The Pandemic Pantry

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…………and refrigerator and freezer.

There are several reasons why we may need to be able to create meals from what we have on hand rather than rushing off to the shops for a particular ingredient. During the current pandemic there is a chance that any of us may be quarantined or supply lines disrupted.

Therefore, it is beneficial to maintain a selection of shelf-stable goods that can form the basis of basic meals.  A refrigerator allows us to keep perishable foods but during times like this it may not be possible to restock perishable items on a regular basis.  Finally, a freezer can be useful for storage of a variety of foods, including processing gluts of fruit and vegetables.  These may be sourced from your own garden or when you have taken advantage of seasonal bargains.

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Tonight we had a large shared serving of nachos.  Corn chips and canned tomatoes from the pantry teamed with a jar of refried beans from the freezer and some grated cheddar cheese and we had a filling meal.  I make the refried beans from dried kidney beans.  The recipe is here.  They are really versatile and can be used in a number of ways.

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We do not usually have dessert every night so this was a bit of a treat.  We currently have an abundance of eggs from our chickens as well as a steady supply of lemons and the oven would be turned on for the nachos…………..so, I made a Lemon Delicious pudding.  It is a relatively simple combination of butter, sugar, flour and milk along with the eggs and lemon.  Recipe is here

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What is in your pantry?

 

 

 

 

All About Ants

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We had mushroom risotto for dinner but this post is not about a recipe.  As I was beginning to prepare the meal, I went to the pantry for arborio rice and stock powder and discovered…………..ants!  They seemed to be everywhere on one particular shelf and I quickly traced the source to a sticky patch near the jar of honey.  Thankfully, there were no ants in the honey.

Cleaning out and re-arranging the pantry was on my mental ‘to do’ list but it was hastened by the events of this evening.  While the risotto was simmering I set to work.  Since the pantry is relatively modern with melamine shelves, I just needed a cloth and plenty of hot water.  In order to speed up the drying process I used a hair dryer.

Naturally, a bit of rearranging was required and I completed the 2 affected shelves plus the floor of the pantry.

Here is the result – 2 shelves done.  I still need to tidy and sort the 2 undershelf drawers.  The top one contains herbs and spices and the lower one is various seasonings and other small containers.

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On the floor is a paper bag for storing potatoes, a box of the excess of homemade tomato sauce, marmalade, jam, chutney and worcestershire sauce, the attachments for the food processor (stored on the shelf above) and a large stockpot.

The are 2 higher shelves which the ants had not invaded so I have saved them for tomorrow as well.

Here is a before photo.

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Coincidentally, as I sat down to write this post I decided to check my blog reader and there was a post from my dear friend, Julia, on the other side of the world.  Her post was more appropriately titled, Spring Cleaning the Cupboards and contains some great information about ‘Best Before’ dates.

As we are choosing to curtail our social interactions during the COVID-19 outbreak there will be plenty more posts on jobs I catch up on around the house.

 

 

Pantry Staples & Re-arranging

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Yesterday we made a trek of about 80km round trip to Simply Good to stock up on dry goods for the pantry.

The use of bulk bins means that I can buy items without any packaging.  I have used paper bags for a number of years that I reuse over and over again but have recently begun taking my storage jars and having the tare weight recorded before filling them directly.  This makes unpacking a breeze when I get home.

I decided that is was time to tidy the pantry and wipe the shelves before replacing all of the jars.  Here is the end result.

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One of the things that had contributed to some of the space seeming cluttered was the abundance of varieties of loose leaf tea.  I do not drink tea or coffee but GMan does, and of course we like to have it available for guests.

I have read of several people who choose to have a tea/coffee ‘station’ with all of the requirements set up together, however, I had never really considered this as a possibility until yesterday.

This open shelf and cupboard are above the oven and and immediately adjacent to the corner pantry.

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I relocated my small collection of cookbooks to the top cupboard and have made the open shelf the tea/coffee ‘station’.

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The bowl in front of the teapot contains the mesh balls which we use for single serves of tea as we do not buy teabags.  The cork mat next to the bowl is for the other plunger which was being washed when I took this photo.

This does not include the jug which lives in the appliance cupboard or the freshly ground coffee which is refrigerated.

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I am very happy with the result of this re-arranging as it frees up some space in the pantry and keeps the necessities for hot drinks together without cluttering up my bench space.

The Pantry Project – Part 2

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This is a follow-up post about my reorganising of the pantry.  You can read the initial post here.

Once again, there are no before photos which may be just as well because it was not a pretty sight.  My pantry has been been well-organised on previous occasions, however, a few things had conspired and it had spiralled out of control.

This version is a complete departure from my previous methods.  I have decided to group the jars by the type of contents rather than by size.  This means that all of the dried fruit is together, then several types of sugar, various flours and so on.  I will be interested to see how this works out.

Here are a selection of views of the shelves.  Not everything has been placed as yet and I still need to update the labels on some containers.

The top shelf has roasting pans, the dehydrator and pizza maker.

The next 2 shelves are primarily devoted to all of the ingredients which I buy without packaging and store in a selection of containers.

The lower shelf is the grocery items that I buy plus any home-made jam, chutney and sauce.  The breadmaker and food processor are also stored here.  Note:  The food processor was in use when the photos were taken.

The stockpot and tub containing the attachments for the food processor stand on the floor.  The paper bag on the far left is where I keep unrefrigerated vegetables such as sweet potatoes and garlic.

You may have noticed the 2 wire baskets under the shelves.  These are screwed to the underside of the shelves and roll out.  They are some of my favourite features of the pantry and I use them to store small containers.

The upper drawer is for spices and a substantial part of this organising was devoted to the spice drawer.  I have gradually been collecting an assortment of glass Vegemite jars  for storing the spices which I buy from a bulk store.  The jars are about 4 different sizes so I have chosen to utilise them according to the amount of each spice that I generally keep on hand.  They are now labelled on both the jar and the lid for easy identification.  There are still a few more to add.

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The other drawer has yet to be sorted out.

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One of the results of this job has been to locate various items that needed to be used up and identifying a few things that I will never buy again.  I try to avoid recipes/meals that incorporate huge numbers of ingredients that are outside of my regular selection and stick to basic ingredients that can be used in many different ways.

 

 

 

The Pantry Project

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It is hard to believe that it is almost 3 months since I wrote this post about my new labeller.  Although that post was about labelling the small drawers in my sewing room, if I am really honest, my main motivation was so that I could re-organise my pantry and label everything.

Unfortunately, the labeller has languished in the cupboard while the state of the pantry went steadily downhill.  Until yesterday.  The thing that finally prompted me was the arrival of some more Mason jars that I had ordered online.  They would not fit in the cupboard as it stood so this required some major re-thinking.

I am really very fortunate to have plenty of storage space so it was simply a matter of utilising it better.  I have a large corner pantry as well as a floor-to-ceiling cupboard on the other side of the refrigerator.  There had previously been a mix of both food and other items in both cupboards so the first step was to remove the remaining foodstuffs (mostly canned goods and jars) from the cupboard.

I did not take any before photos as I launched into this endeavour early yesterday morning without a specific plan.

This is the cupboard once I had finished it.

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The top shelf is pretty much as it was with the Soda Stream, Easiyo, bucket with spare gas cylinder and Soda Stream bottles and pasta attachments for my KitchenAid mixer.  The pasta attachments were previously in the corner pantry.

The second shelf has 2 plastic tubs of glass jars and bottles which I use for storing juice and homemade sauces.  I have culled these considerably over a period of time as I have invested in more Mason jars.  In fact, I was able to swap them from a large and medium tub to a medium and small tub and move them from the top shelf of the corner pantry to this shelf which means they are much more accessible.  The large plastic tub fits neatly in the bottom of one side of the wardrobe in the sewing room so I will utilise it there.  But first, I have to finish the cupboard and the corner pantry.

The third shelf is various sizes of Mason and Weck jars with some spare lids and bands as well as a pair of lifting tongs from my most recent order.  These will make retrieving jars from the hot water bath much safer and easier.

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The bottom shelf is 4 buckets of bread flour – 2 white, 1 wholemeal and 1 rye.  This is GMan’s domain as he amkes the bread.

The corner pantry is still a work in progress but more about that tomorrow.

Cooking From the Cupboard

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My last port focused on using fresh, seasonal produce – mangoes in my case at the moment.

Tonight I am sharing what I cooked today.  Using mostly ingredients that I have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer I had a big cook-up and made the following:

Bolognaise sauce
Choc fruit and nut balls
**Pizza bases (gluten free)
**Refried beans
Chilli con carne
**Muesli (gluten free)
**Mexican quinoa

We had Mexican quinoa for dinner and have enough for our lunches on Monday.  The bolognaise sauce and zucchini noodles will be for dinner tomorrow and there are 4 serves (2 meals x 2 people) in the freezer.  6 pizza bases are are par-cooked and frozen.  8 serves of chilli con carne are in the freezer.  3 dozen choc fruit and nut balls in the freezer and ready to be added to lunchboxes.  The muesli container is refilled and will last mea couple of months.

The items marked with ** have already been covered in previous blog posts and the links can be found by clicking on the tab near the top of the blog “Recipes – Food”.

Here is the recipe for the bolognaise sauce.

BOLOGNAISE SAUCE

250g mince
1 cup dried red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Frozen cherry tomatoes + dried tomato powder
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
2 teaspoons vegie stock powder
1/3 cup red wine

Pour boiling water over lentils – allow to stand for at least 2hours. Saute onion and garlic, add mince and brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

You could use canned tomatoes plus tomato paste. Mine are from the garden.

I use a large soup ladle to portion up the mixture.

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The chilli con carne is the same basic mixture but I omit the mixed herbs and add the following.

2 cups kidney beans (I soak and cook my own but you could use canned ones)
1 cup refried beans
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Tabasco sauce to taste

I will add the recipe for the Choc fruit and nut balls in the next day or so.

 

 

The Best Laid Plans……..

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…..can sometimes go awry.

Today I planned to deep clean my pantry – wipe down the shelves check for anything that needed to be discarded, wipe the outside of all of the storage jars and lids and generally make sure everything was in working order.

I had removed the contents of one shelf, cleaned about half of them, discarded empty oil bottles and an empty bottle from apple cider vinegar when the phone rang.  It was my daughter and she suggested that she come to visit and we could sort out the photos of the grandchildren that she and I have on various digital devices – computer, laptops, and phones.

So, the pantry actually looks worse than when I started.  Although I have not finished sorting all of the photos of Miss O and Izz, I am well underway.

Apart from the 3 empty bottles from the pantry, I have also manged to declutter 2 large lidded boxes that were in the cupboard in the guest room.  I had kept them from when I acquired them at work a few years ago.  My intention was to cover them with contact to make memory boxes for Miss O and Izz to store the schoolwork that they wanted to keep.  My daughter happily took them to finish the project and hopefully the girls will appreciate having a designated space to keep their work.

One thing leads to another and I found 2 large block mounted posters – of an echidna and a wombat which we have owned since our daughters were at primary school and I intended to hand them on to the grandchildren.  However, my daughter pointed out that she simply does not have the space for them so we decided that she is going to offer them to the class teachers at school.  The pictures are still in the cupboard at the moment but may be on their way to a new home before too long.

Here are a few photos that we enjoyed ‘finding’ as we sorted them out.

It could be next weekend before I get back to the pantry but that can wait.