Supermarket shelves sag under the many aromatic seasonings made for shaking and sprinkling on our food. Grocery bags bulge with prepared spice mixtures for dips, stews, ragouts, tacos and chili. All have been prepared to someone else's taste -- and we hope they will suit our own tongues.

The French buy traditional "house" blends, most notably e'pices compose'es (composed of basil, sage, coriander, mace, thyme and bay leaf) and e'pices fines (generally made up of rosemary, marjoram, sage, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, mace and white pepper). These have been blended to the French taste.

The idea put forth here, however, is to make our own "home" blends, something unlike what's available at the su permarket, something that your neighbor is unlikely to be using.

Herbs and spices add an important dimension to the soups, sauces, main courses, vegetables, even the desserts, that are a part of everyday eating. I have custom made these herb-and-spice blends to help out the conscientious cook. Having them all made up means that you can add a fast, dramatic boost to your daily cooking.

They are also a starting point, to stimulate not only your taste buds but also an interest in developing blends that your neighbor could not be using.

These blends have been created to work in various food categories, a spice mixture for baking, an herb mixture for beef, lamb, pork and veal, a mixture for fowl, one for fish and shellfish, a vegetable season and a salad dressing-sauce mixture.

The fish and shellfish mixture, for example, can transform a pound of cooked shrimp into a lovely main course, with minimal effort: Cook chopped garlic and onion in a butter until the onion has softened; add a teaspoon or two of seasoning and cook briefly just until the seasoning perfumes the air. Then add the shrimp and saute' just until they turn opaque, splashing on a little lemon juice.

The other mixtures are equally valuable.

To Everything There Is a Seasoning

To assemble the "home" seasoning mixtures, measure out the herbs and spices, a recipe at a time, directly into the jar with a funnel or into a small bowl, whichever is more convenient. Once the blend is in the jar, seal it and shake vigorously to mix the contents.

Label the jars as to the contents and their uses, then store them in a cool, dark place, away from the intense heat of the oven. Pour extra herbs and spices purchased in bulk from their little plastic sacks into clean, dry jars and date them. Spice and herb jars should be sealed tightly.

The blends that follow (along with some suggestions for their use) are intended as seasoning mixtures, not as salt substitutes. A little salt has been added in each recipe (except the baking mixture) only to bring out the flavors of the other herbs and spices, not as a dominant seasoning for flavoring the food.

Salt, alone and with other spices, draws moisture from food during the cooking process, which is why when it is added in the beginning it should be done so sparingly. BEEF/PORK/LAMB/VEAL SEASONING (Makes about 1/3 cup or 2 2/3 ounces)

Individually intense, the following spices blend to highlight the distinctive taste of beef, pork, lamb or veal. Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each 3 pounds of meat in recipes that call for braising or slow covered cooking, for a deep, balanced, aromatic flavor. Or use about 2 teaspoons of the seasoning per 2 pounds of meat in dry or liquid marinades; for dry marinades, massage meat with the herbs and spices, for a liquid marinade, heat the herbs and spices in the liquid(s) used in the recipe, then cool to room temperature and pour over meat.

To heighten the taste of barbecued food, you can mix 4 tablespoons of the seasoning spice in 1 cup water for 15 minutes, drain well, and spread over hot glowing coals when grilling cuts of beef or lamb. The herbed smoke perfumes the meat in a wonderful way.

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves, lightly crushed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 teaspoon ground bay leaf

3/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably freshly milled kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all of the ingredients in a 1/2 cup (4 ounce) jar. Seal tightly and shake well to distribute the herbs and spices. Store the seasoning mixture on a cool, dry pantry shelf.

CHICKEN/TURKEY SEASONING (Makes about 1/3 cup or 2 2/3 ounces) This heavenly scented toss of herbs and spices adds an intriguing lift to fowl, as it is evenly balanced by tarragon and marjoram, and rounded out with chervil, thyme and oregano. Two teaspoons season 3 pounds of chicken or turkey admirably, strengthening the flavor of the finished dish. The blend makes a fine addition to chicken fricassees and ragouts.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon dried chervil leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves, lightly crushed

2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, lightly crushed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably freshly milled kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a 1/2 cup (4 ounce) jar. Seal tightly and shake well to distribute the herbs and spices. Store the seasoning mixture on a cool, dry pantry shelf. FISH/SHELLFISH SEASONING (Makes about 1/3 cup or 2 2/3 ounces)

The flavoring strength of this mixture is not too bold, and perfect for enlivening a simple swordfish steak, fish chowder or ragout, composed fish and shellfish stew, or stuffing mixture destined for filling the cavity of a whole fresh fish. The elusive hint of ground ginger is an Eastern enhancement -- it lightens the other spices, and a hint of ginger is said to blot out any "fishy" flavors from most fish preparations. This spice blend should be used to highlight fish, not to obliterate its taste; thus it is wise to use it by the sprinkle: 1 1/2 teaspoons of the seasoning will suffice for 1 1/2 pounds of fish, taking into account that you will most likely use other flavoring agents in its preparation.

2 tablespoons freeze-dried snipped chives

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon dried tarragon leaves, lightly crushed

2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves, lightly crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably freshly milled kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted and finely crushed

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all of the ingredients in a 1/2 cup (4 ounce) jar. Seal tightly and shake well to distribute the herbs and spices. Store the seasoning mixture on a cool, dry pantry shelf. VEGETABLE SEASONING (Makes about 1/3 cup or 2 2/3 ounces)

It's the snipped chives that keep this seasoning spice tasting brisk and perky -- 1 teaspoon of it flicked over a me'lange of steamed vegetables brightened with a squeeze of lime juice makes a tasty side dish; use it in baked potato gratins, braised vegetable dishes and simmered vegetable stews and ragouts, figuring on about 2 teaspoons to each 1 1/2 pounds of vegetables.

2 tablespoons freeze-dried snipped chives

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon dried chervil leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon dried tarragon leaves, lightly crushed

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably freshly milled kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a 1/2 cup (4 ounce) jar. Seal tightly and shake well to distribute herbs and spices. Store the seasoning mixture on a cool, dry pantry shelf.

SALAD DRESSING/SAUCE SEASONING (Makes about 1/3 cup or 2 2/3 ounces)

Oil and vinegar-based (and creamy) salad dressings, mayonnaise and dipping sauces all benefit from pinches of this seasoning spice. For each 3/4 cup salad dressing -- or mayonnaise -- whisk in about 1/2 teaspoon of the spice blend; thicker dressings may need a little more seasoning.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon dried chervil leaves, lightly crushed

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably freshly milled kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon powdered dry mustard

Combine all of the ingredients in 1/2 cup (4 ounce) jar. Seal tightly and shake well to distribute herbs and spices. Store the seasoning mixture on a cool, dry pantry shelf.

BAKING SEASONING

(Makes about 1/3 cup or 2 2/3 ounces)

Sweet cinnamon is the spice that dominates this baking mixture, although the nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves and mace in smaller quantities add their own intense characteristics. Generally, I use 2 teaspoons of this spice blend for every 2 cups of flour, and include the spice in yeast doughs for coffee cakes, gingersnaps, oatmeal cookies, and in blondies; the spice blend rounds and softly seasons mousse and ice cream mixtures, especially those desserts featuring coffee, rum, maple, macaroon or coconut flavorings. I also include the spice in rich butter, pound and keeping cakes, and in hot or warm poached fruit compotes.

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg (1 whole nutmeg, grated, equals about 2 1/2 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

Combine all of the ingredients in a 1/2 cup (4 ounce) jar. Seal tightly and shake well to distribute the spices. Store the seasoning mixture on a cool, dry pantry shelf.