At the moment, I think there is no more beautiful set of words than “organized pantry.”
For months, we’ve been dreaming of getting our act together. With all the traveling of this summer, everything in the house functioned on an emergency basis. Dishes done? Mostly. Rinsed, at least. Okay, time to leave for the airport. We keep a clean house but cluttered. We stumbled over toy cars and stuffed animals on the way to get the suitcase to pack again.
I’m so happy to be home for a good long while now.
Last week, we took everything down from the shelves in the kitchen, cleaned out all the drawers, threw away old food, and donated what we could to the thrift store and food bank. I love those days you know you’re doing good work as you scrub and sweep and pour oats into a big jar. Now, like a big sigh of relief, the kitchen is organized once again.
We have work to do, playing in the kitchen as we finish our cookbook. I don’t want any clutter standing in the way of our work.
(Ever notice how much mental energy cluttered spaces take up? “I’m going to get to that.” or “Damn it, that’s driving me crazy!” Right now, I’m just trying to purge the house of any space that make me grit my teeth when I walk through it. I like my brain cleared up for better thoughts.)
Besides, the great thing about having all the pantry ingredients in our house in one place, neatly displayed? We remember foods we had forgotten before.
The other day, I spotted a jar of this creamy brown rice cereal. Months before I had bought it on a whim, then it sat unopened in the back of a crowded cabinet. As I was thinking about what to make for Sunday morning breakfast, Beatles playing and Lu and Danny dancing, I reached for the jar in front of me on the shelf. Brown rice cereal? Okay.
It’s pretty simple. Two cups of boiling hot water, a good pinch of salt, and a cup of this cereal. Stir, sort of paying attention but mostly listening to the music and laughing instead.
When it was thick and fully cooked, I spread out the cereal onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. (Maybe I would grease the parchment paper first next time.) And I let it cool.
(We three shared a pear while we waited. Oh, the juicy pears of autumn.)
When it had fully cooled, Lu and I grabbled little hunks of the sticky cereal, rolled them into balls in the palms of our hands, and flattened them into patties.
With a little ghee in a cast-iron skillet, some sizzle, and enough patience to let them cook until they formed a golden-brown crust on both sides, we were ready to eat.
I did a quick stir-fry with leftover chicken thighs, chanterelle mushrooms, and parsley and threw it on top.
Everything was eaten, happily, at the table, while I looked at the neat rows of jars in our pantry.