Then there was the reminder to be prepared for pandemics. Not my favorite P word. But it did make me look in my pantry. Now there's a horror story right there.
I didn't take a before picture. But it was bad. The shelves were half empty. Half full bags turned over on their sides. How had it gotten to it's "after an earthquake"-like state?
Wellllllllllll. We only use fresh veggies in the summer. I don't buy preservative-laced food. If it isn't "clean" food, it isn't in our pantry. I make it through the winter thanks to freezing. But this year, for a lot of reasons, including very bad spring weather, I didn't get a lot of freezing done.
It really wasn't the fear of an Ebola pandemic freaking me out when I looked at the pantry. Nope. When you have lived through hurricanes and ice storms, you learn a well-stocked pantry can keep you from traveling roads with folks who think they can drive on slippery asphalt or keep you from starving while you wait a week for the power to come on. Or say everyone in the house has the flu? Do you really want to go to the grocery store in your pjs?
For us, long term storage stocking up means canned goods like chicken noodle soup, canned ravioli and Frosted Mini-Wheats for ManO, gluten-free snacks for me, dried fruit and nuts, oatmeal, and Spam. But most of all, getting my act together meant getting my pantry in order. I'd already decluttered back in the spring but I needed to organize.
Where to get ideas: I researched the net. I visited Pinterest. Traveled to Amazon.com. I looked in TJ Maxx and Target. Pondered closet organizers in hardware stores. Bottom line? I decided I'd rather spend my money on food rather than racks and boxes and other storage containers to make my pantry "pretty." Not to mention, I found out canisters don't necessarily keep out bugs. So I turned my rabid attention to the ZONE method, putting foods together by their use or type of meal.
The Top Shelf: Water filters, plastic bags, parchment paper and such as well as cookbooks are up here. Sadly, I only pull out the family cookbooks at holiday time. The rest of the time, I'm on Allrecipes.com. But I broke down and bought a fill it yourself recipe book to keep all my most used GF recipes at hand.
The Baking Shelf: Gluten free flours, mixes and other grains, condensed milk, pumpkin, spices, extracts and four kinds of sugar for holiday baking. If it wasn't before the holidays, this shelf would be practically bare, even with my reorganization. Money saving organization: I have baggies of spices and mixes that I stand up in dollar store plastic napkin holders.
The Quick Meal Shelf: On the left, I put my various sauces and GF pastas, stir fry ingredients, and condiments. On the right, breakfast stuff like oatmeal and Frosted Mini Wheats. Okay, mostly Frosted Mini-Wheats. ManO is obsessed like a toddler who will only eat one thing. And that thing is Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast. Why yes, that is a bag of potato chips on the quick meal shelf. Don't judge.
The Long Term Storage Shelf: The canned goods here have a long shelf life. There is enough here to survive two weeks. Yeah, I won't make it through a zombie apocalypse but will make it through a North Carolina storm. My rule of thumb is to always replace what I take out but, if I have the option of buying fresh ingredients, ignore this shelf as much as possible for true emergencies. Ready.gov has a list of items you should have on hand in case of an emergency but googling emergency preparedness works too or maybe even zombie apocalypse.
Floor level: My bulk paper products and bags go here.
Sigh. I've worked over several days on the pantry. But I'm not done. It's a work in progress. ManO keeps moving stuff because he likes it better in one spot or another. I have some dead space that needs to be thought about and used better. But I did mention rewards.
I decided to make my pumpkin ice cream as a motivation. After three days of hard work, I rewarded myself with a variation of my three ingredient (whipping cream, condensed milk and vanilla) ice cream. You can find the original post and vanilla ice cream recipe here. Whip the cream before folding in the condensed milk, 3/4 can of pumpkin and one tablespoon pumpkin pie spice. Throw it in an ice cream making and voila.
But then I decided to get wild and crazy and top it with a pecan praline sauce.
It doesn't get much better when you find a praline sauce recipe that doesn't require corn syrup or a candy thermometer. This is my adaptation of several I found on the web. Just remember you must use butter to make this recipe work.
Easy Praline Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup organic half and half
1/2 unrefined organic cane sugar
vanilla to taste
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped or pieces (optional)
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Mix half and half, sugar and salt together then pour into the pan, whisking constantly. Continue to stir until sugar is dissolved and sauce thickens. Take off heat, add vanilla and stir. Cool for a half hour or so, stirring occasionally. Add pecans, stir and serve over ice cream. Store leftovers in refrigerator up to four days.
Note: Some folks leave out the nuts and use it as an easy caramel sauce.
|You can also add gingersnaps or other types of cookies on the side to really make it special.|