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Spicy Spring Cleaning


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Look at how CLEAN this cupboard is!

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Don’t blink, because you may miss it, and it may never happen again.

A while ago, Suzanne challenged us to spring clean the kitchen. One big sweep through the kitchen to clean the cupboards and drawers.

…I tried, really I did. Now I aim for one cupboard or drawer cleaning a week.

I was almost at the “Good enough” cleanliness-stage, but then the MIL moved in, added all her stuff to mine, and it was a lost cause.

The spice cupboard was the one to suffer the most. I threw out at least half of the spices she brought in, as most were not just old, but OLD-OLD. There was a package of nutmeg from 2001, and a can of baking powder from 1997. No joke.

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Experts say spices should be used within a year, but the stuff I use rarely sometimes gets pushed to the back and forgotten about. Nowadays, I try to do a twice-yearly cleaning. Everything gets pulled out of the cabinet. No exceptions.

Ignore the egg-cartons. Those are for next week.

This particular cabinet was overflowing to the point the doors would no longer close. More than once I opened the doors, something dropped out onto a plate below, breaking it.

It was time.

All the old spices get consolidated, used right then, or food processed into mixtures for rubs or “flavors”.

These got mixed for a spicy “base” to Asian or Mexican dishes.

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I am pretty liberal with my flavor descriptors.

I blend the spices in the food processor, pour it into a jar, and label it. If that jar isn’t used by the next round of cleaning, the chickens get it.

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Oddly enough, I find I use the mixes/rubs up pretty quickly. Maybe I just like short-cuts?

This one was loosely labeled: “Middle Eastern” or “Poultry/Fish”. Apparently my MIL really, really likes rosemary, because there were 5+ bottles of rosemary in varous states.

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Or, like me, she tended to push bottles to the back of the cabinet and forget about them.

I also made an “Italian” mix, which is already mostly gone. YAY! I love using up items that would have otherwise been wasted, but I LOVE the extra space in the cabinet more!

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Larissa blogs at The Henway.

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Posted by on April 19, 2011 | Permalink  

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8 comments | RSS feed for comments of this post

  1. 4-19

    Hello, great post! Would you be willing to put up some rub recipes? I would love to try making some.


  2. 4-19

    Hmm never thought of making rubs, just pull out 4-5 bottles of the same stuff each time I cook bbq/italian/mideast/ whatever. Making rubs great idea!

  3. 4-19

    Great idea! I just bought a package of garam masala (an indian mixture) that didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I’m convinced I’m going to have to mix it myself to get what I want.

    I don’t think my food processor can handle whole nutmegs, tho. lol I think I’m going to toss them into my next batch of potpourri.

  4. 4-19

    Great job. Doesn’t it feel good when you finish it. I would have liked to see the last picture be the finished product. All the stuff back in the cupboard. My grandpa made me a spice cabinet many years ago. You can find each spice so much easier. When my daughter got married she wanted one for her home. I was able to buy one that is agjustable (it lengthens) from a Spencer House catalog. I feel so organized with it because I can alphabetize them. It makes finding them quicker.

  5. 4-19

    Larissa, have you tried Blackening Seasoning. I use it for grilling anything I can get it on mostly and it uses lots of spices. Also I make a creole seasoning and make soft fresh milk cheese and add it to the cheese for a spread.
    I have been suffering with MIL cupboards for 4 years as I moved into her house YEARS after she died and she left more spices that some stores have. I gave away over a gallon of pickling spice, not to mention all the cinnamon I inherited etc.I actually think I am down to mine now.
    You can do my cupborad anytime you like.

  6. 4-19

    Thanks, everyone!

    I don’t have any specific recipies…I just combine the spices that are alike. Kinda. It’s by the seat of my pants, really.

    BUT–I do have combinations I tend to lean towards–ones that can be used for rubs, or added to rice while cooking, or soup, or whatever.

    I will write up a post for more specific combinations, ok?

  7. 4-19

    Great job, Larissa!!!!!

    @Ramona .. 😉 it’s her first pic…Look at how CLEAN this cupboard is!

  8. 4-21

    Spice mix recipes: creating spice mixes aren’t really difficult if you remember what the key flavours for each kind of cuisine. For example, the key ingrediant in Mexican or TexMex spice mixes would be cumin. That herb adds the special taste that turns a spice mix into “Mexican.” If you look at pre-packaged chili spice mixes in the supermarket (and forget the salt which seems to be the number one “spice” in all of them. Cumin, dried chilis ground up or powdered–cayenne, chipotle, red pepper, whatever you have, also paprika, oregano, black pepper. Add some onion powder and a garlic powder you’ve got your own homemade Mexican chili powder. As for quantities–use a lot of paprika, oregano and cumin in almost equal portions. Add hot and mild dried ground pepper to your own “spiciness” taste. Add about a quarter of the measure of paprika you used (that is, if you added 2 tablespoons of paprika then add only 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder and about the same or a little less of garlic powder.

    Fish and chicken mixes can include onion powder, less garlic powder, black or white pepper or lemon pepper. Then throw in left over quantities of herbs like tarragon (a little goes a long way but it is delicious), oregano, basil, little curry powder, whatever herb is hanging around that you might use on a roasted chicken. Throw in a tablespoon or so chicken bouillon. Grind or crush and mix.

    Get the idea?

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