Random Recipes #35 – Dare to Bare

Dom over at Belleau Kitchen has been hosting a fab monthly bloggers challenge for quite some time now. Through his Random Recipes challenge he has asked us to share all sorts of weird and wonderful things from getting us to open our cookery books at random pages and cooking what’s on that page (no cheating!), to baking with a random ingredient or theme, to photographing and sharing our cookbook collection.

This month Dom has challenged us to bare our cupboards, to share photographs of where we keep our ingredients. At first I (and I’m sure I’m not alone here) went, “Ooooh I can’t let the public see that mess!” but upon careful consideration I decided it really wasn’t that bad. Well, the spice rack and the under-counter cupboard wasn’t anyway; the back pantry needed a thorough tidy before it could be deemed suitable for public eyes (no there are no before photographs!).

First up, closest to the cooker (and photographed in the dim sideways 1 pm winter sunlight) is my home made spice rack. I love this spice rack. It seems to be the centre of my entire kitchen. I designed and built it myself to fit the space available out of necessity because where I used to store the spices (in the top cupboard to the right) was a logistical nightmare. Every time the cupboard was opened something would fall out and it was nigh on impossible to find anything. Spices would get lost for years in the back! A spice rack was needed, so I built one. It was summer, I was wearing a dress, drinking the obligatory carpenter’s lager with Muse cranked up on the stereo. I had an absolutely fab time. :)

Most of the ceramic jars pictured above have come from the charity shop for pennies. I especially like the clay Suffolk Cannisters: Ideal Storage at Home or on Safari. If I ever go on safari I am taking these jars with me. Most of my herbs come from our local whole foods shop as it helps keep the waste packaging down. The supermarket brand jars you see above get refilled with bulk herbs and spices bought from said whole foods shop.

Some of my favourite things pictured above are the white Russian doll measuring cup set Santa brought me for Christmas last year (pictured on the left), the Shetland seaweed grinder(s) and the mini stone mortar and pestle (centre) ideal for grinding toasted cumin and coriander seeds. Then there’s the clock, see anything strange with it? I can’t believe that clock has been on my blog banner since this summer and no one has noticed it!

Here’s my embarrassingly untidy below-the-counter cupboard. Again many of my ingredients come from the whole foods shop and are packaged in bags. The top right is a messy pile of said bags, opened and held closed with rubber bands. Jars would be handy for this sort of thing, wouldn’t they, but I never get around to transferring them. The top left is mostly little stuff- stock cubes, baking ingredients, raisins, glacé cherries and the like. The bottom left is a messy stack of charity shop found blog props (there’s another box hidden in a cupboard too) and the bottom right is sugar(s), pasta and a plastic tub filled with half empty herb packets (surplus from the spice rack).

Pictured near the top centre you can see the side of the packet of Maldon sea salt. That side has Helen from Fuss Free Flavours’ recipe on it and I plan on cutting it out and sticking it in my cookery notes scrapbook once the packet is empty. :)

Here are the purpose built shelves in the back room off the kitchen where the tumble drier and hot water tank are kept. It’s a really tiny, cold room so we built shelves above the tumble drier to make the space available for storage. Tinned ingredients and extra things get stored on the middle shelf, breakfast cereals and my pasta machine on the top shelf and the bottom shelf is mostly electronics – the wireless printer (bless whomever invented the wireless printer!), the 25 year old Kenwood juicer, the food processor and the Lakeland yogurt maker all get stored here until needed as there is very little counter space in the kitchen.

To the left, against the wall, is a box of UHT milk (I bought loads last time I was in the supermarket as it was only £3 for 6 litres) – I use this to make my own natural yogurt and as a plan B in case the weather is inclement and the shops run out of milk. You can also see empty egg boxes which get returned periodically to my veg box providers so they can send me even more yummy organic eggs.

You may have spotted our cat, Izzy (Isadora). Back in January this year I made Izzy a sweater cat bed and that post, bizarrely enough, has become my #1 most viewed post – a whopping 10% of my total page views. I guess it just goes to show – people love cats! Izzy was a feral Cat’s Protection rescue kitten we cared for, along with her three siblings, when she was a mere three weeks old. She was so cute!

So yes, I made this bed for her out of a charity shop sweater I bought for the giant purple buttons on it, and she loves it very much. It used to sit on top of the tumble drier but when we built the shelves we needed to relocate it. Cats love heights so we relocated it to the top shelf, building some steps on the wall so she could reach it. She sleeps there, a lot, occasionally looking down at us in that aloof haughty way only cats can look.

So there we go. I’ve dared to bare. There’s still plenty of time left before Dom’s Random Recipes blogging challenge closes on the 28th… will you dare to bare too?


  1. says

    I love a kitchen that has ‘loved’ items that are put to use and not just displayed … I have a sh83load of vintage dishes and jars and glasses and platters and jugs and vases and i use them all for storage, cooking, serving, and decorating. Your kitchen with its jugs and jars and utensils and tools is just so welcoming … and really neat! My shelves are (thankfully) behind doors and are packed silly with this and that …

  2. says

    all my comments seem to be gone… what’s going on? I know I commented on here over the weekend… oh well, LOVE you kitchen so much. It’s just so beautiful but thank GOD you have a real-life cupboards too. love the cat up there also. Thanks so much for the entry this month xx

  3. says

    I have sometimes wondered if your blog header is actually you in your kitchen – it is such a beautiful picture. Your spice rack is really beautiful. And your kitchen looks great – not at all messy. I I am not sure I dare to bare my kitchen – it is always very cluttered.

    I wish we had the space for a high cat bed – and those steps are brilliant. Our poor cat can be seen looking up searching for space to get up higher than us but every surface is too full for any foolhardy attempts.

    • says

      That is me, yes, in my hand sewn dress I picked up at a Salvation Army in Canada about ten years ago! I love that dress. :) My swollen ankle is forever immortalised in my blog header (the one on the left hand side is not normally that thick!). We don’t have a lot of space to work with in our kitchen so I try and keep it as uncluttered as possible, but it never seems to work. I just seem to shift piles of stuff from one place to the next!

      Top tip for making cat steps – don’t put them at a 45 degree angle as your cat will slide right off them, ha! We learned that the hard way and had to fix them properly. She does love being up out of the way of everyone though. In the photo above she’s checking out the newly cleaned space to explore (it was such a chaotic tip before I tidied for the photo!) :)

  4. says

    I love that spice rack and I don’t think your shelves are at all untidy. Mine are much worse. The cat shelf is one I hadn’t thought of until now, though. I’d have to get a cat first, of course. We’ve recently followed your example and started making our own yogurt and very satisfying it is too.

    • says

      Thanks Phil, that’s reassuring! :) Oh you should get a cat – they are such lovely creatures. I don’t think a home is complete without one. Love that you’re making your own yogurt too! :)

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