Spicy Package

Nothing excites me like something for the kitchen.  Fabric used to excite me.  Then yarn packages were so fun to open.  Mostly now, it’s stuff for the kitchen.  I’m always excited to get a box from Penzey’s Spices.

Most of the little jars are empty . . just for storing spices and herbs I’ve grown.  This order was a kinda weird one for me.  I got:

  • Mahlab – Don’t ask me why I got that.  I don’t even know what to do with it but every time I order from Penzey’s, I try to order something new and different to try.  This time, it was Mahlab . . whatever the heck that is.
  • Sumac Berries – They’re actually ground and I’ve never used them before but I’ve seen several recipes lately that called for Sumac.  Now I have some.  Can I find those recipes again?
  • Mural of Flavor – Never used this either but it looked interesting on the web page.
  • Green Goddess Dressing Mix – this is so good on salads and sandwiches.  It’s easy to make just a little and I like that.
  • Sandwich Sprinkle – I like this for sprinkling on bread cubes to make seasoned croutons.
  • Breakfast Sausage Mix – I can get the butcher in KS to grind me some lean pork and I’ll make our own breakfast sausage.
  • Italian Sausage Mix – Same thing with the ground pork.  We love Italian sausage and use a lot of it.
  • Horseradish Powder – This makes the best horseradish cream for prime rib or roast beef

I need to find a recipe for my Sumac and Mahlab . . not in the same dish probably!

Any suggestions for recipes using either of those spices?



  1. 1

    Jane says

    Please share those recipes using Sumac and Mahlab. Sumac I know, but Mahlab will require googling. Mama told me that they used to suck on Sumac berries when she was little and that they were sour. I always thought they were poison!

  2. 2


    Good morning Judy! If you search for mahlab in cooks.com it gives several recipes. They seem to be dessert breads and sound pretty good. Be sure and let us all know how the spice adventure goes.

  3. 3


    Penzeys is the greatest. They started in Milwaukee with one little store dedicated to quality spices and bought only from fair trade providers. Their products are the freshest and the highest quality available anywhere. The sandwich sprinkle makes an amazing difference on your sandwiches. The seasoning blends for the pork, italian and other sausages are really good too. When I think about it I have never been disappointed with anything I bought from them. I too try a new seasoning each time I order but have not tried sumac or mahlab. Please keep us posted.

  4. 4


    okay, i always thought sumac was poison! i’m wondering if you might have gone over to the dark side…. hahaha.

    one of my favorite places to buy spices is in arthur, illinois. the amish have a bulk food store there called ‘beachys’ and they sell a wide variety of spices for very reasonable prices.

  5. 5


    I love Penzey’s Spices. We are lucky enough to have a shop close by. You will love Mural of flavor. Looking for a recipe for your spices, you might just find one on their website. I look forward to seeing what you will make with them.

  6. 6

    Melanie says

    My mom always told me that sumac was poisonous, too. Of course, she also told us that sugar would give you worms. Good luck finding recipes for your new spices.

  7. 7

    Wendy J says

    How do you store all your spices? I am looking for a nice spice rack but haven’t found anything to my liking.

  8. 8

    WiAmy says

    Penzey’s is great! Southwest seasoning is a tastey addition to soup. Bicentenial rub is nice on a beef roast cooked in a crockpot. I usually add a little extra ground fennel to the Italian sausage mix as I find it a little salty (with the addition of more ground fennel, I use less of the sausage mix). I love playing with their spices!

  9. 10


    I love Penzey’s. There’s one in Norwalk, CT, but really close to us in northern NJ is the one in Manhattan at Grand Central Station.

    Yep, I too have mahlab, and have no idea what to do with it, so if you ever figure it out, let us know. I’m wondering if I should add it to a sweet yeast bread or to muffins.

  10. 11


    Oh, and Mural of Flavor really adds a lot of taste without adding salt, although a teensy pinch of salt really is wonderful.

  11. 13


    We had a Penzey’s spice store about 1/2 mile from us. I loved it! Just to walk in and enjoy the wonderful fragrance and shop up and down the aisles. Then they closed. I think we’re a little far outside of the city to draw enough customers for such a specialized store. I’ll have to look them up on line. Thanks for the reminder of how good they are!

  12. 14

    Sandy in Canada says

    Sumac berries are used in a delicious Lebanese salad called fatuous. It’s fabulous and easy!!!

  13. 15

    Linda C says

    I love Penzey’s! Your package reminded me that I need to place my spice order soon. Mmmm!

  14. 17


    I believe there are two kinds of sumac – one is okay the other is poisonous. They are beautiful bushes/shrubs. The leaves turn lovely colors in the fall. They grow quite well here. Guess I need to google the subject and find out if what I think I know is right. LOL

    I had no idea you could eat sumac berries.

    Have a great weekend!

  15. 18


    I too love Penzeys, although there isn’t a store near us. So I mail-order…

    Both Sumac and mahlab are Middle Eastern spices, sumac as a substitute for lemon juice and mahlab as a spice used in baked goods. There are a few sites with ideas for using sumac, like http://greekfood.about.com/od/greekspices/p/sumac.htm and http://www.helium.com/items/829155-ways-to-use-powdered-sumac… And as Holly said, cook.com has lots of recipes that use mahlab: http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,mahlab,FF.html

  16. 19

    Denise says

    You just reminded me, we usually make a trip to Penzey’s during the holiday season. I have no clue why it never seems to be any other time of year since there’s one I go by every day on the way to work. I’ll have to check out the free recipes they have in the store to see if there’s any for the spices you got. The scent walking in there is overpowering but oh so interesting to see all those spices I’ve never even heard of.

  17. 20

    Katherine says

    I used to work at Penzey’s Spices and loved all the herbs and spices. They are very fresh and a lot cheaper per ounce than the jars in the grocery stores that have been sitting around for ages. Some time ago I tried Mahlab in a recipe for Sweet Bread Rings (Ka’kat) (http://premiumsavor.com/arabian/1354-sweet-bread-rings-kakat) substituting vanilla sugar for the plain sugar. It was good but my notes say that I added more Mahlab in the second batch.

    As far as Sumac goes, my favorite sandwich from the local Middle Eastern restaurant is Chicken Sumac, which has a slightly lemony taste. Also, sumac is used in the spice mixture Zatar. This is great on pita bread brushed with oil.

    @WiAmy – I haven’t tried Bicentennial Rub on beef, but it’s my standard for sprinkling on Thanksgiving turkey.

    Judy, enjoy your new spices. You’ve inspired me to stop at Penzey’s and pick up a few things I’m out of!

  18. 21


    Ooooo! I have a few Penzey’s spices. Not really sure where I got them, but never thought of looking them up to see if I could order from them. DOH! The horseradish powder sounds particularly tempting. I love horseradish, but if I buy a jar of creamed horseradish, by the time I get around to using it for the second time, it looks spoiled. So, I’m always having to buy new. This sounds just perfect. I love you, Judy. You’re always full of such good information!

  19. 22


    I get most of my spices from Penzey’s as well. I need to see if they carry Vietnamese cinnamon… I usually get it from King Arthur but if Penzey’s has it I’m sure it’s cheaper. If you haven’t tried Vietnamese cinnamon, it’s a must! You’ll be a convert for life!

  20. 23

    LisaS says

    I use both mahlab and sumac ground. The mahlab goes into kleecha – a Turkish bread that I make. I use the sumac in my dressing for fattoush salad. I am sure there are many other uses of both these spices in Middle Eastern cooking.

  21. 24

    carol c says

    uh i dont know
    i always though sumac was a poison leaf ivy?
    just shows you how dumb I am, plus i dont cook like you all do
    oh well i would like to know

  22. 26

    Bon says

    Judy, I hate to tell you this but there is a Penzey’s store real close to me. I’ve been in it a couple of times. Blows me away cuz I so do not know what to do with most spices.

  23. 27


    Love them also. My sister turned me on to them. I just put in my order. My favorite is their Buttermilk Ranch dressing. I eat alot of ranch, and so for it is the best. I like the fact that they have no-salt spices, as we cut out salt when my mom was sick (liver, and she couldnt have it) so we can barely handle anything processed now, it ALWAYS has too much salt. I order a few new things each time too. This time I am going to try their Mint Hot Chocolate and their version of seasoned salt.
    Do you cook a lot of ethnic foods, Judy? Indian and Mexican is our favorite, so the hubster is always buying currys, and we dont use up very many. We do love trying something new tho.

  24. 28


    I love Penzey’s. They have a store in our area. I need to leave my wallet at home when I go there or I’ll buy out the store.