Spice Cabinet Reorganization
It had to happen: a spice cabinet reorganization. The drawers and cabinets were a mess. Like a huge, disorganized mess. We moved in a hurry. And I put things away in the kitchen in a hurry. We are going on year two living in this house, so I have no excuse as to why my cabinets look so bad. My sister and niece can vouch for how much spices I own after helping me move the kitchen. And they still talk to me after that experience. Over half of my cabinets and drawers are filled with spices.
The spices overwhelmed
As I have become more serious about my cooking and life has gotten busier, the spice mess was starting to bother me. Spices were in plastic bags. Labels had fallen off my set of small glass spice jars. I had multiple jars of the same spice; because, it had gotten lost in the back of the drawer. Sometimes I am out of a spice and do not know it until I am cooking. Items would fall out of the cabinets on me. It was a mess. This mess was slowing me down while cooking. There are times I’m not as organized as I should be when I am cooking. Rooting around trying to find the right spice in the drawers or cabinets can often mean the difference between burning something or not. There have been a couple close calls recently. We can be honest and say burnt spices and food does not taste very nice. I try to avoid it.
The spice cabinet reorganization really needed to happen. My spices were out-of-control. I decided to use that extra hour I gained on Sunday to get these drawers and cabinets under control. I started by taking everything out of the drawers and cabinets taking stock of everything I have. And I have lots. In places where they do not make sense. I need to declutter and organize by category or usage. With this kitchen, I am lucky that there is tons of space. Some of it wasted space which I would like to reclaim.
My set of small spice jars had lost most of their labels and were greasy being so close to the stove. I did not know what spices were in the jars for the most part. And honestly how old the spices were in them. I dumped the spices out. I went about washing and drying them.
Organizing the Spices
What I needed was different sized glass jars and labels. I usually buy my most-used spices in bulk at the Asian grocery in Cary. It makes sense to do so since I use a lot of spice and it is cheaper. I like the larger mouths of the bigger jars since it makes it easier to measure out when cooking. This helps avoid the tapping motion which usually ends up with spice going everywhere. I prefer to use glass jars just because I think it is better than plastic.
I totally wiped out two Walmarts locally to get my glass jars. I found printable labels for them allowing me to use a template on the computer then printing them out. This avoids my horrible handwriting. It just makes it look nice. I was not able to find smaller round label for the set of small glass jars, but that’s on my to-do list for this week. For right now, spices in those jars have torn post-it notes identifying what is what. I look to fill all of them up with regularly used spices so I won’t have to root around anywhere to get it. I can just grab it by the stove.
I still need to get more glass jars for additional spices as well as containers for sugars, flours, grains, and legumes. And I have not tackled the butler’s pantry yet. In other words, I have lots still to do. So you know what to get me for my birthday and Christmas: a Visa gift card. And what I will be doing during fall weekends…
Going Vegetarian. Again.
Going vegetarian. Do not worry this isn’t going to be a preachy post about the benefits of going vegetarian. After about twenty years, I am returning to being a vegetarian. The last couple of years have been tough health-wise. On a daily basis, I take nine pills. Yes, nine pills. I’m not proud to type that, but it is true. For years, I have put myself last in terms of my health. Being an entrepreneur, wife, and mom has given me an excuse not to look out for myself. And that’s what it is an excuse. It is easier to focus on everyone else, but me.
Doctor gave two options
My doctor and I had a coming to Jesus moment when she told me I needed to focus on me. Period. That’s what I have been doing these past months. I have been taking responsibility for my own health. I battle two chronic diseases that aren’t curable, but manageable. If I take care of myself. During the move into our new/old house, I damaged my back by being stupid and causing three bulging discs. I have high blood pressure. And what the turning point for me is when my doctor told me I have high cholesterol in June. She gave two options: taking another pill or going vegetarian. I do not want to take anymore medicines. In fact, I want to get off medicines. I choose going vegetarian.
Being vegetarian forces you to think harder about food
Going back to being a vegetarian has caused to me expand my cooking horizons. I have always cooked a diverse array of meals and many were vegetarian, but being vegetarian full time forces you to think harder about your meals. Meat I’m finding was an easy way out for meals. Meat, veg, and starch. Yup. There’s dinner. Cooking vegetarian or fish dishes has forced me to be more creative with food. I have become more aware of textures and flavors. The sensation of eating. That’s a good thing.
Surrounded by meat lovers
My guys aren’t vegetarians and love their meat. Like really love their meat. This has been an adjustment for them at dinnertime. They have been supportive and adventurous. Why it is working is that I don’t restrict what they eat during the day, just at dinnertime. It is just easier that way I’m finding. I think think they are coming around to meatless dinners.
So how do I feel?
Great! In the process of going vegetarian and it is a process, I have focused more on fresh ingredients, fish, and organic products when we can afford it than ever before. It has pretty much rid our diets of processed foods when we eat at home for three meals a day. My intake of refined sugars has been reduced by 90% as well as bread products.
Going vegetarian has made a huge impact on my health. I am feeling so much better. Having Rheumatoid Arthritis, I have very little inflammation in my joints since not eating meat and processed foods. I am sleeping better and moving better. My mood is lighter and happier. Changing my diet with adding exercise has really made an difference.
Only after two months, I can feel it. I am actually looking forward to seeing the numbers in September for my follow-up visit with my doctor.
Tell me how lifestyle modifications have changed your life in the comments.
New Beginnings for the Well-Worn Apron Blog
New beginnings for the Well-Worn Apron blog. It has been a while since I last wrote on Well-Worn Apron. Life always seemed to get in the way. I always seemed to be too busy to write or just plain too tired. In reality, my heart and soul hasn’t been there. It hasn’t like I haven’t been cooking or traveling. I have. Lots of it.
For the past year, redoing this blog this blog has been in the back of my mind. I wanted to revitalize it. Bring it alive again. But what I really wanted to do honor is my Mom’s memory. My Mom who passed in June 2015 loved Well-Worn Apron. She wasn’t technology focused at all. In fact, she never used an ATM card to withdrawn money. Mom got an iPad only a couple of years before she passed so she could play Angry Birds with my son. She would not do much on it.
What she did do was read this blog. It was her way of connecting with me on a different level and getting a glimpse of what I do professionally as someone who does digital public relations. Mom would complain to me when we would talk that I wasn’t posting enough on Well-Worn Apron. I think if she had her way I would have written every day for this blog and potentially do this full-time as a job. Perhaps Mom’s do know what’s best for the children.
Now we come to new beginnings…
Well-Worn Apron has been brought back to life. It will be a work-in-process as re-doing an established website doesn’t happen without hiccups. I’m pleased with the direction we’re going. I would like to think that Mom would be pleased as well. And I hope you like it, too.
Maybe this journey will lead to new beginnings for me. Join me on it eat, travel, and share.
What’s for dinner tonight: Grilled Steak and Potatoes with Snap Pea Salsa
Grilled Steak and Potatoes with Snap Pea Salsa that’s what.
I’ve had my Real Simple magazine open to that recipe for more than a week now. I finally gathered all the ingredients I needed to make it. The ingredient list is fairly simple using fresh ingredients: NY Strip Steak, fingering potatoes (or in my case baby red potatoes), snap peas, fresh mint, fresh parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper. Lucky for me my herb garden is doing very well allowing me to snip the mint and parsley making the snap pea salsa really fresh.
This dish is very simple to make.
In fact, it is a 30-minute meal from start to finish making it a good weeknight meal. And let’s be honest, who wants to spent hours in the kitchen preparing the nightly meal? Even though I run my own business in my home, I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen preparing quality meals for my guys.
Add to that it is summertime and very hot. The steak and potatoes are done on the grill keeping the kitchen nice and cool. Yeah for the electric bill.
As the potatoes and steak are on the grill, you can make the snap pea salsa. The hardest part of this is slicing the snap peas thinly. The snap pea salsa adds a freshness to the potatoes and steak.
Remember to turn the potatoes a couple of times on the grill to make sure they don’t burn. And don’t overdo the steak. It really should be pink in the middle unlike my photo.
While I liked the whole meal, my guys weren’t thrilled with snap pea salsa. That said I’d make it again.
Getting the Vegetable Garden Ready
Spring sprung last weekend. Warm sun after days of cold bone-chilling rain was welcomed. My thoughts turned to my garden as I looked out the window while doing dishes. It was time to plan out our vegetable and herb garden. As I walked out to the garden I realized it was in a state. It was completely overgrown. It was time to act.
It was quite an undertaking. The soil was waterlogged from days of snow and rain. The weeds had a nasty root system making it hard to remove them.
With the garden cleared, it was time to plant. We planted two blueberry bushes. Then two types of lettuce and spinach.Now to hope for good weather and no frost so we can enjoy our spring vegetables. Maybe I’ll add some cabbage…
Raided the pantry. So what am I going to cook with the above ingredients?
We wanted a quiet Sunday and didn’t really fancy going out to lunch since there aren’t any decent lunch options on a Sunday here other than fast food. We didn’t feel like sandwiches, but wanted something simple.
I went to the pantry and fridge pulling out what I had: beef broth, old bread, butter, thyme, onions, and Swiss cheese.
And what did I make? My own version of French Onion Soup. It is healthy, quick, and simple. In less than 20 minutes, we had a warm, homemade lunch.
Really, it is simple. Melt butter in sauce pan, slice onion paper thin, sauté them until soft in butter, add broth and a dash of thyme. Cook until hot. Slice bread placing in bowl then add cheese. Pour broth over bread. Voila, there’s lunch!
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