Organizing and maintaining the pantry in our basement is one of my favorite and most rewarding tasks. Last year I finally arranged our canning shelves so all five of them were in the same area and the shelves for bulk purchases were grouped together just a few feet away. Being able to fit everything in one area helps me better keep track of everything I stock so I don’t run out of anything or buy things I already have on hand.
Once the grunt of my canning for 2014 was done, I began researching all the types of mixes-in-jars I could make and store in the pantry. My research yielded me hundreds of mixes to try, but without a test run, I did not want to just start filling jars with mixes the family might not like or I wouldn’t use. So began my venture into mixes-in-jars test kitchen trials.
By the time I had tried seven mix recipes I found five of them “shelf-worthy.” The other two were okay, but not something I would necessarily want to make again or want to waste shelf space on. Being a fairly high percentage, and with many more to try, I figured I’d better decide where these mixes were going to be stored.
The canning shelves are full from last summer and fall’s canning. Although we go through a minimum of six to 12 jars a week, I have been restocking the shelves with the winter canning I’ve been busy doing. This leaves no room for mixes on these shelves. The bulk storage area of the pantry is also over-flowing, as I continually restock as I use up the inventory. This meant finding a new area and shelving unit to dedicate to mixes-in-jars. Granted an entire shelving unit dedicated to mixes-in-jars might be in excess, but this would be a good area to also store the flour, sugars, rice, and other staples that I have been sealing in 1/2 gallon canning jars.
Happiness is…an excuse to get a new canning shelving unit and stocking it full of jars!
The last time I ordered a metal canning shelving unit, it was a quick and easy process. One of the home improvement stores nearby had it in stock. Unfortunately when I began looking for these shelving units again a couple of months ago, there were no shelving units to be found locally and the shipping charges nearly doubled the cost. Definitely not something I could afford.
Last night, I once again decided to check with the local home improvement stores in our area for the canning shelving unit I wanted. To my surprise, I found one. It wasn’t at the store, but they did offer free shipping to the store. I ordered it and should have it in a week or two. Christmas is coming early this year!
Isn’t it funny how something like a metal shelving unit can make one’s day. I remember when I was a child, it seemed like I had unlimited wants. I always wanted more toys, more clothes, more friends, more everything. As I’ve gotten older, my wants have become simpler, fewer, and far less frivolous. Having a place to call home, food on the table, my family with me, and our health are more important than any material things. Still, on occasion there are those things that bring added comfort and something as simple as another shelving unit to store the food for me to prepare for my family is one of those things. It absolutely made my day when I hit that “Place Order” button.
Knowing a shelving unit is on the way, I was thrilled to try yet another mixes-in-jars recipe this afternoon. Today’s choice was a chocolate peanut butter cookie. The recipe as written produced a dry dough and the cookies turned out crumbly and not very chocolatey. Thankfully, I only baked a dozen like that. In order to remedy the dough, I tweaked the recipe and ended up with a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, chocolatey cookie — a keeper.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie
The cookie on the left was the original recipe – dry and brittle. The cookie on the right was after I tweaked the recipe — much better.
- 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Espresso Powder or Instant Coffee
- 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
- 1/4 Cup Butter Melted
- 1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 Egg, Slightly Beaten
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine leaving a well in the center. Add softened butter, peanut butter, beaten egg, and vanilla to dry ingredients. Blend with pastry blender, dough will be crumbly. Add melted butter and chocolate chips and mix until dough is smooth. This might be easiest done by hand as the dough is rather stiff.
Shape dough into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Press balls down with fork. Bake in 350 oven for 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet one minute then cool on wire rack.
This recipe yielded 3 1/2 dozen cookies.
To prepare mix for jars, layer dry ingredients in order listed above, packing down firmly as you go. Vacuum seal and attach label that reads:
Empty contents of jar into mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, beaten egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla to dry ingredients. Blend with pastry blender. Add 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips and mix until dough is smooth. Shape dough into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Press balls down with fork. Bake in 350 oven for 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet one minute then cool on wire rack.
Another mix to get ready for the new shelving unit, another recipe trial success, another thing that’s makes me — Simply Grateful.