Monday, January 29, 2007

The Hospitality Pantry

I've decided to once again put together a Hospitality Pantry. For years I had such a pantry but I got out of the habit when we were living in a town where we knew no one (and no one seemed to care about getting to know new people). I am putting together my grocery list for later this week so I am adding a few items just for last minute guests.

I think it was in a book by Emilie Barnes (one of her first) that I read about the concept of a Hospitality Pantry. Since then I've seen the idea in other books about hospitality. It differs from keeping items in our normal pantry. These items tend to be special and more perhaps on the gourmet side...not all but some of the items. It is set aside from our regular pantry so temptation does not overcome us.

For instance, something I always like to keep in a Hospitality Pantry are a couple boxes of Pepperidge Farm cookies. Because they can be pricey, even though I normally wait for a good sale, I will be less likely to open them up during a carb attack because they are more expensive. A box of Keebler Soft Chocolate Chip out. Never get between a diabetic and a cookie during a severe carb attack (you should but if you value your life...). These items are kept in their own area, not in with the regular pantry items to make certain they are there when needed. If I could make myself forget where they are and remember only when I need them...that would be a good thing, indeed.

In my regular pantry, I have a few boxes of mixes (brownie mix, cake mix, etc.) that I use from time to time. I prefer making things from scratch but there are days if I don't use a will not happen. In my Hospitality Pantry, I make an assumption there will be no time to bake something.

Normally I will raid the Hospitality Pantry when someone I'm not expecting stops by for a chat. However, it is just as good to have on hand for last minute tea parties with the children (or grandchildren), hubby has a bad day at work, the family has received news that is difficult to handle, and generally...when comfort is needed. Having these items on hand make it possible to put together a special "party" for one special person or our own dear family members.

My list may be different than yours. I don't drink beer at all and I drink wine only on special occasions so I normally wouldn't keep any on hand. I don't have young children over very much so one box of animal crackers would suffice. [On the other hand, since I don't keep them in my regular pantry (animal crackers...not children) it is important to have them in this area for those rare times I do have small children arrive.]

I have kept my Hospitality Pantry in various areas over the years. As with any pantry, you only have to make certain it is not in an area that gets too hot or damp, and the items are protected from harm (ants, mice, etc.). A good place is in the cabinet over a refrigerator...hard to get to but not impossible. When I had a larger house, mine was in a large Rubbermaid container on a shelf in our basement pantry area. Also, as with any pantry, it can be as "deep" as you like. Here is my basic list and the "deep" list...only given as an example to spark your own creativity.

Hospitality Pantry

(the small packets sold at the grocery store and coffee shops are perfect for this. Be certain to have on hand at least one packet regular coffee, one decaf, and perhaps a flavored coffee). I keep these even though I normally have coffee on the shelf. Of course, you can store an unopened can of coffee or unopened bag of beans. If you only store one, make it decaf.

(I always have teas on the shelf but I like to keep one or two boxes of Bigelow teas in this pantry. One box of a black tea like Earl Grey and one box of an herbal tea. Bigelow is best because they are individually wrapped in foil and last for a very long time.)

Other beverages as desired: hot chocolate mix, lemonade mix for hot weather, etc. Remember, we are assuming "last minute" preparations.

Artificial sugar packets (I prefer Splenda) for those who cannot have regular sugar.

One or two cans of a good quality evaporated milk to use as cream for coffee. I like Milnot for this purpose. It tastes just as good as cream. This is where quality is important. I use store brands of evaporated milk for cooking but they don't make a good tasting "cream" for coffee.

Good quality cookies like Pepperidge Farm and/or shortbread cookies. Animal crackers or vanilla wafers for small children.

To "deepen" your Hospitality are a few extra ideas:

A jar of Devonshire cream (expensive so I don't keep this on hand)
Very good quality jam
Scone mix (usually very easy and quick but can be rather expensive)
Fancy crackers
Can of good quality canned chicken, small jar of Mayo, small jar of relish
--instant chicken salad for the crackers
Other convenience items you may find along the way.


Ann Kroeker said...

Hi! I clicked over from BooMama's comments. I saw your title, "Coffee, Tea, Books and Me" and thought, "Okay, this is a gal I want to stop by and visit." I like coffee, love tea and am bonkers about books.

And now I'm *so* excited I stopped by, because of your hospitality goodies. Scones...devonshire cream with jam...I'll drop by around 4:00 for high tea! :)

I try to do the same thing, although I haven't had as many people drop by--especially in this cold. The main friend who does drop in has Celiac Disease! Go figure. So much for my gourmet cookies. But we can still share a bar of pure chocolate and plenty of tea, so it's been okay.

The beginning of your post, where you talked about people not getting together (I can't see the post to reference it), reminded me of something my friend Kathleen did. When she moved into her neighborhood, she didn't wait around for people to visit with a plate of cookies. *She* threw a *huge* party for all the neighbors! They all were flabbergasted (but they showed up!), and she has formed many precious friendships from this ingenius approach.

I've been thinking about it, wondering where and how I could apply the principle behind it...with all those goodies in your pantry, you could pull together something lovely!

Susan P. said...

I love this idea Brenda. My aunt Doris was a minister's wife. She said there was one thing she always had on hand in case of unexpected company.(which was a lot when you are the minister!) Guess what it was? A large can of peaches. She gave me her recipe for her "quick" peach cobbler that contained things we all have on hand, eggs, milk, flour, etc. Whenever I see a can of peaches I think of my dear Aunt Doris:)

Brenda said...

Ann, I'm glad you stopped by., tea, and books...VERY important. :)

Where I lived in Detroit, I think people were just used to not getting to know their neighbors or something. It was a strange atmosphere. I live in the country now but I do hope to get to know my neighbors better.

I'm hoping we can purchase a couple of tables to put on our deck this Summer to invite people over. (Small-ish house...BIG deck...BIG yard.)

Susan, my sister makes that exact same dish. She sent me a recipe where one side it is made using a yellow cake mix sprinkled on top and sliced butter on top of that, then baked. The other side is a recipe just like yours for those "by scratch" days.

I'd forgotten all about that, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I've never thought of having a hospitality pantry. Such a neat idea. I'm going to do this when I'm feeling better.
Joanna :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments about Bigelow Teas. We feel strongly about our foil wrapping and how it preserves the tea! Check out more tea info on our blog,

Thanks again,

Sabine from Bigelow

lady laura said...

That you got a comment from Bigelow just cracks me UP!

And I am enchanted with this idea. I can't wait to make up my own hospitality pantry:)

Brenda said...

I'm glad I said something good! :)

Actually, I do like Bigelow teas. They are always good, which is not something I can say about all grocery store teas. I thought I hated green tea because I had only tried another famous grocery store tea brand. Then I tried a different brand and found I loved green tea.

I have opened a package of Bigelow which was at LEAST two years old (found it in the back of a shelf when packing to move) and it still tasted fine, which is why I put that brand in any pantry.

My more expensive teas are out where they can be seen and used quickly.

Kelli said...

What a wonderful idea, Brenda!! Your list is great and I think I will pick up a couple of things the next time I'm at the store!

Kimberly said...

I absolutely LOVE your picture? Did you take it? Wedgewood's "Wild Strawberry" is one of my favorite china patterns.
My stepmother collects it and had been buying a few pieces at a time for years. Once, I was toodleling through a flea market and saw a set of 12 place settings of it plus a few fun extras. I talked him down to $100 after calling my stepmother to see if she was interested. I bought it all and took it to her. My Dad grumbled until I told him that she would have bought it all one place setting at a time and each setting was around $100 at that time. He stopped grumbling!
I love hospitality! Emilie always has such lovely ideas. I have many of her books. One of my favorite is Things Happen When Women Care. It has a lot of personal ministry and hospitality ideas.
Have a lovely day!

Brenda said...

No...this was one of the pictures I've had for a long time in my files. I always thought it looked like a party I wanted to attend.

I had the same thing happen with my Royal Albert china. I walked into Goodwill one day just as they were putting it on the shelf. I got the entire set (eight place settings and multiple serving pieces).

My husband was shocked when I told him what the retail price would have been. Each TEACUP was going for $25.00 to $35.00 for just the cup. My sugar bowl alone was worth more than what I paid for everything.

I just love it when God leads... (The other miracle is that I HAD the money!)

I think Things Happen When Women Care was one of her best books. It was so practical (of course, all of them are wonderful).

Brenda said...

Hmmm...I think I cut off how much I paid for them. About $70.00 for the entire set and serving pieces.

La Tea Dah said...

I also practice the art of keeping a hospitality pantry. And I also started mine (years ago) at the suggestion of Emily Barnes --- but first from the suggestion of a home economics teacher named Jean Graham --- many years ago. It's such a wonderful concept, isn't it!

Susan said...

This is such a good idea! I'm a pastor's wife, and one of my goals this year is to have at least one church family in our home each month (as well as another pastor's family each month!). This hospitality pantry would be great for having some appetizers on hand, and some special cookies and teas for desserts. Now my brain is swirling ideas all around! LOL

Joyful House Farms said...

Brenda, I tried to comment on this yesterday, but had technical issues. Anyhow, I love this idea and will have your post in mind as I make up my grocery list this week. One of my goals this year is to have more people into my home. Thanks for sharing it.
And about Bigelow - (I can't believe you got a comment from them. TOO funny!) Constant Comment has LONG been my favorite tea. I have SOOOO many memories associated with it. Someday, I'll write a lovely post about it. :)

Brenda said...

After writing this, I thought of other things I put in my Hospitality Pantry from time to time.

However, I'm sure everyone will think of GOOD THINGS.

Heather said...

Brenda! I loved this post! I have been remiss in not getting together my hospitality pantry again - I keep giving everything in my pantry away to families in need and forgetting to re-stock!

One of my favorite things to have on hand is a wonderful old applesuace spice cake recipe baked in wide mouth canning jars and then sealed hot. It lasts for about a year on the shelf and is wonderful for a quick tea. I slide it out, slice it and offer butter and apple butter with cider and hot tea. It is moist and yummy! I'd be glad to post the recipe if you are interested!
Great inspiration again! Thanks!

Brenda said...

Heather, I'd love the recipe. I forgot about "cakes in a jar". They were very popular when I lived in Iowa. (Canning was more popular there as a whole.)

I know some people were concerned about them going bad but I never had them in the house long enough to worry about that. :)

I've tried to visit everyone's site that has posted this time. So many great sites and kindred spirits.

Carrie said...

This is a wonderful post. Over the years I've kept special items for impromptu entertaining. I don't have just on area large enough, so must take space in two or three kitchen cabinets. It really feels good when you have something nice to serve unexpected guests.

Anonymous said...

One thing I have now in my hospitality pantry is a loaf of pound or angle food cake. I freeze the pound cake and it easily slices off when needed and thaws quickly. I can top it with any berries or such I have in the freezer or canned. Or top with pudding. Sarah