Adventures in a Homemade Pantry

As you may have previously read, LD and I are starting to do a homemade pantry. For those of you who don’t know quite what the concept of a homemade pantry is, it is where you only buy fresh ingredients from the grocery store: fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, basic spices and baking supplies, etc. Our eventual goal is to only get the true pantry staples from the store like sugar, flour, milk, olive oil, dry beans, that kind of thing, and then fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market during the spring, summer, and fall, and can enough to get us through the rest of the year. Right now we are just getting started and are definitely learning some things along the way.

Top things I’ve learned so far:
1. Canned beans are NOT worth it!
2. Things are not going to be as easy to make as the cookbooks and blogs say. Well at least not the first time. There are so many tricks that you learn along the way.
3. It doesn’t take THAT much time, but it does require organization. I’ll explain later.

Well, I have already told you about how easy it is to make beans and freeze them for at least a third of the cost in a previous blog. But, I will explain the other two further. Today, I decided to take some time making homemade almond milk, almond flour, and homemade bread. The homemade bread was extremely simple, but considering my family made our own Challah (a Jewish bread) about once a month, I should be capable of that. I do wish that we had more than one loaf pan so that I could have made an extra loaf or two and freeze them so we have more for later, but that is my own fault and they aren’t that expensive. If you are interested in the bread recipe I used, you can find it here. It is super simple and really took almost no time at all. After I started that baking, I attempted the almond milk.

Now, I had been soaking about a cup of almonds for the past two days. I have to say. I have been really excited about this project. The instructions I found said that you could use either a blender or a food processor. I probably have the only kitchen that has a food processor, but no blender. Not even a magic bullet or anything like that. So as I was following this recipe, I was using a four cup food processor. For a recipe that uses about 8 cups water and 1 cup soaked almonds that pretty much requires you to blend it all together. I was doing it in these tiny tiny batches, plus still having issues with water sloshing over the edge of my closed food processor. Let me tell you, almond milk was everywhere!!! Luckily, I had done my research and used a flour sack towel to strain the almonds out of the milk instead of cheese cloth. Then I would really have a mess on my hands as the almonds would have gone through the cheesecloth and made my separation completely worthless.

I have never been one of those women that can be cooking up a storm and have this still impeccable kitchen. In fact, I hate people like that, that talent should be passed around to everyone so that people like me don’t have kitchen’s that look like a tornado came through. I seriously just clean at the end and by that point I’ve managed to get flour here and almonds there in places I previously would have thought impossible. Once I finally got the almond milk finished and each individual batch had been completely strained. I was feeling pretty good about myself because I had about 2.5 L of almond milk. I spread the leftover almond crumble and dried them in the oven with the bread that was already baking.

On a side note, while I was doing all this kitchen work, I was also doing three loads of laundry and cleaning the apartment. So, the whole process for all of this work in the kitchen today including baking times took me about 2 hours, while getting my regular chores done. The truth is a homemade kitchen isn’t really that much extra time. A lot of the tricks are making sure you know which timer is for what thing, because you can be doing a lot at once between baking times, resting times, and simmering times. You just have to be organized and no where each project is at and what the next step is. I think I with the right tools, this will become quite an easy lifestyle.

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About Danielle Beranek

Life can get away from you when being young, married, and still fairly fresh out of college. Taking on a pet, student loans, going back to school, and soon a new house is enough to leave ones head spinning. For me, life is crazy, but only on the outside.
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