Spring Cleaning In the Spice Cabinet

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Keeping The Kitchen In Order, My Way

For the past year or so, I’ve been home sharing with a lovely young family. Until this month, we’ve shared the kitchen, which worked far better than I ever thought it would. Before this, I shared the kitchen erratically with my son and his wife and her sister, and before that, with my late husband Bud, who had an unusual sense of order. In fact, I think everybody in the world has an unusual sense of order except me, of course. Could this be a pattern?

Well yes. I recall many times when my mom would visit and reorganize my kitchen drawers, saying “I put everything where it really belongs.” Ack!!! Years later, I am still finding things that were randomly stuck who-knows-where, who-knows-why. Anyway, back in the day when my kids were away at school, I lived alone, and it was MY kitchen, I had pretty much everything organized exactly the way I wanted it.

My Dream Kitchen

When Bud and I moved into this house, shortly after our wedding, we loved a lot about it, but we also knew there would be a lot to alter. We had completely gutted the entire main floor when Bud’s cancer came back, and I was cooking in the basement, sometimes by lantern light. When we finally got the new kitchen installed (thanks to dear sons and neighbors), I was absolutely thrilled. It came out exactly the way I wanted it, to the inch.

Finally I had a place to put everything (thanks to Ikea, which at the time carried Consumer Report’s highest rated cabinet hardware). I had such a grand time getting it all set up: a prep station, a baking station, a spice station, pull-outs for my mixers and etc. I absolutely loved it, with a daily happiness, hug-yourself kind of love. Best of all was the big double spice cabinet, where I can fit all my favorite kinds of salt, the various oils and vinegars, the coconut aminos, the jars of nuts and seeds. There’s even a whole shelf just for spices, which I keep in bottles, jars, and tins.

Obsessive? Why Yes!

Now I am going to admit something I feel a little weird about. When I’m the only cook using the kitchen, I alphabetize my spice shelf. In truth, it has been a bit of a moral and emotional struggle to put up with other people’s random behavior (seriously). Not only did salts and peppers and oils and vinegars get all mixed up, but the herbs and spices were so jumbled, they were often even on the Wrong Shelf! Can you believe it? The really sad part was that it actually bothered me. (I’m also obsessive about stacking the dishwasher. Ask anybody.)

This week, I decided to give myself a huge spring cleaning treat and reorganize the entire mess. Doesn’t sound like fun? Oh, but it is! I took everything out, washed the amazingly sticky shelves, and did a preliminary sort. That’s when I discovered that I now have almost 20 kinds of salt, and a dozen kinds of pepper (thanks to my brother Eben, whose awesome food blog link you’ll find below).

Little Boxes Full Of??

I also discovered that quite a few unofficial containers had sneaked in. Plastic baggies full of curry powder, half-empty packets of spice blends, even a few elderly boxes with hard lumps of unidentifiable gunk. Worse yet, some of the herbs and spices were out of date. Horrors! I had a field day tossing out the old, the ugly, and the unwanted (stuff other people bought that I never use).

Now? Ahhh! Everything I want and use, splendidly arrayed in sparkling order. My favorite mochi curry powder is tucked behind the mild curry powder and in front of the red curry powder, the Thai curry paste, and the yellow curry paste (I know, right?). It’s silly how happy it makes me, and even sillier how hard it is to let anybody else rootle around in there looking for something. I just know in my bones they won’t put it back where it belongs…..

You’ll find Eben’s homestyle food blog at: www.urbanmonique.com

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4 Responses to Spring Cleaning In the Spice Cabinet

  1. Teresa Stone says:

    As always I love this post, such a nice thing to get to use up those few beets left in the garden.

  2. website says:

    The cabinet with the spices should be really clean and every herb should be in its very own jar. The reason for that is to keep the flavour of every herb in its own jar. I keep my spices in this way and the flavour do not mix and they stay fresh for long time.

  3. Mona Keets says:

    Thank you for the reminder! My spice cabinet looks awful! I can’t find anything! I can’t see where is the black pepper! That’s a shame, don’t you thing so? I am going to do a little spring cleaning in this cabinet this weekend. Wish me luck!

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