My pantry exploded a few weeks ago.

I went on an unnecessary but fascinating grocery shopping trip, and as I was unloading my treasures, I put a bottle of juice on the shelf, thinking, “Wow, this shelf has held up really well, especially with all of these glass jars I’ve been putting things in.”

I wandered back into the bedroom and puttered around a little bit when I heard a giant crash in the kitchen. I took a deep breath, emitted a mild expletive, and walked back to the kitchen to see the contents of the pantry making a brightly colored stream of glass and goodies across the kitchen floor. Luckily, only two jars broke (the pantry doors cushioned the blow as the shelf collapsed), and neither of them was liquid. We took it as an excuse to do a little kitchen clearing, and we found all of this… stuff. Everywhere. Too many times I found myself saying, “Ooh, I’d forgotten I had that!”

In the professional kitchen I work in, I feel tremendous guilt when I say that. Finding a case of food in the walk-in freezer that I had insisted on ordering two months ago, and then forgotten about? Not cool. I saw too many unused items in the pantry, and it was time to resist the eating-out temptations that are so rampant in Portland. So I backed off on the grocery shopping for a couple of weeks. I did all right – didn’t go out to eat too much, had a couple of friends over for dinner to help clear things out. On Saturday, I was at the store buying milk and bread, and I spied some cacao nibs.

“All right, self,” I said. “If you’re going to buy these, you need to use them. Soon.”

So I did.

Sugar Cookies with Cacao Nibs
adapted from Mennonite Community Cookbook
makes about 6 dozen cookies

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/4 cup milk
about 1/2 cup cacao nibs

Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until fluffy.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add alternately with milk. Stir until dough is smooth. (I can’t tell you how much easier this is with a mixer than with a wooden spoon and biceps.) Chill in refrigerator for several hours.

Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out to 1″ thickness. Sprinkle top with cacao nibs and keep rolling to 1/4″ thickness. Cut in desired shapes. (I like the plain old circle.) Place 1″ apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. Cool on racks.