A Treasure Beyond Rubies... part 1
But more than rubies, a thing I love best, and am most proud of, is my stock of spices, herbs, seasonings, and ingredients for cooking, baking, candy making, etc., and my ability to use them. I cannot claim to have the largest store, or the most diverse, but I have more than many households find necessary.
I suppose that most folks would find it funny, but more than clothes, more than jewelry, more than a fancy house or car, having a well stocked larder gives me an intense feeling of well being, satisfaction, security. It comforts me to look around my kitchen, peruse my "stuff". I am proud of my ability to feed those I love a tasty meal. To know that for today and the foreseeable future we are not likely to go hungry. Funny that, the fear of going hungry. I never went hungry in my life, that I can remember. Even when I was a child and my mom cooked something I didn't like there was the peanut butter and jelly option. But the fear of being hungry has been with me all my life.
You know, when we were growing up, sometimes we would play that game that all poor, barefoot kids playing in the Florida sand play: "what would you do if you had all the money in the world?" Some would say they would buy this or that car, this or that kind of giant house or mansion. Some would say they would travel, or buy any amount of whatever they thought would make them happy. And yes, I think having some of that would be neat. But my idea of being rich has always been to have enough money to purchase the food I want to eat, not just the food I can afford to eat. So... I guess, thanks to my husband who provides for us, I am, by my standards, wealthy.
On that note... let's begin a scenic journey through the land of my treasures:
containing my most used, or everyday, spices and herbs.
Top shelf, left: Indian spices (mostly)
Top Shelf, right: Indian and bulk spices and herbs. Some OTC indigestion remedies.
Bottom Shelf, left: Everyday items like Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Fennel, Tarragon, etc. Mostly the "European" type items or perhaps I should say Western European and Mediterranean items.
Bottom Shelf, right: Baking or "Sweet" spices like cardamom, mace, cream of tartar. Flavorings such as vanilla, lemon, orange, etc. This is also where I keep the Rolaids, the headache tablets, etc. Don't ask me why, I've always just kept that stuff in the spice cupboard. I know... normal people keep that stuff in the medicine cabinet... in the bathroom. I've just never cared for the idea of keeping something I'm going to put in my mouth in the room where that kind of business is taken care of. If I'm going to ingest it, keep it where the other ingestibles are kept, right?
Bottom Shelf, middle: items that can be used for either savory or sweet dishes. Items such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg...
This cupboard is located to the right of my stove on the same wall.
This cupboard contains items that I might or might not use every day but do use frequently. Items such as flavored vinegars of different types, brown sugar, honey, sun dried tomatoes, baking powder, yeast, bouillon, corn starch... cocoa powder, some teas and small amounts of dried fruits that I might use for flavoring a dish.
It is located to the right of my stove at a 90 degree angle from the main spice cupboard.
These cupboards are where I keep my most used items or items that my man uses when he cooks. I want to say here and now that I AM NOT responsible for that nasty Emeril crap that is in the top most picture. Was way overpriced, tastes like... ugh... nasty, and I never use it. The man doesn't either but if I throw it away he will bitch, so I don't.
I love these cupboards. They give me comfort, in a way, because I know that I can always put together something that tastes nice as long as they are kept well stocked. I rarely let myself run out of anything kept in these cupboards. I know them intimately. Know where every single item is without having to look (unless hubby dear has been messing in my business). I know what everything is by where it is, the shape of the bottle, the color of the cap... The man always gets mad if I don't label something before I put it up. My feeling is this... he ought to keep his mitts off my stuff! Seriously. I hate it when he cooks. Not because he's a bad cook, usually. He just doesn't have a "feel" for it. He has to follow a recipe, he has to look at labels, he has NO natural intuition about what flavors go with what, or what flavors go together to make a pleasing whole. And he absolutely refuses to put the things back exactly where he got them from! That ticks me off the worse, I think. He doesn't seem to have any concept of: "if you put the basil back where you got it from... ta da! That bottle will have basil in it the next time you pick it up from that spot!". And then it won't matter if the bottle is labeled or not. Amazing how that works, isn't it? And besides... if you can't tell basil from oregano by the look, or at least the smell... you really shouldn't be using either of them, no?
I realize that my stuff isn't alphabetized, it isn't in any particular order. It IS where it is, and I know where that is. For instance... the Tarragon goes to the left of the Oregano. The Juniper Berries are in the left most corner and the whole nutmeg goes just to the right of that. (don't ask, the whole nutmeg is on the left with the savory spices, the already ground nutmeg is in the middle with the rest of the dual purpose items). I TOLD you it didn't make sense. But it works for me and that's all that matters. If you don't like my filing system, stay out of my kitchen! :)
It seems to me, after reading back over the above statements that yes, I do resent my husband getting into my cupboards, using my stove, disarranging my stuff. Its MY stuff. My little treasures. My precious jewels. Its not just a silly little bottle of Rosemary leaves. No indeed. That's a little piece of me, of my soul! When you disarrange my bottles you are disarranging bits of me. When my stuff isn't where I left it, where I expect it to be, it tilts me totally off kilter. I feel off balance. Like finding out someone has been pawing through your handbag without your permission. Worse... like someone disarranged your underwear drawer while you were away at work. How would that make you feel? Disturbed, I've no doubt.
Therefore, having him in my kitchen disturbs me. I don't feel like he shows my belongings the proper respect. He hasn't bothered to get to know them, learn about them, get a feeling for them, fall in love with them, as they deserve. He also makes me feel like he wants to compete with me in cooking. And that makes me feel like he thinks I'm an inadequate cook. I know I'm more than adequate, but he makes me feel like he thinks he could do a better job than me. Silly, I guess. But he's so damned picky, I know that a lot of times he doesn't really enjoy what I cook. When I know its a perfectly executed meal. Sometimes I think he does that just to make me feel bad. Cooking is the one thing I know I am good at. So... when he wants to be the "Lord and Master" he knows he can hurt me by belittling my skills. I don't even know if he understands how much damage his stupid casual macho cruelty does to my psyche. Making me feel like I can't provide a decent meal, a better than decent meal, for my loved ones... it would hurt me a lot less if he criticised my looks, my weight, my face, whatever. But he doesn't. The one thing he's chosen to hurt me over is my kitchen skills. When I was growing up, we were poor folks,but we ate well. Well, that's a whole other blog post, that I will perhaps let out at some later time...
Anyway... That's my bit about other folks being in my kitchen. Even my son, who is only now becoming more interested in cooking something other than a pop tart :) shows more respect to my stuff. If he doesn't know, he asks. He takes the time to sniff the jars, bottles and bags of stuff. He watches what I do, what spices I use together with what foods and with each other. He shows care. And when he takes something out of my spice cupboard... He puts it back in the same exact place he got it from! I think he has potential. That makes me extremely, inordinately happy. How blessed to be a parent who's child understands what it is that makes you happy. And shares your joy in it. Funny thing for mother and son to have in common, I suppose, but ... I know he probably won't ever want a job in the culinary arts but... if he can just find the joy and satisfaction of cooking within himself, at least he won't ever go hungry for lack of knowing how to make a really terrific omelet, or a good comfort casserole like mac & cheese.
To be continued...