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Maximizing Your Spice Rack, Apartment Kitchen Style

We all know those people who never put enough salt in their food, and seem to be limited in their seasonings to ‘pepper and seasoning salt.’ We also all know those people who keep an alphabetized spice rack with 48 individual canisters, unlabeled because they know what each one contains by look alone. But what about those of us in the middle, who have maybe a dozen slots in our spice rack but want to make as wide a variety as possible of delicious meals?

Skip the Blends
It’s tempting, when your slots are limited, to assign them by culture. Italian seasoning over here, chili powder over there, garam masala thusly. But when you assign a single blend to an entire culture, you quickly run into a phenomenon where all of your lasagna tastes just like your spaghetti tastes just like your ziti al horno etc. etc. Instead, learn how a few select spices can combine to create different seasoning blends from all over the world.

The Delicious (Baker’s) Dozen

  • Basil
  • Cayenne, powdered
  • Cinnamon, ground
  • Cumin, ground
  • Garlic, granulated
  • Nutmeg, ground
  • Marjoram
  • Onion, granulated
  • Oregano
  • Paprika, smoked
  • Rosemary, powdered
  • Sage, powdered
  • Thyme

(We’re not going to count salt or black pepper; those are already on your table.) If you can work up a decent supply of each of those, you can make a massive variety of flavors. If you’re serious about flavor, we heartily recommend ordering from Frontier; their herbs and spices maintain peak punch for a very long time if kept in a cool, dry place. Also, don’t make the rookie mistake of keep your spice rack near the stove or above anything that produces steam (the dishwasher, the sink) — too much heat and/or moisture kills spices.

Mixing and Matching to Create Your Favorites
That list up there will stun you with its flexibility. It’s not everything you’ll ever need — Indian food, in particular, has an entirely unique spice list that you’ll need at least five extra slots for (cardamom, cumin seed, coriander, fennel, and black mustard seed at the minimum) — but it’s close. Here are some classics:

  • Chili Powder: 2 tbsp paprika, 2 tsp oregano, 1 1/4 tsp each of cumin, garlic, and cayenne, and 3/4 tsp onion.
  • Taco Seasoning: As Chili Powder, but double the cumin, garlic, and onion.
  • Fajita Seasoning: As Chili Powder, but omit oregano and add 2 tsp salt.
  • Adobo Seasoning: 2 tbsp paprika, 1 1/2 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp cumin, onion, and oregano; 2 tsp garlic, 1 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
  • Italian Seasoning: 2 tbsp basil, 1 tbsp oregano, 2 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp marjoram.
  • Greek Blend: 2 tsp each garlic, basil, and oregano; 1 tsp each cinnamon, black pepper, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme; 1/2 tsp nutmeg.
  • Poultry Seasoning: 2 tsp sage, 1 1/2 tsp thyme, 1 tsp marjoram, 3/4 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp black pepper.
  • Cajun Seasoning: 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tsp onion, 1 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon oregano.
  • Seasoning Salt: 4 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp black pepper, onion, and garlic; 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne.

The amazing thing is, we’re just scratching the surface — these spices can make so much more. Whether you’re the kind of person who finds it tough to work all the way up to a dozen, or tough to narrow your range that much, we’re confident that this list is the peak of the bell curve where ‘plenty of taste’ meets ‘maintaining an orderly space.’ Care for your spice rack, and your flavors will care for themselves!

Posted on January 24th, 2017 in: Apartment Living with the tags: , ,

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