Monday, February 7, 2011

The Pantry or What I Need in my Cupboards, on my Counters and in my Frig/Freezer

I can't live without good honey and balsamic vinegar.
A pantry encompasses things you like to cook with on a regular basis.  Things you need all the time.  Things you couldn't live without.  They may sit on the counter (sweet potatoes or onions), be in your frig (mayonnaise) or even in your freezer (bag of blueberries).  You know what those things are for you.   If you're a baker, you'll need baking powder, unsweetened chocolate, etc. If not, you won't buy those things.  I'll make a basic list (and add to it for shopping lists), but you can also visit my friend Lydia Walshin's site The Perfect Pantry and look under "ingredients."  (Lydia also blogs seven different soups every Saturday at Soup Chick.)  This pantry list is a work-in-progress and isn't something to go out and buy today.

If your pantry is well-stocked, you can make a decent meal even without a stop at the store.  You can invite a friend home at the spur of the moment.  You won't starve during a snowstorm or when you have the flu.

Sick or just tired?  You can make soup if you have broth and pasta.

If you made it to the store and bought the first grocery list, you have some of these things.  I'll include them anyway for a complete list.  When I blog recipes, I will (if time) note what you need from the store that isn't on this list.  You'll still need to see if you're out of onions or pasta.

In the Cupboards:  Spices +more , Canned and Dry Goods

Dried Herbs/Spices/Other things in small quantities (I like Penzey's Spices)

Bay leaves
Cayenne (dried, ground red pepper)
Chili powder (Penzey's 3000, Spice Island or make your own)
Cinnamon -I like Vietnamese or Chinese
Cloves (ground)
Curry powder
Mustard, dried (Colman's)
Nutmeg (whole; you'll need a grater)
Pepper, Red, dried flakes
Peppercorns, black (I keep several kinds)
Salt, Kosher
Salt, Sea (I keep several kinds and a grinder; some are used in chunks)

Hot sauce

Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Cream of tartar

Click for a Dictionary of Spices

Dried or Fresh?    Dried or powdered onions or garlic are useful in rubs for meat, etc., but typically you're better off using the real thing for any other cooking.  Also, you can easily grow herbs indoors in a sunny window or in your garden.  I do not lightly say that cooking with fresh herbs makes you so much better a cook that there's no measurement for it.  Without a good window or gardening ability, you will sometimes just need to bite the bullet and pay for fresh herbs at the market.  In summer, farmers markets often have less expensive fresh herbs.

Canned or Dried Goods

Artichokes, jar or can
Beans, canned (no salt)
Beans, dried
Broth, beef
Broth, chicken
Brown and white rice
Chocolate, semi-sweet bars and chips
Chocolate, unsweetened
Crackers,  graham, whole wheat
Cookies, shortbread and/or vanilla wafers
Flour, white (store whole wheat or rye flour in the freezer or frig)
Fruit, canned (unsweetened peaches or pears)
Marinara Sauce
Nuts (I store all other nuts  for cooking/baking in freezer)
Oil, canola
Oil, olive
Pasta (Keep some small, large and long, such as elbows, ziti and linguine)
Peanut  Butter
Peanuts, in jar
Salsa (store in frig once opened)
Soy Sauce
Sugar, brown (Store in the bag inside a real Tupperware container.)
Sugar, white
Tomatoes, canned
Tuna, canned
Vegetables, canned (I keep several kinds of no-salt beans)
Vinegar, apple cider
Vinegar, balsamic
Vinegar, red wine
Vinegar, sherry
Vinegar, white
Vinegar, white wine
Yeast, dried

Refrigerator Items

Asian cooking condiments (Sesame oil, fish sauce, etc.)
Barbeque Sauce (my own or purchased)
Cream Cheese (I like no-fat; great for toast, bagels or crackers)
Ginger (peel your ginger and put it in a jam jar with sherry to cover)
Lemons *
Mayonnaise (Olive oil or Hellman’s)
Meat (Freeze ground meat if not using the day purchased; I keep bacon and/or ham, also leftovers for sandwiches.)
Milk (also ½ and ½ or cream if needed)
Mustard, Dijon
Mustard, Stoneground
Mustard, Yellow
Olives, several kinds
Salad greens
Syrup, Maple
Vegetables (I usually keep peppers, celery, carrots, parsnips, cucumber, spinach, zucchini, yellow squash,  turnips, tomatoes*)
Yogurt, plain

*There are always some fruits and vegetables on the counter, where they keep fine  and are more likely to get used.  Tomatoes are always on my counter unless about to go bad, in which case I use them or store in frig briefly.)

Counter Storage (Some people use bins.)

Onions, yellow and red
Tomatoes (see above)
Potatoes, Idaho or Yukon or small red
Sweet Potatoes
Winter Squash
(Also usually  1.some apples-or other fruit- and a lemon and lime 2. Farmer's Market bounty)

Freezer Storage

Bread (I keep leftover bread, tea bread and baguette for various uses.)
Cookies (Homemade; they don't keep long at altitude.)
Frozen meal, purchased (emergency only--try Michaelangelo's Lasagne)
Fruit (Stock up in the summer and freeze or buy at store; I always keep blueberries.)
Ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato or sorbet
Jam, homemade (Make freezer jam when fruit is in season.)
Leftovers (Make your own instant meals or cook in large quantities or ahead.)
Noodles/pasta, frozen (I keep egg noodles for soup and freeze fresh pasta if I can't use it quickly.)
Protein-Chicken, Burgers, Shrimp, Salmon, Steaks, Chops, Etc (Wrapped in freezer paper, freezer bags, foil or store in Tupperware.)
Onions, pearl (I don't like to peel them.)
Puff Pastry
Vegetables (Stock up in the summer at farmer's markets for the winter or keep a bag of stir fry
    vegetables--or your favorite--from the grocery store.)

Enjoy cooking and taking good care of yourself,

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