Secret Spice Rub Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway

Secret, smoky meat rub

A few months back, I met a professional organizer named Aby and I was instantly in awe of her.

Really, I admire any person who possesses both the desire and the ability to transform the cluttered elements of household chaos into pleasingly stratified things of beauty. For someone as organized-impaired as myself, one look at Aby' s Creative Organizing blog fills me with hope for redemption.

I start out with good intentions, buying containers, files, folders and dividers - you name the aisle in The Container Store and I've been there - but still the sheer volume of our everyday stuff seeps through the cracks in the closet doors, and sometimes literally falls out and hits my husband on the head.

Really. Hits My Husband On The Head; as in the case of the jar of peppercorns perched precariously on the tippy-top shelf of the spice cabinet, which falls out while said husband is plunging the depths up to his elbows in search of some cayenne pepper.

And then, when I saw that Lydia at The Perfect Pantry was peeking into Other People's Pantries, I realized that my own spice pantry is such a mess that I really should be embarrassed, but the truth is I'm simply at a loss.

Which brings me to this pathetic cry for help:

Will someone please, please set my spice cabinet to rights?

Leave me a comment with your inspired solution to my spice cabinet woes, and to the calm, cool and creative person with the best idea I will present this lovely little cookbook, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes: Simple Indian Recipes Using Five Common Spices:

Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to post an after photo, showing off a brand new, neatly organized spice cabinet, but first look at what I have now, four shelves 13 inches wide by 10 inches deep, jam-packed with bags, jars, tins and boxes in no order whatsoever:

And just so you don't leave empty-handed, here is my "secret" smoky spice rub recipe, suitable for packing in jars and giving as gifts:

Smoky Spice Rub

2 tablespoons smoked sweet Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in a covered container for up to a month.
Rub 1 tablespoon per pound onto meat, poultry or fish.


*~Annette~* said...

You poor girl!! Firest things first... you need to make sure you have spice that aren't expired. McCormick's site has a date/code checker just to help you with that. THEN you need to get rid of those plastic baggies!! I'm sure Ikea will have what you need... or even the Container Store (*swoon*)What works for me is simply sticking with 1-3 of the same brand of spices. Then I use the tiered wire shelves that slip into the cabinet. Get some pretty wire baskets (that you can see in) for the odds and ends and if you can't bear to get rid of those bags. Target's Dollar spot has AWESOME ones right now.... HTH!!!

Carole said...

I think the best thing, in a way, is to start fresh. I am on sabbatical so have a little time on my hands:) Here's what I did to "sort of start fresh." I took all my spices and such out of the cabinet they were in and put them into a temporary storage place. When I needed something, I took it out of the holding space and checked how old it was. If it was old, I replaced it with new, used it and then placed that into the normal storage area. Repeat as needed for about a month or so depending upon how much you cook.
See, for me, it was not only that it was disorganized. It was that there was so much stuff that I really didn't need or was really really old. I found that after a month, I had exactly what I needed, organized and fresh. Everything else went to the trash. Just one way of dealing with overload. I am now trying that approach to other areas that are bothering me. Good luck!

kitarra said...

I use to have a mess of a cabinet too. But here is the way I fixed my issue:

I went to the container store.
I looked around for a set of containers that fit my cabinet. In my case it was the clear plastic shoe box thingies. The ones that have the slide out front and stack.

My cabinet fit 6 of those. Which gave me two shelves with pull out drawers. it was perfect.

Then I bought the little rectangular tupperware like containers. They were hanging and are about two inches long by about three inches long and come two or four to a pack. They are air tight. And best of all I found that I could stack exactly three on top of each other in each of the showbox drawers. I then also found I could put two stacks together.

I transfered all of my spices to the little boxes and started filing.

As I filed I made an inventory of what I had.

A p-touch labeler allowed me to label the top and one side. I then used the master list to keep on the door of the spice cabinet and put where each spice was and which numbered drawer.

All in all it took me and my mother about a day to do. But now I can find everything without making everything fall out onto the floor.

lindsay said...

my spice cabinet looks like that :D

a lot more economical (on a student budget) to use old salsa/jam/juice/pickle/etc jars for spices.. since the air tight sets are super duper expensive!! (not to mention the ones that tastful are even more $$)

thanks for the secret spice mix though - i'll have to add that to the cabinent :)

Emiline said...

Hmmm, I'll have to think about it.
Baby food/small jars with labels on them?

I SHOULD NOT be giving advice, because mine is even worse.

Nupur said...

Wow, you have some great suggestions already! And I know how it is to be swamped by spices and spice blends :D
The only thing I can add is: you have 4 shelves, so group the spices as much as possible by cuisine.
Good luck!

Liza said...

Just let S loose in your cabinet for a day and the mess will be nothing but a memory. The challenge will be tearing him away from the electrical and plumbing work (and the chance to cook with you and T).

Deborah said...

I am definitely not the queen of organization, but I am slowly trying to organize my house. This is funny, because I was just thinking about my spice cabinet last night and what I want to do to organize it!! So I'll let you know what I have in mind...

1st, I'm going to get matching bottles for each of the spices, so all of the bottles are the same shape and size. Then label them each, as well as the date that they were opened, which I have already been trying to do to keep from having old spices in my cabinet. I also want to get some of the organizers that go on the inside of your cabinet door, so that all of the spices can be lined up in one line, and none get lost at the back of the cabinet!!

For the packets and such, I have a small plastic rectangle bin that holds them perfectly. And even better, I have a cabinet that the bin fits perfectly in. I'm excited to read what others have to say, because I can use the help as well!

Nicole from: For the Love of Food said...

Ok, so this will take a little work, but not too much.

There is a little sorting that needs to be done.

I find it easiest to store spices in spice jars or some sort of container that is easy to read. Make sure they are not too big so they don't take up lots of space, but are large enough to meet your needs.

I often have refill bags of spices. I keep those in a rectangular basket, let's say at the top of your cabinet where it's hardest to reach since you don't need to get at it that often. I have a really big basket that I keep my extra spices in and I have spices up front, extra empty spice jars in the middle, and extra tea in the back.

So, fill jars with spices for the lower shelves that you can reach and keep the extra in bags in your basket.

Ok, so now that you have sorted: If that cabinet were in my kitchen I would put all the spices that I use most often on the bottom shelf and in the front row - with possibly 2 rows behind that. For example, I keep basil, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper right up front. Cinnamon, curry, cloves, etc, which I use less often fall towards the back. If your shelves are tall enough for you to add a standing shelf that could also help - if your spice jars are short enough.

For shelves that are harder to reach at for individual jars I would also use baskets in and you can just pull down the whole basket, pick out your spices, and put it back up - it looks very organized, and makes your cabinet easy to clean. Just make sure to label the baskets with the spices that are inside so you know where they are!

I find that Ikea and crate&barrel have great containers and baskets for spice storage. And, I have seen these extra stand-alone shelves at Target. If you want to try the basket idea out before buying anything, use some shoe boxes and see how you like the idea.

Good luck!

Rivka said...

Sorry about your spice cabinet woes! I'm gonna echo what other commenters have said about getting a wire container at the Container store in which you can stack your spice jars horizontally, so that when you open the cabinet you see all their names without clutter.

One more thing, though, and this is the clincher: Buy a magnetic strip at home depot or somewhere like that. Use strong glue to attach it to the underside of your cabinet. Then, when you're replacing your expired spices, buy new ones with metal lids (or buy containers from the container store with metal lids, and store your spices in them). This way, your top 5-10 spices can be magnetized to the bottom of your cabinet and easily available without rummaging. Great tip, eh? :)

Karen said...

Uh-oh. I can feel my inner organizer getting restless.

I love all these ideas!! Keep them coming..

Tempered Woman said...

I'm definitely NOT the person to give advice. I have major spice obsession issues. I look forward to seeing the responses you get.
The only thing I really do is separate mine between baking and cooking spices. Altho some of those will overlap~ so I make sure they are in front.
And every year right before Thanksgiving I do a cleanout. I replace my baking powder and check the dates to make sure nothing is too old. OH! I always put dates on the spices with a little sticker tag I have sitting in there. As soon as I come home with something new~ I put the date on it and stick 'em.
Good luck!

Lori said...

I'd have to say that you have a lot of really great ideas already. A lot of the posts are exactly what I would do. For me in my kitchen I have learned that spices altogether does not work for me. I have them in various places according to size and or use.

I too store a lot of mine in baby food jars. I use labels that I make. You can download templates from Martha Stewart as well.

On my pantry door I have a three shelf rack. It is the rubber coated wire variety. I house my big containers in there. Stuff like garlic powder, oregano, basil, minced onion, etc. Oh and I definitely would move any spices from baggies into glass jars as they tend to lose their vitality over time.

My spices that I use often I have near my stove in a lazy susan type cabinet. I have the labels on the tops of the spices. I look down and grab what I need.

Finally the spices that I seldom use are on that back of a door closet that I had my husband convert into a big cabinet for all my baking tools, gadgets, appliances, etc.

For me although this may sound scattered works very well. So I would have to know more about your kitchen if I were to give you the advice.

Spice racks are always a challenge I think. They have come out with a new cabinet that slides out and has racks specifically for spices. For me that would never house all that I have.

Good luck to you. What a fun project.

Jenny said...

Hi Karen,
I just "tagged" you on my blog. Play if you'd like. 5 things about yourself!!

deeluna said...

I recently took out EVERY jar/bag/container of spices that I own, and PURGED anything that I KNEW was really old (the big container of Tone's Paprika from Sam's Club, which I belonged to for one year in 1999)...Or, if I had, which I did, 5 jars of Oregano, I THREW AWAY 3 of them. That gave me a bit less to struggle with - then I divided things into 5 piles: stuff I use daily/weekly, stuff I don't use frequently, spice mixes, baking stuff, and duplicates.
I typed out a list of my duplicates and stuff I don't use regularly, and put all that in the basement "kitchen overflow area" and put the list on the basement door. I have one of those back of the door spice racks on my basement door, so I put everything else there...It's not TOTALLY organized, but it's working so far...And I haven't purchased any more oregano...

christy b said...

What I do is store all of my spices that are in jars that are short enough in a drawer. I label the tops of the lids very clearly with the spice name. That way I am not reaching into a cabinet, knocking over bottles to find what I need. Instead, I just open the drawer, and look down at the lids until I find what I need! I also put my most frequently used spices toward the front, where I will spot them quickly. I hope this helps!!

Deborah Dowd said...

I feel awful! Here you give me this great spice rub recipe, and seriously, I can't give you any good tips, since my spice cabinet looks about like yours (what's wrong with that?!) Please share your "after" pictures!

Merav said...

I have these mini "lazy susan" trays in my spice cabinets that I put the spice bottles on. Then to see the spices I just spin the tray around 360 degrees and I can see everything! :) It's great!

The Lazy Organizer said...

Here's my lazy advice. Get the spices off the shelves and into a drawer. Write the name on top of the jars so you can see exactly what you have. There will be no more moving things around to get to something in the back of the cupboard.

If you don't have a drawer handy then get containers for the shelves that you can pull out in the same way.

Now is that an Indian type rub? I've never had Indian food before so I am intrigued. I may have to pull some steaks out for tomorrow night. Thanks!

Karen said...

Thank you ALL for the great ideas so far - I am feeling a tiny bit more motivated.

Lazy Organizer, the rub isn't Indian, but it will be just perfect on your steaks.

Sarah said...

My husband and I are addicted to watching re-runs of "Good Eats" with Alton Brown, on the Food Network. One of the episodes talked about spices and organizing spices in one's cabinet. One of the suggestions was utilizing the doors of one's cabinets. Creating mini shelves on the doors, or you can do what Alton did which was put velcro on the door and have little round metal jars that attach onto the velcro (I'd be leary about placing velcro on my cabinets...but just a thought).

I use mini maskets in my cabinets. This way I can take them out. I have a basket with baking spices, Indian spices, Italian spices, etc.

However, no matter how well you're organized everything tends to vear towards chaos and disorder. According to the second law of thermodynamics: "all systems tend toward disorder and randomness." This tends to ring true with most things in our lives not just spice cabinets!

Melanie C. said...

I just found your site! I love it! Ok about the spice cupboard. I bought little lazy susans for each shelf. (There are all different sizes-I bought mine at target or walmart--just cheap white plastic ones) Then I put the spice jars in alphabetical order all the way around. So when I need a spice I just turn the right lazy susan until I see what I am looking for. I have a lot of spices--so my lazy susans are loaded--but it is still easy to find what I want--because I can quickly find them as I turn. I found this is a great way to utilize a small space! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I took a cooking class and they recommend only using spices for 1 year. I think the best deal is Penzey spices that you can find on-line. There are also some stores in the Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Maryland area. The instructor told us about Penzey's spices and that a James Beard award winning restaurant uses them. I had eaten at this particular restaurant several times. The instructor had worked at the restaurant.

Lisa V.

barb said...

I use a Vermont hardwood spice rack for my everyday spices. It is cube shaped on a spinning base. It sits on my counter near the stove. The spices are in alphabetical order and very easy to get your hands on. A website for the rack is http://www.tubularspices.com/spiceracks/jk48.asp

They are pricey, but I have used mine now for 20 years and it looks as good as the day I recieved it as a wedding gift. For the ocaissional use spices, or the containers, blends and extracts I use periodically, I have them one a lazy Susan in a corner cabinet.

noble pig said...

My spices are a nightmare. I organize and they go back to crazy!

Rebecca said...

without a pantry, all my spices are rolling around in a drawer. it's the worst system ever.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Hey Karen, found your site through Jenny...it's fabulous! I can't add any other ideas to the already magnificent ones you've already received other than I use drawers (cans/bottles laying flat) for my spices rather than shelves (maybe someone already pegged that)... and a monthly brutally honest purging of what's in there!

jennyonthespot said...

I can't help, but I'm goona see what great ideas these folks give ya! I may steal some tips!

Alanna said...

I vote that we dump it all onto the counter, open a bottle of wine and then see what happens ...

Carla said...

I have a cheap and easy solution to the dreaded spice cabinet! I separate my spices by categories (meat spices, salt & peppers, dessert spices, and general spices). I store them in photo type boxes that fit in my cabinets and labeled the top with small labels.

You can see photos on my blog at http://unoacres.blogspot.com/2008/02/spice-up-my-kitchen.html

Anonymous said...

I like using 2 different things. One is the Tupperware spice keepers (no I do NOT sell Tupperware). They used to have a stair step shelf to sit them on, they are air tight, easy to store. The other item I use on another shelf is the spice containers from the container store. I store most of mine on the stair step shelves where I can see them easily. They are all labeled with a label maker. I also have other spice containers on a round turntable. What does not fit in there, gets tossed. Easly enough.

Chris said...

Barb's advice above was the best!!! I've been using the tupperware small spice racks, and while they were concise and neat, I was always knocking them off the turntable. So what I did is ordered the larger wood 48 bottle holder to keep as my backup pantry. It's tall and I didn't want it on my countertop taking up space, so it's in our downstairs cooler pantry area that isn't too tight to turn a "square" turntable. THEN, I have the test tube jars, set of 40, in my kitchen. The 6" width is just wide enough to fit in those awful narrow cupboards that nothing fits in. To make it a little more user friendly, I had my husband screw a drawer pull handle to one side of it, so now I can just pull it out like a drawer....it rocks!! So I keep all my spices, over 40 in a 9x6" space, and keep leftover spices in the other container in the basement, they are all labeled alphabetically. Thanks Barb!!
The website was The Tubular Spice Company.