Tuesday Reviews-Day: Spicy Shelf and a GIVEAWAY!

Tuesday Revews-Day

About a month ago Todd and I were standing in our new/old kitchen, pondering where we were going to put our spices. In the last kitchen we used a large rack meant for I’m not sure what, mounted on some free wall space that was convenient to both our main prep area as well as the stove.


Unfortunately, no such space existed in the Dollhouse kitchen, and we had a lot of spices to contend with. Tabling the issue for the time being, I went back into my office and what was waiting for me but an offer to try out the Spicy Shelf and host a giveaway so one of you can try it out as well!


So, the Spicy Shelf is one of those As Seen on TV products that you might have seen on late-night television. Sometimes these products get a bad reputation but we’ve actually used several with positive results, including the Magic Mesh screen “door” on our screened porch! So I was more than willing to give the SpicyShelf a shot since it seemed like the answer to a very pertinent problem.

The pieces ready for assembly...

The pieces ready for assembly… (unintentional “action” shot)

The spicy shelf came with 2 shelves, several extenders, and two different heights of legs for use in cabinets with or without shelf pins.


These are the tabs on the legs and the slots on the brace that keeps the legs from wiggling at the base… as if they could!)


The legs, in fact all of the components, snap together quite well and are shaped so that there’s really only one way to put them together–the right way–and getting them apart again (as I dry-fit the shelves to my cabinet) is pretty tough. All in all, the unit feels pretty stable to me.

Hmmm, not *quite* right. And the instructions made it seem like having one side unsupported by either a wall or another Spicy Shelf was not the best of ideas.

Hmmm, not *quite* right. And the instructions made it seem like having one side unsupported by either a wall or another Spicy Shelf was not the best of ideas.

Now, the width of our chosen cabinet was just wider than the suggested maximum width of a single shelf but was just wide enough to accommodate one skinny Shelf and one shelf with the narrow extenders added to each side. To have some fun, and allow for some of the larger bottles we have, I used one set of tall legs and one set of short.

That's much better!

That’s much better!

And they worked out just right! I could have added another narrow extender but the construction of our cabinets weren’t going to allow it thanks to an interior beam in the right front corner.

It's almost like the display!

Maybe a little fuller than the display, but still quite easy to access!

Of course, I still have far more spices than these were intended to hold, so when everything was in there was still a bit of doubling-up on the bottom rows, but if you’re capable of more editing than I, your kitchen cabinet might look more like the demonstration pictures. It’s still quite easy to access everything and, as advertised, the taller condiment bottles can sit in the middle of the u-shaped shelves to maximize space.

And 2 rows of vinegars/sauces fit in there, too!

And 2 rows of vinegars/sauces fit in there, too!


Is there anything I would change/improve upon the Spicy Shelf? Slightly deeper shelves would be nice for the larger spice bottles and jars. They fit, but having an extra centimeter would make them feel a lot more secure.

That one tiny suggestion aside, I really am glad we got the chance to try out the expandable shelf system and might even order another set to use elsewhere in the house! According to the video on spicyshelf.com it works well for craft rooms and cosmetics, too. Of course, if you’d like to get a set for yourself, you have two options. First, you can enter the giveaway by guessing how many spice bottles, jars, and canisters I have in the single shelf where my Spicy Shelf resides (this does not include the bottles of vinegars, soy sauce, etc.–just the dry bits). And while you can see some of them in the pictures above, some areas are 2-bottles deep, so it’s still anyone’s guess.

Except me, of course, because I counted them!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Use the Rafflecopter widget above to enter. The contest will run for one week (through Monday, August 25th) and I’ll contact the winner on Tuesday, August 26th. The contest is open to US residents only and you’ll need to share your street address with me (no PO Boxes) so that I can pass it along to the shipping agent (the prize will come directly from them, not me).

Of course, if you just cannot wait, you can use promo code SPICE5 (that’s the number 5 at the end, not an ‘s’) over at www.SpicyShelf.com and get $5 off your own set!

And if you’re curious about what we did with the old spice rack, turns out it just fits in our under-sink cabinets and is now holding rolls of foils and boxes of bags and baggies. Yay for not wasting anything, including space!

A place for everything...

A place for everything…

In case it wasn’t obvious, I was provided a Spicy Shelf for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was received for this post.

Don’t Skimp on the Spices


Planning a menu on a restricted diet–be it the Low-FODMAP protocol or otherwise–means a lot of the same.

With broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, various beans and peas all on the trigger list that leaves a lot of repetition of spinach, green beans, and carrots (not to mention the ubiquitous green salad) as side dishes. Of course there are more options available seasonally, but these are our core components. Even the proteins can get a bit repetitive without a helping hand from the spice rack.

Whether you’re following a recipe or experimenting on your own, a careful perusal of the spice blends on your shelf will turn up some High-FODMAP ingredients–namely garlic and onion powders–in the ingredient lists. Curry powder, chili powder*, steak seasoning, taco mix, etc. Even the simple-sounding Lemon Pepper usually includes both garlic and onions! (And I can report from personal experience that even the small amounts in the Lemon & Pepper seasoning blend are enough to provoke a reaction in an otherwise safe meal.)

The solution, as with any specialty diet, is to make your own. Often it’s just a matter of making up the blend without the offending powdered garlic or onions, but what if you find yourself missing those flavors? There’s always asafoetida (aka hing) powder–a little of that goes a long way, and I’d suggest saving it to apply per dish, not including it in the pre-mixed spices–or a drizzle of garlic oil if appropriate for the recipe. You can still add a sprinkle of green onion tops to the dish while it’s cooking for a more authentic flavor, and some well-diced turnips add a peppery bite to a soup or stew in place of onions.

Here are a couple of my go-to blends we use regularly in our kitchen.

Taco Seasoning

1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp red chili powder
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp oregano

Combine in a glass jar and shake until combined; makes about a half a cup. Use 2 tsp mix per pound of protein of your choice; go up to a tablespoon if you like your tacos hot!

Curry Powder

4 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp turmeric
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp red chili powder

Combine in a glass jar and shake until combines; makes about a half a cup. Use 2 Tbsp mix per pound of protein of your choice, 1 Tbsp if you’re seasoning vegetables, or as much as your recipe requires.

While there are plenty of seasoning blends just a convenient search away, I also have two “old-fashioned” books to recommend for just this sort of kitchen quandry. First is one of my long-time favorites, The Kitchen Companion by Polly Clingerman. It’s currently out of print but if you find a used copy either online or at a yard sale, snap it up! This is my go-to for all sorts of cooking basics, time and temp charts out the wazoo, and just all sorts of kitchen awesomeness. The other is The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill. In addition to being a veritable encyclopedia of herbs and spices in their various forms, there are usage suggestions and spice blends galore–perfect for kitchen experimentation!


*For the record, if you buy your red chili powder in “bulk” at the Indian grocery like I do, remember that this is straight chilies whereas the chili powder called for in most recipes is rather “diluted” with other things. Pare down accordingly or risk the wrath of your tastebuds!

ICC | Besan Ki Masala Roti


It’s mid-month and you might recall that that’s when I get to try out another authentic Indian dish and see how much I can avoid mucking it up with my American ways. In other words: it’s time for another Indian Cooking Challenge!

This month’s recipe was very easy to incorporate into our weekly dinners, as it’s an Indian bread (roti), and we love our breads. This particular roti is “stuffed” with a masala (mixtures of spices) and cooked on a griddled. As an unleavened bread, it’s somewhere between a cracker and a biscuit, but very tasty nonetheless. It paired nicely with the Thai-style cauliflower curry and basmati rice I made for supper one night this week.

Besan ki Masala Roti with Cauliflower Curry and rice

Besan Ki Masala Roti

from Marwari Vegetarian Cooking, makes 8


Masala:1 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp ground Coriander
1/4 tsp ground Turmeric
1 Green Chili, diced
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Amchur (dried mango powder)
1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 1/s Tbsp Olive Oil
Bread:1 cup Besan (gram flour)
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
4-6 Tbsp Water

Ingredients for the Masala

Combine the masala ingredients in a small bowl and mix until a paste forms. Set aside.

Masala Paste

In a larger bowl, combine the flours and salt and mix until uniform.

Ingredients for Roti dough

Stir in the olive oil until the mixture is crumbly, kind of like pie crust.

Crumbly dough

Add in the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a tight ball. It took my 5 Tbsp and then my dough was a bit sticky, but a little more flour fixed that.

Dough for roti

Divide your dough into 8 equal parts and form each into a ball.

Balls of roti dough

Roll each ball into a circle, about 4 inches or so in diameter, then divide the masala filling between each, spreading it around a bit.

the stuffed roti

Fold each circle in half over the filling, and in half again to make a triangle with one rounded edge. Roll these stacked packets into triangular roti–about 1/4 inch thick or less if you can manage it without sticking or tearing.

re-rolled triangular roti

Heat a griddle and drizzle a little olive oil on it, “pan frying” the roti until each side is golden brown. Serve warm.

I had the devil of a time rolling out the stuffed roti–the filling wanted to make the dough squish around and tear, to the point that were I to make these again, I’d definitely just mix the spices into the dry ingredients from the get-go, and skipped the filling step. It definitely would cut down on the chances of over-handling the dough (always a landmine when dealing with breads), which I also think I did this time.

Besan ki Masala Roti

Still, they were tasty–pretty much anything made with besan is awesome in my book.

Oh, and the original recipe used ghee (clarified butter). I opted to use olive oil for health reasons and convenience, but to be more authentic, ghee would be your best bet.