Saturday, November 09, 2013

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Keeping it simple

I don't do complicated, anymore.  Perhaps that is the result gift which comes with getting tired older.  The understanding that complicated does not equal better results when it comes to living.

There are exceptions, of course.  Once in awhile I enjoy spending time in the kitchen on a somewhat complex recipe to enjoy the results of accomplishing... at little expense... what would cost a fortune at a bakery or restaurant.

I also appreciate the work done by others as I admire a hand stitched quilt, sweater, or needlework projects which have obviously taken hours upon hours of intricate work by talented hands.

But most areas of my life have been greatly simplified (such as meals) and that results in a more simplified pantry.  I'm finding it also helps with the limitations of space and budget.  For instance... when I have a little extra to spend on the pantry, I spend it on extra basics which are used for many recipes.

Long ago my husband and I had friends whose pantry was so deep and complex they had it all on an Excel program.  Which is fine if you are led to keep a very deep pantry (and there are still many who do keep a deep pantry).  But for me and mine... simple works.

My list of simplified essentials may not be the same as yours.   Mine is based not only on what we eat but limitations of the grocery budget and pantry space.  Yours may have to include gluten free items, food to serve a crowd on a budget, or for a whole foods vegetarian-vegan lifestyle.

I like to have on hand plenty of eggs, canned tomatoes (whole tomatoes and stewed tomatoes especially), dried and canned beans, good quality pastas, chicken broth in colder weather, frozen veggies purchased on sale, butter in the freezer, onions and garlic, items for baking bread and the occasional homemade snack, whole grained crackers and store brand blocks of cheese... basics to put a meal on the table or a "fruit, cheese, and Triscuit" dinner when I don't feel well.

Now, having said that I do admit to putting together a Hospitality Pantry as the budget permits, too... but it has its' own simplicity of choices made.

If there is one area I still go a little wild and crazy it is with various brands of tea.  I have my favorites but tea is still relatively inexpensive and it doesn't take up a lot of room.  So it is a good way to have a little fun now and then.

Speaking of tea... so far I've tried two of the three samples sent by Twinings.  Loved the Winter Spice, I will look for it at the store.  It is a mildly spiced camomile based tea.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the Prince of Wales tea, probably because I prefer neither strong tea or dark roast coffee.  The Prince of Wales tea is light enough one can drink it with just a tip of a spoon's worth of Splenda and no milk at all.

At the far end from simplicity was a television show I watched on PBS last weekend called Fannie's Last Supper.  It was originally broadcast a few years ago so I was hoping the DVD would be available other than through PBS (which tends to be quite pricey).  The book is available but not the DVD.

It is the story of Christopher Kimball's attempt to recreate an authentic Victorian meal using Fannie Farmer's recipes.  It took a year and a half for Kimball and some of his staff from Cooks Illustrated to research the meals and the availability of ingredients.  For instance, they used calves heads for the Mock Turtle Soup as called for in the recipe as well as making their gelatin dishes with calves hooves as was done in Victorian times.

If you get a chance to watch it, it is very enjoyable for anyone interested in cooking or even culinary history.  The show starts with how the idea came about, takes us to the kitchen, and then to the serving of the meal itself in a lovely Victorian era home.

It was fascinating to see how cooking has changed in just one century.

I only have a couple of links this week and I may have shared one of them already.  But as computer time is limited and I don't have time to check the archives, better to share it twice than not at all.

Freezing Apple Pie Filling:  I have a great recipe for canned apple pie filling on my recipe blog but this one can be FROZEN in Ziploc bags.... here.

Video on How to Prepare a Pomegranate:   I must admit to using the Nigella method and whacking the back of the fruit to get the seeds out.  This is a much better way to do it and no pomegranates are injured in the process... here.  This blog is Beauty that Moves and I must admit going there when stressed, clicking on where it says PICTURES... and unwinding.


Vee said...

Here I sit like a slug in the recliner...fantastic image, eh?...reading and relaxing with your post. I, too will look for Winter Spice. Glad that you described it. I will be checking out the frozen apple pie filling as I have apples that must have something done and no energy for creating a pie. It'll be enough to make the chowder for the church supper tonight. How blessed I am to have the ingredients already in the shallow, very shallow, pantry.

Anonymous said...

Simple sounds good. A lot of recipes that claim to be simple really aren't.

I suspect that most victorians didn't eat fancy meals like that unless they lived in a place like Downton Abbey and had a wonderful cook like Mrs. Patmore.

Most probably ate simple 'meat and potatoes' meals or beans.

Brenda Leyland @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Enjoyed your newsy post, Brenda. I enjoy glimpses into your beautiful and simple life...and pantry.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

We like a nice strong black tea here - usually Irish Breakfast. I do love Chamomile too, though and I tried Celestial Seasonings "Sweet Harvest Pumpkin" which was good, and I don't usually like spiced teas.

I like simple meals that are tasty - it's flavor we've been playing with here at our house, simple ingredients though.

Love these posts.


Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
Once again a lovely post! I don't think I would care to cook with a calf's head, doesn't sound to appetizing! I love simple meals, especially ones that you put together and cook for a long time. It makes the house smell wonderful and inviting! Have a great weekend. Love and Hugs, Nana

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Winter Spice just sounded like it would be good!

Yes, I try to keep it simple 99% of the time. My husband and daughter make dinner on Sunday and they like to try complicated exotic dishes (since they only have to cook once a week it's still fun for them...not so much for me)

puttermuch said...

I read the book "Fannie's Last Supper" but was unaware of the PBS program. I'll have to try to find it...thank you !!