Saturday, June 14, 2008

The spice must flow.

evening cabinet

[A version of this post first appeared on Bakespace in October, 2007]

That morning, instead of making biscuits first thing (as I had promised myself) I got sidetracked cleaning out the spice cabinet (really just one shelf of my cabinets) to see if I had celery seed to use to make pickle relish later.*

Unfortunately, I don't have a real spice cabinet, so I can never see all my spices at once. I do have a little shelf that elevates some of them so I can fit more in, but there are still many bottles and bags that are hidden. This being so, I decided to make a list of what I have so that I can tell when I'm making a recipe if I have the spice(s) called for without ripping the cabinet apart.

I am a bit startled by the contents of my cabinet. Not including some random baking supplies (food coloring, a small mortar and pestle, sprinkles, chocolate, etc.) I came across the following spices and extracts (admitting duplicates by listing them twice):

Allspice, ground
Allspice, homemade substitute (which I made once when I thought I was out of allspice!)
Allspice, whole
Almond extract
Aneth (see dill seed)
Apple pie spice
Basil leaves
Bay leaves
Blackened fish seasoning
Bread-dip seasoning
Cajun, Very hot
Caraway seed
Cardamom, ground
Cardamom, ground
Cayenne red pepper, ground
Celery salt
Celery seed
Chervil, Holland
Chili pepper, whole dried
Cinnamon sticks
Cinnamon, Chinese Cassia ground
Cinnamon, ground
Cinnamon, ground
Cinnamon, Vietnamese Cassia
Cloves, ground
Cloves, whole
Coriander, ground
Cream of Tartar
Cumin seed
Cumin seed, India ground
Cumin, ground
Curcuma (see turmeric)
Curry powder
Curry powder, hot
Curry powder, Maharajah
Dill Seed (French = Aneth)
Dill weed
Fennel seed
Five-spice powder
Garlic salt
Garlic, granulated
Ginger, ground
Ginger, ground
Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence
Marjoram leaves
Mint extract
Mulling spice
Mustard seed
Mustard, hottest ground
Nutmeg, ground
Nutmegs, whole
Onion salt
Oregano, whole
Paprika, Hungary sweet
Paprika, sweet
Peppercorns, red
Peppercorns, whole black
Poppy seeds
Pumpkin pie spice
Red pepper, crushed
Sage, ground
Salt, black Hawaiian sea
Seasoned salt
Shallot salt
Southwest seasoning
Sumac berries, Turkish ground
Thyme, ground
Turmeric (French – Curcuma)
Vanilla extract
Vanilla sugar
Wasabi powder

The above are roughly alphabetized in the cabinet (only roughly because I moved my most-used spices to the front and my little-used spices to the back) every few months for about 2 days, but at least I have a list now and in theory won't buy more duplicates. The French spices are from a trip to Paris this past year, where we couldn't resist a few spices that looked good even though we weren't sure exactly what we were buying.

I should say, in my defense regarding duplicate spices, that when Rachel moved into a new apartment (years ago! I know you're supposed to throw spices out, but I only do when they smell weird or taste like nothing) she gave me all of her spices and some of them were things I already had. And sometimes when I order from Penzeys they throw in a free sample or two of something that I might already own.

Is it bad that this project (and typing this reckoning) just makes me want to open my Penzeys catalog and order more?! Well, I do need a hotter chili powder for our next Elote dinner.

*You should try a bit of relish on TOP of (not inside; spread with mustard) a fresh grilled-cheese sandwich.

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