Friday, January 29, 2010

Cleaning the Spice Cabinet

I sit here this morning and type, my fingers smell of ground ginger, cinnamon and garam masala. I've just finished cleaning out the shelves on which spices are kept.The cupboard is half emptied. What a jumble!

As I am still trying to fill up my days, today's activity was inspired by a detour to Brighton Grove Food Store in Newcastle yesterday. I love love love this place!

I knew that the shelves on which our spices are kept has been neglected. Over the past few years as other things have taken me away from cooking with fresh spices, the spices have grown old and less vibrant. Some spices had become caked in their tins while waiting to be used. Others just smelled of dust. We have a collection of small tins with fitted plastic lids. They belonged originally to The Man of the Place, souvenirs from his poverty stricken college days in Birmingham. Over the years as spices were used up, we refilled them with fresh spices from small packets purchased at Brighton Grove Foods. That packet of ground ginger was only £.85 yesterday! Buying ground ginger at a large chain supermarket would have been more than £2.00 and I am positive that the contents would not be as vibrant. This particular shop has a very high turnover of spices and I am guaranteed that whatever I buy will always be at the hight of its potency.

When going through the narrow aisles trying to remember what I needed (I should have written a list) I am always tempted by interesting things; flakes of dried garlic, harisa, jars of jack fruit (in syrup). I was very good and left a bulk of what was tempting me on the shelves and bought the replacement spices. I wasn't completely immune to the lovely things there. They have a produce section where I got a huge bouquet of fresh corriander (cilantro), a halal meat counter and at the front checkout you can get a few ready-made samosa and freshly made Indian sweets. I bought three bottles of mango lassi from the dairy case and seven vegetable samosa (one to eat on the way home and three each for the guys). The burfi looked so fresh and tempting that I had to get a half a dozen pieces for the family.Back at the house, the old spices were removed from the tins and thrown away. The tins and lids were carefully washed and dried and refilled with new spices.

Turning to other spices, I realized that I had enough paprika to fuel all of Budapest for a week! I had two jars of very old paprika that I didn't realize I had. When I compared the colour of this forgotton paprika to the paprika I purchased in Budapest in May, I was shamed! It was barely red at all. That got thrown out and the jar refilled with the new stuff. Compare the colour of the packet on the left with the jar of Safeway brand paprika on the right. No comparison! There was also a half used tube of paprika paste from my attempts at proper Hungarian goulash and an unopened tin of smoked Spanish paprika. Those were thrown out as well. Why did I buy all this paprika? Smoked Spanish paprika? The mind boggles! I'm down to a normal amount of good paprika now. If I return to Budapest in the spring, I hope I don't lose my marbles and buy more. Maybe I buy it after the days spent wine tasting which may account for why I don't remember buying it.

Now that the spice cabinet is clean and tidy and contains nothing but fresh and non-out of date things, I realize that we are enjoying a rare sunny day today. Time to make a start on the greenhouses!


J-Funk said...

I'm very impressed that you are filling up your time with so many great things. I hope it's been satisfying and when you return to work you will be all the more refreshed because of it!!

Susie said...

I seem to have gone through the same thing with cumin. I can't imagine why on earth I have so much of it!

I love your narrow little cupboard...ours are twice as deep and things are forever getting lost.

dogbait said...

I see all your old comments have gone west since transferring away from Haloscan. Weren't you able to get a export file to import back in through Blogger?

Peggy said...

J-Funk - I'm running out of stuff to do IN the house and it is still too cold and damp for outside stuff. . . . I think I waste too much time on the computer! :-)

Suzie- Paprika and mustard! Why do I keep buying it?!

Dogbait - Yup - Haloscan is gone and I couldn't get the export file :-( Never mind . . . .

joyce said...

Hi Peggy - we are back from hols now. You are inspiring me to get started on tidying my cupboard and drawers. Hope something comes up on the job front soon. x

Anonymous said...

Ha! I think I have some spice tins from the collection I bought when I was first married - 40 years ago. I keep them for old times sake. ;-)
Cousin Susan

Xtreme English said...

nothing like a wonderful collection of favorite spices!! i've given away most of mine in the past two moves. now i buy spices at the coop in plastic bags...just enough to least for a couple of months so they don't get stale or buggy.

xoxo, ma