The Pantry

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Staples such as those on the top shelf (beans, rice, pasta) will store for years.

No ranch wife worth her salt would try to get by without a pantry. Back in the day that was because she was filling the pantry (and the cellar and the attic and the smokehouse and the spring house) with the food that would see her family through the winter. Sometimes the ranch family wouldn’t see another soul until spring. What they had in the pantry was what they lived on. No quick trips to the corner grocery. A pantry is still a good idea, because if you’re buying food it allows you stock up when it’s on sale. If you’re raising food, you need somewhere to put it so you can eat over the winter. My pantry is relatively small, so I need to make all available space count. I include some other storage spots besides the actual pantry. As far as I’m concerned, the term “pantry” also includes the refrigerator and freezers. I like to buy in bulk when I can, so my pantry tends to have, for example:

  1. Half-gallon glass jars full of macaroni, spaghetti and dry beans.
  2. A 2-pound bag of baking soda.
  3. A restaurant-size jar of cream of tartar. I use this and the baking soda to make my own aluminum-free baking powder.
  4. A couple of pounds of cornstarch.
  5. Around 25 pounds of sea salt.
  6. Anywhere from a few to well over 100 pounds of storage onions – depends on the time of year.
  7. Several dozen heads of garlic.
  8. Canned tomato sauce and tomato paste.
  9. Olives.
  10. Spices and herbs, a mixture of store-bought and home-grown.
  11. A 5-pound bag of cocoa powder.
  12. About 20 pounds each of white and whole wheat flour.
  13. About 20 pounds of pastry flour.
  14. About 25-50 pounds of granulated white sugar.
  15. About 20-50 pounds of dried beans.
  16. One gallon of molasses.
  17. About 5 pounds of corn meal.
  18. About 15 pounds of assorted nuts.
  19. Around five pounds of popcorn.
  20. At least a gallon of coconut oil.
  21. At the moment, a 5-gallon bucket of honey plus 10 quart jars. It’s way more than I need, but honey will literally keep just about forever, although it will crystalize. Just warm it slowly in a pan of hot water to make it flow easily.
  22. A pound of yeast granules, in the freezer, where it will keep indefinitely.
  23. A couple of quarts of olive oil.
  24. A quart of home-made chocolate sauce.
  25. Assorted frozen and canned fruits.
  26. Ditto vegetables.
  27. Frozen beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, venison, duck, pheasant and goose.
  28. Anywhere from four to 10 dozen eggs, depending on the time of the year and how many chickens I have at the moment.
  29. Up to eight gallons of raw milk when the cow is in milk.
  30. Ten or 15 pounds of frozen butter.
  31. We may also have various amounts of sour cream, sweet cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese and whatever other dairy products I’ve been messing around with. Not ice cream, usually, because home-made ice cream lasts about five minutes around here.
  32. Various fresh vegetables or fruits, depending on the time of year – more in the prime growing season, obviously.
  33. Jams, jellies, fruit butters, relishes, condiments and such.
  34. Frozen convenience foods. Before you say “Aha, I knew she used that sort of thing,” let me tell you what I mean. These are things I have made ahead so I can put a meal on the table quickly. Some examples are Sour Cream Coffeecake batter, Breakfast Muffins in paper cups ready to drop into a muffin pan and bake, Cream Biscuits, soups, chili, casseroles, stew, New York Cheesecake, Refrigerator Cookie Dough, several loaves of Sandwich Bread, Breakfast Burritos, Cornish Pasties and Southern Cornbread. Yes, you’ll find recipes for most of these in the book.
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3 Responses to The Pantry

  1. littleleftie says:

    No, I surely missed that one! Whenever—if ever—you have time to complete it, I’m in!!

  2. Bee says:

    You might have missed the first post; I started this book before I went back to work full time at the clinic (the Ranch Wife’s Kitchen and Garden). I don’t see much chance of getting back to it for at least a year, so I’m posting sections on the blog, since I have even less time to write now.

  3. littleleftie says:

    What book???

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