Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Pantry Preparedness

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 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.


Miss G said...

Catherine, what a blessing! I am just embarking on an afternoon of pantry organization and as I ate lunch was looking through blogs and hoping to find some inspiration. I found your blog through Meredith's Like Merchant Ships. If you have time and/or are so inclined I would love it if you took a look at my pantry post at

God bless you in your transition into your new life in Kentucky! Happy New Year! Kelly

Catherine in THE PANTRY said...

Hi Miss G,

I left a comment at your blog, also, but other readers might want to know that you can get wonderful clear glass Anchor Hocking pantry jars at Wal-Mart and Target. I think they come in three sizes (up to half-gallon) with tin lids. I just got a mess of them and spray-painted the lids a tomato red. They are very vintage looking--in fact, repros of the old glass jars you can find for much more money in antique shops. I just love them! You can label them, too.

So glad you are inspired to organize your pantries. Good luck and have fun.

I will take pics of my jars in the kitchen (when my husband builds a little shelf for them) and blog them soon!

Best wishes, Catherine

Catherine in THE PANTRY said...

PS I wrote the entry on PANTRY at the Wikipedia site. There wasn't one before and I think some people have added to it, also.

Miss G said...

Catherine, thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for your
suggestions! I even have some Target gift cards so that will be wonderful.
So far I have a pile of foods on my dining room table that I think will
look good in glass containers so that should help in deciding how many
to get. Have a wonderful afternoon and evening! Kelly

p.s. I look forward to seeing the pictures of your jars. :)

p.s.s. that is so very cool that you wrote the Wikipedia entry on pantries! Wow. It really is just such a small world! Thanks for writing it.

Catherine in THE PANTRY said...

Hi Miss G,

Well, I wrote "the book" on pantries, too. Check out my website at ~ I need to do some updating but if you are interested in pantries, I highly recommend THE PANTRY, the only source out there! Best, Catherine

PS I presently have bags of dried food--pastas, grains, staples--on my dining room table waiting to be assigned a jar.

Anonymous said...

I started following your blog about 8 weeks ago and I'm really enjoying it. We are also in the process of moving to Kentucky (just purchased 57 acres).

After the mention of Nolt's in your post I realize we must be moving very close to your family.

I also just read a short article in the January 2008 issue of Kentucky Monthy for your book this morning. Keep up the good work.