Friday, June 30, 2006

Cooking with Spices in Kalyn's Kitchen

Food bloggers, this post is for you! Others, normal people who actually eat without photographing their food first, probably don't really care what kind of spices someone else has. However, among food bloggers, there seems to be quite a willingness to share intimate details of our (cooking) lives. I'm not sure if it's motivated by voyuerism, seeing how everyone else cooks, or exhibitionism, showing off how you cook. Whatever the reason, we share these things because we like reading about each other.

First there was the unofficial meme where, along with a lot of other food bloggers, I showed my kitchen. Then I showed the happy day when Biggles at Meathenge showed me how to adjust the burners on my antique stove, by posting about how he adjusted the burners on his stove. Then earlier this month Cate at Sweetnicks asked us to show our refrigerator contents, so I posted about what's in my fridge.

Now Cate is at it again. This time she wants us to show our spice racks. I was hesitant to participate, partly because I can't take photos of the inside of my house worth a darn, but mostly because I have kind of an embarassing amount of spices. But then I remembered how fun it was to see inside other peoples refrigerators, and decided to take the risk. Please, don't be hard on me for being so extravagant. I work hard to get the money to buy all those spices! You can't really have too many spices can you? After you see my spices, be sure to visit Sweetnicks tomorrow to see what kind of spice collections other food bloggers have.

First, I have some spices in the cupboard by my stove. This is where I keep things I don't use too often, or spices that I have more than one of.

Second, I have a big drawer of large sized spices, mostly from Costco, and also bags of ground spices to refill bottles in the spice rack. The bagged spices are from Penzeys, absolutely my favorite place to get spices.

In 1998 I remodeled my nearly 100 year old house, and my wonderful brother-in-law and contractor, Kelly, built this amazing oak spice rack which is above my antique stove. As you can see, it holds alot of spices. Yes, there are three jars stacked on each other in some spots. The hooks are where my pans hang when I'm not taking pictures of the spices. All the silver cans with white labels are Indian spices, something I got as a gift. The small and large jars with yellow labels are all from Penzeys. (Gee, all this free advertising I'm giving them, wouldn't you think they would send me some free spices, or maybe hire me to write a blog for them? Penzeys, are you out there?)

Here's how the spice rack and stove look with the pans hanging there. I love my kitchen, especially the stove, spice rack, and hanging racks for pans. Thanks again Kelly, for creating such a wonderful place for me to cook.

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  1. Kalyn, your spice rack is to die for! I am so jealous! ;) I posted pics of the inside of my fridge and my spice rack too a while back... it's fun to see what other have stashed away. One day I hope to own as many spices as you do :)

  2. Wow! You put my spice cabinet to shame! Your brother in law did a beautiful job. That cabinet is gorgeous!

  3. You have a *lot* of spices, Kalyn :) All beautifully organized too! WOW!

  4. Michele. thanks. My BIL did a great job on the whole house.

    Kitarra, thanks. The spice cabinet is matched to the cabinets and crown molding in the kitchen. As I said, I love my kitchen. I feel very lucky to have such a nice house.

    Nupur, you're right. I probably have more spices than I really "need" but I love trying new ones.

  5. You are one very lucky girl! That spice rack I'd say is to live for - what a joy. I'm most impressed with the organization!
    I don't think I have nearly as many as you do. The big onces from Sam's in in my pantry on some shelves and the rest in one drawer.
    Does this Kelly travel like to Dallas?

  6. Tanna, I'm kind of naturally organized for some reason. One of my neighbors claims I am obsessive-compulsive, but not true; those spices are not even alphabetized!! Sorry, but I don't think Kelly can go clear to Dallad. He's actually got a different job now, but he still does build some beautiful furniture sometimes. No more big construction projects though, except his own house.

  7. Oops, that should say Dallas.

  8. Kalyn...nice post...I'm about to start designing a new kitchen for myself and I wonder if you could give a little more info on your stove...what make is it, how did you find it, what's the problem with the oven (and can it be fixed), etc. Thanks!

  9. Stephen, I LOVE my stove. It came with my house, and I think was made in the 1940's but I'm not sure of the exact year. Two things I especially love:
    * There is a lot of distance between the burners (right side to left side) so you can put huge pans or even better, big woks on top of the stove.
    *The stove has a built in broiler, separate from the oven, with a rack that swings out so you can easily arrange or baste the meat. I use it a lot in the winter.

    It's not perfect though. The oven thermostat doesn't keep the temperature steady, although I had it adjusted since I wrote that first post and it's a little better. I doubt I could make something like a souffle, but now it doesn't fluctuate quite as much. Biggles referred me to a site ( that is probably a good resource for a starting point to find a stove like this if you're interested. If I get a little spare money, I'm planning to get a thermostat from there and have it fixed permanently. (First though, a new digital SLR camera is on the list.)

  10. Oops, forgot to say the stove is a Magic Chef.

  11. WOW! You have a lot of spices... I would like to have so many.

  12. Your array of Penzey's spices is quite impressive. Mine are all piled in shopping bag which I pull out of the cabinet and rifle through.

  13. Ok, so I have to ask ... can you get to your spices without taking down the pans? And yes, that rack is drop-dead GORGEOUS!

  14. Orchidea, I know it's a lot. I admit I'm a bit extravagant.

    Anna, another Penzeys lover eh? They are they best.

    PatL, yes I can get to the spices without removing the pans. But I have to stand on my very, very tip toes to reach the top ones, so I put the things I use least on the top.

  15. Can I come live there? I lovethat kitchen!! Penzeys is great.

  16. Ooops! thats too spicy!!I was thinking I was the greatest accumulator of spices...I feel like a dwarf now!!You have outbeaten many with such an amazing collection!!

  17. I bow to your superior spiciness!

    As I read the post and saw each succeeding pic I thought, I can match that but when we got to your custom built spice pantry on the wall I admitted complete defeat :-)

    I dont use the ones I have now enough so I admire yours but dont think I will be matching you any time soon :-)

  18. Gabriella, please come and live here. Only condition, you must bring those adorable twins and promise to cook for me.

    Indianadoc, I know I'm a bit obsessive about having to have just the right spice.

    Nika, you're too funny. It's not a contest. And just like you, I have to admit I have far too many I don't use enough.

  19. I promise to cook WITH you. My twins would love to play in your garden.

  20. You are so organized. the spice rack is great. you can see what you want without rumaging around. Luv it.

  21. Kalyn,

    I'm just now getting into cooking, nothing fancy, but it seems like every time I turn around, I need a spice that I don't have.

    What spices should every kitchen have on hand?



  22. Hank, it's completely subjective, depending on what kind of food you like, but here are some things I consider essential:

    celery seed
    chile powder
    fennel (for spagetti sauce especially)
    curry powder (sweet and hot both)
    black pepper
    paprika (sweet and hot)

    That's a pretty long list, but I'm sure there are things I've left off that some people consider essential. I'm not really into sweets, so there are lots of things like cinnamon, nutmet, and cloves that aren't essentials for me.

    I'm sure there are also plenty of good cooks who don't have all those things. You might like a site called Cooks Thesaurus that gives tips for substituting when you don't have a certain ingredient.

    Have fun cooking!

  23. Speaking of Penzey's...has anyone found a spice rack that actually fits the jars that is modern looking and nice???

  24. I just had to comment after stumbling on these pics of your spices. I've always had a pretty reasonable herb/spice collection, but not excessive... until recently. A friend of mine was getting divorced, so I helped her get the house ready to show. One of her bridal showers had been a "spicing", where everyone brought spices. She had a potload of stuff, but never used anything other than salt, pepper and garlic! Not wanting to see unopened spices go to waste, I took her stash.

    Fast forward a year... I moved my mom up from Texas to be close to me. She had always been a traditional '50s-era type cook (including baking!), but also liked the occasional cajun or Tex-Mex recipe. Needless to say, she had a respectable spice cabinet. As her dementia increased, she stopped cooking, so I now have all of her spices as well!

    I'm going to try your spice mix, as that seems a great way to use up my *multiple* bottles of this-and-that!

    Thanks for blogging!


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