Squirrelling Away …

Squirrelling Away …

Pantry 2008 Now the Farmer’s Almanac is saying it’s going to be a very cold winter, and I have to say, if my mania for getting organized and stocking up is any indication, they’re right. It wasn’t a great year for jams and preserves — I didn’t get any cucumbers so I’ll have to make do with what’s left of last year’s pickles, but I did put up some gingered plum jam, some apricots in vanilla-cardamom syrup, peach chutney and tomato salsa. I’m hoping for another batch of tomatoes because I like that salsa — it’s clean and bright and it canned really well.

I also did a “big” grocery shopping this weekend, stocked up on pasta and canned goods and got my supply of beans all organized. I also ordered a few varieties that I’ve run out of, flageolet, cannelini, marrow and some Santa Marias from Steve at Rancho Gordo. While it might seem odd to order a staple like beans online, and while I considered the 69 cent bag of beans in the grocery store, I like Steve, and his beans are so much better — really — fresh, delicious, gorgeous, that I went online and placed a little order. They’ll last me all winter. I managed to resist going crazy in the pasta aisle this time — whenever I get nervous about the state of the world, impending financial meltdown, scary election, the Farmer’s Almanac saying it’s going to be really really cold, I find myself in the 2-for-1 Barilla aisle buying pasta. My brother used to tease me when he’d come home and find the pantry full of blue boxes, “feeling anxious, are we?” he’d ask. I have so much pasta in there that even in my current state of existential wobbliness, I resisted the siren song of dried pasta. It’s cheap. It keeps forever. If you really get stuck, say like in graduate school when sometimes it was a week or so at the end of the month when you were living off your change jar, well, you can always survive on pasta: pasta with garlic and oil, pasta with a can of tomatoes and an onion, pasta with butter and cheese.

And because we all live with our windows open all summer, the big cleaning of the year is not in the spring, but in the fall. It’s windy here, and dusty, so when the time comes to close the windows there is often a thin layer of dirt on everything — baseboards, windowsills, the corners where the vaccuum doesn’t quite reach. It was one of those weekends. I cleaned. I re-organized my closet. I slow-cooked. I organized the pantry. If by some strange chance all roads into Livingston are shut down this winter, I can survive out of my pantry. I’m ready.

6 thoughts on “Squirrelling Away …

  1. When the world feels wobbly I stock up on food, too: dried pasta and cans of fruit, mostly. I figure pasta sticks to your ribs and the peaches keep scurvy at bay.

    The weather here has been more forgiving: we still have our windows open at mid-day. But it’s been such a weird summer that I expect an exceptionally snowy winter, even though we had an exceptionally snowy winter last year.

  2. I thought last year I had stocked up on a lot of local produce, but this year it appears I’ve even surpassed that. There’s something so deeply satisfying about looking through those clear glass jars to see the food I grew or at least put up on my own — they just look so much more inviting than cans.

    I haven’t stocked up on pasta, but I do need to call the local grist mill soon and put in my grain order so I can stock up on flours for pasta and breads. Ahhh, comfort food!

  3. Hi there… I can’t remember if I’ve commented before or not. I may have started to and then chickened out. Yours was the first gardening blog I found in Montana though, so when I did find you (a few months ago) I was so happy!

    I completely sympathize with the urge to stock up! I also found myself standing in front of the Barilla section loading up my basket with boxes this last week… and there was a butter sale at one of the grocery stores this weekend. I’ve also been eying the few squashes at farmers market, and considering how much we’ll eat over the winter. Conditions this year are preventing me from doing as much as I’d like, but next year…. oh yes, next year I’m planning to do so much more. We’re planning on moving in two weeks, and there’s only so much food my husband is willing to cart around.

    The gingered-plum jam sounds really delicious. Would you mind sharing the recipe?

  4. I don’t really have a recipe for the plum jam — I use the ratios in Joy of Cooking for all jams — then I just grated a lot of fresh ginger and some lemon peel into the jam — 20 pounds of fruit, 15 pounds of sugar, one big (3-4 inch) piece of ginger, and I think the rind of 2 lemons grated as well. I overcooked it a little — it’s sort of gummy, like fruit leather — but yummy.

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