in our apartment, we quite literally have cooking supplies falling out of our five pathetic cabinets. unfortunately, we’re developing a pattern of one broken glass/cup/bowl per week as the dried garlic mill and costco-sized basil jar lurch onto the stove in violent revolt each time we open the door. thank goodness, we haven’t broken any of my very favorite items yet…though we mourned the passing of an adorable carrot spoonrest just this week.
I need to store ingredients that are most efficient, so here are some of my most frequently used:
- GRAPESEED OIL fantastic for frying (breaded chicken or eggplant), more flavorful than canola or peanut oil
- PURE OLIVE OIL which is actually a blend of olive oils, a must for sautéing and roasting and salad dressings and, oh I could go for days. I do like purchasing bottles at Trader Joes or Whole Foods, where their brands are reliable and less expensive than other stores
- EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is lovely added to a simple pasta dish or as a finishing touch, but this is NOT always appropriate for sautéing, as Extra-Virgin smokes with high heat. be wary, too, that Extra-Virgin has a more fruity flavor than Pure, so it can be very overwhelming in a salad dressing that also includes aromatic oils like sesame or soy–beware clashing of the flavors!
- CANOLA OIL though I don’t like it. as I mentioned before, when it comes to salad dressings, sometimes it’s necessary to have a flavorless oil that contributes to consistency but not taste. for these cases, I like to have canola on hand, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE know that canola oil has deodorizers (as part of its processing) which masks rancidity. canola is prone to spoil, and I shutter now thinking of all the times I used my Grammy’s ancient canola on frequent visits…
- SESAME SEEDS are essential when I’m finishing asparagus or salads, though I try to always toast them in a dry skillet for best flavor
- SLIVERED ALMONDS, WALNUT PIECES, & NUTS GALORE all kept in the crisper of our fridge; nuts are also prone to rancidity, and they’re most trustworthy in the fridge or freezer…always toast on low heat in a dry skillet before sprinkling on salad, couscous, chicken, etc. (do get these at Trader Joes if you have access to one, groceries stores charge up to three times more for nuts)
- CHICKEN STOCK or vegetable broth, whatever has the least sodium and additives. Costco now sells 6-packs of organic broth, and I always keep a stash behind my oils. absolutely perfect for couscous, rice, last-minute risotto—there are so many ways to enhance a simple last-minute meal by replacing stock for water. Beware the sodium!!
- SOY SAUCE / SESAME OIL / TERIYAKI SAUCE / RICE VINEGAR for instant, memorable Asian dishes. whether a fast stir-fry with fresh ingredients, or exquisite salad dressings, these are the essentials for basic impromptu meals. please, please, please refrigerate all of these! check the bottles: you may be surprised to find it is essential to keep many of these chilled after opening. sesame oil is especially prone to rancidity
- WHOLE GRAIN PASTA / COUSCOUS / BASMATI RICE ensure I have an exciting complex carb around with which this vegetarian can build an efficient, sustaining meal. I don’t buy jarred sauces unless we’re making pizza, and all of these are perfect with simple broth or bold olive oil. add veggies and nuts to any of these for a filling, flavorful dinner
- FRESH GARLIC / YELLOW ONIONS stored in a cool spot. again, these are an inexpensive, flavor-packed way to enhance endless meals—not to mention a great way to add nutrients. roast your garlic or onions for an entirely new experience
- FROZEN VEGGIES are crucial; pick your favorites. broccoli, spinach, chopped peppers, etc. are versatile for your stir-fry or whole-grain. sear any frozen veggie in a little oil on medium-high heat to keep the ingredient crispy and so scrumptious you’d swear it’s fresh
- to be continued…
check out my favorite kitchen supplies that make it all possible.