Monday, February 20, 2012

Some Thoughts On Pantries

I've been having a pleasant time cleaning and restocking our family pantry this week. The online course I've been taking at Whole Food Kitchen has me thinking of ways to improve the way I cook and the importance of having healthy food options on hand ... well-stocked pantries are a step in this direction for sure!

 We were lucky this year to have had a great tomato year in our vegetable garden and I tried to can as many quarts of tomatoes as I could. I just knew how much we would appreciate having our own garden tomatoes through the coming months!

I guess it's kind of a family tradition, canning the summer bounty, and I grew up hearing stories about the wonders of my grandmother's pantry and how she would can enough for a whole year's provision. This industriousness must have come from home-pride as well as necessity during the hard years of the Depression, when she was a young wife. 
When I was growing up I remember seeing my own mother 'putting up' tomatoes, pickles, salted soup herbs and root beer. When autumn came Mom would buy bushels of local apples and have us kids wrap each one in newspaper to be stored in a wooden barrel in our low - ceilinged root-cellar . Each time we wanted an apple, which was often, we'd go down to that little room in the cellar and rifle through the newspapers to find one. They kept well down there!
I think it was always recognized by everyone in our family that fresh vegetables from our own garden, or locally-grown, were the best to be had.

My Mom still likes to get her hand in on canning day at my sister's house. Many hands make light work!

                                                                                                                                             *photo by Cecile

My youngest sister keeps a large vegetable garden and grows beautiful vegetables and flowers. Her pantry is a work of art in my mind.

                                                                                                                        *photo by Cecile

 After thinking about pantries this week I've come to the conclusion that keeping a pantry is more than just bringing in a supply of food. It becomes a holding place for blending the traditions of the past, present and future, creating memory links from those who have passed to those who are just coming along in life. I will always feel grateful to have known the women who showed me a few things about life and living well. Here's to good eating on the way!

These ladies were four sisters who kept beautiful pantries in their time. They were my great aunts and my Memere, (grandmother) third from the left.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Sprouts are easy to make and most delicious when they are fresh. I use organic seed made specifically for sprout making that have been tested for pathogens. Look for them at your local health food store or online. If you are making your own sprouts at home, explore the web to be aware of the various choices available for growing sprouts safely.

 Today my focus will be the mung sprouts in the green bowl. I cover a cup of carefully washed beans with about an inch of water and soak them overnight. It's important to cover them with something to keep them in darkness while sprouting. This way the sprouts will remain white and tender.
Next morning I have drained off the water...they are already beginning to sprout!
Here is what I use to grow my sprouts in but they can be grown in any well drained container. I use a clean cotton cloth to line the stainless strainer and spread the soaked mungs into it. Be sure that the cloth does not have any laundry soap residue on it, a good rinse will fix that.
I fold the dampened cloth to enclose the soaked beans.
This is a container of rice I use to weight the beans as they grow. I read here that adding weight to the beans as they grow makes them grow thicker and longer. It seems to be working well for me.
Now they are ready to be placed in a dark place to grow! Remember that the beans must be rinsed well, without disturbing the placement of the beans, at least once or twice a day. Replace them back into their darkened spot after rinsing.
All tucked in to the top drawer of this chest.They grow quickly and within three to four days you will have sprouts that look like this.
The little green seed skins can be rinsed away with a bit of careful work.

Drain off excess water and store your sprouts in the refrigerator in a covered bowl.
Have them for dinner in a stir fry or on a salad.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Week 1

Winter seems different this year, it's already February and though I miss spending time in the garden with growing things and other summer delights, I'm not yet stir-crazy with cabin fever. In fact, I've actually been enjoying this quiet, contemplative time to plan future projects, read, draw and organize my house. Yes, the last item on the list is long overdue! It felt so good to organize a storage closet yesterday and start a box destined for the thrift shop!

I always think it's important to indulge your interests, but especially in winter! Starting tomorrow I'm looking forward to the first installment of Heather's online workshop, Whole Food Kitchen. It is a three month guided workshop about healthy food and looking forward to it!

We all have our ways of adapting to the cold winter months. Jasper, our cat, spends a lot of his time sitting in this bowl, I've finally given up on trying to dissuade him. Besides, he looks splendid in it, don't you think?

Other things I've been doing this week are listening to this song, and almost any other music by these two talented musicians
If you love dogs, or even if you just want to smile a bit, you must watch this video ! Finally, it's time to make another batch of mung sprouts. I'll be back during the week to give you the update on their progress. Have a good week!