New Passion for a Pantry

Before the modern kitchen came to be — with its many closets and cupboards — the accoutrêments of cooking were stored in a pantry, a room off the kitchen. As society changed over the years, the pantry fell out of favor. But now people are rediscovering the wisdom — and pleasure — of having such a place. Catherine Seiberling Pond remembers seeing colorful glassware, the gold-trimmed Christmas china and a tin of ginger cookies on her childhood visits to her grandmother’s 1920s-style pantry. It is a magical memory for her, created in the swirl of many family get-togethers. “I can still smell and taste them in my mind,” she says. When she married and moved to an 1813-vintage house in Hancock, she found that two interior rooms near the kitchen and dining room were likely once pantries. Six years ago, the old pantries were restored. In the time since then, Pond has explored why she has what she calls “pantry craving,” and this year she published a book about it called “The Pantry: Its History and Modern Uses.” She was motivated to write it by the fact that she could find no book that was entirely about the pantry. “It was always just a chapter in another book,” she says. With photographs that are guaranteed to evoke some memories for just about everyone, Pond traces the historical evolution of pantries from the Early American times through the Victorian Age to WWII and to today. She explores the socio-economic reasons they disappeared and are now reappearing in house designs. Pantries are once again the most-requested features of a home, despite the fact there are more kitchen countertops and cabinets than ever. Others are re-converting mud rooms, bathrooms and storage rooms back to pantries, just as Pond did. As Pond, who is an architectural historian and former house museum manager, writes in her book: “A funny thing happened on the way to the millennium, we began to cook more, bake more, buy more, and stockpile more. We not only enjoy power shopping at large wholesale grocery stores, but we like to have something on hand for a rainy day or a possible catastrophe.” She adds, “Near our large kitchens, we also want that cozy, well-ordered room where we might be reminded of our grandmother’s house or where we know that somehow in a crazy world, a full larder will keep us safe.” In the book you’ll find ideas and design inspiration for how to create or restore a modern pantry and what to stock it with — among her suggestions, baskets or metal bins for food storage, spice jars and canisters with old or new labels, cookbooks, antique linens or piles of colorful assorted dish towels and tablecloths, and everyday dishes or antique collections. And don’t forget the apron hung on Shaker pegs or cast-iron hooks. Pond says, “Even if you never wear them, they look great hanging up.” When it comes to displaying collections, Pond says the Hoosier or Hoosier-style pantry is a popular choice today (see photo of LuRay collection p. 66). As an early 20th-century advertisement shown in Pond’s book said, the Hoosier, an Indiana invention, was “a pantry - cupboard - work-table combined,” a moveable piece of furniture that Pond says was a step-saver: “It was the first time everything a cook needed was right there.” If you can’t find, or afford, an authentic Hoosier for your collection display, there are reproductions available. You can also find reproduction jars, flour sifters and all the other iconic items of the Hoosier. By WWII, Pond says, both the Hoosier and the pantry were out of style. Not only was there more built-in kitchen cabinetry — with rationing and strictures against hoarding because of the war effort — storing food, except that “put up” from a victory garden, was frowned upon. Aside from its informative tracing of history (including tidbits like where the word “larder” came from), “The Pantry” covers food storage solutions, what to put in a pantry, how to choose the right materials, design and layout, display and décor tips and much more. There’s also a listing of pantries that are open to the public; though there are none in New Hampshire, you can get your dose of nostalgia in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island. As Pond says in her book: “A pantry can invoke all manner of pleasant things — visual delights, memories of taste and smell, perhaps even security and comfort.” For more information, visit and Visit Pond’s blog at Excerpts from “The Pantry: Its History and Modern Uses” by Catherine Seiberling Pond reprinted with permission, Gibbs Smith, Publisher. HUE NEW Have trouble deciding which colors to put together in a room or neighboring rooms? Fear not with the new Affinity color palette from Benjamin Moore. They have assembled a full deck of 144 hues that have been “cultivated” to mix and match with each other in perfect harmony. All 144 colors are fully coordinated to be an eye-pleasing contrast or complement. If you are looking for ideas for combinations, they have suggested several collections to create specific looks like “global artisan” or “eclectic chic.” These new hues are only available in the, also new, Benjamin Moore “Aura” paint line. This line has a color locking technology — the water-based pigments are microscopically bonded to the base for superior depth of color. Beyond that, the thick and creamy paint flows on well, and covers well in one coat, or in extreme color changes, two. It’s fully washable and, with low VOC, it is environmentally safe. Fall Home Listing As the weather turns cold, our attentions turn inside to home and hearth. Here’s a resource list for fall projects. Fireplaces The Stove Shoppe 25 Indian Rock Rd. (Rte. 111) Windham 237 Calef Rd. (Rte. 125) Epping (800) 892-0456 Feel the Warmth Fireplace and Home Center 273 South River Rd. Bedford (603) 669-9276 or toll free (888) 696-9276 Artistic Masonry LLC New Boston (603) 497-5493 Hearth Works Fireplace Design Center 23 Rte. 125 Kingston (603) 642-6888 77 Londonderry Turnpike (28 Bypass) Hooksett (603) 634-4242 Fireplace Depot Inc. 98 Rte. 101A Amherst (603) 546-0085 All Basics Stove Shop 2315 Columbia Circle Merrimack (603) 424-0420 North Hill Nursery and Hearth Shoppe 206 Lafayette Road North Hampton 603-964-7884 Home and Hearth, Inc. 102 Lafayette Rd. Hampton Falls (603) 926-2084 Getting ready for winter Weather Wise Heating and Air Conditioning 65 Rte. 13, Brookline Brookline: (603) 673-3705 Nashua: (603) 880-3012 Manchester: (603) 641-9700 Home Energy Products 160 Daniel Webster Hwy. Belmont (603) 524-2308 or (800) 924-6568 Total Air Supply 171 East Hollis St. Nashua (603) 889-0100 Oil Heat Council of NH Closets/Pantry Organization and Design New England Closet Design 1-866-41CLOSET California Closets Find a local retailer at (800) 225-6901 ClosetPlace 26 Bryant Road Wolfeboro (603) 569-5609 Boston Closet Company 229 Lowell St. Manchester (603) 434-9123 All In Order Pro 16 Brook Hollow Dr. Salem (603) 974-0563 Closet Masters 15 Banfield Rd. Portsmouth (603) 431-5136 Coast Closets 400 FW Hartford Dr. Portsmouth (603) 431-5100 Excalibur Shelving Systems 292 Burnham Intervale Rd. Contoocook (603) 746-6200 Shelf Esteem 124 Dracut Rd. Hudson (603) 594-9231 The Closet Factory 67 Pine Rd., Hudson (603) 882-3888
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