March 18, 2009

The Spice Rack

Since my world (and my mind) is falling apart and I don't really want to write about it right now, I've decided to write about something that makes me randomly and strangely happy: My spice rack.

When I was younger, I used to love the smell of my mom's spice cupboard. She had a big green turny thing that had to levels so that you could spin it and see all the spices on it (in theory). (It was usually so full that things would fall off of it at random intervals, and then the whole thing would get stuck.) I used to open it just to smell all the flavors mingling together. It was always delightful. I'm not sure I've ever told anyone that before. Maybe Ben.

When I moved into my apartment, one of the things that I loved was that it had spice cupboards built into the wall, and when I opened them, I could still smell the spices--bay leaves, thyme, rosemarry, and other spices all mingling together in a savory aroma. Of course, I didn't know how to cook, so after I moved in, the cupboard was usually full of condensed soup.

But now that I do know how to cook, I have been carefully selecting a spice or two each grocery trip to add to my cupboard. And it smells delightful again. I love opening it and looking in at all the little bottles of ground up flavors as the scents waft out towards me. I love smelling garam masala and basil and rosemarry. I love the way the coriander and the cardamom overwhelm everything else. I love the tiny little bottle of vanilla extract. I love my seasalt grinder and my pepper tin. I love the enormous bottles of cumin and turmeric and Chinese 5 Spice that I got from Target in their Archer Farms spice section (which is the best deal around, especially if you use a lot of something). I think back on all the things I've learned how to make, and I look forward to all the things that we are going to make, and I can't help but feel good inside. The whole thing makes me smile.

What I want to get is the bottle that has a few strands of saffron that I saw in the grocery store the other day, but at 15 bucks or more a pop and with no real use for it, I guess I have to hold off. I once had a lemon saffron chicken dish with dill rice at a Greek restaurant that I loved and would love to try to duplicate. But ah, well, times are tough all over, I guess. You gotta take your smiles where you can get them, even if your meals don't include saffron right now.

Posted by LoWriter at March 18, 2009 02:00 PM

ahhh spices!! there are a few that i cannot live without, and a few newbies that i've added. i cannot live without sea salt and fresh pepper. of course i keep the standard staples like rosemary, thyme and oregano, but i prefer those in fresh form (this year's garden is going to kick arse). my newbies are nutmeg and rooster sauce.

a nutmeg is a tiny brown thing and you grind it with a grater and is extremely diverse... i put fresh nutmeg in my hot cocoa, my chicken dishes, my cream soups and i recently experimented by putting it in sketti sauce. i didnt notice a difference there. ;o)

the rooster sauce is that orange hot chili thai sauce that comes in a bottle with a green cap and a rooster on the side. it's hotter than tobasco and has a different sort of kick to it. i bought it for Ma Pao that i made recently but have used it on mac & cheese and quasi-asian dishes since.

i agree - opening the spice cabinet is a peaceful yet invigorating/inspiring experience!!!

Posted by: dr gonzo at March 19, 2009 09:56 AM
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