Today we were trying to discover what to have for lunch. We discovered a frozen container of Beef Tongue Stew in the freezer. We decided to heat that up and have it over egg noodles.
It turned out quite beautifully, but because I've been watching lots of cooking shows lately, it made me wonder - what standard items do people feel they need in their kitchen? Without these items they would feel absolutely lost. Here are mine.
Broth: Either bouillon cubes to make it or frozen broth made from the scraps that I collect while cooking. I use broth at least 3 times a week. All the broth from scraps are all different, every single time. They never taste the same. Having broth also means I need less salt, and can often do without it.
Balsamic Vinegar and Worcestershire sauce: These are my main marinating and aroma items. I like thick flavors and tang. These two items really satisfy that need.
Onions: Yellow, Sweet, White are the ones usually available to me and I try to keep a large range available at all times.
Potato: This is a bulk item that can be used so many ways it became invaluable to me. Baked, sliced, mashed, fried, grated. It adds thickness, acts as a topping, creates crispy textures and earthy aromas.
Minced Garlic: This is easily for health reasons. Garlic goes in almost everything of mine. Those rank little bulbs with their powerful aroma and taste can withstand heavy cooking, frying, stewing, and still come out making my food smell like the proverbial rose. I have fewer colds, fewer ear infections, fewer sinus problems while eating plenty of garlic.
Curry Powder: Curries using powder are exotic and satisfying. Curries are versatile with any number of vegetables, meat, and either rice or pasta. It can be made mild or spicy.
Chili Powder: Either hot or mild, this sucker brings Taco Bell to its knees in my kitchen, especially where Beef and Chicken are concerned.
Other spices: Cinnamon, Paprika, Ginger
Herbs: Thyme, Sage, Summer Savory, Rosemary, Oregano
Fats: Olive oil, Peanut oil, Vegetable oil, Vegetable shortening, Salted butter.
Seasonal: In summer lots of mint sauce. It goes well not only with lamb and beef but is intrinsically necessary for our Mint Julep obsession! In winter lots of nuts and meat. I prefer thighs to breasts for chicken. Certain herbs are seasonal as well, such as Lemon Balm, Chives, Tarragon, and Parsley. If I don't have them in my garden, they are certainly in a container.
Fruit: I always have oranges around. I have 3 guinea pigs and when I run out they do not forgive me easily. My son also eats them like they are the last pieces of fruit on earth. Strawberries and grapes are good second place items.
Vegetables: I would say 90% of my vegetables are frozen. Corn and Peas at the top of the list followed by spinach, broccoli mixes, squash mixes, and bell peppers.
Meat: Most of what we cook is chicken, followed by fish. I would prefer to have fish as my main with rabbit and lamb second, but unfortunately the cost for that is just astrogastronomical. Beef is usually ground 70% fat. Meat is purchased bulk and frozen. It will always follow the dollar and that is what will make up the stock.
Rice: Long or Medium grain white which comes in 10 pound bags at a reasonable price.
Pasta: Egg noodles, Rotini, Macaroni, Penne, and Shells. Always purchased in bulk as much as I can carry home on the bike when we discover they are gone.
Cheese: Always. Always. Cheese. 50% cheddar, and the other 50% ranging between mozzerella, jack, parmesan, and specialty cheeses. Cheese is a staple that makes life complete when used with casseroles, sandwiches, baked items, and lots of winter items.
I think I remembered everything! I wish I could say I carry lots of Asian and Malaysian items in my pantry, but these are luxuries that I find I have to purchase special things for. Even coconut milk is very expensive for me. I love noodle dishes. They are fast and tasty. I do try to do as many different types of cooking in a year as I can. I don't feel that I am well "balanced" if I do not at least try to cook something different very often. So I utilize my standard items in as many different ways as I can.