Friday, January 16, 2009

Behind Closed Doors

Because many of you have asked (and because I am feeling the need to evaluate and reconnect) I'm going to give you a "tour" of my pantry. I am far from where I wish to be, but I love to cook as naturally and as simply as possible using ingredients that I keep on hand all the time. Let's go!
Fats & oils: I have a few criteria for this shelf - 1) Used since ancient times (1000's of years) in traditional dishes & cooking methods, 2) Organic -because steroids or pesticides are stored in fat, 3) as little processing as possible because the enzymes in fat are important to it's breakdown in your body are killed in processing. That being said, here are the ones I buy:
* Cold, first press olive oil. If it is unrefined it will be cloudy, and in a dark bottle to keep the light from starting a chain reaction that will destroy the fatty acids, vitamin E and anti-oxidants.

* Unprocessed, organic, virgin coconut oil. It's gotten a bad wrap. It is an excellent butter substitute (use 25% less than what is called for with butter when substituting).
* All vegetable shortning. I try to rarely use shortning.
* Sesame Oil. Plain - not toasted.
* Pistachio Oil. Deep green color and unprocessed - I use this sparingly, as a finisher and only in no-heat dishes. It is expensive, but wonderful.
Of course Butter is an oil too, and I do use it, but it is not in my pantry. Again - organic, no salt, unpasteurized (and local if possible).

Onto sweetners. Again, I buy organic, unrefined or processed, and as old as the hills in cultural cooking!

*Raw or Strained Wild Gathered Honey. Raw will still be in the honeycomb (which you can chew)I buy local, but because honey is one of those foods produced from natural extraction, it reflects the host it came from. So though I buy the local clover honey, I also buy alfalfa & lavender & sage honey from Washington State, eucalyptus honey from Australia.
*Raw Blue Agave Nectar. 100% pure, with a rich, dark amber color. This is almost like honey with a lighter viscosity &, in this form, milder than honey.
*Organic, Unsulfered, Black Strap Molasses. My grampa turned me onto this. He used to feed this to our pigs as part of his slop to keep him healthy and his meat sweet. He also would mix our cows milk with a very small amount to "sweeten the pot" he said. Though it has many health benefits, I buy it simply because I LOVE the flavor over any other kind of molasses.
*Organic Muscovado. Unrefined, brown cane sugar. Has a stronger appearance and flavor than brown sugar.
* Raw Organic Turbinado. Looks like "sugar in the raw", but is not heat refined. It is crushed from freshly harvested Cane, and then spun at extremely high speeds to remove excess liquid, thus crystallizing the sugar. It is a darker brown than s-i-t-r.
2 things I am looking for, but have not found so I can try them are - pomegranate molasses & date sugar. I hope to make them a part of my pantry too.

I also have Vermont Pure Maple syrup... But I have yet to use it.

Now for grains, nuts and seeds. Which I adore. So many flavors and textures and colors and scents. This is my favorite shelf in the pantry. :o) Same criteria in choosing these.

*Oats. Raw, unrolled, organic, and local. I don't like oatmeal, but I do love oats in many baked goods and in my raw granola bars.
* Oat Berries or groats. Simply the whole, hulled grain that hasn't been cut, heated or rolled.
*Quinoa. (said KEEN-wah, or KIN-wah). This is one of the grains I can't be without. I love it in so many things. Though I buy this in bulk, & organic I do buy it pre-rinsed. Which just simply means that it has been soaked to remove the hulls & then allowed to dry. If you don't get it this way, you will have to do the soaking & rinsing.
*White & Brown Rice. Nuff said. I know long grain, wild rice is good for you, but I can't stand it.
*Garbanzos/Chick Peas. Hummus, hummus, hummus - yummus, yummus, yummus! I do use these little gems in other dishes, but I think God created them for hummus!
*Variety of Beans. Red, pinto, navy, great northern, kidney. Like the things above, I buy these bulk and air dried.
*Lentils. Brown, red & yellow. So great for so many dishes.
*Bulgur Wheat. I am a total Tabouleh freak. I also use it as a rice or cous cous substitute and as a hot cereal.
*Flax - whole and crushed. We eat this raw and use it in baking. It's an amazing little seed. You can totally due away with eggs and never lose moistness (sub = a tablespoon of flax to 3 tblsp of water per egg), but we sprinkle it on salads, add a cup to fresh baked breads or pastries, and boil it with water until it becomes goo & mix it with honey and lemon and use it for a sore throat soother!
*Farina - like Malt-o-meal. I use it in muffins, as a cereal, and on biscuit dough for texture.

*Raw, shelled Sunflower Seeds. You can find me at odd hours of the day, standing at the pantry door with the jar of Sunflower Seeds in hand, eating them by the handful. We put them in salads too, but they are mainly a snack!
*Raw, shelled almonds. Again - salads, snacks, toasted, almond milk... you name it.
*Hazelnuts. I am blessed to have a mom who grows these and a daughter who loves to crack them. :o) We have a steady supply of organic, raw, yummy hazelnuts (filberts) year round.
*Sesame Seeds. For my Korean, Thai, and Mediterranean dishes that I love so dearly.
*Popcorn! Yellow, organic - by the half gallons for the air popper!
~Some I would love to try, but have been unable to find - Hemp Seed, Amaranth, Teff, & Farro.
Pastas: Here I try to keep to whole wheat, but my family doesn't care for the texture often times, so I do go with spelt occasionally. Bulk, organic, and LOTS!
*Cous Cous.

I also buy fresh, pillow, stuffed pastas for the freezer: Tortellini, ravioli, & pierogis.

* Wheat Germ (local, organic),
*Whole Wheat flour(local),
*White unbleached flour(local),
*yellow corn meal,
*uniodized salt,
*Turkish Pink Salt.


*Shredded Coconut
*Dried Cranberries
*New Potatoes
*Red onions, Yellow Onions
*Dried Porcini mushrooms
*Multi Grain Chips

*Adagio Organic Peppermint Tea
(there are many different kinds of tea in our repertoire, but they rotate and are seldom the same from month to month other than the peppermint, green, sleepy time and earl gray - favorites by far!) Currently we also have 2 kinds of Rooibus (citrus and raspberry), Huckleberry Green, & a White Peony.
*Mulling Spices
*Dark Roast Coffee (I love Ibis' Aztec Dark!)

Canned :
*Tomato Sauce
*Crushed Tomatoes
*Green, black, & Kalamata Olives
*Sun dried Tomatoes
*Vegetable Broth
*Mushroom Broth
*7 yr. aged Balsamic Vinegar
*Oak Barrel Red Wine Vinegar
*Rice Vinegar
*Garlic baby dills
*Green Curry Paste
*Yellow Curry Paste
*Red Curry Paste

When we were in Washington I had a garden and I dearly miss it. I grew herbs, and lettuces, and salsa ingredients. We had fresh cucumbers, carrots, green beans and peas - not to mention the flowers! Here I must buy all of that as there is such a short growing season and deer, rabbits, and other vegetarians in abundance - and I just can't afford to. So I use dried herbs, and we buy salsa instead of buying ingredients to make the good stuff, and I live with Romaine instead of mescluns, and bibs, and butterheads... I honestly like pulling weeds, tilling soil, and watering.

My next project is to try to make everything pretty. I use almost all recycled jars and containers, so nothing is uniform. Still, cover them with fun paper or make labels and they suddenly seem to be family! :o) I also want to paint the shelves and inside walls. I'll keep you posted. :o)

You don't see the bottom of the pantry where the potatoes, onions, etc. are kept. I forgot to photgraph it, I'll try to get a photo up soon.


Heather said...

Ummmm can I just HAVE your pantry? ;) Awesome!

Deeapaulitan said...

LOLOLOL! I cleaned and straightened it before I took photos. It has been fun building it up and having well stocked shelves. Its just recycled & second hand jars. I seldom leave things in the boxes they come in because I like seeing how much of something is left at a glance.