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  • Writer's pictureSusan Welsh

Pantry Envy

Like many of you, I'm spending more time in the pantry—trying to maintain reasonable stock and utilize culinary creativity with canned goods. I'm picturing the pantry of my youth, in our house on Glenwood Lane. A partial inventory includes Quaker Oatmeal, sardines (one of my Dad's favorite late-night snacks) and, always, a jar of Kretschmer Wheat Germ which my mom would add to chocolate chip cookie batter, giving her cookies a distinctive toasty, nutty quality that I still enjoy to this day. My Mom's Wheat Germ Bars are also a favorite. If you count a half bag of chocolate chips melted over the top and a stick of butter "health food"-- then my Mom has a recipe for you!

One's pantry reveals a lot about a person. Much like a bookshelf of old—before books and music went digital, it's a space that offers a glimpse into a person's choices, preferences, and tastes. For instance, we were a Pepperidge Farm kind of family. The absence of preservatives appealed to my mother, but I had pantry envy. I longed for TastyKakes brand TandyKakes (the name was changed to "KandyKakes in the '70s to avoid confusion with the Tandy Candy Co.). This delectable disc of cake and peanut butter "enrobed" in chocolate was one of my favorite "scores"—always available in my grandmother's freezer. I can't remember where I procured Drake's Yodels, but I do remember my friend Diane would often share her Kebbler's Fudge Stripe cookies; thanks to Stella Parks, I can now make the homemade version in my kitchen.

Once, my cousin Ollie in Cranford babysat my brother and me for a week while my Mom and Dad went to Spain. Two things about that week stick with me most—joining Ollie for her weekly bowling league at Clark Lanes and the stash of Oreo cookies she had in the cupboard. I generously availed myself to a sleeve of them, which subsequently lead to an epic stomachache. I'm still occasionally prone to that kind of overindulgence when it comes to cookies—my go-to comfort food in good times and bad. When stocking up for self-quarantine became a priority, Steph concentrated on wine and tequila— I, on flour, butter, and eggs.

"How Great Thou Art" inspired by a poem written by Carl Boberg after he experienced a sudden storm subside to a peaceful calm.

Speaking of survival, I found my mantra this week in the only horoscope I follow—Bob Brezny's free will astrology. Brezny offers this phrase which I will adapt to the times: "Meditative grace and effervescent calm." Of course, for me to apply the later will require a bit of mild sedation—a glass or two of wine. Either way, I'm chanting it, living it, breathing it. "meditative grace and effervescent calm." Or, when all else fails, some cookies.

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