Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And the winner is...

Carolyn MacDonald! She will win a signed copy of The Pantry as well as a vintage apron from my extensive collection. It was a difficult selection to make from many fine entries (I would like to include all of them here in the coming weeks, if I may) and I thank you for all of them. However, Carolyn wrote about a variety of pantry memories in the process of building a new pantry of her own (we hope that she will share photographs of the finished pantry with readers here). In the meantime, here is Carolyn's winning entry: 

I am having a pantry built.  I am so excited about it that it is all I can think about!  The construction started about 3 weeks ago and it is almost completed except for cabinet fronts and painting. It is a space in the back of my garage but it is attached to the house with a hallway that leads to my kitchen.  I am trying to have it be a tribute to both my grandmothers who loved to cook.  It will have open shelving and cabinetry with glass doors.  I had a piece of marble in the garage that will be used as a small counter.  It will have scalloped brackets similar to the ones on page 18 of your book. I have your book The Pantry.  I have read it several times.  I am going to display it in my new pantry.  I love it! Along with the book I am going to hang my grandmother’s aprons that they sewed or crocheted.  I am going to display one of my grandmother’s canister sets.  I have random dishes from my mother and aunts that will be proudly displayed.

My maternal grandmother had a wonderful pantry.  I tell my daughter about it all the time.  She had jars of clarified butter for baking, canned vegetables from the garden and lots of rolling pins.  I have one of her rolling pins and I am going to hang it in my pantry.  My grandmother always made sweet cookies and they were proudly displayed on the counter of her pantry. She had beautiful handmade doilies hanging on the shelves and bottles of rose water or orange blossom water used for baking in the cabinet. When you opened the cabinet you would smell the fragrance from these bottles.  I tell my daughter that she never wasted anything.  All jars and containers were used and filled with nuts, golden raisins and chocolate sprinkles for baking.  You never knew what was in a recycled coffee can or cookie tin until you opened it.  But, she knew what each container held.  An avid gardener, my grandmother always had a bowl of apples, mulberries, tomatoes or cucumbers on her counters.  I hope to do the same.  My grandmother passed away in 1986 the same year my daughter was born.  I tell my daughter about her and I always mention her pantry and how she loved to cook for her family as I do.

My mother also had a pantry and she tell me that as a little girl I would ask her to stand me up on the counter to look out the small pantry window at our back yard.  I don’t remember this but I love the story and I can picture myself as a small child in the 1950’s climbing up to see out our second floor pantry window.

My husband remembers his grandmother’s pantry also.  He said she had a wonderful wooden ladder that helped her to reach the top shelves.   He used to climb up on it.   Oh, how I wish we kept some of these things!  I do have a salt and pepper shaker collection of his grandmother’s and I am sure they will look fantastic in the glass cabinet.
I have let everyone in the family know about the construction of the pantry and it puts a smile on their faces.  I am sure they will give me mementos to display. I am trying to find a quote from your book to hand paint on my pantry walls along with my favorite saying “count your blessings."   

Thank you for letting me "count my blessings" here In the Pantry on a regular basis these past five years. I appreciate, as always, your stopping by for some sugar or salt. 



Saturday, April 17, 2010

SpRiNg BrEaK!

Long Field, below our knob pasture, with red buds blooming.

Our nine bred heifers (so far 3 calves have been born and there are 6 more to come). Tonight on our walk I decided that we should name them Cora, Dora, Explora, Flora, Gomorrah, Lora, Moira, Nora & Zora–as they are heifers, we will keep them for a long time to have more calves.

One of our new Buckeye chicks.
If you are wondering what became of the pantry essay contest in honor of In The Pantry's 5th anniversary, the winner will be announced on April 21st (the exact five year date from my first blog entry). There were many fine and varied entries and I probably need a committee to decide (so I'll consult the hens if you don't mind). If you've wondered why I haven't blogged in a month–I think an embarrassing record for me here–this is what I've been doing instead:
  • Walking, a lot. The weather has been opportune and winter was long. I've been really getting to know our farm a bit better this way and enjoying longer stretches of the ridge roads, sometimes solo and sometimes with my menfolk and always with our puppies. (I still call them that, even though they are a year-and-a-half now–but hollering "PupPEES!" out the door is easier and more vocal than saying, "DOGS!")
  • Delighting in spring in all ways but not in the intensive cleaning that I should be doing.
  • Submitting queries and article ideas to new magazine possibilities.
  • Spinning my wheels about "what's next" and excited about what dreams may come (isn't having something to look forward or hope for always the best way out of any funk? Not that there is anything wrong with being "funky"...).
  • Planting seeds for some summer flowers and vegetables.
  • Planting some fruit and ornamental trees, as well as blackberries, near our future farmhouse site across the road (and adjacent to existing farm buildings and Ida's old house and future guest house).
  • Tending to new Buckeye chicks (30 arrived in early April from Welp Hatchery).
  • Enjoying our new cattle: 9 bred heifers and three babies, also since early April.
  • Baking snacks for, and helping to coordinate, our fencing crew.
  • Entering photography contests here and there (and taking lots of photos of our glorious Appalachian spring).
  • Enjoying our boys' nice Easter vacation week.
  • Reading everything but what I'm supposed to be finishing at Cupcake Chronicles (and catching up on lapsed reads, as well as this month's selection, too: so gaining on that! Right now we're reading the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout).
  • Singing with the Pleasant Hill Shaker Singers (it is so great to be singing again!).
  • Doing a lot of rain dancing of late (drought here) and missing our usual April thunderstorms.
  • Helping with a benefit Haiti Auction run by the Old Order Mennonites in Casey County.
  • Polishing my resumé, dusting off some clips and gathering more recent ones, and applying for an amazing job opportunity.
Anything but blogging or writing. In fact, I'm not on the computer much at all these days. I have had a flurry of book orders from some rejuvenated press and if you've ordered a copy of The Pantry in the past two weeks, they will be shipped out asap on Monday, April 19. I try to be but, alas, I am not always as expedient. When you are the writer, marketer and distributor, and live off the beaten track from the local post office, these things don't always get tended to as quickly as they might be. Thank you for your patience with the lack of blogging, too. I do intend to write more soon.

In the meantime, enjoy the beauties and wonders of spring wherever you are.



PS In fact, it's been so long since I've blogged that Blogger has gone and changed some formatting things like ways to insert photos and the whole "Compose" bar is different. So I'm hoping for the best here! I'd like to think that every new Facebook or Blogger change is for the better but we do get set in our ways...