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PamMehnert

Hi, I'm Pam Mehnert

As Outpost's general manager, Pam's work keeps her at the office, in meetings, or in front of her computer more than a simple 40 hours each week. However, her passion as a foodie has driven her to take on this challenge for the culinary experience of...
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Pam Mehnert

Week 38 - An Inconvenient Pantry (Part 1)

A Year of Inconvenience
For one year, I'm making everything from scratch and forgoing convenience foods. Join me on my journey! By Pam Mehnert on January 10, 2011

Being the kind of person who likes to drive around the neighborhood at night because I’m curious to see the inside of other people’s houses, I stumbled upon a website a little while ago that takes a peek into other people’s pantries. The Perfect Pantry author Lydia Walshin has been food blogging since 2006, and her website is a great place to dig in to find a great recipe or to peek into someone else’s pantry. Some of them are awesome while others are honestly quite horrifying.

 

Lydia let her readers peek into my pantry this week which inspired me to write about how my “well-stocked for inconvenience” pantry has been helping me through this one-year challenge. Before we peek further, I also want to give a shout out to Outpost’s Pantry Raid girls, Diana and Carrie, who not only are darling and funny but were also an inspiration to me to take on this challenge. Don’t miss their new blog on our website as well - it’s not only fun but the recipes are truly delicious and inspired.

 

 

Now on to my pantry. Part One of my inconvenient pantry focuses on the dry good essentials – items I just can’t do without, and in a pinch, will help me pull together a either a baked good meal. These ingredients are the backbones of the things I used to buy ready-made, such as bread, crackers, chips, breadcrumbs, tortillas, pita bread, polenta, rice pilaf, granola, pizza crust, granola bars, and all beans that are canned. I like to store them in vintage jars, my favorites being vintage herring jars, which are appealing for their size as well as the lid graphics. Of course I like to collect vintage anything and finally found something with a purpose. I’m actually about three steps shy of hoarder, so watch for me soon on your favorite Discovery channel.

 

Here is a chart of the pantry essentials and why you want to keep them in stock:

Item

Why I keep it stocked

Rolled Oats

Granola, granola bars, and the occasional cookie

Quick Cooking Oats

Instant oatmeal in the microwave, ingredient in multi-grain bread, ingredient in meatloaf if I don’t have breadcrumbs made. Convenience food? Don’t judge.

Corn Grits

Polenta, ingredient in multi-grain bread, bottom coating for a variety of breads and pizza crust

Masa Harina

Corn tortillas, corn chips, also thickening agent in some Mexican stews

White and Whole Wheat Flour

Wow, need I explain? Breads, pizza crust, popovers, muffins, thickening agent (roux), cakes, cookies, crackers (it’s no wonder I’ve gained 5 pounds)

Instant Yeast

I get a good rise out of this!

Semolina Flour

Pasta!

Flax Seeds and Flax Meal

Breads, crackers, granola bars, banana bread

Sesame Seeds

Bread topping, crackers, Asian cooking

Quinoa, Couscous, Rice

Salads and side dishes galore!

Beans & Lentils

I admit I hate cooking beans and don’t do it all that often. Red lentils have come in handy for making dal since it’s quick to cook.

Nuts & Seeds

Are you old enough to remember Euell Gibbons? Ever eat a pine tree? Okay - Granola, granola bars, breads it is.

And Finally, Chocolate Chips

Seriously! Granola bars, pancakes, banana bread, and a nice little snack every now and then.

 

My New Year’s resolution (or acclaim as I’d put it) was to make the best of my final fourteen weeks and try to make something new each week. This past week I tried to make mozzarella cheese and tortilla chips. The operative word here really is “tried.”

 

The cheese came out “okay” mostly because I didn’t do enough research ahead of time, like watch cheese-making videos on the web. Little did I realize the curds have to be as hot as the sun before you handle them and then stretch them into what should resemble cheese. So I overworked them a bit at first and lost a bit of the milk fat. We did enjoy them on what I was hoping would be the perfect pizza on New Year’s eve – homemade crust, sauce made from scratch from the tomatoes I canned, and homemade cheese. It just wasn’t meant to be perfect I guess, as I overworked the crust as well as the cheese, but I was pretty proud of taking inconvenient to the extreme.

The tortilla chips, well I’m going to save that story for another post when I get them right.

 

Watch for Part Two of my pantry posts next week, which will be appropriately titled “condiment harlot.”

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