Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Stocking Up for Autumn and the Fall Holidays

Hoping I can keep my porch flowers alive through Thanksgiving, despite my black thumb

Today I'm stopping by a couple of my favorite grocery stores (Trader Joe's, PCC Natural Market and Whole Foods) to stock up for fall. I'm bringing my shopping list, the list of pantry foods I already have in my cupboard (so I don't overbuy duplicates by mistake) and my fall food budget in mind.

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Water houseplants if needed; rotate them into more light today as needed.
  • Have you sliced and eaten fresh fruit this week? Especially apples, now that it's harvest time?
  • Look over your budget for the next three weeks (the rest of October). Plan for bills, birthdays, Halloween candy, Halloween costume, savings, travel money, home maintenance projects (I'm saving for a new dishwasher), Christmas shopping, holiday parties, food, pet expenses, and other things you need to keep track of.
  • Do a quick whisk around your kitchen, if needed - put away clutter, wipe down counters, shine your sink, launder kitchen towels, restock paper towels. We worked so hard on our kitchens this week, let's make sure our hard work still shows.
  • Need to replace any light bulbs in your home? I'm about to go stand on a very disconcertingly tall ladder to change one that is placed high up in my kitchen.
  • Take just two quick minutes to clean out your purse and wallet if they need it. Receipts seem to accumulate in mine, as well as lipsticks I'm not wearing. I like to do this chore while waiting at an appointment, whenever possible.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Stocking Up for Fall

Bob's Red Mill Bean Soup Mix, on Amazon

Now that we have clean kitchens and neatly organized pantries, and now that we have taken inventory and looked over our cupboards, we can restock our food supplies for fall.

I love having a well stocked pantry. It makes me feel secure. Not only for emergencies and power outages, but also for those dark, cold, rainy nights when I don't feel like going out to the store.

I also love being able to throw a spontaneous cocktail party and to host a dinner party at a moment's notice. Having so many foods at my disposal makes that possible. I can pull some olives, pickled vegetables and crackers out of the cupboard, and serve cheese I keep stocked in my fridge. It's easy to prepare gourmet meals with a few things taken out of my pantry and accentuated with fresh fruits and veggies I keep stocked. I'm lucky I live within a three minute drive of a PCC Natural Market, too.

It's also nice that I have easygoing friends and family members who are happy to come over to a simple meal of soup, bread and salad.

Stonewall Kitchen Rosemary Parmesan Crackers, on Amazon

Add things to your grocery list, but split it up amongst the next two or three trips if your budget doesn't allow buying everything all at once. Check to see if you have enough food for an emergency supply, and if you have things you can easily cook or prepare if the power goes off.

However, none of us should become crazed food hoarders, either. Our stocked up foods shouldn't take over or clutter our homes, and they shouldn't become a huge burden or responsibility for ourselves or others. It's good to be prepared, but not good to be wasteful. We should only buy foods we can use up and enjoy long after the threat of a stormy winter is over. Soups we can still enjoy in Spring, canned goods we can accent with fresh produce and use up before they expire, rotating in new emergency canned goods next year. We should be able to find things we need to cook a meal in the pantry, not have boxes cluttering up the view and cans falling out on our feet every time we open the pantry or cupboard doors.

BAKING:

Betty Crocker Molasses Cookie Mix, on Amazon

Unless you're amazing and bake everything from scratch... Do you have a couple cake mixes, cookie mixes, some shortening, flour, cake flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, soda, baking powder, a tub of frosting in case of a birthday cake emergency, cocoa, pancake mix, chocolate chips, muffin mixes, corn starch, corn meal, a scone mix, and other baking staples? Do you have a cornbread mix or two, for serving with chili or hearty meals? Yeast, if you bake bread? Pie crust mix in a box, in case you are in a hurry and don't have time to mix up pie crust from scratch? Graham cracker crumbs in a box, for lining tart shells or cheesecakes?

CONDIMENTS:

I currently threw out all my condiments but for a Dijon mustard, soy sauce, mayonnaise and ketchup. I had way too many things cluttering up the doors of my fridge, and finally got myself to admit I would never eat any of those things. I'm trying to carefully shop for only things I will actually use - capers is high on my list, and some tartar sauce. Besides what's currently in your refrigerator, are you well stocked on things you are likely to use up in the next two months? Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, honey, maple syrup/pancake syrup, salad dressings, balsamic vinaigrette, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, virgin olive oil, tabasco?

PASTA:

Da Vinci Flowers Pasta, on Amazon

I recently had to start storing all my pastas in glass jars, due to an unfortunate weevil infestation. I started over with fewer kinds of pastas (since jars take up so much room in my pantry) and that makes me sad. I'll just have to do better at shopping for specialty pasta the day before I want to serve it, and eating it up right away.

Do you have a nice stock of spaghetti, penne, lasagna, macaroni, fettuccini, and other pasta basics, plus several jarred sauces? Do you have an alfredo sauce for a dinner guest who doesn't care for a tomato based sauce?

CANNED AND JARRED FOODS:

Cucina & Amore Bruschetta, from Cost Plus World Market

Though I try to eat fresh foods and to indulge infrequently in processed foods, the amount of entertaining I do does entail a lot of opening of jars. Olives, pickled mushrooms, artichoke hearts, capers and baby corn are great for impromptu cocktail parties. Do you have cocktail party staples such as olives, pickles, pickled mushrooms, pickled beets or baby corn?

For busy weeknight dinners, do you have plenty of soups, stews, and chilis? Refried beans? Canned whole tomatoes? Salsa? Canned beans and corn? Jarred bruschetta topping or tapenade spread?

STAPLES:

Do you have olive oil, cooking oil, dry beans, several varieties of rice, couscous, and dry lentils? Do you have a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese for an emergency in case a child comes to visit? Do you have peanut butter and jelly? Do you have cereal, oatmeal, granola, raisins, and nuts? Do you have several canned or jarred soups you can open and heat easily? Enough for every person in your family for three days?

LIQUIDS:

Do you have a fresh emergency supply of bottled drinking water? How are you doing for day-to-day drinks? Party supplies such as cranberry juice, fruit juices, 7-Up, Coke, mineral/sparkling water, orange juice and other mixers? Hot cocoa, coffee and plenty of tea? Chicken, beef and/or vegetable stock for making soup?

After we shop, then bring home and organize our provisions, we'll be ready for the autumn season of cooking, celebrating and entertaining!

RELATED LINKS:

Fall and Winter Pantry Staples: What to Stock (Bliss Tree)

How to Stock a Traditional Foods Pantry (Nourished Kitchen)

Stocking Up (The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

Stocking Your Pantry (Better Homes & Gardens)

LOVELY BLOGS: Restauraunting Through History

I am so glad I found this blog! Not only do I love going out to dinner (and indulge in that quite often) but I'm intrigued by restaurant history, interior design of restaurants, and restaurant menu planning. I never want to open one myself, but I like to read behind-the-scenes histories. This blog is packed full of interesting and informative articles on the topic. Currently you can read about Truth in Menu laws; peek at an 1840s menu from Richmond Virginia's Alhambra; learn about window food displays; and and read about vintage doughnut shops. I have a feeling I know how the rest of my evening is going to be spent!

http://restaurant-ingthroughhistory.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Little Folks in Busy-Land

This darling book of children's stories and poems is from 1916. The illustrator was Elizabeth Jones Babcock. I love the little Art Deco style cottages pictured here, and the children's outfits are really sweet. Hope you enjoy looking through this half as much as I did!

Little Folks in Busy-Land, at Archive.Org

LOVELY FASHION: Galaxy Print Dresses

I have a feeling you are either going to find these absolutely hideous, or downright intriguing - no middle ground, I suspect! There are imprinted universes, moonscapes, planets and phases of the moon. If you are obsessed with astronomy, you might like declaring your passion for it by wearing one of these outfits!

Galaxy Dresses, at Shadow Play NYC

LOVELY FRAGRANCE: Just Like Sunday

I can't normally indulge in Jo Malone candles - they're quite expensive. I worship the fragrances though. Her "Just Like Sunday" line includes a summery Lavender & Lovage and a Green Tomato Leaf fragrance; an Incense & Embers for fall; and my favorite, Sweet Almond & Macaroon.

Just Like Sunday, at Jo Malone

LOVELY MOVIES: The Secret Garden Animated Film

Here's a cute 1994 animated version of "The Secret Garden" you can watch online for free. It's a musical, and I'm surprised how well this was done. I enjoyed having it on in the background while blogging today!

The Secret Garden, on YouTube

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Aunt Maria's Vermont Maple Sugar Pie 1945 Vintage Pie Recipe Test (Mid-Century Menu)

Better Chicken Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)

Blueberry Swirl Cake with Lemon Curd (Raspberri Cupcakes)

Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding (Seattle Times)

Crispy Kale Grilled Cheese with Fried Eggs (How Sweet Eats)

Easy Vanilla Pudding (Dinner, a Love Story)

Halloween Witch Gingerbread House (Haniela's)

New Orleans Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Cream Sauce (A Cozy Kitchen)

Pear Baked Oatmeal (Words of Deliciousness)

Pear Butter (The House of Healthy)

Pear Pie Biscuits (Kari's Vegetarian Kitchen)

Pumpkin Kiss Caramel Blondies (Pint Sized Baker)

10 Spice Vegetable Soup (Oh She Glows)


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