“`All complete!’ said the Toad triumphantly, pulling open a locker. `You see–biscuits, potted lobster, sardines–everything you can possibly want. Soda-water here–baccy there–letter- paper, bacon, jam, cards and dominoes–you’ll find,’ he continued, as they descended the steps again, `you’ll find that nothing what ever has been forgotten, when we make our start this afternoon.'” from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
Toad really knew how to pack a picnic for his vacation. Although his pantry is short on the fruits and vegetables, his supplies were not considered perishable; all were preserved to some extent without refrigeration. He is packing an off-the-grid picnic back in the day, before electricity, before ziploc bags, back when smoking tobacco was a staple, and people played social games like cards and dominoes before turning in at sundown, with only the dim light of candles and oil lamps.
Are you interested in recreating Toad’s food locker, perhaps without the tobacco? You will need some good crackers, sardines, potted lobster, jam and some cheese (which Toad forgot to add to his locker.) All these things are possible in the gluten free world.
Some fine cracker choices might include Glutano Crisp Bread – a long lightweight rectangular cracker that will stand up to some heavy spreading (tartiner is the French word for spreading things on bread) , Mary’s Gone Crackers with Black Pepper – small round peppery crackers that go well with spreads, Real Foods Multigrain Corn Thins – a circular Australian product about the size of a rice cake only thinner and more flavorful, perfect for making a lightweight open faced sandwich, and perhaps Blue Diamond Nut Thins® Pecan Crackers – these very crisp crackers are salty and crunchy, perfect with cheese.
If you take the British word “biscuits” to mean cookies, then you might stock up on the Almond Horn Cookies product made by Aleia, or Glutino’s Lemon Flavored Wafers, or Vanilla Wafers – Chocolate coated.
For the jam, try making your own strawberry jam, and add a few exotic flavorings to the mix. If you are new to canning and preserving, the best instructions are available in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving – we have multiple versions of this standard cookbook, and the recipes vary from year to year depending on what is in fashion. The most recent edition includes an excellent recipe for strawberry-lemon marmalade, requiring the addition of a small amount of minced lemon rind. You might also add some lavender, cayenne pepper or cardamom to strawberry jam – we have tried all these flavors which work very well with strawberry.
Sardines or herring can be had for small money – the Bar Harbor brand of All Natural Smoked Wild Kippers (herring) are excellent, and at less than $2.50 for 6.7 ounces, they are a bargain and will feed 2 people for lunch. A couple of slices of Udi’s wholegrain bread, toasted until brown and spread liberally with lightly salted butter, some of these smoked kippers, and a strong cup of Irish tea, and you are set for lunch.
Potted lobster is another matter, somewhat more complicated. First of all, back in the days before refrigeration people used to “preserve” meats (including shellfish, pigeons, beef etc.) by cooking them and putting the meat in to a wide-mouthed ceramic container called a pot, then covering the top with a layer of melted butter. They believed that protecting the food from fresh air made it safe to eat. Oops! They were wrong about that. Obviously, covering meat with a layer of butter is not an effective method of preserving food, so if you make your own potted lobster according to the old ways, you must refrigerate it and serve it soon. Many recipes for potted shrimp are available on the internet, and a few for potted lobster although this is less common. Be careful to treat this product with care, and refrigerate it.
Needless to say, the dominoes and playing cards do not carry any edible risk to the gluten free community. The letter paper is for writing letters, although today we might write an email. If you want to engage in a congenial correspondence about Toad’s pantry, you can send an email by clicking here: Send email about stocking Toad’s pantry.
It is relatively simple to recreate the Toad’s larder with modern, and gluten-free, ingredients.