The pantry purge

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

This week’s “spring cleaning” job was to tackle the pantry. My husband, Neville, and I aren’t fans of pantry purging but will occasionally set a time to work together to get it done.


We always have the same arguments about what to keep and what to throw away. Food items usually aren’t a problem as anything past its expiration date is a given goner. It hasn’t been four years since the last pantry purge, yet this spring’s winner was a two-pound bag of all-purpose flour that was best if used by January 2015.

Anything from a fad diet is always a consensus item as well, as long as the “told you” lecture is skipped. We have learned to laugh at the “collection” items that we have because we forgot to check before shopping. This spring we found six bottles of garlic powder, five cans of Pam spray and four unopened bags of powdered sugar.

We don’t even count the tea bags. I love hot tea but now primarily use my Keurig. Through the years, however, I have amassed enough flavors and varieties of tea to open my own shop. I did notice, too late, that Neville had pitched my can of loose tea from London that he bought me at Harrods sometime before 2001.

I could make a lot of room in the pantry if I spent about a week baking. I have two Ziploc bags of sprinkles, three bags (unexpired) of flour, the aforementioned powdered sugar, three cans of Hershey’s cocoa, two containers of hazelnuts, three bags of pecans, two bags of chocolate chips, four bars of unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate, three rolls of parchment paper and a partridge in a pear tree.

The arguments come from the non-food items that also live in our pantry. I usually win because I have more staying power, but I’m sure Neville has tried six or seven times to throw away the Christmas tins that I swear every year I am going to use to bake cookies (see list above) for the neighbors. He keeps trying to give away the electric crepe maker that has been used only once and some kind of sandwich grill that one of the boys left here (that we can’t find the cord for). I also stand firm on my tin full of candy molds. I’m quite sure someday I again will make little chocolate flowers and ghosts on a stick. Never mind that they cost me three times what I could buy them for at Bradley’s …

The pantry is looking pretty organized once again, though not as empty as Neville had envisioned it. In the spirit of cooperation, I am thinking that fall would be a good time to do some baking, make some candy and have a real tea party.

Hey, it could happen …

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