All About my Spice Cupboard

My Antique Spice CupboardCredit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

It's not that I'm a great cook or anything, there's just a warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I go to get something from it.  In the various places we have lived, we've had spice bottles in drawers that jam when you try and open them, and then the sticky cupboards over the stove.  The usual thing.  But I want to tell you about a special spice cupboard.  One that I never knew I'd love. 

It was sitting on the floor in a yard sale in a cool small town hockey arena last summer and all I knew was I wanted it.  It was dark stained reddish wood and cute with its brass latch and shiny glass door. 

I thought maybe it would make a bathroom cabinet, or a cupboard in the living room for the small ornaments, then I breathed in it's spicy aroma and knew it had been loved for many years as a spice cupboard.  Most unusual for us, it was up the on the wall that afternoon.  We only sacrificed about 3 square inches of door trim to get it in it's little nook.


The Contents of my Spice Cupboard


I think the contents of my spice cupboard are pretty special.  As most of them are home grown and dried ourselves.  All the herbs are oregano, sage, lemon and regular thyme, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, and chives.  We grew fennel seed for making Italian sausages with last year and still have a ton in the cupboard.

There are a few cheats, our basil seems to take a hit every year when I companion plant it by the heritage tomatoes.   By the time the indeterminate heritage tomatoes have grown like a jungle, their wide trunks tying their puny cages in knots, the basil are tiny stunted specimens with 3 yellow leaves.  So I admit that is bought. 

Of course, if I got to the cilantro before all the coriander seed balls fell off, we'd have our own coriander too.  I have managed it before, hanging the plants up side down in a large brown paper bag, but the coriander is ready around the same time as the great tomato deluge.  Everything else goes to the back burner then as I hate to waste the tomatoes and the Victorio Strainer becomes my best friend.

I wish I had room in my spice cupboard for all my dried herbal teas, but there is not, but there is just a little of last years dried chamomile, some dried bergamot and chocolate peppermint are in there.  Maybe I will show you my 7 foot antique  flat-to-wall cupboard or dresser that holds my teas and all my dry goods.


Herbs in my Spice CupboardCredit: Skeffling Lavnder Farm

The Contents of my Spice Cupboard


You see we buy our mustard, but one of these years we'll grown our own.  That mustard is brought back from England from a trip to see my Granny in Skeffling.  It's hotter than the Canadian Keen's or Coleman's.  I guess they like their mustard mild over here, like their pickled onions.  I will post  recipes for mine one of these days.   The Heinz ketchup here is better than English ketchup, I must say.  Has more vinegar here, a bit more kick, while the English stuff is sickly sweet to me now.

We have regular bought spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, dried ginger.  The usual mulled wine or apple cider ingredients.  And who could be without a real vanilla pod in there too. 

But the best spices are the locally grown ones we brought back from St. Lucia.  The cocoa stick is in there and the amber-like mace, and dark nutmeg underneath, the thin uneven sticks of cinnamon and the veiny bay leaves.  We have little packets of all these wonderful powdered spices grown on the island all stored in a jam jar.


Dried Onions and Peppers in my Spice CupboardCredit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

The Contents of my Spice Cupboard


I guess some of these you could call spices, but they were  vegetables when they were growing in my garden.  We dehydrated so many onions this fall, it clung to our clothes with that sickly sweet body odour smell when we went out anywhere!   How embarrassing and it lasted over a  week.  So I have jars of sliced dried onions, ready for soups and casseroles and even dips.  We ground some too in our trusty grey marble pestle and mortar.  The onion powder is also good in soups, and  home made Donair meat.  No salt, anti-caking agents or MSG in there.  The chopped dried  green spring onions are nice to put in soups and dips.

Same with the garlic powder, made for the first time this fall.  We didn't plant the garlic til this spring instead of last fall, so we had a hot summer, then we got a month of deluges of rain.  Some had been trying to dry, other varieties was still struggling to grow and the result was muddy heads of garlic that fell apart on harvesting,  As I didn't trust them to dry properly like that, so we decided to dry them, then we knew we could use them all winter.  This time I got wise and hung sheets up at the kitchen doorways while drying the chopped up garlic paste in the oven, to keep the aroma in.  The result is amazing tasty sweet hot garlic powder for quick garlic bread, awesome for seasoning roast beef and it goes in the Donar kebabs and the Tzaztiki.  


Grinding garlic in a pestle and mortar to make garlic powderCredit: Skeffling Lavender Farm


The peppers I will put together here, though we grow and dry all kinds of sweet and hot peppers.  We had a couple of bushels of jalapeños this summer with the heat, and we pickle or make hot sauce out of them rather than dry them.  And about 12  peppers that went into a multi pepper hot sauce blend along with 30 precious little scotch bonnets.  All made with disposable gloves on, we learned that lesson too.

We dried or smoked and dried ancho poblanos for chipotles, then cherry bombs, Portugal, chillies and many others.  So we have a dizzying array for dried pepper spices for putting in Pizza crust dough, or putting in home made dips and salsa.   And BBQ-ing the sweet red peppers, removing the skin and drying them in the oven makes for awesome dips.  My husband has blended home made chilli and fajita mixes to add to the meat for awesome Mexican food.


I hope you enjoyed meeting my spice cupboard and its stories.  I think part of the good feeling around this old piece of history, is the history, the connection with the past and the old way of doing things.

I'll leave you of one last image of it ready to be used for delicious recipes.


My Antique Spice CupboardCredit: Skeffling Lavender Farm