Yes, I am an Organizational Obsessive Compulsive Diva, it’s the sexy side of OCD called OOCD. I don’t really consider it a disorder, more like a calling. Be honest, who wouldn’t like to open any cabinet in their kitchen and see matching jars of spice mixes, oil bottles or neatly stacked casserole dishes? NO? ?? LIAR! Oh, unless your one of those other people my therapist told me about that doesn’t feel the need to alphabetize their silverware? Yeah, I thought he was just playing with my head.
Nowhere in my house am I more organized than in my kitchen. I have to be, it’s a small space and I’m a short woman. This means that the upper shelves in all cabinets require scaffolding and a drop bucket, and that makes my available usable space even tighter. So….. every drawer and cabinet has a function and is organized so I can easily put my hands on what I need quickly.
Let’s Get Spicy
Today, lets focus on herbs and spices. I grow several of my own herbs and prefer to cook with fresh, but sometimes you have to use the dried, especially to make your own seasoning mixes. So how do you store them, how long can you store them and how the hell do you make your own seasoning mixes?
Let me just start by saying, that fresh herbs have a bigger flavor impact. If you can’t have fresh, then dried is perfect, but the older it gets, the less flavor it has. I buy the biggies in bulk when I need them; oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon and the powders, chili, bell pepper, garlic, mustard, onion, paprika, cumin.
I keep them in adorable little jars in my kitchen. They are just big enough that they will be used before they could possibly go stale. The rest of it, I keep in the chest freezer in my garage marked with the purchase date and I refill as necessary.
Dried leafy, seed or berry herbs can last from 2 – 4 years if stored properly in a cool, dark, dry place. Powdered herbs should really be used within 3 months, so keep that in mind if you buy in bulk. Take a look at your spices and dump the ones that either smell or taste “off”. It’s time for a fresh start for the new year!
Tis The Season
For spice or seasoning blends that I use often, I will mix them up and store them in glass jars with tight fitting lids, (preferably with a rubber type seal) such as half-pint mason jars. I keep these in the cabinet next to my stove within easy reach. I will reuse jelly jars, baby food jars and old spice jars, but because of my OOCD (Organizational Obsessive Compulsive Diva -ness) the jars need to match. What can I tell ya, you’ve got to feed the Diva or life gets crazy.
The seasoning mixes I store in my cabinet include; Italian, Beef, Chicken and Seasoning Rice mixes, Poultry Seasoning, Seasoned Salt, Montreal Seasoning, Old Bay, Taco and my version of Lipton Onion Dry Soup mix. The others I will just blend as needed. My pre-mixed herbs needs to be used within 2 months.
Ahhh, then there’s the pre-made herbed butters and Roasted Garlic Paste. OMG YUMMY! These I will pre-make and freeze as well for up to a couple of months. I do this because cooking and meal times can be crazy enough and I love the convenience of pulling these out of the freezer!
To help you get started, I’ll share one of my favorite blends and my favorite herbed butter.
1-1/2 T. each; basil, oregano & parsley 1/2 T. garlic 1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. thyme 1/2 t. marjoram
1 stick butter, softened 2 T. parsley 1/2 t. lemon juice 1/2 T. dill
1/2 T. tarragon 1 t. pepper 1-2 T. Parmesan pinch of salt
Cream butter, add remaining ingredients. Combine well using a fork. Using wax paper, roll it up, wrap and tie it off, Place it in a paper towel tube and then into a plastic freezer bag. Simply Cut what you need.
These recipes came from my Cookbook, “The Big Green Cookbook”. I entertain myself by organizing my recipes into different cookbooks for myself and my family, but lets keep that to ourselves shall we? There’s no need for my therapist to know, the poor man already looks stressed when he sees me and my BFF tells me she’s run out of Chris RAM.
If you want to be more organized in the kitchen, one of the best places to start is various pantries. Go through your stock and remove anything that is outdated. Make a grocery list as you go and only replace the items you truly know that you will use or that your family will actually eat. Cause honestly if that can of pumpkin filling predates your wedding, you might give up the idea that you’re going to make that awesome flaming pumpkin crepe recipe with buttercream sauce you found on Pinterest. Save your money for the ingredients of one those other recipes on your, “When I have a couple of hours to kill and want to impress my MIL” Boards. One of the best tips I can give you to stay organized when dealing with your spices is to keep a running grocery list. If you run out of something, immediately write it down!
Cooking for yourself or your family is an act of love. Ok, it’s about the family budget and survival, but I’m sure there’s love tucked in there somewhere! And being organized is essential while cooking, especially if you have to cook in a 3 ring circus. Juggling a 2 year old who wants to play Princess Sofia learns to cook, a husband who can’t find the remote and a 5 year old who keeps running off with my loaf pan while I’m mixing a meatloaf is the reason I have a therapist after all!
Happy Cooking and Organizing!
BTW – I don’t really have a therapist, but my BFF does have strict office hours, lol!