09 April 2011

Simple Gifts

Many years ago, when I had my first kitchen, I began to do what my grandmother called “setting up housekeeping”. I had to figure out what I needed: plates, glasses and silverware of course, but also towels, mixing bowls, cutting boards and canisters. Canisters. What to keep my staples in? I searched and searched and couldn't find anything that I wanted to look at on my countertop every day.

Part of the problem was that I've always resisted buying things that tell me what their function is: Sugar, Coffee, Flour, Salt. What if I want to put rice in the one that says 'flour'? I can guarantee that if it tells me to put flour in it I'll have an almost irresistible need to put rice in it. Or popcorn. I don't have bowls that say “pasta” in my house. If I did, they'd surely have salad or fruit in them. Some might call this perverse - I like to think of it as being creative.

In the end I found some lovely glass jars with rubber seals and wires to hold them closed. I called them French canning jars. I don't know if that's the right name or not, but that's how I've always thought of them. I bought these and I have them still. I use them to keep my staples in, and I change the function of a given jar depending on what I need to store. It never tells me that I'm wrong...

Over the years, I've moved more than a few times, and always in my kitchen are the French canning jars. I've added to the collection, and now I have quite a few. However, when I stopped eating wheat and started (trying to) bake with wheat- and gluten-free flours, I found that I didn't have a good way to store the assortment of flours that I now have. I tried jam jars (too small) and plastic bags (too messy). Neither was a good solution.

Recently, my friend Maddy had the sad duty of helping her daughter empty the house of a relative who had died. In the cellar were lots and lots of old, empty glass jars with rubber seals and wires to hold them closed. French canning jars. Maddy asked me if I'd like some of them. Ha! Of course I did!

The jars came, in perfect condition except for the rubber rings. It turns out that those are pretty easy to find here, and so I bought a load of new ones, washed up my new jars, and voila! I made labels that I can change whenever I want to change what's in the jar. Now I have storage for all my new flours. Now if only I could figure out how to bake with them...


I'm grateful for the simple gifts in my life: good health, good friends, good food, clean water, clean air. The fact that most of our friends in Japan are safe. The rebirth of spring. The kiss of sun-warmed air on my skin. A loving husband who's always there for me. French canning jars. What more can I ask?

What are the simple gifts in your life today?


Carol at Serendipity said...


I think your French canning jars are the perfect solution. I am still setting up housekeeping as I like to change the look periodically. Simple is good.


Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm grateful for the simple things in life too. Thanks for the reminder this morning. Your French canning jars are a real find. You are a lucky lady.

Susan said...

Hi Kate!

Those jars are so versatile. I use screw top jars that I have slowly purchased from Target (dept. store). My GF pantry shelf is slowly expanding, but I too, struggle to find baking recipes that have nice loft and 'bready' flavors. Will be making a carrot cake soon that's GF ... will let you know if it works out well!

Happy Spring!

La Table De Nana said...

My mustard comes in your Parfait hars..i save them all..

You know what to be grateful for..:)

Linda said...

Simple is good...this weekend I have both my boys here with me. I am so grateful for that!

I have missed you! Glad to see you posting. I have a very soft spot for those kinds of jars and have some I have been using for over 30 years. I keep my sugar in a really large one and my vanilla sugar in a smaller one. I keeps beans and rice in them as well. I remember buying most of them at Cost Plus in San Francisco when I first moved there in 1979. I love them all....
Take care!

Barbara said...

Yes, we have much to be thankful for, Kate. I like simple things too...these jars are perfect. I call them Ball Jars, as that's who makes them here, but those French ones have so much more charm. :)

Kate said...

It never hurts to stop and think about the simple things and for what we are grateful. I think we spend too much time "hurrying" to be as mindful as we should be.

I love the jars. I use them for various pastas and, of course, rice!

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

I like using canning jars for storage, too. Mine aren't pretty like yours! But I find it handy.

RSA Now said...

Hah I do the same thing with my jars (makes my housemates CRAZY!)