One year ago I went through something of a renaissance as a home cook. Among other things, I took a look at all of the spices in my hardly-used spice drawer and realized how many different spices hadn't been touched in years, perhaps even decades. Many of the spices were long expired and some still sported labeling on their caps which my mom had neatly done when Carl and I moved into our first house over 20 years ago. It was time for a change.
I threw out nearly all of the dusty and crumbling spices. They filled a garbage bag.
Then, as the fall progressed, I began cooking more and more and becoming more adventurous with new recipes and techniques. With each grocery run, I would add another spice or two back to the drawer and cabinets, as I worked my way into wonderful Mexican recipes, Thai recipes, Indian recipes, Italian recipes. My spice repertoire (and drawer) grew fuller and fuller, and increasingly I also began adding more fresh herbs to our suppers. The hobby fed itself as it fed us.
Last week, quite late at night, while we waited for our snickerdoodle cookies to bake, my son and I actually reorganized the spice drawer, which had become so full it rarely wanted to open without a fight. My "home blends" of cajun, taco, and curry spices needed to be rehomed, as did the whole Indian section.
When I have an afternoon free, one of my favorite things to do is to devote myself to creating a feast of Indian-style foods, enough to become a lunch buffet for the rest of the week. I bake naan and make paneer and raita, replenish my curry base, simmer dal for an hour and create three entrées with a variety of proteins, veggies, and spice levels. Very little makes me as happy as knowing how to create happiness through food, and the spices play a huge role in that.
So for me, getting rid of the old really did open up a space for a wonderful expansion of our food lives.
The reorganized spice drawer makes me gratified, like an accessible store full of potential energy and flavor. Cheers to lifelong learning about good taste and the spice(s) of life!