This time of year always surprises me,, as the warm days of summer give way to the cool crisp days of autumn, you would think that people would have on their minds about putting the finishing touches on their pantries to make certain when the weather man calls for snow, sleet and freezing rain that there are absolutely no worries in the cooking/baking department of the kitchen.
Well one only has to go out to any local market as the first snow flake falls to see the sea of humanity running to the market fearing for their lives that they will not have one crust of bread, one morsel of cheese, eggs,milk etc. in the house to survive a two day snow! You really have to wonder what you would find in most kitchens in America, I am thinking very little in the way food by the way it looks on those days.
Even though in our home we always cooked from scratch, we tried to keep the pantry, cabinets whatever you have in your home well stocked for the long cold days of winter, so that we did not have to run to the store at the first drop of snow.
In August I always go through the cabinets, buckets and lard cans and make certain of what I have stocked up for the winter months. With the rising prices of everything these days, since food prices are higher from one week to the next that more people would stock up for the winter months so that they rarely would have to go shopping.
I usually start with going through the cabinets in August, and making a list of everything that is needed, simple things we take for granted as always being there. just to find out that it is nearly empty at the worst possible time.
Here is a list of items that you pantry should be well stocked with:
Flours – White or Unbleached, whole wheat etc.
Sugars- White, Brown, 10X Confectioners
Thickeners- Cornstarch, Clear Jel, Tapioca
Spices- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Cloves, Corriander, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Mace, Vanilla just to name a few.
Dry Milk- Non fat Dry Milk or Nido (full fat dry milk)
Coffees & Teas
Leavenings- Yeast, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Baker’s Ammonia
Sweeteners- Corn Syrup, Molasses, Sorghum Molasses, King Syrup, Maple Syrup and Honey
Shortenings- Shortening, Butter, Lard, Cooking Oils
Eggs – While it is not possible to stock pile eggs so easily, eggs are one item that will keep for weeks in the fridge, and I usually try to keep 6 or more dozen on hand, if they are getting towards the end, make deviled eggs, or beet pickled eggs.
Meats- Beef, Pork, Chicken, Lamb – stocked in the freezer, home canned, etc.
Dried Fruits- Raisins, Currants, Sultana’s, Dried Sweet or Sour Cherries, Dried Apples. Apricots, Dates and Figs
Nuts of all sorts (for myself) Pecans, Almonds and Walnuts (both English and Black)
While not all homes do canning these days, I think home canned foods are a very important part of the pantry if you can do it. If not then be well stocked in commercially canned Fruits and Vegetables.
The Important thing here is to have some of each so that when the first snow flake falls from the sky that you are not one of the thousands flooding the market because you are going to die of starvation in two days time. You can be content in your kitchen making that pot of beef stew, Chicken Noodle Soup, Baking you own loaves of wheat bread, or French Beads, making those Cinnamon Rolls for your family for the next mornings breakfast when you wake to that 6-12 inches of snow on the ground. and you did not have to worry about joining those throngs of foodless people in the stores the day before.
All of this being said it has surprised me this year in talking to quite a few people out there that own homes and do not have Freezers, While I have met many people living in apartments that own freezers. It is nice to know that you have and are able to stock up on meats and other foods and put in the deep freeze. This is where I keep my butter, lard and shortening for longer term storage. While I will admit that if you live in a power outage type of area that you could loose the frozen foods. That is why my preference has always been to have a gas stove,, as I have known many people when the power goes out for a prolonged period say more than three days, to whip out the pressure canners and can the contents of the freezer.
Coming soon will be the posts I am working on “Baking Mixes for the Busy Life”
A series of recipes for all sorts of baking mixes that are much cheaper than buying them in pretty boxes in the store, and are ready for use at a moments notice.
If you are need of bulk spices at good prices, Atlantic Spice Company is a very good resource with excellent service, they are located in North Turo, Mass.
Also if you are need of bulk foods, and are in densely populated Old Order Mennonite or Amish areas, nearly all Plain Mennonite and Amish communities have a bulk food store and they are very knowledgeable in the art of home canning and cooking from scratch and an invaluable resource.