Last year we moved into a house that actually has a pantry. Everywhere else I have owned or rented has had the obligatory kitchen cupboard that could only house plates, cups and kitchen appliances at best. If you love to cook, you end up having a large collection of gadgets, appliances, pots, pans, ramekins, specialty dishes you name it. My dishwasher, oven and microwave have at one time or another become additional cupboard space. There was never a quest to find a home with a pantry. On the contrary, the wish list exists below. Amazingly enough, we were able to manifest all of this goodness:
We were presented with a relatively small kitchen with a relatively large pantry. At first, I had no idea what to do with it. There were so many shelves and I knew then that pre-packaged food would seldom-if-never grace those shelves, canned goods are also a novelty in my food world, that only left me with one option….herbs and spices.
Ahhhh spices and herbs. Never have I had such an open and torrid love affair with so many things at once, and publicly. Romances that span this continent and cross oceans and seas to find L’Amour in exotic lands. Weekly. I feel like I should be blushing in openly sharing all of this with you, but I can assure you I am not.
Each time I turn the light on inside and the glass door illuminates, I can see the shadows of reds, blacks, whites, greens and oranges through the frosting. I am immediately excited to adventure into territory unknown, and sometimes territory well-known and loved, with the herb and spice path to heaven inside.
Once the door is fully ajar, sometimes I stand back and marvel at the glorious glass collection containing the aromatic treasures of far off places. I’ll look each one over, examining its contents and deciding whether it should be replenished in the near future or not. I lift and sort all the jars separating the various salts and peppers, flours, beans, teas and spices by colour or ethnicity. Sometimes opening a jar here and there to see if (without looking at the label) I can accurately identify the inhabitant inside by smell alone.
I carefully lift each glass bottle of oil, checking to see if I have enough to cook with as well as enough to use in salves and infusions. Hopping over to the smaller experimental bottles to shake or smell or taste progress on each of my newest tinctures. Smiling in delight when success is achieved, grumbling inconsolably when mould or rot has appeared.
I spend hours each week peering in and making lists, wish lists of new and amazing spices I’ve heard of in my travels and while studying new recipes. There is a great feeling of overwhelming delight each time I bring home a new salt or pepper from a great vacation, I carefully give the new arrival its own new home and label and a place on the shelf.
Soon spring will be here and foraging and collecting wild edibles will once again have the dehydrator inside humming away and drying out new herbal medicinals and teas to try……if only the snow would melt.