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 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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.
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
(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!) 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 with 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!
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.”