Is it a surprise to anyone that one of the first things I've done in settling in is to stock and organize pantry spaces? We don't have a cellar here and space is at a premium (my dream walk-in kitchen pantry with a window will wait for our eventual farmhouse). Fortunately, our walk-in closets in the bedrooms are larger than what we had in our spacious New England home.
On New Year's Eve we stopped at a Mennonite furniture shop and picked up several solid oak bookcases: two will be used for books, in addition to those we already lugged down (we have a lot of books) and one has now become a make-shift food pantry in a bedroom closet. Meanwhile the actual "pantry" that came with the place, a small closet with shelves, is filled with cleaning supplies and other miscellaneous items. An old pie-safe, also brought from home, is filled with baking supplies. [Although we are not certain, it is possible this pie safe may have been made in Kentucky.]
Before we moved we essentially emptied our cellar pantry back in New Hampshire. We also lugged up the large chest freezer (ok, my husband and Chuckie did), after emptying it, then refilled it in its trailer, and plugged it in for a week before our departure. Now it is in its new location on the north deck, plugged in under our kitchen window (again, thanks to my husband!). This set-up is actually not an unfamiliar sight on Appalachian porches where the climate is user-friendly enough for outdoor home appliances.
Here we live seven miles from the nearest small market and within a half-hour of major shopping. I suppose it isn't any different from where we lived in New Hampshire, except we no longer have the ease of a village market right across the street. I am grateful that Country Valley Foods (formerly Nolt's) is at the bottom of the hill from where our children will go to school. They have great local produce (even Stayman Winesap apples in season) and bulk foods and baking supplies (grains, pastas, beans, you name it), even a deli.
They also sell Amish and Mennonite-made butter, milk, eggs, cheese, honey, sorghum molasses, soaps, baked goods, loose herbs and homeopathic remedies. I can also pick up any number of cooking utensils and equipment here. In many ways, it is one-stop shopping apart from the meat we will eventually raise--or buy in bulk--and basic household supplies. (But first to use up that freezer!)
Today on a Good Housekeeping link via AOL.com there is a handy list of Cupboard Cleanup information for your home pantry. Of course, I violate most of these shelf-life rules but do extend the life of some flours, grains and nuts by freezing them. I suppose when a can has exploded or you see signs of pantry moth activity, that's a good time to throw something away! But some things do live happily in our pantry for several years before we actually use them.
The New Year is always about taking stock and inventory, not just of our shelves and cupboards but of our goals, dreams and hopes. Here is to a Happy New Year and a well-filled pantry for all of you.