18 May, 2010

The Well Stocked Pantry - Top Five

This is an extremely important matter. Many of my recipes call for items that are NOT generally in the grocery lists- and these are what I like to think of as my kitchen staples. As someone just starting to cook, you might not think to keep them handy, but you'll be amazed how often you use them and shocked that you ever survived without having them around. Of course, there are a lot of other sorts of staples. Things like cheese, butter, and spices. I will be discussing these later, and dedicated whole entries to picking and choosing your ingredients. But for now, these are a few things that you can add to your pantry and make your life and your food a lot better.

  • Spike: This is a spice blend that I use constantly. In fact, it is the ONLY conventional spice blend I ever use. It beats the hell out of Mrs. Dash and Lawrey's, and the salt-free variety is pretty good too.

  • Pre-minced garlic: At most grocery stores, you can find a plastic tub or jar of already minced garlic in water, and it keeps practically forever in the fridge. When you're in a rush- and who isn't frequently in a rush when they're making dinner?- it's MUCH easier than going to the trouble of peeling and mincing it yourself. Yes, the flavor is a little weaker, but there's a simple solution to that problem... just add more!

  • Miso: Again, a tub will stay in the fridge practically forever. And you'd be amazed how often you end up using it once you get the hang of it.

  • Broth Powder: I like to keep a few varieties around- chicken, beef, and vegetable.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar: Quality matters in oils and vinegar- not all oil and vinegar is created equal. If you can, sample your oils and balsamics. A good extra virgin olive oil has an almost buttery flavor to it, and smells fragrant. A good balsamic is sweet and tangy, a VERY good balsamic has little enough of an acidic burn to it that you could drink a shot without even thinking to wince.

  • With these items on hand, you will be well prepared to whip up just about anything.

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