Fooled ya, didn't I?
I bet you thought you'd see me in a cover-up dress and then a bikini? Nope. This is the kitchen pantry cabinet make-over. And truth is - the after doesn't look all that different in a photograph from the before. But if you're trying to cook in my kitchen - well - then you can really tell. This cabinet is usually a jumble of cans and envelopes and bottles. There were things in it that hadn't been seen in years. Cooking had become frustrating and I was beginning to buy duplicates. And there is that sense of wastefulness about not eating what I have - not honoring my present riches in the quest for greater ones. So yesterday the whole cabinet was emptied - one shelf at a time - starting at the top - scrubbed down, reorganized and now, though it's still full - it is also functional.
The bag of give-aways was much smaller than I thought it would be - but there are some cans to take to the food bank.
The cans of food have been organized to facilitate how we eat now. And by golly - meals have been planned to eat up the stuff that I am tired of looking at and probably won't buy again. We eat a lot of Asian-inspired stir-fry and there are bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and water chestnuts - and they've been in the cabinet a long time - but they will be gone before February 1. Ditto the canned chicken and cranberry sauce. They will make a nice casserole with leftover Thanksgiving stuffing mix on some frozen winter evening. Tuna will get together with noodles in a casserole too - I have a good low-fat recipe. The canned fruit will go into green smoothies till there are none left. Cans of beans and tomatoes rotate swiftly through my kitchen so I don't have anything in particular planned for them. I did give them more space though.
It's not that I won't buy these things again - it is that I won't buy them before we eat up what we already have.
Where I made the biggest change was in the spice shelf and rack. Spices are hard to keep organized and if you buy wasabi for just one recipe the durn jar hangs around forever. My spice rack is old enough that the jar lids are cracking and only McCormick spices fit in the holes. Yet it's the easiest way to get at spices. And what in the world do I have so many seeds for? Sesame, fennel, celery, allspice, coriander, it goes on and on. I am not that adventurous a cook!
The librarian in me likes things in alphabetical order but organizing the spice rack solely in alphabetical order means I give precious real estate to spices I rarely use, so this time I organized it in a more Dewey-like way - a la category - and then put things in alphabetical order. I love the McCormick's grilling spices to use on tofu. Tofu is pretty tasteless so I vary our stir fry with these spice combos.
So now there is a side of the rack that is ONLY for tofu stir-fry flavors. The other sides have the more general spices and herbs - in alphabetical order, of course. starting with Basil - which I use all the time, not allspice - which I use only at Christmas time.
After my frenzy of tossing-of-the-old, there are now some empty spice jars with rickety lids. I believe the Penzey's store in Richmond sells this size jar and lid so maybe I can spiff them up a bit. They will be dedicated to the curry spices - another staple in our family, so that I can have them ready to hand. As for the spices in the cabinet - they are either exotics or duplicates or the jars are oversized. They all have dots on them and if they aren't used in 6 months I am tossing them.
Something else I learned while reorganizing things is that I won't be buying the big French's Worcester sauce any more. It's just a shade too big to fit on the shelf with the rest of the bottles. This cabinet is not adjustable so I will change either the brand or the quantity I buy. I hate having that big bottle up high.
I also pulled out all the loose recipes from the space underneath the cabinet - next to the microwave. I'm going through them today and keeping only the ones I want to try again. Inspired by my cousin, who already did this, I plan to make a loose leaf notebook of the recipes I love - like this one:
Cuban-Style Pork and Sweet Potato Slow Cooker Stew
So - in honor of my Clean Kitchen - a sight you might not get a chance to witness again - here is the 20 feet of kitchen counter in all its glory.
Happy New Kitchen Year - want an orange?