This is up there among fun and cool gifts for your favorite foodie-type person. I have my lovely sister in law to thank for introducing me to The Hatchery. She gave me a subscription to their tasting boxes last Christmas, so each month I have been receiving an assortment of mini-sized condiments and ingredients made by small, artisan producers all around the country. You get just enough of each item to try it out for a meal or recipe and then, of course, if you fall in love with something, you can order full-sized versions for stocking your pantry.
These days my family goes out for dinner pretty infrequently and we cook at home most nights. While we generally all love being in the kitchen and tinkering, the daily grind of cooking can really wear you down. On those days when all we can manage is to snag a store-bought rotisserie chicken on the way home, whip up some scrambled eggs or quesadillas or pop a few potatoes in the microwave, it’s our pantry that keeps our tastebuds happy. Having a variety of things to sprinkle or drizzle can make the difference between blah and inspired. And there’s the flip side, too….. a interesting new ingredient can remind you why you love cooking in the first place and start a whole chain reaction of kitchen experimentation. The first time I tasted pomegranate molasses I think my head almost exploded thinking about the possibilities.
So what are we playing with lately? This month The Hatchery sent me a Spanish spice mix, a creamy-looking chipotle hot sauce, champagne vinaigrette, white chocolate-cinnamon peanut butter, and (the one I’m most intrigued by) black pepper and garlic-infused tea seed oil. I have no idea at all about cooking with tea seed oil, so thankfully The Hatchery also publishes gorgeously photographed recipes on their site that feature the ingredients they carry. The egg pizza with leeks and garlic-pepper tea seed oil is calling my name!
Subscriptions to The Hatchery are on the pricier side ($20-$25 a month) and I try not to worry myself over the extra shipping and packaging involved with these mini-sized jars and bottles (luckily we always find a way to re-purpose these kinds of things), but the way I look at it, it’s helping to support a whole community of small-scale artisan producers and in the end pimping out your pantry is still tons cheaper (and much more tasty) than a lot of dinners out that I can think of.