Meal Ideas for Isolation

We thought that in these unprecedented times, it would be appropriate to share some handy meal ideas to ease the stress of isolation and potentially limited food sources. Having to self-isolate creates an opportunity to brush up your cooking skills and have some fun experimenting with some flavours you may not have tried before. Let’s face it, everyone can cook. Have you ever grilled

Spices and Spice Blends for Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking

In this short video, Ian "Herbie" Hemphill talks about how Herbie's Spices, herbs and spice blends are all suitable for vegetarian and vegan cooking. A great spice blend for vegan meals is Aloo Gobi Masala. All ingredients are listed on the labels, so you know exactly what you are getting. For a wealth of information on spices, herbs and making your own spice blends,

Herbie’s Newsletter Summer 2019 – 2020

We’re all in accord about single-use plastics. Having seen huge drifts of plastic in the pristine seas off the Indonesian islands, we know just how important it is to get rid of those shopping bags, plastic wraps and sandwich bags. When one gets emotional about bad plastics, it’s easy to begin to demonize all plastics, and perhaps it’s timely to repeat this message from our Newsletter of some years ago.


Spices & More in South India Jan-Feb 2020

We invite you to join us, Herbie and Liz, as we return to our beloved India to take you to some places where many tourists don’t go! And some amazing places that you just can’t miss. This is designed as a holiday, not an endurance test, and we have made the itinerary a little more leisurely than some earlier tours, so that you arrive home refreshed and well. Be a part of our small group and join the fun!


Herbie’s Newsletter Spring 2019

What kind of meal do you think of when you hear the word “curry”?  The origin of our English word is Kari, meaning a spiced sauce.  The English took the idea back home from the colonies, and the classic Madras curry – well-balanced and flavoursome - became a staple in the English household.  The French, meanwhile, had colonized the Pondicherry area on the south-eastern

Newsletter Winter 2019

What is Single Origin? We see it emblazoned on tea, coffee, spices and other foodstuffs.  It’s pretty simple really.  If all your potatoes have been grown in the Hunter Valley, they are single origin from that region – they don’t all have to come from the same farm. If, say, a coffee blender buys beans from Africa and South America, and mixes them all

Easter Spice Essentials

With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to think about the spices you’ll need for your Easter recipes. For all those sweet recipes such as cakes, biscuits and hot cross buns, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cardamom are traditional, along with Mixed Spice. For extra fragrance and flavour, try using our Fragrant Sweet Spice Blend as an aromatic substitute. Easter is a great time

Herbie’s Newsletter – Spring 2021

Home Made Pizza Like so many Australians, we have had plenty of lock-down time during winter.  Our fabulous local pizzeria closed for a time, and we had to make our own pizza – not so difficult, really.  Here’s a simple dough recipe: mix 400g white bread flour with 1½ teaspoons of dry yeast and 1 teaspoon Italian Herbs.  Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in

Welcome to our New Website

The first thing you will notice is that this website looks quite different to the one you may be used to. In response to the many questions we have received from our customers over the years, we have built in many new features that will enhance your shopping experience. While navigating the site is intuitive, we've described some of the many new features here.

Herbie’s Spices Newsletter – Winter 2021

Following through on our gradual revision of the Spice Kits, we’ve had a look at the Al Fresco kit.  At our place, outdoor meals often include big sharing platters, which enable those who are hungry to really dig in, and those with bird-like appetites to pick gently at morsels, without any embarrassment about how much is put on, or left on, the plate.  So we’ve

Black Pepper Beef Recipe at Spice Village, Kumily, Kerala, India

Braised Black Pepper Beef, with Chef Manoj at Spice Village, Kumily, Kerala, India Serves 4-6 1kg beef tenderloin, trimmed Masala Marinade 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil ½ cup grated fresh coconut 2 shallots, peeled and sliced 2 teaspoons coriander seeds 5 small dried red chillies, seeds removed and chopped 3 sprigs curry leaves 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper Braising Curry Sauce 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut

Herbie’s Spices Newsletter – Autumn 2021

We trust that you have all survived Australia’s quiet introduction to the new year. Isn’t it wonderful that, in times of trial and frustration, cooking, eating and sharing bring such consolation? For those of us separated from our loved ones by insurmountable obstacles, we can be encouraged by improving conditions this year.


Herbie makes Avial (South Indian Vegetable Curry) in South India

Herbie loves being in South India, the food and the people. In this video he makes Avial (a South Indian Vegetable Curry). Making lightly spiced meals is one of life’s great pleasures, made all the simpler with our Herbie’s Spices all-natural spice blends.


Herbie’s Newsletter Summer 2020-2021

A world-wide annus horribilis is drawing to a close, and all we want for Christmas is a better year ahead. For many, time spent in confinement has been a time for reflection, communicating with loved ones, and cooking up a storm.


Herbie Makes a Curry in Kumily

In this video, following a short elephant ride, I have the audacity to show my Indian friends at Spice Village how I make my Saturday Curry!


Herbie’s Newsletter Spring 2020

Rose Harrisa Mackerel Spring is a time always associated with flowers.  Cauliflowers, broccoli and broccolini, even cabbage and kale, are all flowers, and it occurred to us that one could make a culinary bouquet by adding rose harissa to these flowers.  We started the experiment with rose harissa sprinkled on cauliflower cheese, then progressed to rose harissa stir-fried with broccolini, and broccoli florets tossed with rose

Why Herbie is Obsessed with Spices

During this time when many of us are isolated, either voluntarily or forced, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the things I cover at the beginning of a Spice Appreciation Class. As classes are off now, here goes a virtual communication! People often ask why I am so obsessed with spices. This video explains where it all started,

Join the inner circle

Herbie’s Spices Inner Circle fills a need in the community of cooks and food lovers for early-access & upcoming events to all those hard-to-find herbs and spices.

Please enter valid email.