My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Yay for New Pans! Yuck to cleaning the cupboards to make them fit…

Now, what does cleaning my cupboards have to do with Food Storage?  Well, without some organizational system, I cannot find the pan I need when I need to use it!  And I made it worse by buying some new bake ware! After almost 25 years of marriage,  it was time. I bought some of my old pans at the dollar store (when dollar stores first came on the scene, and they had some pretty incredible stuff) maybe 20 years ago. Many were worn from years of use.

 

Being a frugal gal (not cheap, there’s a difference. I will pay for quality.), I didn’t set out to replace all my pans at once. The thought first entered my mind when I had problems making some quick bread for a friend’s son’s wedding reception. No matter what I did (using Pam, greasing the pan liberally), I couldn’t get the loaves out in one piece. It was frustrating to say the least. Then and there, I decided that I needed a couple of nonstick loaf pans.

 

I did a lot of research and decided that I wanted heavy-duty, commercial bakery type pans. I’d narrowed it down to two brands: USA Pan and Chicago Metallic. Both have great reviews, so I bit the bullet and bought a couple of larger non-stick loaf pans.  I bought 10 inch x5 inch USA Pans (you can view one here).  They make the perfect size bread loaf for my family.

 

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After falling in love with them, I bought some USA Pan and Chicago Metallic mini loaf pans (with an Amazon gift card I earned through MyPoints.com). And aren’t they lovely?? Especially compared to my old pans which were looking pretty sad. See?  (I sprayed them with non-stick spray, and the pans are so non-stick without the spray, I’m not sure I needed it.)  Think those look snazzy?  Check them out here and here on Amazon!

 

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Today, I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread to break them in (recipe here). The loaves came out of the pan so easily! I’m very happy!  (And my boys are begging me to cut the pumpkin bread!)

 

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I’m also very happy, because I cleaned out my kitchen cupboards and got rid of some old things which were gathering dust. Take a look at my organized cupboards now!!

 

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I didn’t take before shots, but trust me, it’s a major improvement! And isn’t that life? A constant rearranging and reorganization of everything.  Not just my kitchen, but my everything!  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It keeps things fresh.  Life is a work in progress, and I love it!

 

How about things for you? Any kitchen pans or gadgets you want to add to your inventory? Or is there a closet, cupboard, or storage area that needs your attention? Please share!

 

 

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Mason Jars: A Love Affair

I love Mason Jars.  Why?  I have no idea!  I just do.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I use a lot of Mason Jars to store food in my pantry.  See?  Here are just a few of the many jars I use all over my home:

 

I found some of these Mason jars on Goodwill's auction website, and I just LOVE them!

I found some of these Mason jars on Goodwill’s auction website, and I just LOVE them!  I can’t pick just one favorite, but I can narrow it down to two: my gallon Mason jars and my blue Mason jars.  They are so unique and fun!

 

So, it’s only natural that I needed this cute set of measuring cups when I found it online.

 

These adorable measuring cups are sold by Cost Plus World Market, and apparnetly, they are very popular!  Most stores were sold out.  As luck would have it, I was able to find one set in my local store.

These adorable measuring cups are sold by Cost Plus World Market, and apparently, they are very popular! Most stores were sold out. As luck would have it, I was able to find one set in my local store.

 

These fun measuring cups stack to form a Mason jar, or they can be "disassembled" and used as measuring cups.

These fun measuring cups stack to form a Mason jar, or they can be “disassembled” and used as measuring cups.

 

Of course, I haven't used them as measuring cups yet, because I just like looking at them.

Of course, I haven’t used them as measuring cups yet, because I just like looking at them.

 

I know they will break in the next major earthquake, so I hope we don’t have one for a really long time!  Of course, there are other benefits to no major earthquakes…

 

So, I love being surrounded by my Mason jars and my Mason jar measuring cups.  Not as much as I love my family, but I love them a whole lot.

So, I love being surrounded by my Mason jars and my Mason jar measuring cups. Not as much as I love my family, but I love them a whole lot.

 

People are much more important than things, but I can still really enjoy fun things like this as long as I keep that in perspective.

Is there anything you *LOVE* as much as I love my Mason jars?


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Uh Oh! I Ran Out of Brown Sugar! What’s A Girl To Do?

I am pretty good about keeping the basics stocked in my house: flour, sugar, eggs, rice, beans, etc.  There are other things, things I use less frequently, that I’m not so good about stocking.  One of those is brown sugar.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve run out of brown sugar and only discovered I was out while I was baking something requiring brown sugar. Then I have to decide if I want to substitute granulated sugar or make a run to the grocery store.  Poor planning my part, but I’m a real gal with failings just like everyone else.

 

Has that ever happened to you?  Well, baked goods just don’t taste the same if you substitute granulated sugar.  They’re fine, but they aren’t great.  I have a strong personal belief that if I want a treat, I should have the real thing: full fat (preferably butter), full sugar (both brown and white), and gluten!   I know some people have dietary restrictions and cannot have those things, but, for me, I’ve found that if I substitute something else, it leaves me wanting, and I eat more cookies or whatever (and more calories) than I would have if I had what I wanted in the first place.  I know I’m a bit weird that way, but realizing this truth about myself has seriously helped me control my consumption of junk food.

 

So what could I do?  What would you do?  You’re craving cookies, and you NEED brown sugar?  Make some.  Google to the rescue!  I googled “how to make brown sugar” and found a super simple recipe online.  It called for 2 things: cane sugar and unsulphured molasses.  That’s it.

 

 

Best Cinnamon Rolls EVER!

Best Cinnamon Rolls EVER!

 

 

The first time I made brown sugar, it wasn’t for cookies.  It was for cinnamon rolls.  If I were making cookies, I could just throw the ingredients in when I creamed the butter and sugars without mixing them first, no big deal,.  However, for these, I had to actually “make” it.   I’m going to brag a little bit.  I have the best cinnamon roll recipe EVER!  The dough always turns out perfectly, the ratio between sugar, cinnamon, and icing is perfect, and they are just DI-VINE!  The thing is, this recipe calls for a couple of handfuls of brown sugar.  I used all white sugar once, and they were okay, but not great, so I wasn’t messing with the recipe again.

 

So, I made brown sugar.  It was quick and simple, and the cinnamon rolls tasted as yummy as ever.  After making it, I realized that I could do this every time I baked, if I were so inclined.  I hate dried-out, hard brown sugar.  It’s so much easier to store granulated sugar and molasses than it is to store brown sugar.  Mine always seems to dry out.  Now, I keep molasses on hand just for the purpose of making brown sugar, although I use it in other things as well.  Do I still buy brown sugar on occasion?  Yes, but only when I know I’m going to use most or all of the bag/box in a recipe.  Otherwise, I make it at home.  You can do it, too.  Don’t worry. It’s not difficult.  I’ll give you the step-by-step.  In less than 5 minutes, you will have your very own homemade, brown sugar!  Here’s how.

 

 

Brown Sugar

 

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses (2 tablespoons if you want dark brown sugar)

 

 

Instructions:  Blend the sugar and molasses together with a fork.

 

That’s it!  Really!  Here are some pics showing you how I do it.

Get your tools ready: a bowl, a 1-cup measuring cup, a tablespoon measuring spoon, and a fork.  This is pretty low tech.  You may use a blender, mixer or food processor, but I think you get better results with a fork.  And there are less dishes, always a plus for me.

Get your tools ready: a bowl, a 1-cup measuring cup, a tablespoon measuring spoon, and a fork. This is pretty low tech. You may use a blender, mixer or food processor, but I think you get better results with a fork. And there are less dishes, always a plus for me.

Assemble your ingredients: sugar and molasses.  I use Grandma's molasses, but you can use any unsulphured molasses.  (It will say unsulphured on the jar.)

Assemble your ingredients: sugar and molasses. I use Grandma’s molasses, but you can use any unsulphured molasses. (It will say unsulphured on the jar.)

Pour 1 cup of granulated sugar in a bowl.  Make sure the bowl is large enough that you can mix the sugar and molasses together.

Pour 1 cup of granulated sugar in a bowl. Make sure the bowl is large enough that you can mix the sugar and molasses together.

Pour in 1 tablespoon of molasses for light brown sugar or 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar.  You can customize this to your tastes, so add a little more, or a little less if you'd like, or go somewhere in between light and dark.

Pour in 1 tablespoon of molasses for light brown sugar or 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar. You can customize this to your tastes, so add a little more, or a little less if you’d like, or go somewhere in between light and dark.

When you first start mixing it, you may think it's not working.  But be patient.  Trust me!  It will work.

When you first start mixing it, you may think it’s not working. But be patient. Trust me! It will work.

Stir the mixture until the molasses is coated with sugar, then start pressing down with the fork to incorporate the sugar into the molasses.

Stir the mixture until the molasses is coated with sugar, then start pressing down with the fork to incorporate the sugar into the molasses.

See, it's starting to come together.

See, it’s starting to come together.

It's almost there!

It’s almost there!

 

And it's done!  You did it!  Fresh, homemade brown sugar!

And it’s done! You did it! Fresh, homemade brown sugar!