Auspicious spices 

Three up-and-coming entrepreneurial brands are wooing customer taste buds through distinct, simplified approaches to the seasoning business.

Nourished Roots Spice Co. at Scissortail Farmers Market

Photo provided

Nourished Roots Spice Co. at Scissortail Farmers Market

Even with a recipe, measuring spoons and a well-stocked spice cabinet, those untrained in the culinary arts can find seasoning a self-cooked meal from scratch a daunting notion. Too much of one spice or not enough of another can ruin a dish, and the thought of all of those extra steps alone can be enough to reach for convenience foods instead.


Fortunately, a new wave of local seasoning brands is taking the effort and guesswork out of the ordeal for kitchen novices looking to spice up their quality of dining.


The house always wins


For folks in search of a reliable, all-in-one universal blend, Orton's House Seasonings offers a single signature product that promises flavor for just about any protein or vegetable dish. Some customers have tried it on eggs, popcorn, and even prime rib with ecstatic feedback, and others have reported that the picky eaters under their roof love it as well.


The product label indicates that the Orton's House blend dates to 2011, but it has only been the past couple of years that the brand has been available to the public. Owned and operated by Oklahoma City couple Larry and Karen Orton, the business only took root after one momentous family graduation.


"[Our nephew] asked if we would give him a graduation dinner," Karen Orton said. "We said, 'Absolutely, what would you like on the menu?' He said, 'Most definitely Uncle Larry's fried chicken with Orton's Seasoning.'"


To prep the meal, Karen Orton enlisted the help of her caterer cousin, who was so taken with the seasoning that she asked to have the unused leftovers.


"About a week later, she called me and said, 'We put this seasoning on everything! We call it the House Seasoning. Y'all need to put this in a bottle and sell it,'" Karen Orton said. "So that is exactly what we did."


While the House Seasoning has been the Ortons' singular product since launch, they are open to suggestions. Recently, they released a low sodium option due to customer requests, and going forward, they intend to work up a spicy version.


Orton's House Seasonings can be purchased online at ortonshouseseasonings.com, but its seasonings can also be found at multiple shops and food trucks in the state (plus a store in Ohio). This portfolio includes one emotionally resonant storefront in downtown Guthrie, Willoby's Feed & Outfitters, where Karen Orton's grandparents used to purchase feed for their farming work.


"Every time I walk in Willoby's, it brings fond memories of my grandparents and tears of joy knowing they would be ecstatic to see their grandchild’s product in the same store," Karen Orton said.


Globetrotting for wellness


The average Oklahoma kitchen may not seem like a window into adventure, but Nourished Roots Spice Co. invites a world of possibilities to those willing to sample its product line of geographically-minded spice blends.


Health-conscious eaters have gobbled up the brand's strict no-salt, no-sugar, no-calorie approach, allowing them to try out any of the approximate dozen seasonings currently offered by Nourished Roots. These include Greek, Thai, Egyptian, and Jamaican, but there are also options closer to home. The Okie Rub is a strong seller, and another has roots just a couple of states away.


"I am originally from New Orleans, so my Cajun seasoning is my baby," owner Kelsey Farnet said.


Now a five-year OKC resident, the entrepreneur has been to at least half of the places in her spice line with more on her bucket list. It was not travel alone that sparked the idea to launch the new business, however. In addition to studying food in Greece during college which sharpened her skills to become a private chef, she is also a registered dietician.


"I found a gap in the market where people want well-balanced spice blends to easily add flavor and variety to their weekly menus without all the unnecessary additives," Farnet said. "My goal with my spices is to teach people that healthy doesn't have to mean bland."


For consumers still looking to get sodium in their diet, Nourished Roots' products allow folks to separately salt to taste and season to taste to find the ideal custom balance.


"Whether you have hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, or generally just trying to be more aware of your ingredients, my spices are the perfect fit," Farnet said.


Nourished Roots Spice Co. products can be found in an assortment of shops around the state, including Uptown Grocery in OKC, where the entire spice line is shelved at eye level. The seasonings can also be purchased online at nourishedrootsco.com.


"I hope these spices make cooking feel more like an experience and less like a chore," Farnet said. "I want to inspire people to play with new cultural cuisines and eat homemade."


Savoring the outdoors


"What is overlanding? There are many terms and different jargon, but the simplest form is this: glorified car camping," Tate Davis, owner of Overland Spices, said.


Where most spice companies have domestic meals in mind, Overland Spices caters to outdoors enthusiasts. Cooking in the wild is synonymous with scrappy resourcefulness and bare necessities, but as this brand proves, a lean ingredient count doesn't have to translate to a lean appetite.


"There is a giant misconception that if you are camping, you have to rough it," Davis said. "We completely disagree with that. Our goal is to give people the confidence to keep the adventure going once they get to camp."


Launched earlier this year with his wife, Brittni, the Bartlesville-based brand zeroes in on three well-rounded products that provide versatility without sacrificing precious camping space. The Triple Locked blend is an all-purpose offering, the Intents blend has an approachable sweet heat angle, and the Snorkel blend was made with fish in mind.


"It is absolutely delicious on seafood, but honestly, we use this one the most," Davis said. "It is a strong punch of flavor that pairs perfectly with Triple Locked, especially on veggies."


While still very new to the seasoning world, Overland Spices is hooking a niche following with lifestyle shops such as Tulsa's Okie Overland now carrying the brand. Products can also be ordered directly through overlandspices.com.


"I have dreamed of owning my own line of spices and sauces for a long time," Davis said. "I grew up with a father who bled BBQ … Good flavors paired with competing in BBQ competitions [meant] I was always around deliciousness."


Now, with a spice line focused on the overland community, happy campers can always be around deliciousness too.


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Evan Jarvicks

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