As I study more about cooking, and try to expand my horizons as far as the variety and complexity of the things I make, I find that I have to challenge many of my basic assumptions about storage and organization.
I am a very tidy person, and I like everything stowed away so that the room doesn’t look cluttered. I grew up like that, and when I got my own house, I automatically stuffed everything into cabinets and behind doors, especially in the kitchen. All utensils, prep tools, dishes, pots, pans, and dry goods were allocated their own spots in the cabinets, no matter how much I had to stack and nest to make it all fit.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work as well as I had expected. Normally I have trouble concentrating when there is a mess, but on the flip side, when everything is stored away, especially where food is concerned, I have a lot of trouble remembering what I have. I end up with several cans of the same kind of beans that I rarely use, and I avoid baking because it’s so hard to get my pans out of the very back of the bottom cabinet.
All that to say, I have been experimenting with ways to keep my cooking and baking gear more accessible, and I’ve found that making the containers more attractive makes this a lot easier. I don’t think I could stand to have a row of cheap plastic storage bins on my countertop, but several attractive stone crocks make ingredients easier to get to and easier on the eyes.
My favorites so far have been Pfaltzgraff items. Pfaltzgraff makes all kinds of things for the kitchen and home, but it primarily known for its stoneware, especially dishes. I would like to feature a few of the items I’ve purchased for food storage in my kitchen:
The first thing is a brown sugar crock. This is exactly what it sounds like: an attractive, air-tight crock designed to hold brown sugar. It is sized for a 2-pound package of brown sugar, and features a removable seal on the lid to keep the sugar from drying out. I have to say, I have used several different methods for storing brown sugar, and never has my sugar been so smooth and flowing!
This is the brown sugar crock in the Folk Art pattern:
From the front, it looks round, but it is actually an oval, as you can see here:
The thinner shape makes it very easy to store; I do keep this in my cabinet with my flour and sugar, and it doesn’t take up much room at all.
I like the fact that the lid seal is removable, which makes it very easy to clean and dry. And you could leave the seal off if you wanted; the lid will still fit fine:
After I bought this crock for my brown sugar, I was looking for a new way to store my coffee. I had been keeping it in the freezer, but recently read that that was not ideal; freezing it can let in moisture and other smells can get into it. The recommended way to store coffee is in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature. I looked everywhere, but most canisters designed for coffee seemed to be clear glass. Then I realised that I already had the perfect container!
I bought another brown sugar crock from Pfaltzgraff, but I got it in the Cappuccino pattern:
My original goal was to use the Cappuccino crock for brown sugar in the cabinet and the Folk Art crock on the counter for coffee, but when I opened the box I changed my mind. The crocks are very similar, but there are some differences. They are not made from the same mold, so the shape is a little different:
They both hold the same amount, but the Folk Art crock has a much larger opening in the top, so it’s easier to get a measuring cup in there, rather than a spoon for coffee. Also, the finish on the Folk Art crock is matte, while the Cappuccino crock is very glossy. I think they’re both beautiful, but I couldn’t bear to put the shiny one away! They both have the same seal on the lid, although the lid on the Cappuccino crock fits a little strangely, as if the lid or the hole isn’t quite perfectly round. The best way to describe the color of the Cappuccino is to say that it’s like a really good vanilla bean ice cream: it has little speckles that remind me of Breyer’s French Vanilla. 🙂 I would show you a link, but the Cappuccino crock has recently disappeared from the Pfaltzgraff website. Right now, every brown sugar crock there is either on sale or on clearance, so it’s possible they are discontinuing the line. I think it’s a shame, because these are some very useful little containers! I might have to stock up, just in case. For now, they are also offered in the Village and April patterns. Both appear to have the same shape as the Folk Art crock, so the mouth ought to be plenty big.
So the shiny crock has taken up residence on my counter, and I love being able to easily grab it every morning for my qahwa, or Arabic coffee (I don’t much go for the American kind.) The other thing I got that have made my life easier is my sugar and creamer set.
This is the Bicentennial Mini Crock Sugar and Creamer Set:
The pattern is a special anniversary design to celebrate Pfaltzgraff’s 200th anniversary, but it is very similar to the Folk Art and Yorktowne patterns. It is noticeable, but doesn’t detract from the beauty of either piece:
The sugar crock holds 12 ounces, and the creamer holds 10 ounces. The lid on the sugar bowl is not airtight, but since it holds a relatively small amount and is meant to be refreshed often, that really isn’t a problem for me. The mouth is plenty big enough to fit a tablespoon into, and I love it so much more than heaving out my giant bin of sugar from under the counter every day. I use small amounts of sugar for coffee, and my husband for his mixed drinks, so this makes preparation a lot easier and faster. I’m not a big cream user, but the creamer crock is perfect for things like gravy, syrup and salad dressings.
All of these items have made food preparation quicker and easier, but I think what I like best about them is just that they’re so pretty. Just seeing them every time I walk into my kitchen makes me smile, and that’s worth a lot to me. I highly recommend these and other Pfaltzgraff products; trust me, their other patterns are just as attractive! And there is a huge variety of styles to fit anyone’s decor. This page shows their selection of sugar bowls and creamers, and it a great way to view many of their most popular patterns. They also have great clearance prices, so it’s worth checking every now and again; you can save a lot.