What’s cookin’ in the kitchen – Spicy Edition

Jason and I have undertaken a personal challenge to eat out less and to cook more.  Both of us have cooked recreationally in the past but we’re getting serious about it now.  It’s been great to flex our kitchen’s muscles.  And we’re letting the regularity with which we use pots, pans, and kitchen tools dictate how and where they are stored in the kitchen.

Nine months ago (!) I groused about my spice storage situation. See it here.   It was just a jumbled mess of spice containers in the cabinet.  I wasn’t thrilled with how much space the spices took up in my upper cabinets.  I can’t remember what spurred it, but suddenly inspiration struck!  We had two whole drawers we weren’t using.  Thus, the spice drawer was born:

Spicy clutter

Now, we love the location and the idea of the spice drawer.  The one drawback?  You couldn’t see what the heck spice you were pulling out!  We were constantly rifling through the drawer and cursing at our lack of organization.  There are devices designed to allow you to lay your spices down in a drawer, but I didn’t believe our spice collection could still fit into one drawer if we used that method.  In the end, we opted to leave the spices standing and to label the top of each bottle using my trusty label maker.  (The maker was a very thoughtful gift from Jason several years ago.  I have mostly used it in office applications, but it worked beautifully for this project!)

label maker
Office supplies in the kitchen!

In an effort to use as little tape as possible, I ran my spice words together and just left one space in-between each so that I could cut them apart.  I also knew that I was working with a limited amount of space on the top of each spice bottle, so I wanted the narrowest margins possible.

spice labels
Abbreviated spice names
So tidy!
labeled spices
A-Z (actually A-Thyme)

Aren’t they pretty?

I opted to organize them alphabetically (I’m a librarian!)  I imagine over time that the spices we use most often will gravitate to one side of the drawer and that the less popular, glasses-wearing spices will congregate in a corner on the other side of the drawer (I’m talking about you caraway and celery seed).

…It was tempting to organize them using Simon & Garfunkel lyrics…

Simon & Garfunkel reference
Hippie spices

A few spicy  thoughts:

We order the majority of our spices through The Spice House in Chicago, Illinois, USA.  We visited their brick and mortar shop while we were on a food tour of the Gold Coast area of Chi-town.  (We highly recommend it!  Really fantastic experience!)  TSH sells individual spices and also has some great “starter spice sets” and themed collections that make great gifts.  (I’m not a paid spokesperson, I just love their stuff!)

TSH spices are fresh and you can get all kinds of unique things.  Conveniently, they all come in nice, uniform glass bottles.  When we run low, we order a refill for our existing bottles.  I know that my labels will have an indefinite lifespan as we don’t throw those bottles out.

Garlic refill

For my store-bought jars, I could probably just purchase the same brand/size spice that I currently have and swap the old lid onto the new spice jar if I want to retain the label.  Now we’re really ready to cook something spicy!

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