I thought this would be a fun and easy post; maybe a way to get me back on track with regular updates and maybe even (gasp!) new recipes.
I bought some new spices today and was creating space for them when I was overcome with an urge to clean and organize my spice drawer. That led to cleaning and organizing my spice cupboard. That led to several spices being lined up on my countertop which led to me wanting to take a picture of them. Then, of course, I wanted to share that picture with you! So here’s a little taste of how I keep, organize, and purchase the spices that keep my veggie-based food sparkling with flavor:
My entire spice collection. Still collecting new ones as I find recipes that call for them. Since my pre-veggie days, though, my collection has easily doubled.
A closer look at my spice drawer. I have all of the baking spices (including cream of tartar (a grape derivative) and ground ginger) on the left side. Moving toward the center, the spices turn to herbs and seasonings, and then to the right they are savory spices. The back row is a bit of a hodgepodge, with poppyseed and Old Bay thrown in.
What I really wanted to share is a picture of my awesome jars! I use any old jars that I can get the label off of for my spices. Jam jars are my favorite, as the typical 10 oz size is about perfect for me. But I also have jars from brown rice syrup and other non-smelly grocery store goods rounding out the mix.
To label my jars, I just cut out rectangles of paper, write the spice name on it, and then use strong, clear strapping tape to completely cover the paper and tape it on. The tape ensures that over time your hands don’t slowly dirty the label.
I have also had several recipes that call for blends. I made the berbere spice blend from an online recipe for some Ethiopian fare. The blackened seasoning was also constructed in my kitchen- we like to sprinkle it on tofu before frying it up and serving it over dry lettuce.
It’s so clean that I had to take one more picture! The bottom right jars are my favorite; cumin! The cumin seeds were just purchased today and I had no idea how fantastic they would smell. I want to just munch on them plain!
I wanted to give a shout-out to my local natural foods store, Natural Grocers (Vitamin Cottage). They have the best prices on spices and herbs! This was a big bag of cinnamon; way more than would fit in one of those paltry grocery store spice jars. And it was only $3.00- and that’s the EXPENSIVE cinnamon!
The cheaper cinnamon, still organic, was only a smidgen over $1.50. I go through cinnamon like crazy (see vegan cinnamon pancakes) and couldn’t imagine paying $7.00 for a small jar of it at the grocery store, only to get it home and have the aromatics old and stale.
I got this a while ago and it was too much to fit in my jar. Whenever I have extra in the little bulk baggies, I put them all in an airtight gallon freezer bag and keep them in my deep freezer in the garage until I am ready for them.
Check out the price on this unrefined, organic cane sugar. I paid $1.39 for a pound of it today. Not as cheap as the bleached and processed stuff, but VERY cheap compared to other organic sources.
They even sell baking powder!
One baggie of this fills up my old canister perfectly.
Now to my baking items. These need much bigger jars and canisters. The organic cane sugar I showed earlier- it is housed in an old Florida Crystals (which is the same thing but with a name-brand attached) canister.
Ener-G egg replacer is a must for the newly-switched veggie chef! It replaces eggs in baked goods superbly and even as a binder in many other types of recipes. Tried two other brands before this one and it’s for sure the best one I’ve used. I also like to have turbinado sugar for a change of pace. The Guittard chocolate chips are not only vegan, but gluten-free! Plus they are available in many grocery stores for a reasonable price. (One thing I refuse to buy at the natural foods store is $5 bags of vegan chocolate chips, but then, I’m sure there are other reasons that they are worth the $5 to some connoisseurs.)
I think the main thing I use xanthan gum for is my homemade shampoo, but it does pop up in recipes as a thickening agent. It’s very potent and this jar will probably last through three generations.
Ah, sucanat! The all-time best sugar replacer! Unless you are sweetening your tea or other clear drink (it will cloud the liquid) this is a perfect substitute for regular sugar. I love it in baking and have even used it to make teriyaki sauce. It’s highly unprocessed; which makes it ideal for health-food nuts and tree-huggers alike. Sucanat is literally the leftovers from evaporating cane juice. Buy some!
More baking stuff! You can buy just about any grain or flour in bulk at your local natural foods store. Again, bulk (as pictured) is very affordable- oftentimes cheaper than the questionably produced equivalent at your local grocery store.
These are the items I keep in my freezer. All of these items are high in fats and can therefore go rancid in the pantry: Whole ground grains, nuts, and many seeds. Not sure about cocoa but I paid a pretty penny for the good stuff and I’m not taking any chances! (I’m pretty sure cocoa is shelf stable in your pantry for quite a long time)
The irony of the Breyer’s ice cream container still being in my freezer is not lost on me. : ) The two center containers were purchased brand-new to serve their purpose as flour canisters. Finding large plastic containers that aren’t tainted by the smell of their previous contents is sometimes a challenge, and I didn’t want to spend time hunting something down. So I just coughed up a few bucks for a four-pack of clean, generic snapping-lid containers.
I love sharing how my kitchen is made up of whatever is lying around and convenient. I love sharing how to get amazing ingredients at excellent prices. This shouldn’t be stressful for anyone. Being in the kitchen should be a joy! I hope you found this helpful- please share any ideas you have used to keep your kitchen stress-free in the comments below and we will all learn together.