Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Spice of Life

I used to hate buying spices for cooking. They were so expensive ($3 and $4 a jar and up), and the jars were too big. Spices have a limited shelf life and if they aren't used within a few months the flavor weakens. Another problem was that I had all these jars rattling around in the cupboard, but I could never find what I wanted, so I'd end up with three jars of cayenne and two jars of turmeric, and on and on.

A few years ago... back when the American dollar was strong against the Canadian... ah, sweet memories... we were browsing a kitchen shop in Old Quebec City. I found test tube spice racks. It was a eureka moment. All my spice problems were solved. They were right size... not so big that I'd be throwing out spice... not so small that they'd need refilling too often. They would be organized... I was nearly overcome with thoughts of making labels and alphabetizing. I get that way sometimes.

I bought three sets... enough to hold 30 spices, and I've never had a moment of regret. The cooperative market where I do all my grocery shopping sells bulk spices. At a glance, I can check the racks to see what I'm running low on and stock up. Today, I bought enough cumin to fill my test tube for a mere 60 cents.

I found these spice racks online here for $27.99, but you could also make your own. Edmunds Scientific currently has test tubes for sale at 50 cents. The corks can be purchased at most hardware stores for a few cents, and there are lots of online sources for test tube racks in a gazillion different styles. If you or someone you know is moderately handy with a drill and simple woodworking, I don't think it would be too difficult to make a rack. I used a Brother PT-65 for making my labels, but I see the "official" spice tubes come with labels.

I feel like a wizard mixing up potions when I cook.

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