Am I the only person who’s never seen or thought about using freshly ground cinnamon? I mean, I know about sea salt and freshly ground pepper and grating your own nutmeg but I’d never realized you could grind up cinnamon instead of buying it already ground up for you. Younger Daughter and I were restocking in Publix and came across this cinnamon grinder. And since we are wild and crazy adventurous-type of cooks, we said, “Sure. Why not?” and tossed it in our cart. Am I glad we did. I can’t tell you how much I love the flavor of fresh cinnamon on my morning cappuccino — it’s an entirely different taste and smell than the usual how-long-has-this-jar-been-in-the-pantry you get from regular (is that the right word?) cinnamon. To be honest, I’ve never really connected the cinnamon sticks I buy in bulk in December for Christmas decorations with the actual spice I use in the kitchen — sort of the way I never truly understood that french fries come from potatoes when I was growing up and I was shocked out of my ignorance when a college roommate first made real-from-scratch fries. Anyway, as I trolled around on the Interwebs looking for feedback on my discovery, I found that most people already are aware of cinnamon mills so maybe I’m not telling you anything new here. There’s also discussion about the fineness of the various grinders and which one is good for oatmeal and which one is good for coffee. I’m still enthralled with the whole concept so I’m neutral on that, except to say that I was skeptical at first since the cinnamon in the grinder we bought looks more like miniature landscaping mulch than anything else, so what do I know? Apparently not enough about cinnamon, that’s for sure.

Organizing the Kitchen

spices-2-0023new-spice2I cleaned out my spice drawer this week! I’m so proud of myself!!! Isn’t the newly organized and easily accessible drawer a a work of art now? I mean, I know it’s not alphabetized or arranged in descending order of expiration dates, but you have to admit it’s about 40 times better. Remember what it looked like before? Yuck — the sorry result of unbridled optimism that this might be the night I actually will make Nigella Lawson’s Honeyed Almond and Orange Cake with Figs … if only Survivor and Ugly Betty weren’t on. I have my priorities, after all, right? But after writing about it in my TimesDaily column today, I realized how pathetic it is to hold on to chili powder from 1983 and that it all had to go:

How Old Are Your Spices?


Are you like me when it comes to spices? Digging through the jumble of your spice drawer is an archaeological dig of your culinary life: Oh, there’s that bottle of tumeric you needed when a Middle Eastern recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon — and you haven’t used it since. There’s the dip mix you bought at a friend’s home-selling party and the remains of your prolific sesame-seed bread-baking period. (Who knew you could get tired of sesame seeds?) There’s the souvenir pink Hawaiian sea salt you never opened. And what the heck is ground coriander seed anyway? Perhaps you need to do some spice cleaning. Or, you may have your spices neatly labled and constantly updated. If so, would you please come do that for me? I’ll even bake you some bread with sesame seeds on top! In the meantime, if you have McCormick spices of unknown age but you vaguely remember wearing shoulder pads when you bought them, go to the McCormick Web site — — and type in the code on the bottom of the jars. Just be prepared. Apparently I still have a bottle of McCormick Chili Powder I bought when I had only the one child — and my second child is 22. Ouch. I do not want to find out what 23-year-old chili powder tastes like. I see spice-drawer cleaning in my very near future.