The Pin:

The Good: It's Pioneer Woman! What could be bad? We always cook a family meal during one week at the beach, and the number of people eating runs around 40. I wanted a recipe that was good, could feed a lot, and could be frozen so that we could take it down in a cooler and just warm it up on cooking day. This one seemed to fit the bill. Plus, it's fairly easy.

The Bad: The liquid overflowed in the oven. That's user error, though, not a malfunction of the recipe. I guess that's what happens when we cook 3 shoulders weighing 23 pounds total and try to squeeze it all into the oven at once. And I worry about not having enough food. Really.

Here's what 23 pounds of shredded pork looks like:
Summary: It is really good, and I don't even like pork unless it's doused in sauce. This recipe yields a very tender meat and a sauce with just enough of a kick to make it good. The family loved it! Here are a few pictures. In the first, Jim has just demonstrated for everyone how to make a pulled pork sandwich. Our Virginia relatives insisted that pulled pork sandwiches have cole slaw on them, a new one for me, so that's what Jim made. The 23 pounds, after being cooked and shredded, fed 40+ people with just enough leftovers for a couple of late arrivals.

Okay, I'll end your suspense. The second burning question of the day, for me at least, is: Do HEB brands work and taste as well as name brands in baking?

I am sold on King Arthur Flour and Land O' Lakes unsalted butter.

However, this recipe calls for cake flour, so I'm going with the Swans Down I usually use and The Baker's Scoop from HEB:
The Baker's Scoop wins in packaging. I like the word art look. But I didn't like the lumps or the box opening:
At HEB today, I passed two friendly manager-types conversing near the dairy section. On my left were three chatty employees in the electronics department. I took a deep breath, aimed my phone, and came out with a bad picture:
What you can tell is that the HEB cream cheese is 50 cents, while the Philadelphia is $2.04. That's a pretty big price difference. And I have never been brave enough to steer away from Philadelphia, but I grabbed the 50-cent brick and snuck off. I don't *think* they saw me. At least, no one asked me why I was taking pictures in cold areas. I even had an answer prepared: My mom asked me to get some ingredients for her, and I'm asking her which one she wants. Thanks to Mom for participating, even unknowingly.

A closer look of the cream cheese:
Upon opening, I found the Philadelphia to be softer, but they both mixed well in my KitchenAid.

Here are pictures of the butter, and look at that! The Central Market brand is 50 cents higher than Land O' Lakes! Plus, HEB has only been carrying the unsalted Land O' Lakes  in half sticks, and I like the whole sticks. HEB also had an organic brand which was also $3.98. 

A closer look at the butter:
And another surprise! Don't fall over... While J thought I was taking pictures of ingredients, I snuck in two of him, wanna-be-beard and all:

Here is the batter. This one has The Baker's Scoop cake flour, Central Market butter, and HEB cream cheese:
This one has Swans Down cake flour, Land O' Lakes butter, and Philadelphia cream cheese:
A comparison:
Right out of the oven:
I have to say, I was really surprised at this difference. The HEB cake on the right was fluffier and smoother, and the name brand cake on the left looked like a rock garden.

Rock garden:
Fluffy and smooth:
But after cooling, the HEB cake showed definite signs of falling:
Slices of cake from the top were pretty similar:
From the side, the name brand cake was denser and the HEB cake was still fluffy, even after falling while cooling:
The Taste Test: because you really want to see partially eaten food (scroll way down):
Quite honestly, I have to say I preferred the name brand cake because I think of pound cake as being dense. BUT, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the HEB cake. It's perfectly good, and I will be using it. Update: My sister-in-law noticed a difference in the cakes and preferred the HEB brands.

The Good: This is helping me get over my name-brand snobbery.

The Bad: Not a thing!

Summary: HEB brands work perfectly well in baking!

Will pound cake work in a 13 x 9 cake? That is the burning question of the day. At least for me. We're having an annual family week at the beach in a few days, and I want to make a version of strawberry kebabs from the inspired collection:
                                                     Source: via Laura on Pinterest
It won't be exactly this, but I do plan on serving strawberry shortcake on sticks for our annual family meal at the beach. For 43 people. Or 45. Or 39. Give or take a few.Because I just have to cut the cake into cubes, I don't want to mess with my bundt pan. 13 x 9 would be sooo much easier.

My aunt Billie says no way will this work. My mom says yes because she saw Clay at cooking class. Disclaimer: I don't know who Clay is. Both my mom and Billie are great bakers, so let's see what happens.

Here's recipe my mom shared from her cooking class with Clay at Central Market.

Central Market Pound Cake
2 1/3 cups self-rising cake flour (mine was not self-rising, oops!)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs

All ingredients should be at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 3-quart bundt pan.

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add sugar, flour, vanilla and almond extract. Beat on low speed just until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour into prepared pan (I sprayed mine with Pam) and smooth top. Bake in middle of oven until golden and a tester (I used a toothpick) comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack about 15 minutes, invert onto the rack, and cool completely.

J helped me bake the four pound cakes. He didn't want his picture taken. Something about a farmer's tan (his tan lines match his baseball uniform), not having a beach body, and pictures of him baking ruining his masculine image. I snuck a picture of him leveling off the cake flour, though.
Here is the batter in the pan:

My mom called just after I put these in the oven, and I asked her if the batter would run over. Her response? Well, if you're worried about that, just throw some batter into a couple of cupcake holders. My next question: Did yours run over? Mom: I don't remember, that was a long time ago.

Thankfully, it worked out well. Here is the baked cake:
It didn't even come close to running over.

The Good: Pound cake in a 13 x 9 pan works with this recipe. Cooking was pretty even, and the cake was good.

The Bad: Really, nothing.

Summary: This is a much easier way to make pound cake in bulk than with my one bundt pan. And I have one more burning question to ask and answer today. I know you're just waiting on the edge of your seat!

The Pins: To make up for my lack of an originating pin in the last post about spices, this post has two pins. Yep, a double treat!

My pots and pans drawer is the focus here. The plastic liner is always sliding around. This pin from the ever-creative Jen from tater tots & jello is my answer.

                                                   Source: via Laura on Pinterest
She just used velcro dots to keep the containers in her make-up drawer in place. I work with velcro all the time, but I didn't think of this. Which is why I copy pins and don't have original ideas.

The second pin is a fairly recent one and uses a tension rod to hold lids:
                                       Source: via Laura on Pinterest

Since I already had a tension rod from a previous fail where the rod did NOT hold cleaning bottles,  I figured I didn't have much to lose. Plus, the idea is from The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking, site of the folded sheets pin, #20 on my summer list.

Here's the drawer before:
The lids are in a rack, but they slide around. And if you look closely, you can see the plastic liner going up the back of the drawer.

Using the tension rod gave me a LOT of extra space. I was more pleased with this idea than I thought I would be. And you can't see the velcro squares, but trust me, I am going to be so much happier without a sliding plastic liner. That is so sad that my life is affected by securing plastic liner to a drawer in the kitchen...

And if you need tips for velcro, I learned one a long, long time ago when making velcro communication boards was all the rage for speech therapists. I don't know if I can share the tip with you. My mom reads this blog. I think she may be the only reader, and I don't want to alienate her.

Okay, just remember this is not my tip. I'm just sharing with you a hint I learned from workshop presenters to keep consistency in velcro attachment. You don't want to have hook sides and loop sides mixed up, after all. Stalling...

I'm embarrassed, so I'll make this quick. Think of the loop side as the female and the hook side as the male. This is a direct quote from the presenter: The female always receives, and the male always gives. That's it. See if you can ever attach velcro another way. Your velcro attachments will always be consistent from now on. And in the words of the presenter and Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

Moving on...

The Good: The tension rod is still holding the lids after several hours, which is more than I can say for the spray bottles I bought it for.

The Bad: Nothing yet.

Summary: I think these two ideas are a keeper for my pots and pans drawer!

The Pin: Okay, I'm cheating a little again because I don't have an inspiring pin. I do have a backstory, though. Two summers ago, my spices were on this rack in the pantry:
Yep, I had so many spices that I needed two racks. And they were all alphabetized. And the spice containers fit nicely in these racks. The only problem was I had to walk all the way from my workspace to the pantry to get them. First-world problems...

I moved the spices to my upper lazy susan closer to the stove last summer:
This created a myriad of problems. First, Jim likes to use Pam cooking spray and put it back wherever. Second, I'm too short to see the labels of most of the spices. Third, the spices did not stay alphabetized. Fourth, we started storing things on the side of the shelf, causing the wheel not to spin.

I decided to move the spices to a shelf. The only problem now was that there were pans on the shelf:
Fortunately, they are 13 x 9 pans. I moved our rarely used George Foreman Grill from prime shelf space to the bottom of my pantry.

I already had a shelf riser, so I alphabetized the spices:
This led to another problem - I couldn't see the short spices because of the tall spices, and I'm too lazy to get matching containers. So I took a deep breath and dealphabetized the spices. Yes, dealphabetized is a word, at least in my vocabulary!
Much better. Plus, the big spices on the side are turned so I can see what they are. I never knew I had a thing about turning labels until this summer.

I had to make the spices fit, so I threw out old ones and duplicate (and triplicate) spices. I hope this will prevent us from buying cinnamon every trip to HEB.
The lazy susan could then hold the bigger salt and Pam, no problem:
Plus the other canisters, which had a previous life on the top shelf:
Here is the whole lazy susan, with less-used sprinkles on top:
The Good: I like the location of the spices better, and the bigger items on the lazy susan are more visible.

The Bad: The spices are near the stove, and heat is supposed to dull the spices. The move confused my family. Here is my conversation with Jim:

Jim: Why did you move the spices?
Me: Because they weren't functional.
Jim: Why weren't they functional?
Me: Because I'm short and couldn't see them and they got dealphabetized.
Jim: Wh-
Me: Why did you cut the watermelon on the counter across from the sink instead of next to the sink so that I could just wipe the juice into the sink?
Jim: Because I'm an idiot.

Love ya, hon!

Summary: I'm happy with everything for now - we'll see how functional the set-up is!
The Pin: This idea comes courtesy of Organizing with Sandy:
                          Source: via Laura on Pinterest

Sandy used chalkboard contact paper. I found some on Amazon for $8.22, an 18 x 6 sheet which would have been plenty for me. But I bought precut labels for $9 from Chalk and Talk to save some time. I also bought a NeoChalk Pen for $2 because Amazon suggested it.

Here is my pantry after labeling:

About my pantry - the shelving is elfa. When Jim walked into The Container Store and saw their display holding a heavy duty KitchenAid mixer, he immediately put in an order.

The top shelf has the things I don't use much - a deep fryer, cake carrier and aluminum pans. They're all light and easy to get down.

The next shelf down has all of my cookbooks, organized by size. This shelf has a liner so none of the cookbooks slip down.

The middle shelf has canned goods, a few snacks, and breads.

The next shelf has my mixer, some cooking pans that are too big for my cabinet, breakfast items, and snacks. The sections are separated with elfa dividers.

The lowest shelf has all my baking supplies. And the bottom of the pantry is storage for glass punch cups we inherited from Jim's mom along with paper goods. You can't see the floor, but it has beverages like canned cokes and water bottles. I usually have a stepladder because I'm short, but I took it out for today. By the way, I'm the shortest person in the family at almost  5 feet, 2 inches, so I thought if I could see the labels, everyone else could. Now using them? That's a different story. Also, the pictures are from my viewpoint.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, onto the labeling. I started on the third shelf from the top going from left to right. Can you tell I work in education? The first box I wanted to label - Meals in Boxes - has Hamburger Helper, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and Ramen noodles. Don't judge. I didn't want the label to go over the holes, so I trimmed it and put it on the solid corner. From a standing vantage, it works for me.
Notice I moved the pineapple juice? I couldn't see the "instant rice" over "cornmeal", so I just switched placement. Then, I decided I didn't like the juice cans, so I turned those for easier visual labeling.
And then, I turned them again. 
These containers were hard because the labels didn't fit, but a quick cut with my old Fiskars paper trimmer solved that. And yes, it bothers me that the label says "drink mix" instead of "drink mixes", but I decided I could live with that for now.
Here is the breakfast section. The back shorter container is actually empty - room to grow! - so it's not labeled yet.
Next to that are some snacks and more breakfast items. I decided to label the tops of the containers because that's what everyone sees. Also, I put the containers so that the part I grab is facing outward.
Here is my baking shelf. For frosting items, I had to do the smaller, corner label again. I used "icing" because it fit better than "frosting". "Icing" seems to be an outdated term, but it tells me what's in the container. The next two boxes are actually ice cube trays, an old tip from Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield.
Last are my empty containers for chocolate chips and powdered sugar. I put the containers facing this way because it's easier to grab the lids with the grippers on the sides. Yes, I'm a nerd - I tried grabbing both ways before deciding. You can also see a glimpse of my wonderful husband's solution for messy chips storage.
About the labels themselves - I couldn't leave well enough alone. So I pulled out some old McGill punches. I used a corner punch for the biggest label:
I used a border punch for the medium labels:

The Good: Easy to do, I like how everything is visually and physically accessible.

The Bad: The pen smudges some.

Summary: I'm pretty happy with the pantry for now!
Back to Top