When we got married and set up house almost 8 years ago everything was about the look. We registered for beautiful things. I was in to these black clay bowls that were deep. I thought they’d be perfect for rice dishes and soups. When we first started to use them we didn’t have a table. We’d sit on the couch and watch shows and hold our food. These bowls were pretty, but they were HOT! You couldn’t hold them with anything like soup. Then we were eating with the bowls on the coffee table and leaning over them. No longer pretty.
We now have a kitchen table where we do most of our eating. I crocheted bowl cozies for our bowls, and we used those for a while, but soon those bowls were gone (our first yard sale) and replaced by some with handles and some with wide brims and lips. And black was also replaced by white. Food looks better on white.
I’ve learned a few things along the way. My kitchen has moved through a sort of evolution… or devolution in a way. From form to extreme function.
Other demoted and discarded kitchen items include pretty black storage crocks for flour and sugar and such that weren’t airtight and especially a two-tiered spinning spice rack.
I cook plenty, so of course the 16 or so spices didn’t cover all of my needs, so my cabinet quickly filled with individual spice bottles. It was impossible to keep them in order. I tried shelves that looked like miniature stairs and rearranging them constantly, but every time I went to cook I’d go digging and searching for the right seasonings the bottles would tumble around and spill out of the cabinet (sometimes into what I was cooking). Sometimes, while re-rearranging I’d find multiples of some seasonings. When you don’t know what you have you buy more.
Meanwhile my pretty spice tier on the counter started to deteriorate… the plastic caps stopped sealing and the labels themselves rubbed off. Brilliant!
Advice from America’s Test Kitchen changed all this. In their kitchen they seal their spices in clear bags, label them, then store them alphabetically. A phrase that has become my theme at home is “use what you have.” I didn’t have their clear, uniform bags, but I had sandwich and snack size Ziploc baggies, and index cards and postal tape. It took two hours to transfer and label all of my spices, and I was hesitant to toss my spice jars just in case it didn’t work for me, but it has changed everything and I’ll never go back.
I have a tub for spices alphabetically with one tub for just “C” spices (most begin with C. Seriously, start naming your spices and be amazed!). Now when I cook I just pull out one or two tubs, open the bag and use the proper measurement spoon, which reaches into a bag much better than a skinny, narrow jar. Bonus: I got rid of the two-story space eater of a spice rack from my counter. Love me some counter space! (More on that in a later post.)
This also works great for when I’m out of a spice I just lay the bag out, add the spice to my shopping list, then fill the bag and replace it in the tub when I’m done.
Someday I might print labels in a pretty font, but for now these work for me, which is the definition of function.
I’d love to hear from you. What “it looks pretty” inspired purchase proved dysfunctional for you? There’s lots of ways to organize, so I’d love to hear how you manage your spices?