I love my herbs and spices. One of the biggest perks of living near the City is that you can get bulk herbs and spices very cheap. (See last week’s post bulk spices on the Since Your Last Visit page.)
But a cute little spice rack will not do for keeping them organized. These bulk containers were wreaking havoc with my pantry shelves. So I came up with a handy DIY solution.
Over-the-door shoe organizer to the rescue!
I labeled all the lids of my spice containers with a permanent marker and filled up all those pockets.
I love the results. My favorite herbs and spices within easy reach and I don’t have to shuffle through my shelves looking for them anymore. Hooray for organization!
So much in the City is so expensive – mostly rent! But if you live in or around NYC stock up on bulk herbs and spices at the local city grocery stores. The herbs and spices are soooo much cheaper than the typical suburban grocery store chain. Trade Fair is my favorite NYC grocery store with Associated coming in second.
If you don’t live in the NYC area there are still options other than paying $8 for a tiny jar of cloves at your local supermarket. I have actually found reasonable prices on bulk spices on Amazon. So check there. My favorite online stores for bulk herbs are Mountain Rose Herbs and Bulk Herb Store. And be sure to check your local Walmart. They have some basic spices in the $1 category. So save some money and add some spice to your life!
(Note: None of these are affiliate links.)
My sourdough pot
Sourdough pancakes anyone? Try your hand at making your own wild starter. Sourdough was once a staple in every American kitchen. Visit the Pantry to learn how to make your own.
I got 10 pounds of pork fat from the farm we buy meat from last month with the intent of rendering my own lard. When I ordered I had an idea of what I would need to do, but knew I would need to look up the directions again before I proceeded. It was surprisingly easy. It took me three days to do all 10 lbs. as my crock pot is small, but I now have 1 gallon of lard (pictured) on my counter. I’d say it was well worth the $7 I paid for the fat. All I did was cube the fat, toss it in the crock pot with about a cup of water. Cover. Turn on low. Cook either overnight or all day stirring occasionally if possible. Strain out the leftover fat pieces with a cheesecloth and collander, pour in a heat safe container (mason jar, casserole dish, crock, etc.), cool and chill in the fridge. All done and not much to it.
The rendered lard should keep in the fridge for quite some time. I find that fat stores better in the fridge if it’s not tightly covered. I’d suggest covering with a tea towel and rubberband. If covered tightly with a lid moisture can accumulates in the jar and it can get moldy. If this happens, scrape off the mold from the top and use what is underneath. You can also store lard at room temperature. But, I would suggest that if you make a big batch like I did, to store one jar at a time on the counter top and to store the remainder in a cool place.
Pork fat in crock pot – ready to cook.
Replace those aresol oil sprayers with your own homemade version. All you need is a spray bottle (glass or stainless steel is best) and your favorite oil. I use olive oil. You need an oil that is liquid at room temperature. If you want to use coconut oil I would try heating it and mixing in half and half with another oil that is liquid. Fill your spray bottle 3/4 full with oil and 1/4 with distilled water. Shake well before each use and spray liberally. I rarely need spray oil but use it when my cast iron waffle maker.
Do you all know how to make brown sugar? I didn’t know how simple it was until I caught a snippet of a Martha Stewart episode a few years ago. I’ve been making it ever since. It’s nice to be able to make up a new batch when you are a 1/2 cup short on a recipe. All you need is two ingredients – some white sugar and molasses. Take a couple of cups of white sugar and drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of blackstrap molasses (affiliate link – Disclosures here). Stir until well mixed. It’s actually easier if you use your fingers to combine the molasses and granulated sugar. You will end up with the softest, moistest brown sugar. For darker brown sugar simply add more molasses. For lighter add less. For best results store in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out. It’s wonderful! And if you use real blackstrap molasses (the best contains at least 20% iron) you’ll be adding some great iron and minerals to your diet. Enjoy!
Just two ingredients. Can’t get much simpler than that.
Stirring the molasses in.