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Meet The Merchants: Johanna

Meet The Merchants: Johanna

It is no surprise our spice merchants are passionate about cuisine, but there's more we'd like to know about them. That's why we're excited about our new series called Meet the Merchants. Learn more about the people behind the world's finest spices and discover their favorite spices, recipes, and hobbies.

Q: What’s a favorite spice you've discovered since starting at The Spice House, and why?

A: We’ve been baking with cardamom at my house a lot. My partner loves cardamom, so I've added it to a few different cookie recipes that I bake regularly. We've found it works really well as a nice addition to snickerdoodle and ginger cookies. I've found that it just works really well with other flavors and helps add something savory to my cookies, while not taking away any sweetness. My partner also likes to use it in her tea.

Green Cardamom Pods

Sun-dried cardamom pods tend toward a yellow color. Our kiln drying process, however, keeps them vividly green. Try grinding the pods with coffee beans to make the fragrant Saudi coffee, qahwa, or steeping them in milk to make Afghan tea. While cardamom is indigenous to India, today much of it is grown in Central America. Our cardamom comes to us from Tamil Nadu in India, which produces the world’s best cardamom.


Q: What’s your favorite Spice House blend, and why?

A: It’s a tie between Back of the Yards and Lake Shore Drive They're both so versatile and make almost anything taste better. I especially like the Back of the Yards, as it is the perfect blend of spices that were my go-to before I learned of The Spice House. For Back of the Yards, I use it on pretty much everything, but my favorite thing to cook with it is steak. I've also found that Lake Shore Drive is my favorite way to season broccoli and asparagus before roasting them. Okay, now I'm hungry.

Back of the Yards Garlic Pepper Butcher's Rub

If one flavor combination could represent The Spice House, it is this hard-working butcher's rub. Back of the Yards, our most popular blend, is ideal for grilling, great in burgers, and perfect with fish or eggs. It takes inspiration from the many immigrant cooking traditions that grew out of Chicago's historic meatpacking district.



Lake Shore Drive Shallot & Herb Seasoning

To emulate the elegance and sophistication of Chicago’s famous Lake Shore Drive, we start with hand-grated freeze-dried shallots, powdered green peppercorns, and chives, while the garlic, onion, and salt give this blend an all-purpose versatility. This seasoning blend is perfect for whitefish, shrimp, tuna salad, or any other seafood. Stir into sour cream or yogurt for a quick vegetable dip or use it to season grilled vegetables.


Q: What’s your can't-live-without spice?

A: Garlic. We use garlic for everything in our house! Just in the last month, I've used it for everything from fish to steak to vegetables to pizza sauce. If food is made in my kitchen, unless it's a baked treat, there's a 95% chance garlic is involved.

Granulated Garlic

Our California-grown granulated garlic powder is a versatile weapon in the kitchen. Garlic has its greatest impact when used as a spice. Zest up those chicken breasts, burgers, and bowls of popcorn with a generous sprinkle of garlic. Don't forget to try our roasted garlic powder for a deliciously nutty flavor. One quarter teaspoon of dried garlic is equivalent to one small, fresh clove.


Q: What’s your most cherished recipe?

S'mores Cookies

Q: I've loved baking cookies my entire life, and have worked for three different cookie companies. One summer, while in between jobs and driving for a ride-share part-time, I started baking cookies for friends. My friend Quincy from Los Angeles requested s'mores, which was something I'd never even thought of making. I found a recipe online, don't remember where, and started tinkering with it. I changed the way the graham crackers were involved in the recipe, and added additions like honey or cinnamon, dependent on which kind of graham crackers I was using. It's really special to me because it's the first cookie recipe that I turned into my own. It's inspired me to start developing more cookies that can only be described as "EXTRA", and it's even got me learning how to make graham crackers and marshmallows.


Bonus Questions

Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A: NY Strip steak, roasted broccoli, and a baked potato.

Q: What are three items you’d take with you to a deserted island?

A: Airplane, boat, and cell phone.

Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you were older?

A: Professional wrestler.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that’s true but sounds unbelievable.

A: I can twist my feet all the way around.




Michelle K. Duggins on February 17th, 2021

Hi Josh, Love your hair color! And I love your spices so much! They are fresh and for sale in small amounts, so I always have fresh spices on the shelf. Speaking of Cardamom, I love it in my hot chocolate, coffee and especially in my home made apple pie. I always use your apple pie spice in pie my but I also add about 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom too. Everyone loves the different flavor. Thanks for the recipes too.

Carmella on February 17th, 2021

We were completely taken with the Spice House when visiting for my grandson’s naval graduation almost 4 years ago. Since then, we’ve ordered on line. There are plenty of places to get spices here (we live outside of the Houston area), but we have found none better!

Jackie Nilson on February 16th, 2021

I am Swedish and Scandinavians use cardamom a lot. I used tomake a cardamom coffeecake. It is more like a bread and give to my neighbors at Christmas time. My mother-in-law tried using the green pods and found they were not the same and was not as good as the sun dried one which the Scandinavians use.

Sharon Abraham on February 16th, 2021

Wow, Josh seems like a great find to add to the rest of SH’s wonderful staff (anyway sounds like his likes are similar to mine).

Betty Wilmoth on February 16th, 2021

I love the idea of cardamon added to snickerdoodle cookies. I would appreciate a starting point as to how much to add. I love to cook, but don’t do well with guesses. For example if you said 1/2 t. I might add 3/4 t. or a scant 1/2 t. But I would want a starting point.
Thank. you,

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