Stocking The Pantry For A Weekender

The shed skin of our diamond python visitor (c) A. Harrison
The shed skin of our diamond python visitor (c) A. Harrison
Our weekender dwarfed by the bush (c) A. Harrison
Our weekender dwarfed by the bush (c) A. Harrison

Tips From A Small Pantry

One of the best things about a weekender is arriving late on a Friday, sitting on the veranda with a glass of bubbles in hand, and watching the late afternoon light play across the hills. Surrounded by 100 acres of Australian bush, with neither phone nor television to disturb, and the electricity occasionally taken out by a passing kangaroo, it's the perfect place to escape and recharge the soul.

Part of that serenity comes from not stressing about cooking. Simplicity is always best. With the place being only an hour from home, bringing fresh food is not a problem, plus local fruit and veggie stalls line the way. We're lucky enough to have the Great Northern Trading Post five minutes away (complete with the oldest continual liquor licence in the colony outside of Sydney), which serves the liked of grilled spatchcock or steak with pommes frites, yet it takes little effort to have the makings of meals for every time of day.

My pantry consists of a one small cupboard and a plastic tub (to deter bush mice). Anything left out or not sealed will get eaten - although, since a diamond python took up residence in our roof, the food stocks have remained virtually untouched. This small space is enough to keep a stock of basics, so simple meals are easily prepared from scratch. Friends who stay are welcome to use whatever they can find, on the proviso they leave something else in return. As a result, my tiny cupboard usually contains a few eclectic extras.


Afternoon at the retreat (c) A. Harrison
Afternoon at the retreat (c) A. Harrison
Fruit trees in blossom (c) A. Harrison
Fruit trees in blossom (c) A. Harrison
Helping with the gardening (c) A. Harrison
Helping with the gardening (c) A. Harrison
Vegetable bed prior to panting (with mulberry and plum trees in the distance) (c) A. Harrison
Vegetable bed prior to panting (with mulberry and plum trees in the distance) (c) A. Harrison
A visitor to the garden - this goanna is a good 5 feet in length (c) A. Harrison
A visitor to the garden - this goanna is a good 5 feet in length (c) A. Harrison

Basic Stores For A Small Pantry

Here's a list of what I found in the cupboards and fridge at the last visit:

Pasta - spaghetti, fusilli, risoni, penne

Rice - jasmine, arborio, brown

Rice noodles

Lentils - red, puy

Tinned Beans - cannellini, kidney, black

Tinned Tomatoes

Anchovies, Capers

Tinned tuna

Biscuits / crackers / Lavosh bites

Peaches (vacuumed sealed)

Oils: olive, canola

Salt, pepper, chilli, coriander, garlic, ginger, dried herbs

Vinegar - white wine, red wine, balsamic

Mustards

Curry powder

Long life milk and cream

Sauces– soy, satay, teriyaki, mussaman, korma, green curry

Olives

Jams

Coffee, (the espresso machine is for me a necessity) tea, sugar

Coconut milk

Stock cubes

Flour - plain, bread

Chutney

Yeast - dried, plus my sourdough starter

Frozen peas

In the small herb garden: coriander, parsley, chives, garlic chives, marjoram, thyme, mint (usually nibbled by the possums)

Our fruit trees in season: apple, plum, quince, peach, pear

Even after a glass of two of champagne, from these stores a range of tasty meals can be prepared.


Morning mist (c) A. Harrison
Morning mist (c) A. Harrison
When all else fails: the local pub (c) A. Harrison
When all else fails: the local pub (c) A. Harrison

The Literary Gourmet

The Belly of Paris (Modern Library Classics)
The Belly of Paris (Modern Library Classics)

Considered a classic, this novel centres around Paris' Les Halles and the characters both working and living there.

 

Some Simple Weekender Recipes


Here are some basic suggestions - more detailed recipes will follow:

Risotto

The simplest of risottos can be prepared with garlic and onion, chicken stock, a dash of wine and peas. Herbs from the garden are added at the last moment, parmesan grated on top, then served with a salad and fresh bread. Bacon or pancetta is a great addition, if I have them.

Another variation is with tuna, capers, olives and parsley.

Alternatively, I replace the risotto with risoni (a type of pasta cooked in the same manner as risotto, but taking much less time).

Pasta

A simple tomato and basil pasta is always easy, fresh and delicious. The variations are endless: add chicken or meat if I've brought any, tinned tuna, olives, a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Alternatively, roast then puree the tomatoes, or else drizzle some cherry tomatoes with olive oil and roast for some 15 minutes or so as the pasta is being cooked. Gentle sauté some onions and garlics, add the tomatoes and any juices, some salt and pepper and fresh herbs, toss through the hot pasta, and grate cheese on top. Adding a diced capsicum to the onions will add colour and crunch.

Soup

In colder weather, soup is always easy, simmering away atop the potbelly fire in the lounge room.

Simply sautee some garlic and onion, add whatever vegetables I wish and sautee a little longer before adding the stock. Vegetables such as pumpkin and sweet potato add more flavour if roasted first.

This can then be pureed for a cream of vegetable soup; otherwise add some tomato, tomato paste, beans, small pasta, and left over meat for a cheat's minestrone. Top with grated cheese, serve accompanied fresh bread and perhaps a salad.


Spiderwebs in the morning dew (c) A. Harrison
Spiderwebs in the morning dew (c) A. Harrison
Wood for the fire is never in short supply (c) A. Harrison
Wood for the fire is never in short supply (c) A. Harrison
The end of a long day (c) A. Harrison
The end of a long day (c) A. Harrison
A grove amongst the forest (c) A. Harrison
A grove amongst the forest (c) A. Harrison
A black cockatoo, once endangered (c) A. Harrison
A black cockatoo, once endangered (c) A. Harrison

Other Suggestions For A Minimalist Pantry

Baking Bread

I usually make my own bread - this might sound a hassle for a weekend away, but making bread doesn't take long, I simply need to be organised.

My sour dough starter survives in the fridge, provided I feed it with fresh flour and water at each visit. (I made this years ago by letting a sloppy mixture of bread flour and water sit on a bench for a few days, fermenting with natural yeasts. Some people add currants to aid the process.) If not too tired I start a batch of sourdough when I arrive, let it rise overnight (for natural yeast take much longer to prove than bought yeast), then shape the bread in the morning, letting it rise again to bake at lunch or dinner.

Bought yeast is much faster; I can let it rise, knock down and shape and rise again overnight to bake for breakfast, or else start in the morning to have ready for lunch.

Some Other Options

With prepared sauces in the cupboard, it's easy to make the likes of a green chicken curry or a mussaman beef, a stir-fry, or a satay-based dish. Even a Vietnamese-style pho is easy with a decent stock.

Accompaniments

Accompaniments both make and complete a meal. A green salad is always quick to prepare, as are rice salad, potato salad, or even a roast vegetable salad. In summer, when cases of avocados and mangos are sold by the roadside, salsas or guacamole accompany every meal. A quick mango salsa of mango, finely diced red onion, some mint, lemon juice, salt, pepper, a touch of olive oil takes a few minutes; the flavour improves with time, and a touch of chilli adds a spicy variation.

Our faux chapel - a perfect cellar (c) A. Harrison
Our faux chapel - a perfect cellar (c) A. Harrison

Having a weekender can seem like running two households, but for me it is a blessing, not a burden. All it takes is a little forethought and creativity - and a supply of recipe books (our bookshelf space vastly exceeds that of the pantry!)

© 2015 Anne Harrison

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Comments 20 comments

Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 21 months ago

Your weekender getaway sounds like Heaven on earth. Thank you for sharing your pantry, recipes, and an insight to your life with us. You are richly blessed. I hope you enjoy your getaway for many years to come.


aesta1 profile image

aesta1 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada

What a wonderful getaway. Keeping it simple is the key, then, it doesn't become a burden but a blessing. Keep enjoying it.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 21 months ago from Australia Author

Dear Carb Diva (love the name). Thank you for your most kind comments. You are right, I am truly blessed. Hopefully I'll post some more detailed recipes soon.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 21 months ago from Australia Author

Thank you aesta1 for your comments. You are right; simplicity is the key to enjoyment.


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 21 months ago

At first I feared snakes, spiderwebs, and lizards were on the menu!

Beans, biscuits and coffee please.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 21 months ago from Australia Author

I've never tried spiderwebs, but I have eaten snake and lizard (but not here!). I'll make you something a little more substantia should you drop by.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 21 months ago from australia

Sounds totally idyllic - lovely recipes and good choices of what to add to the pantry. I felt the calmness and love of the bush as I settled in with you. I saw a goanna the other day, the first ever in the bush here after 25 years.. How lucky we are. enjoyed the photos - Lovely Anne - thank you.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 21 months ago from Australia Author

Thank you so much for your kind comments, travmaj. The Australian bush is an amazing place


billybuc profile image

billybuc 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

Oh my God, I would be in heaven there, Anne! What a great retreat. For me, that's as close to God as it gets....in the wild, quiet, serenity, nature....oh friend, you have it made!


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 21 months ago from Australia Author

I'm so glad you like it - it truly is a touch of heaven when we get there! It's amazing how much a retreat to nature to restores the mind, the body and the soul.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 21 months ago from the short journey

Your weekender is dwarfed by the Australian bush? Since most buildings would be, I'm sort of glad to hear it! :)

Thanks for sharing a little corner of this world I would've never seen except that you put it out there for us. Your get-away food tips are really useful. Now that you have all of us quite jealous, don't forget to have a slice of that homemade sour-dough in our honor! :)


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 21 months ago from Australia Author

Hi RTalloni,

Not only is our place dwarfed by the bush, but 100m or so away it is impossible to see - which is why lost children feature so strongly in Australian folklore and art.

Shall think of you next time I bake that sourdough,

Anne


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 20 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Hi Anne, This sounds like a great getaway. I would love it as I hate to be interrupted when I work. I have my own getaway which is my motor home. I like your little 5 foot pet. Do the goanna bite? Stella


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 20 months ago from Australia Author

Hi Stella,

I would always give a goanna right of way - their claws will rip your skin, and their jaws are incredibly powerful. Few native animals would take on a full grown one.

Luckily, most of our snakes slither away as soon as they hear you coming (but pythons are not poisonous, unlike a few others we have).

I like the idea of having a motor home as a getaway - maybe one day...

Anne


Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie Hagley 20 months ago from New Zealand

This sounds like my home, (not a getaway). I live in the country, only go to town 35 kms away once a week to stock up mainly milk and fresh bread ( which I can bake myself.

The possums are the biggest pest, eat all my fruit, vegetables in the garden and whatever they can find.

At the moment it's wasps no matter how many nest we destroy they are taking over the place, destroy bee hives, the nashi pear orchard, but all the same I wouldn't change it for anything, it's great living away from the concrete jungle (town).

Thanks for sharing your pantry with us, has given me a few new ideas.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 20 months ago from Australia Author

Hi Elsie,

Sounds like you live in paradise. We have a possum who sleeps in the wall behind our bed, waking us about 3am each morning as he puts on hob-nail boots and stomps outside!

Thanks for taking the time to read my hub

Anne


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 15 months ago from Northern California, USA

Living simply, with minimal supplies is my preferred lifestyle. On those cold nights with just the stuff in my pantry, it is easy to throw together a simple batch of soup or something light. No need for heavy meals, nature is enough to fill me up. I absolutely enjoyed reading your hub about having a weekender and stocking the pantry.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 14 months ago from Australia Author

Thank you so much, MarleneB, the simple way is so often the best!


AussieAdventure profile image

AussieAdventure 14 months ago from Geelong VIC Australia

Another interesting and helpful article thank you. Loved the recipes and the photos.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 14 months ago from Australia Author

So glad you enjoyed the hub, and thank you for your kind words

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