Get your minds out of the gutter. That's not where I'm going with this (or am I?).
With the young one always expanding his food repertoire and my insatiable appetite for hummus, I've been keeping a steady supply of baby carrots in the house lately. It also didn't hurt that Stop & Shop had the fancy petite-sized ones on sale.
As with most bargains, I stocked up on them. A bit too much, perhaps. Faced with a glut of the orange produce, I was in need of a culinary outlet to turn them into something.
As often is the case, a couple of blog posts by Ms. Local Kitchen inspired me to make a batch of spicy pickled carrots. After a few hours researching various recipes, I ended up finding one from Alton Brown on the Food Network website. After a quick foray into my spice collection, it was apparent that I was missing a few ingredients - namely yellow mustard seeds and coriander seeds.
What to do? Penzey's run, of course!
A quick aside: for those not in the know, Penzey's is a mail order spice company headquartered in Wisconsin. They are highly regarded and the products are all quality. A few years ago, they started to open storefronts in various cities all over the county. As luck would have it, they ended up opening a store in Arlington, MA. Close enough for me to get to with relative ease.
So, anyway, I just so happened to have to go to Watertown the next day for a training course for work. Penzey's was a 15 minute trip away so I made a run at lunchtime. Now, the good folks at Penzey's send out catalogs periodically and once in a while, they'll include coupons as well. I just so happened to have one of said coupons (good for a free 1/4 cup jar of anything in the store). I picked up the aforementioned seeds as well as a bag of dried guajillo chiles, cilantro and a free jar of garam masala. I think I bought some more stuff, but I can't find the receipt right now. I do remember that I shelled out something like $29 total for my bounty.
Ultimately, I get home and try to put the goods away. Problem is, I don't have much room.
I have a decent sized kitchen. Thing is, my cabinets suck. Royally. They are painted black inside and have but one fixed shelf in the middle. A few years ago, the previous homeowners paid (probably decent) money to have them refaced with white laminate. What a waste. They would have been better off replacing them for just a bit more capital outlay.
In addition, I have a lot of spices. I have jars and jars of dried herbs, seeds and spices. Tins of dried mustard. Bottles of extracts. When you tend to have eclectic and expansive epicurean tastes as I do, you tend to acquire an extensive collection. And thanks to those crazy Swedish folks at IKEA, I have a boatload of small glass jars in which to contain them.
All that stuff takes up a lot of space. When we moved into our house and unpacked the kitchen goods, one of the first things I did was allocate an entire cabinet shelf for my spices. At the time, it was a good idea. Now that I had my own place to set up shop, I began to cook more often and accordingly began to expand my breadth of exotic cuisine. And I started to buy more and more ingredients.
And then my cabinet filled up.
Trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and the like were no help. No spice rack could possibly organize the sheer volume that I had accumulated. Trips such as my recent Penzey's run only served to exacerbate (there's today's token big word!) the problem.
And so I am mired in this quandry. I need more room.
They say variety is the spice of life. Alas, there is no more space for my variety.