From Liana (Pie and Beer), in Carlton, Georgia:
I love your blog and have been checking in for quite some time, but I'm a little slow on the uptake and only now that we're about to move from our old farmhouse in rural Georgia and I've been giving away the contents left and right have I thought to send some pictures of my pantry.
Obviously I did a lot of canning this past year, most of it in the course of developing recipes for my book on canning and preserving which will be published this summer. I haven't been able to estimate how many jars of stuff -- jams, jellies, fruit butters, sauces, pickles, tomatoes -- I put up over the summer, but it was probably two or three times what you can see here -- I gave some to friends, and donated a lot. I wasn't able to source many decent tomatoes last summer, perhaps due to the various diseases going around and not enough rain in the area, and I neglected my garden as I was busy with writing the book, so there aren't as many tomato products as I would've liked, at least not relative to things like pickled okra, which I love but not enough to justify the quantities I put them up in!
I've always had a difficult time maintaining a truly useful pantry, simply because my tastes in food run so far afield: I cannot focus on one kind of cooking for very long before I'm seduced by another -- and all the intriguing ingredients it requires -- so my staples are all over the place. I've had that jar of Filipino coconut vinegar for ages; it's so crazy-tasting I'm sure it'll only work with the kind of food it was designed to be used in, and it's not like I'm whipping up Filipino meals that often. Tahini and rice flour? Beet pasta and Shaoxing? Glory collard greens (a guilty pleasure, but it brings more of the pleasure than the guilt!) and red palm oil? Mexican chocolate and Indian hot lime pickle? The mind reels. And that's not always what a person wants her mind to be doing when she has to just get something on the table for supper.
One day, maybe when I'm very, very old, I'll just settle down with a little cupboard of a couple olive oils, a few vinegars, some nice pasta, perhaps some Arborio rice, and a basket of garlic and root vegetables ... and maybe, just maybe, I'll allow myself a few mini cans of coconut milk, and bamboo shoots, and a bag of dried lotus buds.
Besides this pantry's luxurious size and the brilliant shallow shelves my dad put up for me, and the dedicated spice cupboard he built too (now full to bursting, of course), the thing that most truly spoils me is the small chest freezer, which I got about a year and a half ago and immediately filled with strawberries and peaches, ready-to-steam vegetables, blanched broccoli rabe, homemade dumplings, individual squares of leftover macaroni and cheese, cubes of tamarind paste and Thai green curry paste, mochi, a big bag of tiny smelts (so fun!), packages of whole squid, a few random quails leftover from a recipe-testing gig, and a bunch of meat I got at the now-defunct good butcher shop in Athens. I'll miss the freezer when we move on into town, though being able to easily shop in town, cook, and eat all on the same day will be a nice change of pace from the nearly survivalist mode we've been in for the last four years in the hinterlands. I'll still keep a weird and overflowing pantry, though, wherever it has to be -- over the washing machine, in the linen closet, in the kid's bedroom...
Anyway, thank you for keeping up your blog and for inspiring this little remembrance.
On Saturdays, we peek into Other People's Pantries.
Come on -- show us your pantry.
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