Today was Snow Day #8, to which I offer a hearty “Ugh!”
Today was also the day I FINALLY got motivated to clean out my spice cabinet and reorganize it. I’ve been saying since last summer that I was going to, because I wasn’t quite sure what was up there anymore, nor could I say how old anything was.
What I found was a surprisingly fresh collection of interesting things. Several jars were obviously ancient – the dust on the top of the caps was fossilized. Out they went. I also had several duplicate jars, so I weeded out the older jars. Into the trash they went. However, most of what I found was less than a year old, which was a nice surprise. After washing down the shelves and the turntables, I set to alphabetizing everything. I know, I know, anal retentive, right? I’m actually not; I’m hopelessly disorganized! My once-in-a-blue-moon organizing jags like this are the only way I can find things when I need them. (Believe it or not, the non-fiction section of our library is set up in Dewey Decimal order, and the fiction alpha by author. Same reason.)
After a good solid hour’s work, here’s what I am left with:
Herbs and Spices
Achiote; ajwain seed; allspice – ground and whole; asafetida; amchur powder; basil – Italian and Thai; bay leaf; caraway seed; cardamom – ground and green and black pods; celery seed; charnushka; chervil; chili powder; cilantro; cinnamon – sticks and ground; cloves – whole and ground; coriander – seed and ground; cream of tartar (not really a spice, but it’s up there anyway); cumin – seed and ground; curry powder (hot); dill – seed and weed; epazote; fennel seed; fenugreek – seed and ground; fines herbes; galangal (ground); ginger – ground, crystallized and dried slices; juniper berries; kala jeera; mace; marjoram – leaf and ground; mint; mustard powder; mustard seed – black and yellow; nutmeg (ground); oregano – Turkish, Mexican and Greek leaf and Mexican ground; onion flakes; paprika – sweet and smoked; parsley; peppers (ground) – cayenne, chipotle and pasilla; poppy seed; pepper (ground) – white and black, peppercorns – black and 4-pepper mix; poultry seasoning; rosemary; saffron; sage; salt – iodized, crystal sea, black and smoked; sesame seeds – white and black; star anise; sumac (ground); tamarind; tarragon; thyme – leaf and ground; turmeric.
Herb and Spice Blends and Mixes
Before you write to me and correct me, I already know that the poultry seasoning and curry powder in the first list are blends. They usually wind up mixed with something else in my cooking – the following list is mostly stand-alone blends.
Balti; Bavarian; BBQ 3000 rub; Belen Blast; Cajun blend; Chinese 5-spice; Crab seafood boil; Dill blend; Emeril’s Essence; Garam Masala; Greek; Italian sausage; Mulling spices; Old Bay; Polish sausage; Rogan Josh; Sate; Seasoned salt; Spike Original; Tandoori; Turkish; Vindaloo; Zatar.
Other Neat Stuff
I also found dried chiles – Sanaam, Piquin, Chipotle, Guajillo, Ancho and New Mexican. YUM! Then there was the assortment of liquid seasonings like liquid smoke, tamari/soy, oils (sesame, olive, mustard, chile), vinegars (balsamic, white balsamic, rice wine, red wine, tarragon, apple cider and white), mirin, worcestershire, rose water and various extracts. There are also fish sauce, horseradish, spice pastes and the like in the fridge.
I think maybe I should retool my menu for the rest of the week. There’s an awful lot to play with now. Following are photos of some of the more unusual things in my newly clean cabinet.
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Ajwain Seed – A member of the parsley family, it’s flavor is similar to (but stronger than) thyme. Used in Indian and East African cooking.
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Cardamom pods (green and black, also shown with seeds from the pods) – Both pods are broken open and used in Indian cooking. Often toasted before cooking, the aroma is sweet. It’s a member of the ginger family.
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Charnushka (aka nigella) – This tiny black seed from a member of the buttercup family, charnushka is found on Jewish rye bread and is used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. It has a vaguely oregano flavor and NO smell.
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Fenugreek seed – This seed is vaguely rhombus-shaped and is the main scent component of curry powder. By itself, it has a nutty flavor, especially when toasted in a skillet before being ground or added to a dish. Used in Indian cooking.
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Kala Jeera – This seed from a member of the parsley family has a flowery, slightly licorice smell. When toasted in a little oil, it changes to a nutty aroma and taste. Used in Indian cooking.
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