Margaret Button: How old are these spices? Don't ask ...

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Since this quarantine began some three months ago, I have tried to clean out closets, cupboards and drawers.

The other day was my spice cabinet. I'm hoping it's just not me — other people who bake and cook a lot have myriad spices, right? At the risk of the spice police coming after me, I'll confess — I don't replace my spices every six months as recommended. A tip from a noted chef is to put the date you bought the spice on the jar — I'll never do, I don't want to know how old some of it is.

I get most of my spices at the Dollar Store, Christmas Tree Shops and others where the spices are $1 to $2 each. And, staring at the store shelves, I can never remember what spices I'm running out of, which may account for the three bottles of parsley flakes, two bottles of oregano, two of Italian seasoning and three ground nutmegs.

Then there's the spices and seasonings I have no idea why I bought them or for what I used them — some I didn't use, because the seal on the jar is unbroken. Ground coriander? Celery seed and salt, one or the other weren't enough? Blackened seasoning? Cilantro leaves? I don't even like the taste of cilantro! Cinnamon sticks and whole allspice? I think a Jamaican spice dealer was the source of the allspice. He claimed soaking allspice berries in a rum sold only in Jamaica and drunk daily would cure arthritis in my knees and neck. Too bad I don't remember how many berries or how much rum to soak them in. Yes, I bought the rum, too.

I have an abundance of extracts — Mexican vanilla, rum, lime, almond, pumpkin spice (what was I thinking there?) and three, yes three bottles of lemon, which I apparently keep buying even though I'm out of orange, which I use in brownies.

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I hate cooking when it's hot out. I found this recipe last week. It's similar to the dirty rice I make, but the Creole seasoning, andouille sausage and the addition of kidney beans amp it up. Discounting the time it took to cook the rice, it was ready in about 15 minutes.

CREOLE FRIED RICE

By the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoon canola oil

8 ounces andouille sausage, thinly sliced

1 large onion, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

4 cups cooked white rice

One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Sliced green onions, for serving

Hot sauce, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

In large skillet, heat canola oil on medium. Add andouille sausage, onion, green pepper, garlic and Creole seasoning. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often. Stir in cooked rice, kidney beans, and tomato paste. Cook 2 minutes or until rice is hot.

Sprinkle with sliced green onions. Serve with hot sauce.

About 495 calories, 21 g protein, 68 g carbs, 16 g fat (4 g sat), 8 g fiber, 985 mg sodium.


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