By Montana Grant

Posted: July 30, 2023

Big Sky Country has its own special vistas, places, and flavors. Food without spices can be less appealing. There are also more to spices than just salt and pepper.

Some spices were used to cure and flavor meats. Salt can be found naturally and is considered an important natural resource. The salt would help to remove moisture from meat to allow it to be stored for later use. The salty flavor also enhanced the natural flavors of all foods.

Different ecosystems have a menu of different, spicy plants. Not all spices grow in the same places. At one time, we were limited to local spices. Today, we can get spices from around the world. Using these spices creatively can result in wonderful flavorful dishes.

Back in the day, in Maryland, my friend Steve Shaffer would come to class with a different smell every day. He worked at the McCormick Spice Co. in the inner harbor of Baltimore. Monday meant cinnamon smell, Tuesday was Basil, Wednesday was pepper, etc. Each day, they would receive spice shipments from around the world. Steve would smell like the deliveries. Old Bay spice day was my favorite. This special blend was for steamed crabs, shrimp, and fish.

The world class chef Emeril made his own spice blend. He called it Emeril’s Essence. This one mix flavored most of his recipes. To make this blend more for chicken, he would add more rosemary and thyme. For a Creole blend he added more paprika and pepper. Fish blends contained more dill and ground ginger. You can tune the flavors for your personal tastes and cultural desires.

Hunting and fishing camps need special spices. Backpacking in a dozen or more ground spices takes up a lot of room in the cook box. Instead of a dozen containers, blend up just one mix and give it your own special name. Maybe call it Montana Gold Dust, River Rocks, or Cooking Gunpowder.

My special Blend is called Montana Grant’s Grit.

                2 ½ tbsp. paprika

                1 tbsp onion powder

                2 tbsp of ground salt, and pepper, each

                1 tbsp cayenne pepper

                1 tbsp thyme

                1 tbsp oregano

                1 tsp. of ground mustard

                1 tbsp garlic powder

                A pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.


Measure out each of the dried spices and mix. Place in an airtight bottle. Glass is best but a plastic shaker bottle is more practical. Label and enjoy. You can add a silicone desiccant pack to the container to prevent any moisture buildup.

Bulk spices are way cheaper than store bought brands. Premixed spices are also way cheaper when you make your own. You will know that you blended up a winner when folks begin to comment on your dishes.

Most food and recipe critics complain that dishes are often under spiced. You left out something or did not have enough of something. Salt and pepper are just part of where flavors begin to build a great meal.

Montana Grant’s Grit goes in the eggs for breakfast, the soup for lunch, and the steaks at dinner. I use my True Grit as a rub on most meats like fish, steak, pork, and chicken. Each meat brings a different flavor outcome to the grit blend. The aromatics add a wonderful smell to the tastes.

Add some spice to your next campout!

Montana Grant

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