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Monday, March 28, 2011

Spicing up my Life

Reflecting back upon my mother's kitchen, I vaguely remember that she had a little wooden spice rack mounted on the wall. It had maybe 3-4 shelves, 2 or 3 of which were filled with odds and ends; maybe some food coloring, a bottle of vanilla extract, and maybe 3 or 4 other flavorings, a salt and pepper shaker set or two, and then a few spices; salt, pepper, and honestly I cannot remember what else. She seasoned most every dish with garlic salt. My father thought black pepper was a heinous evil, on par with white bread, baking soda and baking powder. (Hence she hid those last 2 items in the cupboard-white bread was not allowed into the house at all-along with any other white flour products, like soda/soup crackers...etc.)

I had not had my own kitchen long (starting only a little over 6-7 years ago, a bit before I married) that I realized I was NOT like my mother. I love exotic spices. I am not into hot spices, but just exotic spices. It probably began back in Portland with my first visit to an East Indian restaurant. I don't do hot curries, but I loved their combinations of spices; the tastes and the smells.

Now that I am married I am often drawn to the exotic dishes that I remember from my visit to Malaysia; much of which was East Indian. Occasionally I modify them so that my husband will enjoy them as well, but they generally call for those non-basic spices; cumin, coriander, turmeric... I found myself collecting more spice jars than I knew what to do with. Two or three years ago I requested a spice rack to help with organizing. Hmmm....

This morning, with a bit of help-as you can see from the picture, I cleaned out my spice cupboard. This is what I found:

My Spice List

Individual bottles:
Bay leaves-whole
Ground cloves-2 small bottles
Whole cloves
Celery seed
Ground cinnamon-two large bottles
Chili powder
Ground ginger
Ground oregano
Apple pie spice
Fennel seed
Ground nutmeg
Cream of tartar
Ground turmeric
Poultry seasonings
Ground mustard
Ground coriander
Garlic powder
Whole cinnamon sticks-1 package

In the Spice Rack:
Italian herbs
Whole mustard seeds
Seasoned salt
Pizza seasonings
Celery salt
Ground black pepper
Dill weed
Oregano flakes
Caraway seed
Bay leaves –chopped

In the picture Ellen is helpfully rearranging my spice rack from being alphabetical to being Ellenetical (whatever THAT may mean).

At any rate, I went through and eliminated some of the spices in the rack. I dumped the stuff I hadn't used since I got them, put stuff from the other bottles into the spice rack bottles and relabeled them. That helped cut down on the clutter greatly. But it's still obvious when you open the cupboard that I have this THING about spices.

Well, at least I know my food isn't all boring.


insideoutput said...

I remember the spice rack well! It was made of blonde wood of some kind or painted yellow, maybe. I think I remember someone saying that Herbie made it. Your description of its contents is spot-on with my recollection. Wonder what happened to it?

Mary Gainey said...

I have a spice rack, a spice cabinet, dried spices, and let me tell ya, the one that I love the momost is coriander! Those huge big seeds, ground up make the most wonderful taste! Second is ginger! Fresh ginger put into just about anything is good! You are an inspiration!

Frau Guten Tag said...

Oh my gosh, I am betting that my mom had the exact same spice rack on her wall, it sounds the same! Wouldn't that be funny??? And I bet my mom's is still there, on her wall!

My mom was the same way, didn't have a whole lot of herbs/spices in the house. But when I started cooking (at the age of 15) I found that I was quickly gathering up quite a few. And it continued over the years. When I married my hubby he did have some, more than my mom, but I brought a whole lot more with me when I moved in, LOL.

I wouldn't say I necessarily go for exotic ones, but I do like good flavor in whatever I am making. I do like hot spice, but the rest of my family does not, so I rarely get to cook with a lot of hot spice. I do also have lots of dried chiles, I LOVE working with them, I love making sauces & things like that & they are really good for that.

As for me, I now keep them in a cabinet in the kitchen, in alphabetical order. People always laugh at the alphabetical order, but when you have so many how on earth would you ever find what you need when you need it if it's not in order I have to ask? If I didn't have them in order I'd probably end up buying 2 or 3 of the same thing!!! Cuz when I couldn't find it I'd assume I was out of it, LOL!!

Unknown said...

Hmmm. Here's my list, in alphabetical order, for all the aforementioned reasons!:

All spice
Almond extract
Bay leaves
Celery flakes
Celery seed
Chili powder
Cinnamon, ground
Cinnamon sticks
Cream of tartar
Cumin seed
Curry powder
Dill weed
Five Spice (Chinese)
Garlic powder
Grill mates montreal steak seasoning
Herbes de Provence
Italian seasoning
Lemon peel
Masala for chicken (Indian)
Masala for meat (Indian)
Mediterranean seasoning
Moroccan seasoning
Mrs. Dash original
Mrs. Dash extra spicy
Dry mustard
One-step chicken seasoning
Dehydrated onions
Onion Powder
Pepper, black
Pepper, cayene powder
Pepper, cayene crushed
Peppermint Extract
Poultry seasoning
Rub with love chicken rub
Sesame seed
Seasoned salt
Southwest seasoning
Vanilla extract

Wow.... makes me wanna get cookin'! Those sweet little spice racks you buy that hold a handful in decorator jars seem silly to me...... Spices and herbs are serious business!

Calfkeeper said...

iop-I think the spice rack just went with the house when she sold it. I am not sure. I will have to ask the next time I talk to her.

Mary and Frau-yes, I love coriander too. And I believe that I am going to try and get some kind of further organization going. Alphabetizing actually is a great idea. The rack is that wasy but,I believe I am going to get rid of the rack to free up some room.

Deb-yeah, the decorator jars aren't working for me; most of them hold much too little to be of any constructive help.