How’s this photo for a teaser? I’ve been living in my house in Santa Fe for almost two years now, and I have yet to blog about it at all (though I have shared snippets here and there on Instagram). I don’t know why, exactly (that’s something for me to ponder in a future post), but one of the things that’s propelled me back into wanting to blog is my excitement over what lies behind these black doors.
A few months ago, I hit my frustration point while making chickpea coconut curry. It’s a simple recipe, but it calls for 7 different spices. That shouldn’t be a big deal, but at the time (and for a long time before that), all of my spices were stuffed into this cabinet in about 50 tiny plastic baggies. You know, the little ziploc baggies they have by the bulk area at grocery stores? Those. With the little sticker (except sometimes without the little sticker, which adds to the fun). And I got my little step stool and started pulling baggies out looking for the right baggies, and then there were baggies all over the floor, and also I had three baggies of thyme because I always think I’m out of thyme (ha, ha), and…baggies.
Baggies are not the answer.
Once upon a time (11 years ago) I had these nice spice racks inside of my kitchen cabinet, and they were great. I think Daniel has them now? Anyway, it was a good solution at the time, but I was only cooking with 18 spices. I’ve branched out into different cuisines since then, and I also cook a whole lot more (funny what happens when you don’t live in New York anymore), so I have greater spice storage needs. And I buy my spices in bulk. I had to come up with something.
Enter the OLOFSTORP wall cabinet from IKEA. I would link to it on IKEA’s website here, but because it’s one of the best products they’ve ever made, they of course discontinued it after about two weeks. I bought it in 2014, and it used to hang in my dining room in Newburgh. It’s really nice. It’s perfect for storing oils and spices and stuff because it’s so shallow! Luckily my current kitchen has just enough wall space for the OLOFSTORP in a spot where anything deeper would be in the way. It’s just right. The problem I was having with spice storage wasn’t the cabinet’s fault, it was the containers inside of it.
At first I thought the answer might be 4oz ball jars, but then I tried stacking a few of the ones I have, and it was super unstable. Apparently there are small ball jars out there that do stack nicely, but finding them reliably seems to be a bit hit-or-miss. I also had a vision of my knocking over a whole stack of them while trying to grab the coriander and then having to deal with broken glass. That might be irrational, but once I got the thought in my head, I was convinced that I needed something lighter weight and unbreakable.
I spent a day Googling potential solutions, and I hit upon this post at The Kitchn. Scroll down past the glass jars and the lazy Susan! I don’t know who Jesse is, but PLASTIC DELI CONTAINERS???? Look how tidy! How practical! Jesse is obviously a genius. Thank you, Jesse, whoever you are.
TA-DA!!!!!!! Behold, the spice cabinet of my dreams! Isn’t it beautiful? Doesn’t it make you want to cook some complex Indian dish with 15 spices in it?? It makes me SO HAPPY. I no longer dread looking to see what I need before I go grocery shopping. I don’t worry about baggies falling in Fritz’s water bowl. It’s great. The difference this change makes in my daily life is way bigger than I could have imagined, and I really wish I’d taken the time to do it sooner.
Since I knew trying to save up enough reused plastic containers to make this happen would take approximately 60 years, I went ahead and ordered a 24-pack of BPA-free 8oz deli containers on Amazon. It felt weird to purposely buy that many plastic containers, but this was a practical move in a practical endeavor. I’m likely to use these for many years, so I’m not too worked up about it. Since 8oz is overkill for the spices I tend to store in smaller quantities, I also ordered a 20-pack of BPA-free 4oz storage containers with screw-top lids.
You know what else I bought? A label maker. My heart was telling me to make cute, hand-lettered labels with washi tape, but thankfully my brain stepped in and reminded me that that would be HOURS UPON HOURS of obsessing over whether my handwriting looked good enough, and wondering whether a torn edge sparks more joy than a cut edge, and then I’d probably wind up with a bunch of unlabeled containers of spices in my cabinet. So I bought the label maker. And I didn’t even get myself stressed over the lack of ability to control the letter spacing. (OK, yes I did. But I got over it.)
Here are a couple of close-ups for the nosy crowd! I do keep my Trader Joe’s seasonings in their original jars, because those are the things I like to use with a shaker. They look cute all lined up together, too. I hope you can support my decision to alphabetize the two paprikas with the Ps rather than with the Ss. Esses? …pees? Writing is weird.
So, hey. I enjoyed writing this post IMMENSELY. You have no idea. Thank you for reading all the way to the end. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my “new” house, and to writing about the things I’ve done to make it a happier, more functional home.