the seasoning to be jolly

This recipe is of unrecalled origin. I found it jotted down on an aged-until-brown, fragile, and partially torn scrap of paper in my desk. It had undoubtedly been lying around for a few years, probably the mid ’80s, forgotten and untitled.

But I recall that I had seen the list of ingredients on a commercial product and thought “I can make this myself, but better!” The scrap of paper attests that I did make it, and, if you try it I think you will agree that the store-bought version could not have been better.

I put the recipe in a safe place where I surely would find it again (on my desk, among the growing pile of recipe notes), and then proceeded to forget all about it. But one batch lasts a long time; by the time I had finished it, I didn’t remember having jotted it down. So in the intervening years I continued to make the sprinkles from memory. Somehow, they never quite seemed as good as that first try. Since having been reunited with my original recipe, I have used it happily ever since.

The proportioning of ingredients shown below is a matter of (my) taste. You may be able to discern by inspection of quantities that I started with one tablespoon of everything listed on the product’s label, and maybe a few others that were not. Those ingredients that no longer follow this formula reflect the iterative process of perfecting the final combination.

I probably like my sprinkles a little spicier than perhaps does the average person, so you may want to decrease or omit the amount of an ingredients to suit your own taste.

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp dried powdered mustard
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • ½ tbsp allspice
  • ½ tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp ground fennel seed
  • 1½ tbsp ground cayenne chile
  • ½ tbsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp <salt>

Mix all the ingredients together and put into a bottle with a perforated shaker top and air-tight lid. Label it “Jolly Seasoning” or some other title of glad tiding.

Sprinkle to taste on eggs, chops, or vegetables. Mix with soy sauce when making a Chinese stir-fry.

Makes about 5½ ounces.