But this month, Dom over at Belleau Kitchen really caught my attention. He's challenged us to 'dare to bare' what we hide inside our larders and food cupboards! I am innately nosey, so I LOVE the idea of being able to check out what is behind the doors of other people's cupboards................ What unusual and exciting ingredients lurk in amongst their boxes, jars, tins and packets? How do they organize this most important of closets? What tricks, shortcuts and inspiration will I glean from inside those foodie storage spaces?
It will be fascinating to compare one larder to another at the end of the challenge............... What will each say about the personality and life-style of the individual cooks who keep them?
Actually...... this is beginning to sound a little scary................. What will my larder say about me?
I figured there may not be too many gluten free larders being exposed out there, so I have decided to take the risky leap of sharing mine with the world. I do this partly because if someone had told me how much my larder would change when my daughter was diagnosed Coeliac, I would have dismissed them as a bit bonkers.............. How many flours? Really? I am still amazed every time I open the door!
Well............. here's the reality............... My larder has been taken over by tub after tub of gluten free flours and grains (22 at the last count), each kept regularly topped up and labelled so that I am not totally confused! Sure........ I could just buy a bag of commercially-blended gluten free flour, but in my experience, they just don't do the same thing. Wheat flour seems to lend itself to baking pretty much anything, but the properties of the many and varied gluten free flours mean that you need to combine them with what often feels like scientific precision to get the right qualities for the bake you ultimately want to achieve.
I have explored the various qualities of gluten free flours and grains previously in this post, but I do plan to update it in the new year with the latest additions to the line up. One of the delights of gluten free baking is the frequent discovery that there is yet another different flour you've never heard of before, just waiting to play and experiment with.
Apart from the required obsession with flour, my larder also contains a fairly typical array of tins and jars.......... I confess I am not one for spending hours cooking dried beans, when I can get them ready out of a tin, so I always keep a selection handy (kidney, butter, cannellini, borlotti, etc) to add to chilli, stews, soups and salads. Always always I have tinned tomatoes and for quick meals when there's no time for anything other than baked potatoes, there's a hoard of tuna, baked beans and the usual fayre to throw on the top.
Jars mostly contain spreads and jams, but honey is essential to lots of my recipes as are a variety of vinegars, oils and spices. There is, I confess, an occasional jar of ready-made curry sauce for a quick meal as well as pots of custard and stuff for my daughter.
On the top shelf, I keep a selection of nuts, seeds, rices, noodles and pasta (all gluten free), as well as a box for dried yeast and miscellaneous baking ingredients such as geletine.
I always hide a stash of chocolate bars (white, plain and milk) that I try to save (not always successfully) for cooking, in the space under the tin shelf and I also keep a tub of gluten free oat and nut breakfast bars for those mornings when I have no time to sit down, but know I will need to eat somewhere between leaving the house and getting to work..........
This is actually beginning to sound more organised than I thought! Here's a bit more in pictures......
gluten free crackers, oat cakes, bread sticks and bits......
Our last remaining squashes and some onions from the garden........ Aaahhhh........... reminders of summer!
Because I now have so many flours to accommodate, I have commandeered a separate cupboard to store my ever growing selection of sugars, other baking ingredients, freeze-dried fruit and collection of cake decorations (glitters, sprinkles, etc). The bottom shelf looks like it needs a bit of a sort through! I love to experiment using freeze dried fruit so buy it in larger quantities and store it in air-tight containers. And there are so many amazingly pretty, irresistible sprinkles out there I think I may be developing an addiction to buying them!
So there you go........... I have dared to bare my gluten free larder................ A strange and exposing process, I am unsure how I feel now that I have done it, but I hope it has been at least a little bit interesting to those of you intrigued enough to take a peek!
Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated