Thursday, September 17, 2020

Friday Five: Filling the Pantry


Last Saturday morning we woke up to a strange greyish yellow light. Smoke from wildfires along the western USA coast is drifting north, blanketing much of British Columbia and obscuring the sun. The smoke has drifted around for all of this week, and may stay longer. It's hard on throats and eyes. My heart hurts for those who have lost loved ones and homes in these dreadful fires. 

I've mentioned my slow and minimal crop of tomatoes this year. I bought a box of plum tomatoes and put up 12 pints of Mexican salsa, then 10 more of diced tomatoes. 

In my childhood home we had a small cold room in the basement where outside air entered through a small vent. My father installed shelves and my mother canned peaches, cherries, jams, pickles, and vegetables for our winter eating. The potatoes grown in our garden were also stored here. If vegetables weren't in season we ate frozen or canned produce. Things like fresh broccoli were rare. 

I devoured books from the time I could read, and sometimes those books were beyond my maturity. When I was 10 or 11 I read a book called "I am Fifteen and I Don't Want to Die" in which a young girl describes life under siege during World War II in Budapest. I remember going down to the cold room and looking at the food stored there and wondering if it would last the winter. We never went without, but the stories of hunger during hard times, even today, are haunting and move me to do what I can to help. 

Putting food into the pantry is something my mother, aunts, and grandmothers all did, and I like to do the same, all the while knowing that there are grocery stores nearby to rely upon. 

With our homegrown tomatoes I roasted two pans full with a bit of onion and garlic, some fresh thyme and rosemary and a hefty drizzle of olive oil, for an hour or two at 400 degrees. The time really depends on the juiciness of the tomatoes. I let them cool, then blitzed them in the food processor until a chunky sauce formed. They went into the freezer in mason jars. 

Dinner the other night included more tomatoes - this recipe for Crispy Baked Tomatoes has become a favourite. With green beans from the garden and freshly made applesauce along with Mennonite Farmer's Sausage and Rice, it was a delicious homely meal.

While I'm linking to recipes, several people asked for the Date Loaf recipe from a previous post. I've put it up on my recipe blog, so just follow the link. 

I've been doing some garden trimming and cut back an enormous hydrangea bush. There were some lovely blooms that I hated to throw into the compost, so I put them into a vase on the dining room table. I love the way the colours change from blue to green or pink or pale violet as the seasons advance. 

Today's five photos have sparked another chatty post. I'm looking forward to two days at home after the first full week of teaching. There will be some housework, hopefully time in the garden, and relaxation. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend with moments of loveliness. 


  1. I love to put food away in the pantry too. It seems more important this year for some reason. It was a joy to see the hydrangea in all their glory and a I too delight in the change of colours. It would be nice to dry some out and make a nice wreath with them. Hope you have a relaxing weekend.

  2. Unfortunately I don't have enough tomatoes to bottle them for the winter months, but my shelves are groaning with homemade plum jam, and blackberry/apple jam.
    I do feel for the people of Oregon who have lost their homes and all their belongings, it must be so devastating.
    But whatever is all this pollution doing to the atmosphere? It is not so long along that Australia was on fire for weeks on end, and now it is happening in the States.
    2020 will be one of those dates that looms large in our history, but for all the wrong reasons.

  3. My Mom and Grandma would always can food. We had a hall pantry where it was all stored. These fires are just terrible! I feel so bad for everyone that has lost their homes and lives.

  4. Guess what I've discovered, I think, I can speak this comment and it will hold. Lovely food put by, such deep, gorgeous colors. I am glad that you are getting a few extra days to putter about your home and garden. May the skies clear and the sun shine again very soon.

  5. As a child, we had rows and rows of canned goods including homemade jams and sauces in our garage. I was hoping to have a bumper crop of tomatoes but sadly it did not work out. Maybe the fall garden will fare better.

  6. I am from the opposite coast of Canada, Newfoundland, and preserving was a thing there too. I just finished making tomato preserves. I hate can tomatoes. Good traditions!

  7. Our daughter in law is filling her pantry with many canned goods that look more like jarred goods :) Glad you are continuing the art. Lovely photos. Enjoy your two days off.

  8. I thought i recognized the farmer sausage. It is one meat,I most often have in my freezer. Iwill go check out the Date Loaf.It looked and sounded so good.

  9. I love that you do all the canning of your produce. What a treat that must be during the winter months. We have a lot of smoke here. We are hoping for rain tomorrow. I have a friend in Oregon and she said it was raining! She was very happy. Take care, Kit

  10. How interesting to hear about your inspiration for keeping a well filled pantry. The food you grow and prepare always looks so tasty. As one who dropped a hint about the date loaf, thank you so much for sharing your recipe. My husband just walked by and saw your loaves on the screen and said "mmm, that looks good". I will be making the recipe this weekend.

  11. Another lovely visit, Lorrie. Your pantry is stocking up nicely for the winter months. Thanks for the date loaf recipe - I have plans to make it soon. I love how flowers change as they mature (and decline). Hydrangeas do it with real finesse.

    Wishing you a beautiful weekend.
    Brenda xo

  12. Canning was a beautiful part of childhood. The crispy tomatoes look delicious.
    This year, I think more folks will be putting up vegetables and fruit.
    I'm taking parsely indoors this year, maybe sage, and start basil from seed indoors.

  13. Your hydrangeas are in better condition than mine. Still so beautiful.
    I remember my aunts and mother always canned in the summer. I have a bowl of tomatoes right now from the garden and need to do something with them. Salsa is a good idea. Thanks! I was trying to decide which direction to go with them.

  14. Ooh Your photos are beautiful. Your tomatoes look fantastic. Mine did not ripen right. Im deciding what to do with them.

    I love your hydrangeas !!! I think I have some new ones that popped up on the forest floor. I'll check it out with my binoculars before I brave the sticker bushes!

  15. Hydrangeas are my favorite flower and I used to dry them too. Love the salsa you've made and it IS a good feeling to have something stored for the winter...or hard times. I'm showing some of the pages of the old readers today. I know you'll want to come over and play...I mean! Hugs, Diane

  16. Those fires are awful and the smoke bad for lungs. In Finland we don't have fires and the air is clean, we must be grateful. Your pantry looks filled with goodies that are so lovely to take in the winter. My mother made strawberry & apple jam, apple juice etc. I don't do anything of the kind, just rely on grocery stores. Herbs are the only thing I store for winter... Wishing you a pleasant new week.

  17. I am catching up on blog reading this morning so I am arriving after the fact . . . but I am glad to know that the smoke has cleared now. What a relief that must be!

    You have some wonderful jars of garden (and grocery store) bounty laid up for the winter. Hope your weekend was refreshing and lovely!

  18. Lorrie, We had a cold room also just as you describe. A large bin for potatoes and shelves for pickles, jam, jelly, pancake syrup, and a bunch of good stuff. Thanks for sharing. Be safe and well. Sylvia D.

  19. When we lived in Brooklyn, NY, we canned tomatoes ever summer. There was a large wholesale market that sold bulk to grocery stores near us and we'd buy bushels of plum tomatoes. Our children would help us and they have fond memories of it. This year our son grew many vegetables in his garden and he began canning his tomatoes with his children, so it's certainly a nice tradition to hand down and enjoy later.

    We still have wildfire smoke in our skies from the large fires that are burning in Colorado, and I agree my eyes and throat find it so ittitating. We aren't walking too much outside lately because of it. We keep hoping for a good rain to help the fire fighters!

    I did not know you had a separate recipe blog, Lorrie! I will go over and see your date nut bread--it sounds so good

  20. "Red sauce" is good for so many things! I used to make several quarts at a time and keep it in the freezer. Now I buy marinara sauce at Costco! I feel as though I can almost smell that yummy dinner you pictured.

  21. Reading stories of hardship have somehow also made me appreciate things like a hot shower and comforts of home. I enjoy reading how you make the most of your garden.


Thank you for your comment. I read and value each one, cherishing the connections we can make although far apart. Usually, I visit your blog in return, although if you ask a question I try to contact you directly.

A Bit of This and That

  Off in the distance Mount Baker, in the USA, gleams in the sunlight. My best guess is that it's about 100 km away as the crow flies. T...