Infuse your holidays with some sugar and spice blends

This Thanksgiving, as Chris and Michele McCoy and their combined family of five children reflect on their lives since last Thanksgiving, they’ll no doubt be thankful for a dream come true.

Last April, the dream, A Country Cupboard opened all because of Michele’s idea. The family store at 2412 F Road, Unit 5, includes some hard-to-find items Michele couldn’t seem to find on this side of the mountain. They’re items that give those holiday and everyday dishes a finishing gourmet touch with little effort.

Soon Michele was filling the shelves with unique “finishing sugars and salts,” followed by a long list of spices, spice blends, teas and things such as citrus powders, coconut milk powder and so on. The list is long and growing with unusual candies, gifts made locally and much more.

When I visited the store, ideas came to mind for cooking, baking, entertaining and gift giving. Michele says her goal is to offer cooks the ability to purchase as little or as much as you want to maintain freshness without breaking the bank.

“Old spices and flavorings mean old taste,” she says and does her part keeping fresh product and urging customers to purchase smaller quantities more frequently.

A little of this and a little of that could make a gift cooks and non-cooks will love receiving and trying. I recommend you check out A Country Cupboard on Facebook.

May your Thanksgiving be tasty, thoughtful and full of happy memories!

Infused sugars: all-natural organic sugars infused with highest quality ingredients for natural flavor. These “finishing sugars” take a small amount to do the trick. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

■ Add to coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cider or other drinks.

■ Sprinkle on cookies before baking, baked desserts, chocolate dipped fruits, candies, pretzels, etc.

■ Mix with Saigon cinnamon for toppings on biscuits, pancakes, French toast, hot cereal.

■ Use on custards, rice and other puddings, fruit salads.

■ Use to create homemade candies or in rub recipes.

Here is a sample of varieties available:

■ Toasted Coconut — Sprinkle on whipped or baked sweet potatoes.

■ Espresso — Use in rubs, drinks, on whipped cream topping hot coffee drinks and desserts. It’s good in mole.

■ Raspberry — Top fruit salads and cookies.

■ Ginger — Pumpkin pie, gingerbread, sweet potatoes, squash, fruit.

■ Vanilla Bean — As far as I’m concerned this can go on everything.


Finishing salts: natural pure salts infused with pure flavor. A little goes a long way. Here is a sampling of the varieties available:

■ Cyprus Flake — This has large pyramid-shaped crystals and is light and fluffy with mild taste of Mediterranean sea salts. Good to garnish fish and vegetable dishes.

■ Smoked Applewood — A favorite with anyone who grills, brines, smokes meats, etc. Use whenever you want that smoky flavor, even in creamy pasta dishes, roasted vegetables, sandwiches, soups, etc.

■ Black Truffle — Use in egg dishes, pasta, red meats and on buttered popcorn. Michele says guys and gals are crazy for adding this to mashed potatoes.

■ Roasted Garlic — Not your mama’s garlic salt. It’s good on everything.

■ Espresso Brava — Rub on a steak before grilling. Add to chocolates, desserts, entrees and marinades.

■ Vanilla Bean — Put on homemade caramels, sweet desserts and light savory dishes.

■ Lime Fresco (tart without sour) — Use on chicken or fish. Rim a glass or sprinkle on crisp salads.


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