Cooking is so very satisfying, so very sexy
-- though you'd be forgiven for not thinking so, given our nation's strange culinary proclivities. Heat-'n'-eat meals, fad diets and telechefs who insist on kicking things up to notches unknown are the foodie equivalents of a cold shower or an ill-timed phone call from your mom. Get back into the groove at Penzeys Spices, where the simple act of walking through the door awakens every culinary impulse. The shop's aroma is enough to send a cook into raptures -- cardamom and cloves here, star anise and saffron there. Bring a recipe, or just let inspiration strike while wandering amid the meticulously organized jars and canisters. Give your roasted chicken a gourmet boost with the rosemary-and-paprika-based Northwoods seasoning. Fancy up your fish with Singapore seasoning, a curry-lemon blend. Grab a few mulled-wine spice sachets for the impending winter nights (the stuff'll make your house smell as good as the store). Or just keep it wonderfully simple by stocking up on the basics: Hungarian paprika, double-strength vanilla extract, Turkish oregano, ancho peppers. Then call up your favorite gourmand, put on your sassiest apron and leave the phone off the hook. Mrrrraow.