Spice cabinet, after:
It's week four of Project Simplify, and this week's Hot Spot is the pantry/refrigerator. As scary as those areas can get, I've got to admit that this week seemed like a something of a break after dealing with clothes, toys and paper. Still, these are definitely areas that need attention, since we all know that spices and canned goods tend to breed in the middle of the night while we sleep. I'd actually tackled our main pantry a month or two ago, so while it needed a little neatening, it wasn't the nightmare that it has been in the past. But we have a separate cabinet where I keep my spices, tea, etc. and it has gone untouched for the 3.5 years we've been in the house (other than when I go rummaging in there looking for the spice and/or tea bag that I need). So it needed serious attention.
Before shot of the spice cabinet:
I had one lazy susan in there, but it really wasn't functioning well. I'd spin it and spin it, but I could still never find anything. Eventually I want to get roll-outs in this cabinet, but that's not happening anytime soon. I also thought about getting something like this or this, but (1) I was really trying to follow Simple Mom's "use what you have" philosophy and not automatically start throwing money at my spice problem, and (2) I wasn't completely sure that either of these would be an ideal solution for me anyway, given how I cook and how I think. In the end, I came up with a different method that I really think is going to work for me.
The very scary during shot:
The shame. I was young and foolish back then . . . in 2006, when this expired.
On the other hand, I also found a nice stash of saffron in there:
Those of you who have purchased saffron threads recently know that that is almost like finding a stash of gold, frankincense or myrrh in your pantry -- score! (Okay, maybe not quite that good, but it's at least like finding a twenty in the pocket of a purse you haven't used in a while!) Ina's Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash, I know you're not in season, but here I come!
I went through everything, tossed some stuff, consolidated some other stuff (three bottles of cumin only happens to people with out-of-control spice cabinets) and then sat and pondered the rest. I thought about how I really cook and when I tend to reach for spices. I realized that I tend to think about spices in "families" -- the Baking Spices, the Tex-mex Spices, the Italian Spices, and the Other Spices. So I decided to organize my spices that way. I found a few trays in various sizes around the house and assembled my spices accordingly.
The Baking Family, Italianish Family and Tex-Mexish Family all live nicely together on one shelf in my cabinet.
The Randoms live on the lazy susan on another shelf:
Now I can just grab the appropriate tray when I'm cooking and easily find what I need. If I'm making a recipe that calls for something odd like, say, celery seed, I can just give the lazy susan a spin and find the "C" section (the randoms are alphabetized) and see if I have it.
This method might not work for everyone, but it definitely makes sense for me and the way I cook.
In addition to the spices, the cabinet was overflowing with tea. I began with a vow to have a cup of tea every night from now to eternity, even if it kills me. I then fit all of the tea that I could into two Sterilite shoeboxes -- oh Sterilite containers, how I adore thee! -- which fit nicely onto the top shelf. I then arranged some hot chocolate, mulling spices, etc. next to the tea containers.
What can I say -- I'm elated! If I knew getting your spice cabinet in order could feel this good, I would have done it years ago!
Once again I've talked too much, so I will refrain from getting into the minutiuae of my main-pantry and fridge cleanups. To summarize: I tossed a bunch of stuff (the most embarrassing being a 7 year old can of pineapple juice) and neatened a bunch of other stuff. Here's the after picture of the pantry:
Many thanks to Simple Mom for hosting this Project! It's great to have an excuse to get my act together!