Your Favorite Posts of 2012

onions: from onehundredeggs.com
this picture has nothing to do with anything. i just really like this picture.

Hey, how about a top-ten list of the most-viewed posts from last year?  Yes?  Okay, here we go!

In reverse order, for maximum suspense:

10. Red Pumpkin Tahini Soup

9. Strawberry, Watermelon, & Arugula Salad with Cardamom-Candied Pistachios

8. Five Minute Photo Shoot: Winter Breakfast

7. Roasted Delicata Squash with Avocado Sauce

6. Roasted Eggplant Soup

5. Salsa Verde

4. Country Ham Pizza with Pickled Figs and Blueberries

3. Deviled Avocado Pasta

2. An Introduction

1. Five Minute Photo Shoot: Quinoa Sushi

Yaaaay!

 

Man, that was a cop-out of a post.

How about I show you the three most popular posts of all time, too?

3. Corn Cookies, à la Momofuku Milk Bar

2. Almond Milk Panna Cotta; Or, Vegan Dessert Win

1. Spice Rack

Y’all sure do like that spice rack.

Spice Rack

I’m sure this is highly uninteresting to most people, but this is one of the things that’s been keeping me busy lately.  We built a new spice rack!  I am almost embarrassingly excited about it.

For years, my spice collection has been growing as such things will: slowly and imperceptibly.  You buy a little of this and a little of that for various recipes, until one day you realize that half your spices are being stored in the cabinet above the oven, dying inglorious deaths in the heat therein.  I had long known that the tiny, two-tier lazy Susan that had laughably served as the primary storage location was no match for my collection; but it was only after a tally that I realized exactly what I was up against.  Yes, for my fifty-seven (!) spices, I needed something serious.

I’d seen wall-mounted spice racks, which I liked the look of, and it seemed like that solution would easily accommodate the largest number of containers with a minimum amount of real estate taken up, a real concern in our 500 square feet.  It had to hang on one particular wall, right behind the back door, across from the stove.  Complicating things, the breaker box is on that wall, so we couldn’t install anything permanent or that couldn’t be easily removed.

We built a simple frame from poplar boards and dowels, stained dark, and designed it specifically to accommodate a tin that I found for reasonably cheap online.  The tins are big enough to hold a ridiculous amount of any given spice, somewhere around 1 cup or so.

The tins are fairly air-tight, but more importantly, keep light away from the fragile spices.  A printed label unifies the look, and prevents any mix-ups, as can happen when your unlabeled bag of aniseed looks dangerously similar to the unlabeled bag of celery seed.  (Turns out those two are not interchangeable in the slightest, and your coleslaw will be ruined.  Do not think you are impervious to such mistakes, either; it is hubris, and you will be punished for it.)

As an added bonus, I now have plenty of breathing room in the cabinet for my oils, vinegars, and other liquid seasonings.  Who knew I had tarragon vinegar?

With all my spices carefully labeled and organized (alphabetically, of course), and knowing exactly what I have on hand, I feel absolutely inspired to get back in the kitchen and (ahem) spice things up.  It’s hard to believe that I went for so long with such a crucial part of my culinary arsenal in such disarray.  You may notice there’s a few empty spots towards the bottom of the rack; obviously, I had to leave room for the collection to grow.  At least now, I won’t feel bad about bringing home a new spicy friend, since I won’t have to store him over the stove anymore.

Here are some unglamorous before and after shots:

before
after
before, no hope of shoving anything else in
after, plenty of room!
above the stove before, spices in unlabeled bags shoved into tins
before, all the bags of spices from above the stove; those tins are crammed full
above the stove after, the tins are empty!
after, all my pretty spices in their new home