Saturday, October 07, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Prepared to Minister to Others

This has certainly been a season of natural disasters and as I write, another hurricane is heading towards the Gulf Coast.  While most of us were shocked at what happened in Houston and in Florida, I think it was the scenes coming out of Puerto Rico that shocked me the most.  Absolute devastation.

What I have been reading from ministries involved in the aftermath of the disasters and personal accounts of people living there is the affect people who are able to help are having on the communities.  What an opportunity as Christians to feed the hungry physically and spiritually.

It got me to thinking about what would happen if my own community would be hit by a disaster.  My husband and I discussed what we would do as far as staying or leaving and I think I (finally) got it through to him that my living in a tent out in the middle of a cornfield is not going to be an option.  Sheesh.  Unless there is a forest fire, staying in our brick house would certainly be the wisest thing to do.

I've been building up a personal emergency pantry a little at a time.  It is not extensive and neither is it complicated.  Except for some Mountain House pouches and a couple #10 cans, it consists of inexpensive items that can be rotated for freshness.

However, would I be able to help neighbors?  We live in the country but our backyard looks to quite a few houses, a full scale subdivision is just down the road, and we share the gravel lane with two other houses. My natural feelings would be to hoard anything I have (that human need for self protection).  Mainly because except for two large bags of converted rice, I wouldn't have anything to offer many people.

But if I stop to think about it, what an opportunity to minister God's love to others.  Oh, I have helped in the past when I had a full pantry and close friends needed the items.  I shared my pantry with my daughter when she was first married and we lived in the same town.  That is understandable but what about having items on hand as... ministry?

My first thought about deepening a pantry is for each of us to do what we can to not be a victim.  If we are prepared, we are less likely to be standing in line for very basic items.  But could we put back enough to help those around us not to be victims?

It's something to pray about and to think about.  My husband has a saying he uses when we are setting priorities, that is "first in Jerusalem".  That's how Jesus sent out the early Church... they were first to minister in Jerusalem, then the next closest towns, and then to the other countries.

Certainly we can first consider our family and close friends, those who live close enough to come over in a time of crisis.  Then our closest neighbors.  But there are those who have the ability to help more in their community.  Perhaps through their church or social organizations.

All it would take is deepening a pantry to a larger scale than one already does, making a priority of food that can be made for many people.  I'll do more research but I especially like information from cookbooks written by the Amish, Mennonites, farm wives, and homesteaders.  They tend to have sections on feeding a crowd.

More than actual recipes, I think just learning how to extend what you already are used to making is the easiest way to help people.  That is why soup kitchens were popular in the Great Depression.  In Edith Schaeffer's book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, she has a section where she talks about how she would stretch a meal when unexpected people came to their houses.  Which often happened at L'Abri.

I remember a family from my childhood who was going through very difficult financial times.  They came up with different ways of cooking potato soup.  Even something that simple would give people needed calories and energy in a crisis situation.

I have a friend who used to tell me, "nothing says love like toilet paper".  I always thought that so funny but I also knew what she was talking about.  She made stocking up on TP a priority. Since she lived in New Mexico, she also stored water.  Lots of water.

Below are some books I still have on my shelves, many I've had for a lot of years.  They have survived various book downsizes because they are so helpful.  A couple are more recent titles but they are excellent.

One of them is the new cookbook by Lovina Eicher, an Amish wife and mom who writes a nationally syndicated column.  Some may remember that her mother wrote the column and Lovina took over when she passed away. 

I receive her updates through email and I enjoy each of them.  She provides a recipe each time and this last one was for feeding a lot of people.  I include the link to sign up for her columns below and it is now on the sidebar.  The website includes archives should you enjoy reading past columns.

So that is what I'm considering these days.  I can't do a whole lot but I'm thinking I can set aside a little should we need to share with neighbors.  Jesus tells us He notices when we give even a cup of cold water to "the least of these" and you may be placed where He has you so you can help those who surround you.

Lovinia's Column/blog updates... here.
The Essential Amish Cookbook by Lovina Eicher... here.
This is the first cookbook Lovinia wrote without a co-writer and it is my favorite.  I enjoyed her mom's books, too.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer... here.
Hands down one of my all time favorite books.  Ever.  Yes, it is dated but still quite wonderful.

The More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre... here. (Spiral bound... here.)
This book, put out by the Mennonite Central Committee, introduced me to great recipes from other countries over twenty years ago.  The subtitle is: Recipes and suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world's limited food resources.

My favorite homesteading/building the pantry/recipe book is The Made from Scratch Life by Melissa K. Norris.  This sits in the basket on my vintage yellow cart where my most used cookbooks reside.  Lot of great information and the book is not at all expensive.  Info... here.

Cooking from Quilt Country and New Recipes from Quilt Country were written by Marcia Adams as part of her (then) popular PBS show.  They are out of print but available third party on Amazon and I'm sure most likely from other used book sellers.  I've kept them since hmmm... the 1980s maybe?... because they are beautiful to look at but are treasure troves of original Amish cooking.

I first saw Beverly Nye when I was a teenager on the Bob Braun Show that broadcast out of Cincinnati, Ohio to other Midwest TV stations.  Her three books, A Family Raised on Sunshine, A Family Raised on Rainbows, and Everyone's a Homemaker are where I got a lot of my early recipes as a brideEspecially from A Family Raised on Sunshine.

Beverly is a Mormon (I think she is still living) whose books often contain information about deepening the pantry, too.  Her recipes are basic from-scratch cooking and are the kind that can be easily increased for a crowd.  Her books are also available third-party on Amazon and other used book sellers.

I'm not including a link for books only available third-party because now the links send you to a specific book seller and as I don't know them... I can't recommend them.  I've mostly had good success with third-party sellers but I've also had a few I would not order from again.

When I was looking up to see if Beverly K. Nye was still around (there is an obit but it is not for her), I came across this fabulous video of her on a TV show... here.  She was sharing how to make pickled vegetables.  Gotta love YouTube.

I will look through my shelves to see if I can recommend more next week but this gives you a good start.  Honestly, once we master basic cooking techniques the way our grandmothers did then we can often expand them to feed more people.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.  I thank you.

Image: Fresh Bread by Loren Entz 

PS:  Still dealing with not being able to read from my right eye so forgive any typos I don't catch.  I am healing.  The doctor says it may take months.  I've prayed it is much quicker.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recommendations. The More With Less cookbook is great.

I always liked the cookbooks by Edna Staebler. She was a Canadian author who wrote in the introduction to her first book, "These recipes are practical, designed to fill up small boys and big men."

Hope your eye feels better soon.

Kathie said...

I have been appreciating and learning from your blog for some time now...thought I would let you know. I grew up with a family that kept a pantry...and, even though I live alone, I keep one. Thanks to today's entry, I have figured out why...I think I am keeping it to minister to those in need, if the need arises. Thank you for that perspective! Thank you for continuing to post through your health issue. I will be praying for your speedy recovery.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I think that this is a very good reason to be 'prepared' with a pantry. I've thought about this quite a bit since these hurricanes. Many people are not prepared, and if we can, as believers, help others by sharing food that would a real ministry.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

I am praying for faster healing for you, too.....Thank you for these suggestiongs. I used to have that More-With-Less cookbook, but I think someone borrowed it and never returned it. No idea who and it was years ago....Thank you for your good ideas, week after week....I hope you have a great fall and the holiday times of Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas....Be well.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, Thank you again for the encouraging word. At this time of constant upheaval around the world its even more important to stay as prepared as we can, both for ourselves, and if able for others. Helping someone else is a wonderful way to minister to those who may not know our Lord.

I've read Lovina's column for years and have many of her cookbooks including the 20th anniversary book with her mother's writings. So very down to earth in all she does, a wonderful example to us all.

"First in Jerusalem" Your husband is a wise man. I've often wondered where I would start if helping those who were caught unprepared in disaster and starting at home, then widening the circle to family, friends and neighbors is a good idea.

AS for toilet paper...LOL! My daughters use to pick on me for always having so much on hand. But not anymore as with the price going up all the time they are now very thankful to be able to "shop" in Mom and Dad's pantry.

Praying your eye will soon be healed. Hugs and God be with you, Marsha