Prepping your Pantry
Your first Stone Hollow Farmstead CSA delivery is days away! We are hard at work at the farm, ensuring we surprise and delight you each week.
Here are some suggestions to get prepared for what is to come.
Prep your pantry
Spices, cooking oils and nuts will not enhance your recipes when they are old. Discard dry spices more than six months old, toss nuts whose oils may have gone rancid, don’t store your vegetable cooking oils like olive, grapeseed, etc. in an area where the temp gets hot! They develop off flavors and will definitely come through in your recipes. Six months is a good shelf life for these three items.
Toss anything stale in your pantry. Emptying your refrigerator and wiping down the shelves and drawers with a non-toxic cleaner prevents fresh foods from taking on an “off flavor."
Stock your Pantry
Now that the slate is clean, let’s talk about the kinds of things you want to have on hand when your CSA arrives. These are the staples that make meals come together in a flash, when you have gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm.
Whole grains - keep a variety like quinoa, farro, and bulgur. Buy in bulk to save money and store in airtight containers away from direct sunlight to maintain freshness.
Pasta – luckily we have an Italian with somewhat of a strong opinion on pasta on our team. Many of you know Michael, but if not you will meet him soon. We love all kinds but tend to buy unusual shapes or flat pappardelle and linguine. These look so pretty on a plate, and the inconsistencies of unusual shapes like cavatelli or gemelli provide a nice mouthfeel and bite. Not all pastas are cut from the same dough -- If you're making a traditional dish, there is an appropriate pasta for it. Those with nooks and crannies hold thick sauces loaded with small pieces of meat or veggies. Light sauces or those with larger ingredients like asparagus pair well with long and smooth pastas. This rule is not an absolute. Broccoli rabe belongs over the small, concave orrechiette, and Bolognese over tagliatelle or even a penne or rigatoni (American traditions notwithstanding).
Lentils – these pair well with a range of fresh vegetables and can add variety to your weeknight dinner. Red or orange have a short cook time but turn mushy quickly, so are better suited for casseroles, or to thicken soups and purees. The greens and blacks (like Puy or beluga) hold their shape and texture well but take longer to cook. They're the best for salads and are most appropriate when you want more of a firm bean texture in your soups or stews.
Dry spices – it is true that these need to be used or replaced within six months of purchase. Toasting dry spices in a skillet will release their oils and up their wow-factor. We recommend Penzeys Spices for a fresh, large selection. This spring, try adding ethnic varieties of your typical spices – Aleppo pepper, Vietnamese cinnamon or Spanish smoked paprika.
Acids, Oils and Condiments
Citrus – lemons and limes add the perfect acid to balance and enhance anything from salads and sautéed greens to marinades for grilled meat and veggies. Try subbing Meyer lemons in your favorite recipes for a sweet acid that has no equal.
Really good olive oil – once you taste the good stuff, it is hard to go back to the pallid kind without much flavor. Our favorite is from a local neighbor to The Pantry whose olive vineyards at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, California produce this artisan oil. Ask for a taste test when you're in.
Vinegars – a little goes a long way with these enhancers. Some of our favorites are champagne vinegar and sherry vinegar, which brighten up any homemade salad dressing. At The Pantry, you will find many infused herbal vinegars.
Gochujang – this Korean chili sauce is so versatile. You’ll find yourself inventing ways to add it to dishes to get more of that zip.
Harissa - this milder chili paste has Tunisian origins, and a tablespoon or two adds a complex smoky flavor to anything from roasted root vegetables to grilled chicken thighs.
Butter – for baking flaky crusts (apple galette anyone?) or finishing a sauce, there is no substitute for good butter. You will be receiving farm fresh butter from Wright Dairy in your first bag, but having extra kept in the freezer never hurts.
Plain yogurt – not just for your morning smoothies, yogurt is great for marinating and tenderizing certain cuts of meat or serving as the base for a zesty vegetable dip. We prefer full fat over the chalky low-fat options out there. You will be getting this with the first CSA (and those who add-on the Cheese and Yogurt share will receive it regularly)!
Nuts – storing nuts in airtight zip-top bags in your freezer will keep them fresher longer. So those pine nuts you buy now will still be perfect for this summer’s pesto-making.
Peeler, zester, microplane, and a magnificent grater
Salad cruet - helps speed up making and serving salad dressing.
Mini-chopper – for those small batches of pesto, salad dressing, marinades, compound butter, etc.
Mandoline slicer - keep your veggies consistently cut; comes in handy when you're making pretty salads and gratins.
Cast Iron Skillet (we have them available at The Pantry and will gladly season them for you at the farm). Our favorite is made of high-quality materials in the USA and is very reasonably priced! You can’t go wrong with Lodge.
Chefs Knife (we are happy to order our favorite if you don’t have one you love) and knife sharpener
Cutting Board – if you want a beautiful wooden board, made locally, we recommend checking out Pepper Place on Saturday mornings. Consider having some plastic ones on hand that can be put through the dishwasher for use with raw meat and poultry.