In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

How to Stock a Pantry: the first in a series

Between the earthquake, hurricane, tornadoes, and epic flooding, clearly end times are upon us. This is a good time to stock the pantry, because when zombie hordes are in the streets, you won't want to have to run outside for baking powder.

It is my strong opinion you should buy lots of mason jars with tight fitting lids. They look nice, and they keep out pantry moths which are a living HELL.

So first: How to Stock a Pantry for Baking

Here's what you need. If you have all this in the pantry, plus some butter and eggs and maybe milk and heavy cream, there's almost nothing you won't be able to make at a drop of a hat (or zombie attack to distract you lululu).

  • flour (large bags, in a large crock with a tight fitting lid that is big enough to dip your baking cup into)

  • whole wheat flour

  • baking powder

  • baking soda

  • yeast (envelopes are convenient. you can get a jar to keep in the fridge)

  • corn starch (you can use this to make your flour into cake flour. Google it)

  • sugar (extra points if you get organic cane)

  • light brown sugar. dark too if you're felling fancy

  • powdered sugar

  • sanding sugar (the large crunchy kind, perfect for Naked Scones)

  • honey (for bread and granola bars)

  • corn syrup (for pecan pumpkin pie and spiced nuts)

  • molasses (NOT blackstrap)

  • salt (kosher or sea, fine grain)

  • salt (sea, large crystal)

  • cocoa powder (dutch process and the other kind, if you are particular. I don't really notice a difference)

  • good vanilla

  • vanilla beans (for fancy times)

  • almond extract

  • rose water (nice to have! and keeps for ages. ditto orange water)

  • baking chocolate squares -- a must for homemade brownies

  • oatmeal

  • dried cranberries

  • walnuts

  • pecans

  • sliced and or slivered almonds

  • oooh, almond meal

  • chocolate chips

  • raisins

  • currants

  • ginger

  • allspice

  • fresh nutmeg (ie, the nutmegs themselves and a grater)

  • cinnamon

  • cardamom

  • cream of tartar in case you make snickerdoodles, about the only possible use you could have for it. that and a souffle.

what am I missing?

next: a dinner pantry

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