Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Pantry

I am happy to report that I am continuing to improve! I have been able to start walking around some and am trying to build up stamina. Just last evening, Michael kindly drove to the library and brought home a stack of nine books I had requested. Among them was this delightful new book called "The Pantry -- It's History and Modern Uses" by Catherine Seiberling Pond. I must highly recommend it!

The Pantry is filled with beautiful pictures, delightful quotes, and informative and interesting text. I see that the author has written for Victoria in the past, and this book is like an extended article from Victoria. I've gleaned several ideas for my own pantries and can't wait for energy to make them a reality.

I think my earliest "pantry" memory is from when I was about 3 or maybe 4. At the time, we lived in rural Vermont. My mother was friends with an old lady named Bertha, an aged spinster who lived in a very old house at the bottom of a hill, just outside the village.

I remember Bertha going into her pantry when we visited, to bring out some ritz crackers as a treat for me. Her pantry was a room just behind the kitchen, with its entrance door to the right side of the big wood stove. The door was painted and I have this memory of seeing inside as the door opened -- painted shelves and a countertop, at least around half of the square little room, if not all the way around.

The pantry, shut off from the rest of the house, was cold. And then there was this distinctive smell that permeated the air. I can't quite figure out how to describe it. Was it the smell of stale crackers? Or maybe of lard from the making of pie crusts? It is categorized in my mind as the "smell of an old ladie's pantry."

This was the room in which Bertha must have made the apple pies that she then gave to my parents. These pies were made with lard, baked in her wood stove, and delivered with pride to my mother's doorstep. The memory of these pies always made my Dad chuckle. "They were made with rancid lard," he would say, "and tasted of wood smoke. There was no way we could manage to eat them and we had to discreetly dispose of them."

Bertha was a dear, and I shall always remember the ritz crackers from her pantry (which I did eat and enjoy).

PS: I received some lovely comments from Jenny, and I'm not sure how to write directly to you, but thank you for commenting.


Catherine said...

Heather, What a marvelous blog you have and I LOVE its name. I look forward to exploring it more thoroughly. I can't thank you enough for your kind words about my book, THE PANTRY, and for sharing your own pantry memories. You have described that certain pantry smell better than I could have done! The book is appealing to many people, like yourself, who have fond pantry memories of their own. Thank you for sharing them.

All best, Catherine Seiberling Pond

Anonymous said...

H -- I saw this book in a cooking shop in Michigan and I can't wait to read it! Thanks for the review! Now I know I have to get it! =)

Anonymous said...

Heather, I was so blessed by reading through your blog! I enjoyed everything you wrote; the pictures are beautiful (especially your Mom's lovely flowers!); and the food, well, the food just looks and sounds delicious -- but then, I know from experience that everything you make is delicious! Thank you for introducing me to the blogsite. How exciting to hear from the author of the Pantry book you reviewed! I never heard of a book about pantries; my own is so closet-like. Not much personality to it, nor anything to build fond memories. I love that it holds so much, but perhaps I'd better look for that book to see what's missing from my pantry.

Looking forward to following Blackberry Rambles.

Laura said...

HI Heather.... I just loved your thoughts on Bertha's pantry... brought back such sweet memories of Vermont.... such little moments can be so special in our memories, that was a lovely time in our life... yet now is just as lovely :)... I thought the picture on the top of your blog was your panttry and you had fixed it all up :) ... keep writing down these treasures you remember... we are enjoying them so much :)..I am so proud of you!!!
love you a ton
mom :)