Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pantry Conversion

If I had more time....

How many times have I started a sentence with that opener?  A million.  Even long before the boys came along.  

But if I had more time I could really get into the homestead concept.  Or at least the homemade - do it/cook it/build it yourself concept.   There are so many times we immediately go to the packaged & processed version of something without realizing how simple it is to make it ourselves.   Having grown up in the era of processed and packaged it rarely even entered my mind to think "What did people use to ____  before ___?"  Duh.

When we built our house we agreed that we wanted a HUGE pantry.  And we got that.  So over the next few years (I do not have the time to move faster) I hope to convert 90% of what's in there to stuff we've made ourselves.  For now, I'm going for the simple and non-time consuming (the low hanging fruit so to speak).  Thankfully, I'm learning there is a lot of low hanging fruit.  My dear friend at Flying Pony Farm is way into this and has been an invaluable resource.  It's also a bit of a trend right now and places like Pintrest are a brilliant place to find recipes for pretty much anything.   Really I'm just scratching the surface but I'm committed to this and ready to dig in.  I think my family will be healthier for it.  The added bonus is in the financial savings because it's often more cost effective to mix up a big batch of something than to purchase the packaged version.

So where did I start?  Bread.  Pancake mix.  Baby food. Surface cleaner.  Chicken stock.  Beef.

I've posted before on the baby food.  It's simple. Honestly I don't think I could have paid a dollar plus for six ounces of pureed organic peas and water.  It's crazy.  Not to mention tasteless,  full of sodium and preserved to sit on a shelf for years.  Bag of frozen peas & a blender...simple.

Pancake Mix.  Well there are tons of great pancake mix recipes on the internet.    All I did was mix up the dry ingredients so that they're ready to go...kinda like that box of pancake mix you get at the store.  Only a WHOLE LOT cheaper.  Plus I know exactly what's in it.  Here's my most recent favorite from 100 Days of Real Food (an excellent resource).  And here's one I'm going to try next from The Hillbilly Housewife.

today's loaf already half eaten
We eat a lot of bread.  For better or worse it's our downfall.  We've had a bread machine for years.  It was in fact the only appliance my husband came to the marriage with.  But it gathered dust and it was always a treat to make a loaf, and when we did it was from a packaged mix we bought.  So I Googled a simple white bread recipe, mixed it up and voila!  Bread.  You can't beat warm fresh bread.  Even my husband who is dubious about my homemade concoctions and prefers the convenience of processed and  packaged loves fresh homemade bread.  OK, I do use the machine and I do respect those who lovingly knead their loaves...but I don't have the time.  This conversion has to be simple and easy or we won't stick with it.  Best part of this pantry conversion step?  Waking up to the smell of fresh baked bread since the machine has a delayed setting so I can fill it before bed and set it to be finished by morning.  Awesome right?  I haven't yet but I'd like to start saving our stale leftovers for bread crumbs.  I mean seriously, we buy bread crumbs!  Think about it!  I'll post my recipe for bread machine white bread in another post...promise.

Chicken stock.  Well I find organic chicken to be pricey.  Absolutely worth it of course.   I have friends who raise organic pastured chicken and I know there is a lot of overhead that goes into it and they're not getting rich off it.   So when we get it I want to use it.  All of it.  Last fall I purchased 6 stewing hens from a local organic farm and used a roaster as a large crock pot to make giant batches of chicken stock.  I then packaged most of the broth in 2 cup portions and froze them.  I also packaged the vegetables and meat with some broth in larger portions for the flu season.  Jewish Penicillin can't be beat when you're suffering from the flu.

Citrus peelSurface cleaner   Simple.  There's a bunch of Pinterest posts on this.  Vinegar, citrus peels and essential oil.  Combine, cover and let sit.  I let mine sit on the counter for about 2 weeks.  Then fill a spray bottle and get to cleaning! Here's one that is similar from Pinterest (click the photo to go to it)

Beef.  We raise it for sale...why not raise it for us?  We've kept back a calf and hopefully in a few years we'll have a deep freeze full of home grown beef.

So next on my Pantry conversion list is ranch dressing mix, cream of mushroom soup, onion soup mix, butter & of course, bread crumbs.

  More later.

Thanks for visiting!



  1. This reminds me! I need to share that awesome no-knead rustic bread recipe with you. The dough rises overnight, so it takes hours from start to finish, but the actual hands on time is minimal. And the bread is SO good!

  2. This reminds me! I need to give you the recipe for no-knead rustic bread. The dough rises overnight, so it does take a lot of time from start to finish, but the actual hands on time is minimal. And the bread is as good as the best fresh breads from Whole Foods.