The Hippo


May 24, 2020








Spiced Up. Courtesy photo.

Spiced Up

Spiced Up is now accepting subscriptions for July. The cost is $20 monthly with no commitment or $240 for a yearlong subscription. For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit

A world of spices
New subscription service lets you discover exotic spices

By Angie Sykeny

 Two culinary adventurers from Auburn are bringing some exotic flavors to New Hampshire. Spiced Up is a new subscription service that delivers a box of four carefully selected spices from around the world to the subscriber’s door every month. It officially launched earlier this month and will ship its first boxes the third week of July. 

Spiced Up was created by Helen Ryba, producer and host of WBIN-TV’s The Chef’s Plate - A Taste of New England, and Darlene Penrose, an FAA retiree and connoisseur of global cuisine. The “Spice Girls,” as they call themselves, have been friends and neighbors for over a decade, frequently cooking and experimenting with new recipes together.
“We had been talking the past few years about starting a business, and we thought it’d be great to get into something with food,” Ryba said. “I deal with a lot of chefs and cooking for my show … and Darlene has traveled all over the world and has a sophisticated palate, so we make a good partnership.”
Each package contains one full-size featured spice and three smaller sampler spices. The featured spice will come with information about its origin and history, suggestions for how to use it in the kitchen and a tested recipe. Ryba said that soon, they’ll also be posting recipes that incorporate the other three spices on their website. 
The featured spice included in Spiced Up’s debut box is a vindaloo curry spice, paired with a recipe for pork vindaloo.
“Our motto is, ‘Bringing the world to your table,’” Ryba said. “We’ve researched what’s hot right now, and one of the food trends for 2016 is introducing people to new tastes and ways of cooking, so that’s why we’re using spices that are unusual and that you can’t get in the supermarket.”
Spiced Up will ship to anywhere in the country. Subscribers can pay month-to-month and cancel at any time, or they can buy a yearlong subscription and receive a complimentary New Hampshire-made ash spice rack with 12 sample tubes of less exotic premium spices such as basil, ground ginger and crushed red pepper flakes. These spices can also be purchased individually in 1- and 4-ounce quantities, and Ryba said they’re looking into adding spice blends and spices ground fresh to order.   
In addition to the spices, Spiced Up has hand-crafted rubs available for purchase in three varieties: Canadian Love, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, and Jamaican Me Hungry. Ryba said she expects the Jamaican Me Hungry rub to be a big hit. 
“We’ve tried it on shrimp and it’s awesome,” she said. “It has a little bit of heat, a little bit of sweet, and you don’t need to use a lot either. Just dip the shrimp in olive oil, put the rub on it, grill or saute it, and it’s done. It’s so easy to make, anyone can do it. You don’t need to be a gourmet cook.”
More future Spiced Up offerings include “baking boxes” with herbs and spices more suitable for baking and “drink boxes” with kits for herbal and spice-infused liquor. Ryba said they recently purchased three bourbon barrels from a local brewery and are experimenting with barrel-aged spices for the infusions. Spiced Up will be hosting tasting events and featuring their products at farmers markets. 
“A lot of people get into a rut and don’t consider cooking things outside of their repertoire, but I think this is a good way for them to try new tastes and learn about spices,” Ryba said. “The hope is that they’ll continue to use it and start making different dishes they wouldn’t usually make.” 

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