Tuesday Get an (Eco) Peek!

Hey y’all! OK next up on the Eco Peek into my world is all about FOOD!

Because “Kitchen” is such a monstrously huge category (for me at least!), I thought I’d start with food storage, and next week I’ll show my actual kitchen with details on appliances, what I like to cook with, what I serve food in/on, all that good stuff. And then after that of course, we’ll meander outside to the garden ๐Ÿ™‚

As you look at these snapshots, you’ll definitely notice two patterns. 1) I love buying in bulk, and 2) I love storing everything in glass containers! Not only is glass of course way more eco-friendly than tupperware, it’s prettier as well. And I could go on for DAYS about the awesomeness of buying from the bulk aisle – it’s not only WAY cheaper than buying the same product in packaged form, but you can buy exactly how much you need, AND – you guessed it – can store them in pretty containers for easy locating in the kitchen!

Spice World…

First, I’m a bit in love with my spice jars, which I bought at World Market when I first bought my house. (btw they’re on sale, 6 for $4.44, right now!). I get all my spices in the bulk aisle (nearly all organic), which allows me to afford WAY more variety than if I was buying prepackaged stuff – that also doesn’t match! Seriously, you can spend $9 on a brand name jar of conventional paprika OR go to the bulk aisle at Fred Meyer or Whole Foods or New Seasons and get the same amount, usually organic, for a tenth of that price. Not a tough decision IMHO…and I bring the jars to the store so there are no plastic bags involved and I get the right measurement.

The picture on the left is my awesome built-in spice rack in my kitchen. It appears to have once been an old ironing board closet, and when I moved in, there were a couple shelves in there, so I cut and installed more, and it became Spicelandia! Funny today I checked online and I’m definitely not the only one who’s done that! Ironically when I was in my 20’s living in Seattle, my old apartment in Capitol Hill had one that still included the iron – which back then when I had a fancier work wardrobe (i.e. not yoga pants and a tee) I actually used for ironing – and as a secondary bar during my infamous annual Winter Solstice cocktail parties ๐Ÿ™‚

The Pantry

After one too many ant invasions in the early days, I decided to put a lot of my kitchen stuff in the hall closet adjacent to the kitchen, and voila – it’s now referred to as the pantry.

Pantry1

Top Shelf: These are our small appliances – a hand-me-down crockpot (guess what era from the mustard color!), my food processor (I love it, as it’s one step up from a mini but not massive like the regular ones you see – perfect for making pesto, crushing almonds into meal, etc.), coffee grinder for the husband, immersion blender (never knew why folks had these…til I got one myself…hello soups & sauces!), hand mixer (only the 2nd one I’ve ever owned – just got this after the last one pooped out after 20+ years, not bad eh!), and hidden behind this, a smoothie maker that we use obsessively in summertime.

Pantry2

2nd Shelf: This is the “most of this is never going to be pretty enough to display on open shelving” food, i.e., the specialty oils and two spices I can’t find in the bulk aisle, a few bulk items that I didn’t have enough room for on the kitchen shelf, veggie dog treats (bought in the bulk aisle, woo hoo! SO much cheaper for my Ruby!), etc.

Pantry3

Shelf #3: Random small stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else. As you can see, this coconut milk is the only thing we have that comes in an actual can anymore, used for the occasional butter chicken or curry recipe. Other than that, we try to stick to glass jars for everything with that option. My husband loves coconut oil both for cooking and for his dry skin, and working at his store he gets to bring home the occasional scratch ‘n’ dent treat which most recently was this fair-trade organic coffee by Ethical Bean. YUM! And yes, off to the left is my hoarding of Prana Chai‘s Masala blend from my husband’s hometown of St Kilda in Australia. I drink this at least 2-3 times a week, it’s heaven…

Pantry4

Shelf #4: Now none of this is edible of course, but I wanted to show this anyhow, as we realized that we just don’t have a whole lot of “linens” for what used to be a linen closet! We have 4 bath towels and a few hand towels, and one set of sheets for our king size bed we upgraded to this year (our queen size sheets became useless, so were relegated to the guest bedroom downstairs). Just don’t feel the need to have more stuff than this while it’s still just the two of us. I have a little cart in the kitchen that holds dishtowels and cloth napkins, so otherwise, this bottom shelf is now used to house a few large vases, my DEIVF meds, and travel bags for toiletries when flying!

Keeping it Accessible

On the left are items on a wall shelf right by the stove which I love, and it’s where we keep our oils (organic grapeseed, olive and sesame oils – the first two we buy in the bulk aisle – plus truffle oil my husband brought home that I swear will take sixty years to finish up), S&P, and honey/chai for me. We get our honey in bulk along, but with our foray into beekeeping this year, hopefully this will be coming from the backyard by fall!

On the right is a drawer of smaller bulk items (baking ingredients, coffee & tea, mega amounts of spices for when a little spice jar just won’t do) that are all in these Crate & Barrel glass storage bowls. I don’t care for the plastic lids, but I can label them all easily and not having them stacked makes things pretty easy to spot when cooking.

Open Shelving for the Prettier Stuff

cupboards

(Not the most glamorous shot but the only angle I could get both the top shelf and the lower canister shelves shown.)

A few years ago, I decided that since I couldn’t afford to remodel my kitchen, but loved open shelving soooo much, that I’d take off the doors to my kitchen cupboards. First, back in 2012, I took off the doors just to the one main cupboard (space is at a premium in small kitchens in old houses, as many of us know!), and painted the shelves and gnarly back wall inside for effect). This allowed me to have somewhat open shelving where I put my primary dry goods (rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal, nuts, quinoa, flour, sugar, salt, etc.) in glass containers I bought at Ikea for a very reasonable price, along with basic dishes.

Then last year, my husband took on the task of removing the upper mini-cupboard doors (which a) always drove me crazy because they lifted up, and b) because they had doors on them they always stored things I forgot about and never used…the bane of minimalism LOL!)ย  so that I could put all of our items I’d canned up there. Previously I’d jammed my canning anywhere I could find room – stacking them awkwardly in the pantry, tossing a bunch in the basement, etc. – so to have these all nearby, pretty, and a constant ‘inventory reminder’? LOVE it. And yes I climbed up onto the counter to paint the gray on the back wall sections of each of them too…never wanna do that again!

What do I can, you ask?

  • Peaches and Pears picked at Sauvie Island Farms
  • Tomatoes and Marinara with the tomatoes and onions from our garden
  • Sweet relish made with the cukes/onions/peppers from our garden
  • Marionberry, strawberry and blueberry jams from fruit we’ve picked (hoping this year a couple of our bushes will survive the birds with the netting I’ve got up!)
  • Pickled red onions
  • Sweet & dill pickles
  • Chunky applesauce
  • Onion apple ale relish (my new favorite thing in the whole world)
  • Peach salsa with the tomatoes, onions and peppers from our garden
  • Serrano pepper jelly (best thing ever on cornbread!)
  • Hot sauce (tried for the first time this year with our serranos, jalapenos and habaneros – LOVE!)

And Now The One Area I Didn’t Tidy Up Before Photographing…

Yep, the fridge. We all want to peek inside people’s fridges, so here’s a peek inside ours, which right now is in a very happy place – preparing to make some chicken & pear turnovers tonight, thawing out a salmon filet from our annual Iliamna Fish Co share, a bottle of local Pinot Grigio to raise a glass tonight before going alcohol free for the transfer and 2WW period (and hopefully longer………), prepped veggies, lots of items I’ve canned (sweet relish, pickles, onions, jams, etc), and as usual, a few bulk items (ACV and soy sauce – love that New Seasons has these in bulk!).

Not shown – we do have a half-size chest freezer in the basement where we keep our aforementioned salmon (we buy 20ish pounds each summer), along withย  quart jars of frozen blueberries we picked last summer, shredded zucchini and sliced okra for the dog (who are we kidding, we are not ever going to eat THAT much of either – but Ruby loves it!, frozen loaves of zucchini bread (which btw we recently repurposed into french toast a few weeks ago -nice!), a few bags of tomatoes that I froze when I got tired of making sauce (which actually is a great thing, as when you thaw them out, the skins slip right off – great for last minute recipes requiring whole tomatoes!ย 

So there you have it! How and where we keep food in our li’l casa! Ideas? Suggestions? Questions? Tips that have helped you maximize space while remaining simple and eco? Bring ’em on!!

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
~Lewis Grizzard

  One thought on “Tuesday Get an (Eco) Peek!

  1. April 5, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    I LOVE your open shelves and jars and am very envious of the variety of things you have canned. Last summer was my first time to can and I’m looking forward to putting up more this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks! Canning definitely gets addictive! My big thing this year is to make less jam! I end up giving half of it away, as it’s easy to go overboard ๐Ÿ™‚ Turns out I get much more out of canning savory things…which means I need to learn to pressure can as I’d love to start making/canning soups!

      Like

  2. April 6, 2016 at 4:55 am

    You have to teach me canning!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ash
    April 6, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    You are a goddess. A canning goddess. Seriously I’m in awe & so very impressed with your Eco kitchen! It is so fun to see other people’s kitchens isn’t it?! Thanks for letting us take a peek. I’ve got the day off work today and I think you’ve just given me the motivation I needed to do some reorganisation in this currently rather chaotic house!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. April 7, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Someday, when I grow up, I will have a kitchen like yours, where I cook lovely organic things and buy in bulk and grow delicious fresh vegetables and don’t cave in to the allure and laziness of processed food nonsense. Sigh ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 7, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      Haha I wish I could say I didn’t cave in to processed foods! Mmm, bacon…

      Liked by 1 person

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