Cleaning Out The Pantry
and since I had been tossing and turning, first pulling the comforter up snuggly over my shoulders, then kicking it off to the side – in general – thrashing my bed - since the clock read
I decided to get up.
And tackle the pantry.
I use a tall, white, tower cabinet for a pantry and one shelf in the kitchen cupboard as a supplement. A partial inventory of the two locations netted (along with various containers of rice, beans, couscous, breakfast cereal grains, chicken and vegetable broth, nuts, dried fruits, capers, oils, vinegars, pastas, etc.) the following items:
Four containers of baking powder. One was unopened and had a “use by date” (henceforth to be known as UBD) of January 1999. The other three were opened and in varying degrees of fullness –but only one had a UBD that allowed the can to be placed in the packing box.
Three plastic, bear-shaped bottles of Grade A Clover Honey. One was half empty and the honey had crystallized and changed color. Another appeared to have perhaps a tablespoon or so left, and the third was unopened (with an acceptable UBD).
Assorted spices (turmeric, lemon grass, saffron, cardamom, celery salt, black pepper, table salt, oregano, whole nutmeg, whole cloves, three bottles of ground cinnamon, two of allspice, a full jar of cayenne pepper, half a jar of chili powder). All of these spices possessed UBDs ranging from 1999 to 2002. I tossed ‘em all, of course. The saffron was a loss – it’s very expensive and I had only used a bit of it.
But hiding in the pantry between a bag of flour and a box of confectioner’s sugar, I found a yellowed scrap of paper sporting several light brown stains in varying sizes. Scribbled across the paper in my mother’s hand is her mother’s pie crust recipe. I know the recipe by heart (as do all my mother’s children). My mother has been dead since November 2000 and I really can’t say how the recipe got lost in the pantry. This morning I tucked it into my 1972 edition of “The Joy of Cooking” that my mother gave me. That book is losing its binding, its front and back covers taped over. Inside the front cover scrawls my father’s sparerib marinade recipe, inside the back cover - my mother’s butter cream frosting recipe. I don’t use this cookbook much any more, but hidden within its torn and battered covers are food-stained and dog-eared pages, many with my margin comments revising recipes, doubling the ingredient quantities, noting different baking times depending on the over I used. Here and there are scribbled pictures and crayon markings from my children, who once sat on the kitchen counter, the book next to them, licking wooden spoons slick with cake or cookie batter and adding their notes to mine. Over 30 years of cooking rest between the covers of this one cookbook, given to me by mother when I turned 18 and left home.
The outdated baking powder, honey, and spices were tossed into a plastic garbage bag. The cookbook rests safely in a box marked “KITCHEN.”