in my pantry & in my head

even before jenni did her post about her changing kitchen, i had started documenting my also changing pantry.

i can’t say that i’ve bought into the stock up method with quite the gusto that jen has, but i love the idea. i think i still need to sort through some cupboards and carve out some space for stocking up. it’s been a slow purging process, but it’s starting to pick up speed. i’ve kept a box in the kitchen for the last week and any time the thought strikes me, i toss another item into the box to be donated.

probably my biggest realization is just how lazy i can be. i have 2 food processors- one large and one small. i have a chopper that you pound on with the palm of your hand in order to mince your onions. i also have 3 cutting boards and a handful of okay-this-one-will-do knives. i can’t help but wonder how many of these tools i really need. what if i had just decided to invest in one really awesome knife and forgone all of the other gadgets?

well, maybe i’d have to hold on to the large food processor….

it’s a slow process as my pantry reflects. i have my tree top apple sauce next to my organic santa cruz blueberry apple sauce. i also have the S&W tomato paste neighboring the hunts organic tomatoes. i have a nice selection of bob’s red mill beans and irish soda bread mix (mmmm…), but i still need to use up the pizza sauce.

this doesn’t bother me though. we’re making the shift.

to my credit, i gutted the pantry and was able to purge a box and a grocery bag of food that i’ve been schlepping around (probably through the last two moves). these are now in my car trunk and waiting to be donated to the food bank. i’ve also purged the “snack cupboard” and loaded it with whole grain cereals, seeds, and home made bread. the bottom of the fruit bowl hasn’t seen the light of day for days now, but there’s always a hand grabbing something organic, local and juicy out of it. the people in my house are making better choices because those are the only options they have.

after a quick errand yesterday, our clan came home ravenous and in search of a substantial lunch. the girls were content with their usual- a tortilla with sun butter and an apple on the side. tom and i were looking for food though- real food. our eyes settled on the overflowing bowl in the bottom of the fridge. eggs. it was settled. we weren’t shy. i scrambled up 7 of the suckers and laid thick slices of homemade whole wheat bread on the side. thank god my mom has chickens and happily shares the wealth with us. we were singing those hens’ praise yesterday!

i realized later that part of the shift that we’re making is to look at meals differently. who on earth decided that sweet breads and eggs were for breakfast and sandwiches were for lunch? what’s wrong with mixing it up, depending on what you have on hand? eating with the seasons and the changes of the earth seems natural and harmonious.

our final step is to go local. our lunch of eggs was a great start. i fully realize that this will be very difficult to implement, but we’re going to give it a shot. already the challenge has eaten up hours of internet research but fortunately we have outstanding resources all around us so it’s not going to be impossible. expensive and time consuming at first? oh yes. beneficial? you bet.

i’m excited to learn the art of canning and food preservation. it’s something i wish i had learned from my great grandmother, but will be content to learn from anyone willing to teach me (or from a website, if necessary). next winter, instead of seeing hunts canned tomatoes in my pantry, you’ll see my labels facing out.

Cleaning My Kitchen With Food

I’m doing it! I’m cleaning my kitchen with lemon juice and vinegar!

I was very hesitant to try it, but now that I’m doing it, I’ll never look back.

First of all, I cannot possibly tell you the peace of mind that comes from cleaning your kitchen with food. I can make a sandwich on top of a freshly cleaned countertop without worrying about residue from cleaners.

And it’s so inexpensive that I can use it liberally without a second thought. I don’t just swipe a rag over my table now. I really clean it.

Is it effective, you ask?

Cosmetically, it’s definitely effective! The acidic properties of the lemon juice and the vinegar break down dried-on food and grease. I just spray, leave to soak for a few minutes, then come back and wipe for a clean stove-top. Cooked-on food wipes away like a charm!

In terms of bacteria, we need to first review the real idea behind cleaning. We’re not looking to eliminate ALL bacteria, just to greatly diminish their numbers.

We want enough to give our immune system some exercise, but not enough to make us sick. This is why, unless you have an immunosupressive disease, you should not use antibacterial cleaners on everything. The medical community widely agrees that overuse of antibacterials can lead to allergies, as the immune system seeks things to attack.

That said, lemon juice and vinegar CAN kill bacteria. They are not potent germ-killers, but they do kill some germs. Combine that with their ability to dissolve spills for easy clean-up, and it’s a perfectly safe, effective cleaner for kitchen use. If you really want something antibacterial, you can add a few drops of tea tree oil.

A convenient, unexpected side effect of my new, liberal use of this cleaner is that my kitchen rags smell cleaner longer! The vinegar seems to be preventing bacteria from growing on the rag as quickly. Nice! I go through so many kitchen rags…

To make the solution, you mix 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar, and 1 part lemon juice. It needs to be diluted because vinegar can harm some surfaces if left on them at full-strength.

I didn’t like the vinegar smell, so I added a few drops of sweet orange essential oil. That greatly decreased the smell. You could use any essential oil.