My Homemade Pantry Staples
My husband has been making his own sauce, based on time spent with two Italian ladies very dear to him, for over twenty years. We always try to grown enough plum tomatoes (40 plants) every year to can the tomatoes for the sauce.
I use a crockpot version to make mine. We typically make about two batches each week. I incubate mine in a Yogourmet Electric Yogurt Maker, but the ease of use is worth every penny I spent on the machine and spend on the electricity. Same with the crockpot – I no longer worry about burning the milk.
Bread and Baked Goods
I’ve been making my own bread for years, using 50/50 whole wheat and white flour. My favorite way was to mix the dough in my bread machine and then bake it in the convection oven. Now I’m using the mixer and making two loaves every other day. I also like to make the potato bread found in the The Tassajara Recipe Book. My husband and I have fond memories of slices of potato bread with cheddar cheese toasted and served with chicken stew. At this point, we make all our baked goods because I like knowing exactly what goes into the food my children eat.
- Banana Bread
- Bread by Machine and by hand
- Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls
- Dinner Rolls
- Garlic Cheese Biscuits
- Pumpkin Gingerbread
- Sweet Potato Biscuits
It’s even easier to make than yogurt, with no heating or any other electricity required.
our standby version is extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We always have those two in bottles on the counter. From time to time, we’ll make ranch or my mom’s blue cheese dressing.
Roasted Red Peppers and Garlic in Olive Oil
Some folks may not consider this a staple, but it’s a way to get more veggies into a meal. In this case, we usually include this when we have spaghetti and meatballs. When red peppers are on sale for $1.00/lb., I’ll make this up in quart freezer jars and freeze it. It’s even cheaper when we grown our own red peppers.
Since there’s always a piece or two or crusts floating around in the frig from the homemade bread, we grind up the pieces into bread crumbs which usually go into meatloaf, meatballs, or on chicken nuggets.
Pancakes and Waffles
With five kids, it’s just easier and more economical to make double batches every week or so. Right now I’m making pumpkin pancakes as a way to include more veggies in our diet.
We grow our own cucumbers – usually about 3 plants. Even just one plant will provide a lot of cucumbers, but I like to grow extra in case of weather issues like drought or too much rain. Most of my pickle recipes come from Summer in a Jar, which has a lot of one jar recipes. My husband uses the quick dills on his sandwiches and I like to make the bread and butter pickles for parties and as gifts. I also like to make relishes with the larger pickling cucumbers and baseball bat-sized zucchini.
We grow broccoli, peppers, zucchini, carrots, onions, beans, snap peas, and cauliflower along with other veggies. Every summer, I steam and freeze quart bags of various vegetable mixes to use as short cuts at dinner time or in soups and stews.
Red pepper flakes
Every year, after much searching, I put in a few cayenne pepper plants for my husband who loves the cayenne pepper flakes sprinkled on his spaghetti. One plant would be enough for most people. I dehydrate mine, but it’s easy to string up the pods and dry them in a garage or attic.
I always make batches of granola in the winter. Right now, I’ve been making soaked granola which requires just an additional step. Even though I prefer hot oatmeal, some mornings soaked granola saves me time and effort.
Jams and Jellies
We grown raspberries and grapes in our yard. Each year at harvest time, I freeze the fruit to steam juice later and then turn into jelly. For our strawberry lover, we go strawberry picking in June and I turn the strawberries into pints of jam for the winter. Next year our peach tree should have enough fruit for a batch of jam and in another year or so, our new plum tree may be producing enough for jam.
I still make this from time to time with organic sugar when we’re out of maple syrup. When my maple flavoring is gone from the cupboard, this will be off my list.
With so many vegetables being grown outside or simply being used in our kitchen, it’s very easy to make a meat stock chock full of nutrition. I prefer to pressure can my stock since space is at a premium in my freezer.
I go back and forth on making this staple. Except for when I can get apples at $.50/lb., it’s usually cheaper and easier to buy organic applesauce. Thanks to the bushels of apple seconds that I picked up at Linvilla Orchard this fall, I now have a large stock of homemade applesauce on hand. I don’t peel the apples, despite my kids’ protests, and I found that the food processor provides the right texture for the sauce.
What I don’t make
Ketchup – I haven’t found a recipe that my kids like so I buy organic ketchup from Trader Joe’s. The organic version doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup.
Sourdough recipes – my kids aren’t keen on the taste. I haven’t given up yet, but it’s not a priority for me.