Late fall means stocking up

Off my big farmhouse kitchen was a large walk-in pantry. The cupboards were set against the north wall. They were wainscoted on the bottom with numerous doors accessing the shelves below. The top doors all were windowed with shelving inside.

There was a flour bin on one end of the bottom cupboard, but I didn’t use it as it was too big. My mother did in her pantry from which she made our homemade bread. I kept my flour in a 30 # cherry tin.

I loved canning and stocked the shelves with tomatoes, peaches, and blackberries. I made crab apple pickles, beet pickles and dill pickles. It was a joy to see the colorful jars of canned pickles and vegetables all lined up through the cupboard windows.

I never learned how to process meats and veggies. They went in a big freezer that sat on the opposite wall, along with strawberries. For canning I used the open kettle method.

Even when we retired in a cottage on Koonz Lake, we walked through a pine grove to a blackberry patch. The picking was never ending. Every morning in August we each took an ice cream pail and filled it in no time with long, plump blackberries. I canned 10 quarts for each of my five kids before we left for Florida. I was in paradise.

The winters on our farm on Dehn’s Hill found us often in blizzard conditions due to the hills being prime for huge drifts. Snow plows didn’t stand a chance getting through the drifts on our road. It took a caterpillar to get through. A four wheel drive vehicle of today would also be incapable of getting out, but they were uncommon back then. So our pantry was more than handy, it was a necessity, especially with a big family to feed.

To make our home cozier for winter, my husband had built a stone fireplace using a chimney that was in that wall in our cozy den. Then he built seating all around the rest of the room which we covered with shag carpeting, like they have in some areas at “The House on the Rock”.

There we sat in our den, shelves stocked in the adjacent pantry, and a roaring fire while the snow blew past our windows. I guess that was paradise too, cozy and prepared—no worries!