Kitchen Garden

Spring Seasoning

Herbs, spices, seeds, and flavorings arranged on the counter.

When the world seems to be falling apart on a path toward chaos, then oblivion, we draw into family. My spouse and I set a meeting to go through herbs, spices, flavorings, extracts, sweeteners and seeds. That’s right! We put it on our calendars and everything. I baked a vegan rhubarb-applesauce cake before we began and that helped us along.

We both use the kitchen and things had gotten out of control. We were determined to remedy that. It turned into a two-day project during which we learned something about ourselves.

There were so many items tucked away in multiple places, just collecting them in one place was a major project. A few found their way from Indiana to Iowa in 1993 when we moved to Big Grove. Others migrated from our child’s kitchen in Colorado ten years ago. I had two shelves in the pantry where I crammed jars and bottles since I built the shelves. Over the stove, in the cupboard, in the turnabout, stuff was everywhere. We truly had no idea what we had in case a recipe called for something.

We set no firm time-line for disposition. If the item was unique, or we hadn’t used it in a while, we were more likely to keep it for potential use. There were a number of containers with no expiration date. There were also those I grew in the garden or foraged. We tended to dispose of bottles with a best by date of 2009 or earlier when it had one. The oldest was dated 2002. It was not an absolute rule. What mattered more was the aroma of each bottle gauged against future use. At the end of the first day, I had a five-gallon bucket full of discarded herbs, spices and flavorings for compost. The compost pile will be fragrant in a different way for a while.

This seemed like a bigger project than it should have been yet it is only the beginning of downsizing the number of possessions in our household. The project created many different interactions between us and the end result was positive. Practice makes perfect, they say.

Organization might help us maintain a grip on what’s in the pantry so our meals can be better for the knowledge. It was a positive way to spend an afternoon. There is plenty of negativity away from our little enclave. We were able to avoid it for a while. The fresh cake helped.

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