For those of you not from ’round here’ before I tell you about our Winter pantry, I should probably start by explaining something about Winter in the South. It’s all based on a propensity of false hope. While I’d say we Southerners are regularly a pretty cynical people, when it comes to the weather we tend to be unusually optimistic. We dream of a White Christmas, which usually turns into a January and February full of grey, rainy days. People say “snow day,” and we’re all like…
But the next day…
So you can imagine our shock when this happened…
This time, the forecast was actually right! Sleet and freezing rain left everything enveloped in a shimmering armor of ice, which I like to call nature’s winter glitter. Hardly any snow to speak of until this morning, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Anyway, the most comical thing about winter weather in the south is really how Southerners choose to prepare themselves for inclement weather. When snow hit NYC at the end of January, all my New York friends hit the liquor stores. Their pantry may only have had a box of Thin Mints and a pack of Ramen, but you can bet there were a couple bottles of bourbon.
Around here, on the other hand, the stores are emptied of bread and milk. This always baffled me. Somehow we think having the two most perishable items we can buy on hand during an ice storm is going to help. This may be because our pantry and liquor cabinet is always stocked. (After all, we’re Southern. We grow and make our own–click here for our moonshine punch recipe.)
Nevertheless, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share what we keep on hand in the kitchen this time of year, and ask you to do the same. I’m curious how this varies from family to family, region to region.
- We keep a lot of fruits and veggies on hand regardless of the time of year. I recommend always having frozen veggies on hand, but when thinking about fresh stuff this time of year, try to stick to veggies with a longer shelf life. The absolute musts to have on hand are onions, carrots, & lemons because they’re just so versatile. Other favorites for us are squash, apples, and potatoes.
- We always have ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. Always. No exceptions. (This includes the bourbon smoked sea salt to sprinkle on top.)
- Bacon & eggs… obvi.
- Vegetable, chicken, and beef broth are always in our pantry for homemade soups or roasting meats and veggies.
- Garlic is a necessity, and then I try to keep 3 fresh herbs that mix and match well on hand at all times. For instance, before this weather hit, I had gotten parsley, rosemary, and thyme. I can roast veggies and make a nice gremolata. I can make a compound butter. Or I can just throw all 3 in a soup or on the fish.
- Pasta is our version of fast food. Lately, we’ve been especially hooked on this recipe for Cacio e Pepe (Thanks, Smiths!).
So that’s our list, what about yours?