Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spice Drawer

I was at the grocery store the other day, spotted a bottle of Five Spice powder, and snagged it.  Then when I got home realized my spice drawer is a little on the full side.  I really have a good collection of spices.  And I use them all.   I took a picture of my drawer to post here and then realized that all you could see in there were the bottles.

So here they are, all lined up, in categories, lol.

I've learned to buy spices in the smallest containers I can, at least of those spices I use occasionally.   And when I open the container I mark the date on there with a Sharpie.  This gives me an idea of how long something has been opened, and when I should chuck it.
I'm like a lot of people, some spices get a workout and others tend to be used sparingly, but when I'm cooking or baking I want to be able to reach down and pull out the right spice.

I'll start with the baking spices first.    I'm Danish so I always, and I do mean always, have Cardamom on hand.   No powdered Cardamom for me, I have the whole ones and crush up what I need when I need it.  And it's amazing how often a touch of Cardamom transforms a dish.    I just picked up some whole nutmeg, which I'll use my Microplane on to just add a touch of nutmeg to recipes.  I also have whole cloves, and some powdered ginger on hand.   Cinnamon is a must, it's used in so many recipes, or you can do what I do to freshen the air in the room.   I just dump a tablespoon or so into a small pot and let it simmer for a few minutes before company comes- it's amazing what that does.  You can also add a little ginger and nutmeg to make it smell really good at the holidays.  I have some Star Anise, but that was an impulse buy, and I haven't used any of it yet.   And I have to remember the cream of tartar, which is essential for egg whites, it helps to keep the volume and reduces weeping when baked.

Then there are the cooking spices.   I don't always have garlic powder or onion powder on hand, I usually only buy them when I make my  Pulled Pork     &     Pulled Pork, part 2.     But I do have and do use all of the ones here in the picture.
 Dill, seasoned salt, Bay Leaves, Steakhouse seasoning grinders, Herb de Provence, Natures Season (salt free), Pepper Grinder, Ground Cumin, Italian Seasoning, Garlic, Paprika, Diced Green Pepper, Poultry Seasoning, Whole Celery Seed, Thyme, Fennel, Sage, Crushed Red Pepper, Turmeric, Sesame Seeds, Onion Powder, Ground Red Pepper and there is some Ground White Pepper sitting on top of the Thyme.
And then there's these:
 Thai Red Pepper, Whole Cloves, Star Anise, Cumin Seeds, Wasabi, Chervil and some Dipping Spices.
And last but not least, this really cool spice rack my sister gave me many years ago.   And the spices have been refilled from time to time.

There's also Mustard seed, dried dill seed, basil, good Sea Salt, and Peppercorns. 
And that takes care of all the dried spices and herbs.  For fresh I keep a lovely flat leaf parsley plant, some chives, a rosemary plant and always have fresh garlic, onions and ginger root on hand. If you keep fresh ginger root in the freezer  you can just take it out and use your Microplane on it to get some freshly ginger into whatever you're making or baking.  

I don't have anything fancy, just some of what I consider basics.  And I'm always up for trying out new flavors so I'm sure my spice collection will grow, but for now, this is it.

Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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