This week, I checked my calendar and as of today, 9-20-23, we are only three days away from the beginning of fall! The weather is a little bit cooler, and I can tell the days are already becoming a little shorter, and gosh, Christmas mania is beginning in the stores. As I mentioned last week, Hobby Lobby had lots and lots of Christmas décor displayed and it’s beginning to show up in other stores as well.
My week was fairly quiet again, and on Saturday, I had some relatives in from out of town. Since they had never gotten to be with my sister very much, we called and invited her to go to lunch with us; I had bragged on our local hamburger place and they wanted to try it, but, due to some street festivities that evening, it was closed, so we had to use plan “B”! Our choice was good, and we really enjoyed our lunch, and, yes, we still had ‘burgers. After lunch, they wanted to do some sightseeing, so we checked out our church, which my guest hadn’t been in since she was a child. She had brought flowers with her, so, we then went to the cemetery where her grandparents are buried, and then checked out a few other things they wanted to see. It was truly a fun day as it always is when they come in.
Did you know it is helpful to store cornmeal, flour, pasta and rice in the freezer for at least several days as freezing kills the germ that causes weevils to destroy your pantry and everything in it? Also, a couple of bay leaves in any of these items, once you put them in your pantry, will help keep weevils out.
Here are a few tips on how to be sure the food you are buying is fresh and the proper length of time to store various foods in your pantry: First and foremost, when buying canned foods, be sure you do not purchase any cans that are bulged or badly dented and make sure they are not past the expiration date printed on the bottom of the can. If you purchase food packed in glass jars, check the expiration date, usually found either on the rim of the lid or on the jar itself.
Baking powder and baking soda will keep for 18 months and needs to be kept in an airtight container after opening. I store baking soda in a glass jar with the label taped to the outside of the jar, but baking powder can be kept in the can in which it is purchased, however, I have found over time that storing baking powder upside down on the shelf and to shake the contents before using. This is something Mother taught me that they did in the school lunchrooms where she worked. It truly seems to help.
Cake mixes have a shelf life of one year, as do bouillon cubes and granules, baking chocolate, coconut, pudding mixes, dried herbs, jams and jellies, olive oil, vegetable oil and most syrups. Honey does not truly have an expiration date. If it turns to sugar, you simply place it in a pot of hot water and simmer until it liquefies. Molasses usually has a shelf life of two years or more.
All-purpose flour has a shelf life of 15 months, but keeping it in the freezer lengthens this and whole wheat flour keeps for 6 months, but again keeping it in the freezer lengthens this, also, it should be stored either in the fridge or freezer in really hot weather. Check the date on any boxed baking mix and try to use them before the expiration date. If you use them after this date, they may not rise, as they should.
Granulated sugar will keep for two years or more and still be good.
White rice is almost the only food with an indefinite shelf life as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. However, I have had a couple of occasions where weevils were in my rice and it had to be tossed.
Commercial salad dressings need to be refrigerated after opening and can be used safely for about six months or until the expiration date on the bottle. (“Use by” date not necessarily “best by” date.) This is another item where it is best to check the date before purchasing. I have purchased pourable dressings only to get them home and find they were expired for months but hadn’t been removed from the shelves. This probably happens more frequently in small towns than it does in large cities, but it can happen anywhere!
Here is a simple, no-bake snack bar.
1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
1½ cups crunchy peanut butter
12-oz package chocolate chips
1 box Crispix® cereal*
1 box (1-lb) powdered sugar
Place cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Melt margarine, peanut butter and chips together; pour over cereal to coat well. Allow to cool in bowl for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour cereal into a large brown paper bag, or, if your bowl is large enough and has a tight-fitting lid, add the powdered sugar, cover and shake to coat all pieces well. Remove from bag or bowl into a clean container and it’s ready to serve. *Bite-sized shredded wheat or any Chex® brand cereal; can be used, either alone or in combination.
Almond Bark Clusters
½ lb. white or dark almond bark
½ cup broken pretzels
½ cup nuts (peanuts or pecans, chopped, I used peanuts, whole
½ cup Rice Krispies®
½ cup mini marshmallows
Melt almond bark in a large glass dish in the microwave, in 15 second increments until melted. Mix in pretzels, nuts and Rice Krispies®, mix together to coat. Add marshmallows drop on wax paper or parchment by teaspoonful, cool, store in airtight container.