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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Switching Kitchens, Part II: Spices

We have about a week and a half left in this kitchen, so the time has come to pack up the spices we're unlikely to use and ditch the ones we know we'll never use. It's safe to say we probably won't be needing the Old Bay spice or the celery salt (we have two containers of this ingredient and can't remember why we ever bought it—maybe for brunchtime Bloody Marys in our devil-may-care younger days?). Why do we have a big container of yellow mustard seeds? All our recipes call for the black variety.

Even though we'll eventually use our star anise and chaat masala and celery seeds, we're pretty confident we can live without them for the next few weeks. And given that we'll be cooking quick, easy meals for a while as we pack up this house and unpack into another, we probably won't need such standbys as bay leaves, nutmeg, coriander seeds, and marjoram.

Indian and Mexican dishes are our quick-and-dirty fallbacks, so as we head into our last days here, we'll wait until the last minute to pack the ground cumin, cumin seeds, chili powder, dried chilis, fenugreek, oregano, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel seeds, and smoked paprika.

Human nature being what it is, we're sure to get a craving for a dish that makes use of five-spice powder or black salt, but at this point we're willing to risk it. For one thing, we have to move on to the vexing question of which cookbooks to pack.

What about you? What spices would you need to keep at hand until the last minute?

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