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Not sure what the lesson is

After my mom died, several years ago, my brother and I went through her things. I found perhaps 10 tablecloths, folded away, lace ones and linen ones, and figured fancy things that I had never seen. There were heavy cloth napkins too. In all my years at home, through holidays and ordinary days, she had never used them. She had been 'saving them for good.'

I thought it was such a waste, she had obviously loved these things, and put them aside to use for some event that never came. I made the decision to use all my nice things (such as they are,) often. And I took the tablecloths home with me.

So this brings me to today. Today I found myself with an abundance of both time and onions. I decided to make an onion soup. Son was helping me. So far, so good. He suggested paprika in the soup. I had a box of paprika that I had had for a long time, and used rarely. It was a pretty red canister. Somehow it had gotten pushed to the back of the spice shelf. Today I thought 'aha, I have remembered my lesson, I will use the paprika.'

So we opened it up, and moths came out! My son dropped it on the floor, and the whole kitchen became covered in what appeared to be blood. (Feet tracking paprika round the kitchen look exactly like bloody footprints.

We completed the soup. it turned out fine. I mopped the floor-- and it no longer looks like the gun deck of a frigate. I threw the paprika away.

I feel there is a lesson there somewhere. Not sure what it is. Maybe less philosophy and more to do with proper spice storage?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 14th, 2012 08:52 am (UTC)
I sort out my spices every spring - still find things which eluded the last sort out, though. Best we've done is ten year old fish sauce. Ew.
Mar. 14th, 2012 12:38 pm (UTC)
Well-- that makes me feel better. Some spices get pushed to the front, I use them almost daily. Some languish in the back, outcasts like chervil, and cloves...

But there is no time like right now. I am rededicating myself to more chervil, and tablecloths!
Mar. 14th, 2012 01:20 pm (UTC)
Paprika is notorious as a thing that harbors moth eggs in the tin, more so than other spices. A friend taught me to tap a little out each time onto a paper towel and watch to see if it moved!

I didn't find moths in the aged coriander or the poppy seeds I chucked out when baking recently, but the poppy seeds had DEFINITELY gone off. Bought a new jar, and resolved to bake more.

This also has to do with why I buy whole nutmegs. Not only is freshly grated nutmeg nicer, whole ungrated nutmegs or even partly-grated nutmegs pretty much don't go off! Doesn't work so well with other spices though - things like cumin seeds are enough of a nuisance to grind (my coffee grinder is for coffee, I haven't got a second one for spices, and the mortar and pestle are just too much work) that they just sit there and I don't use them. I buy ground in small quantities.

The Lesson of the Tablecloths needs modifying here. A better Lesson of the Spices is that if you have something like a Penzey's near you, it's much more cost effective to buy a small jar ONCE and then buy the bulk spice to refill it after. Because in a supermarket, most of the price of a jar of spices is for the jar! And a small jar, so you use up the spice while it's fresher. I remember to do this with thyme, which is the one I use the most often, and when I run out of this jar of bay leaves, I'll try to remember to do the same thing; the prior container of bay leaves was a box that had gotten crumply, so I paid the premium for an actual jar.

Not that I'm perfect. I don't even know how old the TWO jars of tarragon on my shelves are. I hardly use them (tarragon is too much like licorice for my taste) so they just sit there.
Mar. 14th, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
We do have a Penzey's nar me. I even get the catalog to drool over...

I have whirled spices in our one coffee grinder before. The non-coffee taste never seems to come out.

Last week I using a hammer on a zip bag of cinnamon sticks.
It went like this:

('Wack, wack...'

"What are you doing?"

'Wack'--- "


Edited at 2012-03-14 05:53 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
Sorry for this late comment... but I found this entry is too charming to just go through!
I can imagine the scene vividly... moths, paprika on the floor and poor frightened boy(how old is he?)!

And I love your lesson, using the nice things often. As for the spices... I don't cook much and have just salt, pepper and a few more spices so no problem like yours XD
Sep. 26th, 2016 08:02 am (UTC)
I love old tablecloths and suchlike, pretty antiques that can be used. I save the really delicate things for when the kids are older, but we have lots of liberally stained pretty tablecloths that they get out for tea parties.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )