Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping Creative Kitchens #6

Herbs and spices are, in my opinion, the backbone of the kitchen. It would be a rather bland kitchen without them and the dishes coming from that kitchen would be rather boring and blah. I'm a bit of a dump-and-pour-eyeball-it-it's-fine cook (yes, that's definitely a technical term :)) and I love going to my spice cabinet to see what flavors appeal for whatever sauce or soup I'm creating. Some of my favorites are rosemary, dill, cumin, chili powder, Italian seasoning, and curry. Andrew's favorite is cilantro.

Herbs and spices are expensive when you go to buy them at the grocery store. And I've heard you should refresh your spices frequently but who can afford to? I pretty much use them until they are gone with no negative flavors thus far - I think they have decreased potency over time. So here is my tip - go to your local health food store or bulk foods store and you can buy all of your favorite spices by the ounce at a fraction of the grocery store cost. I also love the fact that I can buy a small amount of something I want to try without breaking the bank and without being stuck with a big container of something I'll never use again.

For those of you in the area, I use Georgetown Market - hopefully the rest of you have something similar. It's fun to go in and see all the options! I'm just amazed at the offerings and happy that I can measure the amount I want. This week I bought pizza seasoning and can't wait to try it in the sauce for our next pizza night!

I also want to highlight this magazine, The Herb Companion. I first saw this at the Green Festival in Chicago and loved it! Growing fresh herbs during the spring and summer is one of my hobbies as well as using a variety of dried herbs and spices. The magazine includes recipes as well as health & decorative uses for herbs. It also has tips on growing them successfully. One of my goals is to start a window herb of these days. :) So next time you are in need of some spices - forgo the traditional grocery and check out by-the-ounce availability!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by Keeping Creative Kitchens! I'm looking forward to all your great ideas, recipes, and resources. Feel free to grab the button for your post - you don't have to know me to play along and you don't have to participate to comment or ask questions! :)

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1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (I am fully aware that there will probably not be many - or any :) - participants but I think this will make participation easier!).
2) Your entry can include a new recipe (either your own creation or a new-to-you-recipe), favorite recipe, success, tablescape/centerpiece, short-cut, ingredient, tradition, book, magazine, tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website or any thing else that keeps you inspired in your kitchen.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you prepare meals, care for your family, and entertain!


Barbara D said...

Your spice rack makes rotating easy!

Alaina said...

:) - I wrote that late last night...I think I better fix it...I'm not sure what I was even meaning. :)

Amy K said...

Great post! Have you been to Penzey's? So fun!

I used to buy spices in bulk--in CA my "regular" grocery store had an excellent spice/nut/dried fruit bulk section. Now, I have to make and extra trip and with kids that hasn't happened recently! Maybe again someday ... :)

You know what I really need to figure out is a good system for organizing spices. I have a rotating rack too but it only has a limited amount of spices it holds. And all my containers are different sizes and shapes! If you have any tips (or anyone else), let me know!


Alicia said...

I also like Penzey's. I think their prices are pretty good, much less than the grocery store. They have some hard to find stuff too.

Alicia said...

P.S. My rotating rack is also full. I keep some larger bottles of stuff next to it, and I have a basket where I keep the bulk extras (I buy some refills from Penzey's that come in bags) and store them on the top shelf one of our bookcases.

Anonymous said...

Amy, in my cupboard, I use a flat spinner rack and organize all those odd shaped and sized containers by alphabetic order around the rack.

Heather said...

Great post - and so nice to know this - I did not know you could purchase by the ounce! :)

Heather L. said...

I need to try to get to Georgetown (can you believe I've NEVER been there!) It might be more feasible than driving to Broad Ripple where I got my spices last.

My mother-in-law does the rotating/alphabetizing thing too. :)

Micah said...

I love Penzey's too, Amy! Their prices are great, and their spices are so fresh. I've never had a system to brag about, but when we moved to this house, I used one of my shallow island drawers for my spices, and that has been my favorite system thus far - maybe because I'm so short and hate reaching and knocking everything over in the process of looking for something off a turn around ;).

Thanks for hosting, Lains!

Alaina said...

I've never been in a Penzey store but we were given some of their spices as a wedding gift. I'll have to check out the store - they probably have a ton more than Georgetown!

As far as organizing - I actually don't love my spinning rack. I haven't quite convinced myself to get rid of (not sure why). I have two lazy susans on the bottom shelf in one of the upper cupboards by the stove. It keeps them accessible and it's easy to see what I have. It's not ideal but it works!