Getting ready for the holidays: Stocking the pantry
Pine Street Market bacon
For me, one of the great pleasures of the holiday season is stocking the larder. My house is full of people, and I want to be ready for meals that range from elaborate to impromptu. When someone opens the refrigerator at 11 p.m. looking for a little snack’ums, I don’t want them to settle for a Kraft Single and an open can of flat ginger ale. I want them to find a bottle of champagne (”Sure, open it!”), English toffee, smoked salmon and fantastic salami.
Here is my shopping list for the holidays:
- A mixed case of wine: Half of it champagne, half of it better-than-everyday but not-good-enough-for-the-cellar reds.
- Offbeat snack items: People snack constantly because they all have five pounds of winter fat to gain. So be it. That’s why we have crackers. But cheese on those crackers can become such rut over the holidays. I’m all about the weird jars you find in gourmet stores and ethnic markets, such as prepared caponata, Balkan ajvar (pickled eggplant relish) and Bella Cucina artichoke pesto and creamed or pickled herring. I’ll also pick up refrigerated pâtés and smoked trout, as well as some frozen doodads like mini quiches. And after living the past 12 years in the South, I know you don’t go into the holiday season without a block of cream cheese and a jar of pepper jelly.
- Smoked and cured meats: As soon as I file this post, I’m off to the excellent Pine Street Market in Avondale Estates to pick up four pounds of their amazing applewood-smoked bacon as well as some herbes de Provence-scented salami.
- Ingredients for sugary cooking projects: At least one batch of English toffee and one of butter tarts will happen before the year is out. When it happens depends on a lot of overlapping schedules, so I’ll have the ingredients ready to go.
- Holiday pantry staples: These are not the same as non-holiday staples. They include heavy whipping cream, buttermilk, best-quality cocoa, marshmallows, and an inexhaustible supply of White Lily cornbread mix. Among other things…
- The mail-order splurge: Once a year, we write away to D’Artagnan for a whole lobe of foie gras. I can usually find a nice vendange tardive Alsatian wine that I’ve socked away in the basement to go with.
- Hunk of beast: Usually a leg of lamb, but sometimes a standing rib roast. It never quite seems like Christmas without one big, bloody thing served on one day during the week. (Oh, right, need mint jelly…)
- Sister Schubert’s rolls: I will certainly make dinner rolls at least once over the holidays. But for those other cold nights when people always seem to want bread with their meals, it’s Sister to the rescue.
Did I miss anything?