Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pantry Talk: Stocking the unique

Most of you know one of my favorite places on the Internet is Rhonda Jean's down-to-earth blog. I congratulate her for being chosen one of the five most influential blogs in the Asia Pacific blog awards. The last time I checked, you can still cast a vote for her. She is an excellent teacher for all of us wanting to live a more self sufficient life.

I got such a chuckle from her pantry post a few days ago... found here. It is a very good post about how she moves items from the stockpile to the pantry and I've already gone back and reread it again. I do something similar when I move items from the garage to the kitchen cabinets. She gives very good advice, it is well worth your time to read the post even if you don't keep a deep pantry.

However, what I thought amusing was the amount of the truly Australian product... Vegemite. I've heard of it before but I don't know what it is. It got me to thinking if there were any items I stock up on that may be unique to the way we eat or the area where we live. Kinda' like my parent's always stocking pickled pigs feet in their pantry.

I suppose I'm one of the only people I know who has lots of cans of SPAM. Christopher and I both really like it sliced very thin and fried almost crispy. My husband has about the same reaction to us eating it as we do when he eats over easy eggs served with grits... gross.

I always try to stock up on cranberries for the freezer each December. They are very American but then again, I know lots of people who do the same. I do buy Nutella once in awhile, I don't know why it hasn't become as popular in the United States as it has in other countries. It is amazing. No one else I know buys it, though.

I have a can of coconut milk in the pantry. There is a cake recipe I want to try that requires it so I bought it on a whim one day just to have on hand. Otherwise, I think my pantry is pretty boring.

The yellow chimney pantry holds all my spices and baking supplies. I did have some garam masala on hand so I could try an Indian recipe (as in... from India). I doubt any of my rural neighbors find that an important item in their pantry.

Is there anything in your pantry that would be considered unique, regional, or even just plain weird but you absolutely must have on your shelves?

Pictures: Photos of my yellow pantry taken last year. I inherited it from my mother-in-law. Stephanie gets it when I go to that great kitchen in the sky.


Heather said...

I love Nutella too - and if you've ever had a middle of the day craving for just wee smidgen of something sweet, crunchy and salty, Nutella sandwiched between two ritz crackers is often just the ticket!
My pantry is strictly plain jane - except that I have elephant ears! Pasta that is - we like odd shapes and sizes of whole grain pastas so when we go to a gourmet grocery store, it's my first splurge - fun pasta!

House Elf said...

I do not think my pantry is very exciting - but it is well stocked. Some of the staples I use everyday is probably not in most peoples pantry. I have a variety of gluten free flours, sweet rice, brown rice, tapioca, coconut, arrowroot, sorghum, almond, potato... jars of homemade extract, jellies and sauces, containers or goji berries, inca berries, pitted dates and figs, coconut milk and raw flakes, jars of organic stocks, Tamari, almond butter, and bags of rice pasta in a variety of shapes. Happiness is a well stocked pantry :)

Anonymous said...

Brenda, do tell, what is nutella and where do you buy it?

Friend Debra

Anonymous said...

I have recently been keeping coconut milk in the pantry - for cooking jasmine rice. Must keep fresh ginger & sesame oil on hand "just in case" as well. Ginger freezes well, and I keep the oil in the fridge. I live in So Cal, and have been trying more Asian ethnic cooking lately.

Thanks for all your pantry posts - they've been helping me organize & shop better!

Leslie said...

My youngest daughter has discovered nutella while at a friends house so I have been buying it for her. Actually I am buying the store brand. I couldn't bring myself to pay almost $4 for the little jar. I guess I should taste it...but it looks sweet and I think that is why I have avoided it.

I love your pantry and even the red chippy paint. Very cute and serves a great purpose.

Sherry said...

I'm Southern, so I have cans of black-eyed peas or bags of dried peas. I also keep plenty of dried pinto beans around, but that's probably not as unusual.

scrappy quilter said...

Nothing unique in my pantry. I've seen Nutella in the stores, however haven't purchased any as of yet. I just might have to try it. Hugs.

window into our life of love, joy, and adventures! said...

Well I don't consider my pantry anything exciting but after taking a real good look at it, I realized it is unique!
I do hold some of the basics...flour, sugar, salt, oats, beans etc. But also found in my pantry are jars of the loved nutella! So good on toast! I also see jars of vegemite and marmite. Also found are cans of plum puddings, lemon curd, cream..sweet English cream! Corned beef sent oveer from Australia, cans of beans in every shape, teas galore.I have a daughter in love who is British, and my husbands family although they have originated in the Philippines the majority of the family has been living in Australia. We also have fish sauce and soy sauce...can't imagine our kitchen without it, that comes from hubby's asian upbringing but we also have some of my favorite Mexican items coming from my can actually say we have a very international pantry!

BusyBee (BeBe) said...

Ok, I have one - Boiled Peanuts! I have several cans, cause I love them but nobody else does and I just don't make a whole batch any more. My SIL was raised on Nutella - a Hazelnut butter with a hint of cocoa in it. Very popular in the North, just catching on down south.

Anonymous said...

Kids love Nutella but they over did it a year ago with the neighbor kids !! so no Nutella in the pantry for awhile now I am sure it will be back. The other thing is lemon curd! What amazingly wonderful taste. I have looked into homemade recipes for this and if I get my chickens to provide yolks at the same time lemons go on sale I will surely have more than one jar in my pantry!!

Anonymous said...

I used to be a little weirder (oh, sorry, "more unique")...when we were first married, the first thing you could see when walking in to our apartment was a cart with jars of grain...odd grains, like quinoa and amaranth and spelt. There was fish oil in the pantry, and chinese five spice powder. We subscribed to Cooking Light and loved to try new recipes.

Now, with all of David's crazy diet issues, we are a little more "normal"...but I still have things like cans of bamboo shoots, braggs liquid aminos, and please don't forget the devon cream! Although that's not the greatest pantry item, it has a short shelf would be very easy to forget about it and have it expire.

You forgot to mention the all important herbs de province!! Not that I can use that anymore, either...

:) Stephanie (your daughter, not just some random Stephanie)

Raquel said...

I love Nutella!! I usually have quite a deep pantry, not only for my own use, but if someone is in need, I can give! Shopping at the Mennonite stores provides us with some very unique items, I think. I have japanese curry mix, all sorts of indian mixes and spices. Probably the most unique thing I have now is a jar of hibiscus blossoms in syrup - you put them in a champagne glass (I will use 7-up) and they open up, as well as provding a unique flavor. They are usually $10 for a little jar - I paid $1. Much love - Raquel XO

Anonymous said...

My sister brought us some vegemite from her travels in Australia. EEEWWW! It is definitely something you would have to be brought up on to enjoy--lol! When I was in France, Nutella was everywhere. It's a staple there---they put it in crepes, on waffles, just about anything. We didn't have a problem adjusting to the taste of that at all! MMMMmmmm---glad we can get it here!

matty said...

Brenda, your pantry sounds very normal to me! My son, bless him, introduces me to and convinces me to eat many new things, however, ew have SPAM in four flavors (did you see the Christmas variety last year!??) because Don loves it and would live on it. For me, quinoa, couscous and a lot of different spices are necessary. When I lived in Norfolk many years ago, Mother had to send me black beans and spanish rice.

Hope you are having a great day!

Mama Squirrel said...

We occasionally have a jar of Nutella. We also have currently have a jar of Cheez Whiz, not my idea.

Odd stuff? Not as much as when we were first married (had a lot of tempeh, barley sweetener, buckwheat noodles, and what we called Tofu Helper (instant add-your-own-tofu dinners from Fantastic Foods). Two family members have discovered that soy makes them feel sick, so tofu etc. are now a rare treat.

I have been buying Thai red curry paste for a chicken recipe that my husband likes and that doesn't give him indigestion. We always have sauerkraut, but in the last year we've only bought a low-sodium version because dh has diet issues. I try to keep canned pumpkin around, because pumpkin bread makes everyone happy. And unsweetened applesauce, because dh uses it as a condiment with main dishes and we go through a lot of it.

Oh--and liver sausage. Liverwurst. Common around here, maybe not so much in other places. It's like a pate, you spread it on crackers.

The Journey said...

I have SPAM in my cupboards too. I did have some squid ds in Japan sent me but I sent that home with older son. I don't think I have anything weird. Lynda in IN

Anonymous said...

What a great post.

While I don't have SPAM in my cupboard my boss does. He is from Hawaii and he says it is the state meat of Hawaii.

I do however have coconut milk - I use it semi-regularly. If you like spicy food and can find Thai curry paste in your area I recommend trying to make Thai Chicken Curry. It's an easy recipe and easy to change up with different veggies and proteins.

Oh, and my grandmother use to keep pickled pigs feet - gives me the willies thinking about it.


Sara said...

Here at our house we have a young man who(I truly do not understand why)has never liked or appreciated peanut butter. I bought him some nutella for Christmas one year. Of course, he loved it. But, so did his brothers and sister. Well, now they get their own nutella in their stocking each Christmas. They don't have to share and you would be amazed at how long they can make those jars last!

Hmsclmom said...

What a fun post and replies too! :) We keep Treet (generic SPAM) in our cupboard too. My husband has become addicted to the stuff after I introduced it to him. Having been raised in Hawaii, where SPAM is the unofficial state meat, I have many ways to fix it. ;) LOL! Some of the other things we keep in our cupboard that some might find odd are sushi making supplies (seaweed sheets, shrimp flakes), pickled daikon radish, sticky rice,lemon curd, li hing mui, Furukaki, capers and some other things.


Anonymous said...

My pantry is pretty normal, too, except that my husband brews beer, so we have odd grains like chocolate malt, cascade hops, etc. This makes me think of another British "delicacy"~ Marmite. It's the sediment leftover from brewing beer. It's full of vitamins, but it is gross! You can actually buy it in jars in the store. I tease my husband that we should start a Marmite business.


Dawn said...

Hmm, i think it is time to stock up my pantry after reading everyone's posts. Right now the strangest things we have in the pantry are a very large jar of pickled eggs, pickled herring, and Sambal Olek. my husband like to cook different ethnic foods, so we always have lots of hot and spicy things to add to meals. My favourtie spice is cardamon seeds! It tastes great in homemade chai tea, and I love the aroma when you crush them. We all love Nutella! If you have not had it, it tastes like the middle of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Yummy!!

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

I must try some Nutella! I've heard people refer to it for years but I've never had it. Let's see I have coconut milk, green curry paste, fish sauce, garam masala, chinese five spice etc. We've been eating South Beach Diet style for over a year now and for some reason alot of the recipes have "weird" ingredients.


Debra said...

Hi Brenda... Just thinking about your blog always inspires me to keep my pantry super-stocked up--thanks! That's so on my mind this time of year, what with winter coming, and everything. I didn't stock up last winter as I usually do and I was royally sorry. Won't be caught like that ever again!

Thanks for commenting at my blog--how fun that you and your son like Stargate SG-1 too! I'm more surprised than anyone that I loved it, but then, I did love Star Trek, which as you said, was the beginning of it all. :) Always nice to see you at my blog! Blessings, Debra

Anonymous said...

I live in Spamtown, USA, and get to smell Spam on a daily basis so that's enough for us :-)

I also see a lot of pigs feet, pigs ears, pigs tail, pigs cheeks in our grocery stores since we have Hormel in our town.

This was a fun post to read. I love to hear what others have in their kitchens that I can try in my own. I'm always up for trying new things!
Jeni in Austin, Minnesota

rhonda jean said...

thank you Brenda, you are so sweet. I can't live without Vegemite. There, I admitted it! LOL Hanno hates it, but then I don't like his raw herrings. =: - O

I use coconut milk in cakes and savory dishes, I've never eaten Spam but when we lived in Germany 30 years ago, Nutella was everywhere. I think it originates there. We have it Australia now but I think it's used mainly as a child-friendly food.

We use a lot of Asian spices in our food here and cook many Asian dishes, being so close to that region, so I always have soy sauce, fish sauce, tamarind, palm sugar and ketchup manis in the pantry.

Suzanne said...

Nutella is a discovery I made late in life but can't live without. I've also developed an un-natural passion for stocking lots of cans of tomatoes in various forms. Not sure why.

Faith said...

Nothing to out of the ordinary in my Sturdy Pantry.....We like to visit Amish Country, and stock up in the bulk stores, flour, spices and yeast..Now I have to weigh in for eggs over easy with grits.that is one of my favorites, with a touch of garlic powder..Did I gross you out..sorry about that...Nutrella...may have to try it. My boys like Peanut Butter..
I do like Rhonda Jean also..and have already voted for her.

Rain said...

Tea! Is one of my mainstays. I stock up when I find it on sale. My family likes having lots of varieties to choose from and I like being able to grab a box to give to a friend who needs a little boost.
I also keep back ups of all the things we use regularly (also found on sale) like coconut oil, pasta, and this week nutella-1.98 a jar. yum!

Cathy said...

Love the peek into everyone's pantry....!! I have lots of canned tomatoes as well, all types. Right now I have 50 lbs of rice, 25 lbs of bread flour and 25 lbs of sugar to be put into buckets. I also have a time capsule of seeds. I am told they will last 100 years in their container. I have lots of banana peppers that I canned last year and I love vinegars. We make a lot of salads and different vinegars are important for us. We love balsamic and red wine, but taragon and raspberry are treats. We also have lots of canned fruit for pies and cake. Lots of tea and jars and jars of honey.
The spice cabinet is another whole story. : ) XXXX Cathy

belle said...

I like spicy hot Indian and Asian food, so I get twitchy when the supplies of sesame oil, temari, and various spices get low.

I have lots of different grains and legumes....quinoia, mung dahl, urud dahl, which probably isn't too unusual, but most unusual probably is every variety of dried seaweed or kelp I can find.

I add it to everything...soups, grains for salad, dry fry crumbles as a garnish...I love it.

Always lots of tofu on hand...although that's the fridge, not the pantry, and bulk basmati rice. I eat rice and tofu every day in various combinations.

Definitely no spam, though it's available here in Australia, eeew! but I did eat pigs trotters(feet) and loved them as a child! They were fresh from the deli, not pickled, and a treat if I was 'good'.

Tammie said...

Eggs over easy on grits is one of my favorite meals, even for dinner on nights when I don't want to cook a complicated meal. Spam and Vienna Sausage are always found in my pantry, being important items on my hurricane season preparation list. We lived on those two things, along with crackers and peanut butter and jelly, during the weeks that followed Hurricane Katrina. Two 'odd' items commonly eaten in our area are hogshead cheese and boudin, often called blood sausage. I think it's safe to say that you will never find either of these items in my kitchen!