Monday, January 21, 2013

Love Affair with Pantries

I've had a love affair with pantries since I was a little girl. My next door neighbor had this whole closet right off the kitchen where she kept all her food.  This looks very much like the pantry she had in her early 1950's home. It's the type I want the most if I had a choice.  How convenient to just enter a room and be able to see everything you have at a glance!  I think all kitchens should have this included in the house plans.

My Grandma's kitchen had several mysterious rooms.  There was a mud room with a deep sink and updated with a washer and dryer. A screened-in porch where I'm sure many a pea was shelled and maybe used as a sleeping porch (the room was later closed in as an extra guest room).  Grandma had a lovely butler's pantry that she kept a giant, ancient freezer chest.  The room had windows in the alcove area and a built-in china cabinet.  But the most mysterious and unusual room was a long narrow closet that was her pantry.  From top to bottom the closet was lined with sturdy shelves.  It reminded me of the one the chauffer took a can of salmon out of in "Driving Miss Daisy." 

In The First Four Years, by Laura Ingall Wilder, Almonzo built the most amazing pantry in their new home.  The description includes flour bins!  I love to study the illustration shown in the book. 

Before Pinterest, I kept magazine clippings such as these, organized in a notebook, as inspiration for my ultimate pantry (I apologize for the picture's graininess.)  I've seen the first couple of pictures pinned on Pinterest that I clipped from a Martha Stewart Magazine years ago. 

From Martha Stewart Magazine
This is a great organizational idea for keeping up with and rotating food storage and supplies.  Another great idea comes from Ensign magazine for using an easy pocket chart system where even children (and husbands) can help.
From Martha Stewart Magazine
This is a great idea for those of us who must keep our storage in the garage or basement.

Here is an excellent way to use space inside the walls.  I love it cause you can see what you have, and yet it's still kinda hidden and there's the old-fashioned feel of a screen door.  Of course I don't find screen doors like this practical anymore on my front and back doors and opt for more energy-efficient storm doors, so getting to use a screen door somewhere in the house is nostalgic and you can often find them discarded and needing just a little TLC.

This pantry is what most new homes provide and is the simplest and least expensive for those of us who have an extra traditional closet to use.  I've seen a lot of good ideas on Pinterest for organizing pantry items using this storage system.

from Southern Living Magazine
I include this picture just because it is so inspiring.  Maybe one day I'll get my act together and have such an array of home-canned items.  Right now I'm lucky if I get jam or jelly done each year.

Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Freeze Grated Cheese

Lately, I've been trying really hard to stick to a strict grocery budget--after all, when you purchase and eat food, what do you have to show for it?  I'd rather not waste money on food that might get thrown out.

However, it can be tough to purchase items for a two-week period and realize someone just made a snack with the cheese you needed for Thursday night's dinner, (especially when they could have eaten what you prepared for snacks!)  So I try to pre-prepare for my family's meals as much as possible.  

I have started using a permanent marker to label everything that goes into the pantry and fridge for a specific purpose.  That doesn't mean everything is labeled--just what absolutely cannot be used up before I need it.

I remembered that I can go ahead and shred my cheese and spread it out on plastic wrap on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.  It only takes a few minutes to harden enough to place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer.  Shredding is a good job for one of the kids to do, but you might want to freeze it yourself to ensure it gets properly stored.

Zesty Tomato Soup is a fabulous last minute meal.  Just keep some frozen Monterrey Jack Cheese on hand and cans of tomato soup and some oyster crackers in the pantry.  It's seasoned with chili powder.  It really takes tomato soup up a notch!  I would serve this to last minute company or when having the girls over for lunch. 


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