March 14, 2010
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For those rare occasions when I actually feel like cooking for myself, I find a few items especially helpful to have around. Fresh produce is great, but, if you don’t eat it fairly quickly, it’s going to go bad. Similarly, extracts and other pure flavors impart a much deeper (and better) flavor but are extremely expensive and hard to use for a single batch recipe.
To act as stand-ins for such ingredients or, just to start something new up, it’s great to have these few things around because you can use them in so many different ways.
My kitchen staples
a.k.a. the 10 items I never leave the pantry devoid of
10. Canned vegetables (these work well when the vegetable is something like corn)
9. Canned/frozen fruit (helps me make it through the long Michigan winters devoid of any of my favorite fruits)
8. Garlic/onion powder (when I have time, I love to chop up some fresh garlic and onions and saute it until the entire apartment smells, but I don’t usually have time to do that and, because I love garlic so much that a vampire who I happened to cross my path would be more scared of me than I was of him, I rely heavily on the powdered stuff)
7. Cottage cheese (+ melon, need I say more? In case I do, it can also be used in pasta, pureed and mixed with eggs and flavorings for protein pancake-y things, or just eaten plain)
6. Fat free yogurt (use as a sour cream substitute, a baked potato topping, a sweet treat with sugar substitute and fruit, a smoothie ingredient or a replacement for oil in a baking recipe)
5. Cereal (besides its typical breakfast uses, cereal can be used as a crunchy topping for desserts like parfaits or crushed and used as breadcrumbs to coat things like cheese sticks or onion slices)
4. Canned beans (“but fresh are so much better tasting and less chemical-ey”. Sorry purists, I don’t really care. As much as I’d like to plan ahead and make start making beans 3 days before I want to eat them, I don’t often have the luxury to do so)
3. Jello sf/ff pudding mix (whether it’s to spice up a smoothie or make a delicious stand alone dessert, this stuff has uses (in sweets) beyond comprehension)
2. Frozen/refrigerated veggie meat (great for stir-fry, scrambles, pizzas, sandwiches or just about anything else you can imagine, depending on the kind you get, of course)
And the number one thing I never leave my home out of is……
Frozen veggies/veggie blends
Although these things take up quite a bit of freezer space, they’re great to have around. Whether it be in breakfast scrambles or dinner stir fries, nothing can beat a bag of good old frozen 3 pepper and onion blend. Surprisingly enough, I have found that, if you buy the store brand, it’s actually cheaper than chopping up the fresh red/orange/yellow peppers (yes, there’s green in there too, but those are cheap).