Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Basics: A Peek in the Pantry


I am a from-scratch cook, simply because living out in the country, it's just easier to have the basic ingredients on hand so I can make a wide variety of recipes. When we first moved to our farm, access was so difficult that it was not unusual for me to get out to the store only once or twice a month. We bought in bulk, and to this day I retain some of that habit. I keep a good stock of basic cooking ingredients on hand.


For example, for baking I keep:
Flour (both self-rising and plain), sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, cocoa, eggs, cinnamon and other spices, butter, and cooking oil. There is almost no limit to the recipes that can be made with these ingredients. Add a few nuts, raisins, oats or peanut butter and the range expands.


For general cooking:
Spray olive oil, rice, garlic, pepper, a variety of pastas, and dried or canned beans of many kinds.


To the above, add the vegetables, meats, fruits and potatoes from the cellar and freezer, and dinner possibilities are multiple choice. Can't forget tea and coffee either, and wine is a given, right?


Then there is the fresh stuff that for me is as important as the staples:

Apples, oranges, celery, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots provide the bright punch of flavor during winter months we all need. In warmer weather, a lot of these are replaced or supplemented by the garden.


I'm curious as to what you consider to be the basics in your kitchen cabinets and fridge. What can you absolutely not cook without? What do you depend on for emergencies and quick dinners?

10 comments:

Cathy said...

I do my best to keep all the staples on hand. Last week when I could not get off the ridge we were fine. I always have potatoes,apples and lots of canned food. Milk is the big thing because we run out of it quicker when all 6 are here. I get fresh eggs about twice a week too as we go thru 4 dozen when all the kids are here. I bake alot. When we have "nothing" in the house I can alaways make potato soup, fritatta, fresh bread, spaghetti, chili, fried potatoes and gravy and biscuits. I grew up with family who made feasts out of "nothing" in the house and you learn what you live. Cannot live without? Potatoes and canned tomatoes.

warren said...

We pretty much keep the scratch ingredients on hand too...flours, sugars, etc. We don't keep as much fresh fruit on hand as we don't eat much but we do have canned goods from the summer garden. We can never keep enough milk or eggs on hand it seems!

Laura said...

My grandmother always had ingredients on hand to make whatever she fancied. She'd announce, let's make______ and she always miraculously had what was needed. After moving to the country, I understand this. We can't just run to the store when we are out of something.
I keep the basic baking staples on hand and try to always have potatoes and noodles. That plus the meat in the freezer can always turn into something.

Mary Garrett said...

I've only started cooking again. For years "cooking" was frozen dinner or reheating doggie bags (even from school lunches, if you believe that). Now that I'm "house poor" (anyone want to buy a condo in Missouri?), I'm eating out less and finding that what I cook myself is better and usually heathier also. The freezer is stocked with meat from Angel Food, and I always have milk, tofu, fruits and veggies - and bread -- I guess the next thing is to start baking bread.
I used to go to the store when I ran out of bananas, but with the latex allergy, I can't have bananas, so now I can go longer between grocery shopping. Milk is usually the deciding commodity now.

tipper said...

My staples are much the same as yours-in addition we always have cereal, milk, cheese, and yogurt. I like knowing I have supplies on hand to cook just about anything-and if you keep things well stocked it seems to be cheaper than having to run out for things every few days-plus I don't like running out!!

Susan said...

My son's diet is gluten-free, so I'm a scratch-cooker too! Flour, butter, eggs (from our own hens), milk, sugar, and our favourite spices and seasonings are always in the house.

Anonymous said...

I am in want of a cellar. I don't have one and at this point don't need one . . . just want one.

Staples: in additon to the staples: onions, green peppers (we freeze them)potatoes and milk, even if it is canned or dried milk for soups and gravy. In the freezer: chicken, beef, pork and fish.

Granny Sue said...

I understand that want! I craved one too at one time. Then I needed one, and we found an old cut stone cellar that we took apart and moved to our property. I love my cellar, not just for the amount of food it can hold, but for what it represents: hand-cut stone carefully dressed to fit together by someone years ago, and all the jars, potatoes and apples that have probably been protected by the heavy stone walls.

Lori said...

I am coveting your cellar with all the home canned goods. I used to have something like that at our old place before i worked full-time and now, canned goods from the store. It's just not the same. I'd say my staples are pretty very similar to yours other than, I've gotta have cheese - must have cheese.

Karen Pierce Gonzalez said...

Okay, I'm impressed with all of you!
I don't have a special pantry. I live in the suburbs about 2 miles from a very nice, California cuisine style grocery store and a community garden I participate in. If I need something, it's easy to hop on the bicycle or get in the car and be back home in less than 15 minutes.
That having been said, I do keep staples on hand so that I can basically whip something up... of course, there are also literally dozens of eating establishments in the neighborhood, so to speak, so last minute dining elsewhere can work, too!
It's amazing how our environments impact the kind of food pantry basics we keep in stock!

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