I just finished reading a post elsewhere that claimed to list three ingredients that everyone should have ‘in stock’ at all times to ensure that they, the diners, can make a great, healthy meal anytime, on the spur of the moment. They said Salsa, Yogurt and Eggs. I agree about the Eggs, but…
My go-to list of essentials – ingredients I buy almost every time I’m at the supermarket – is longer and more varied than the quirky three-item list on that other flood blog…
First, I always have Romaine Lettuce in the house. It goes into Salads, of course, as well as Sandwiches, Tacos and Wraps, which are some of my go-to light meals and snacks. Also, if I’m feeling guilty about what I’m having, I can go short on the Meat and Cheese and long on the Lettuce, and still have a filling, satisfying Sammy.
I also stock in Flour Tortillas in two sizes, for Tacos and Burritos, respectively. I also use them for other kinds of Wraps. Keeps the Bread in a respectful, supporting-actor role compared with the fillings. Occasionally, I make my own Tortillas and make a big batch, so I can freeze them in fives and tens for convenient access as needed.
The Eggs… There was a time when Eggs were condemned as high-cholesterol baddies, things to be scorned and avoided. But, more recently, they’ve been exonerated by science and medicine and, in fact, are lauded as healthy, high protein and – if you buy the premium kind – just dripping in healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids. I make my own version of commercial Breakfast Sandwiches once or twice a month, cooking he eggs in a ring mould like they do at the Fast Food chains. I like to have Scrambled or Over-Easy Eggs as part of a big, traditional Breakfast. And I make Omelets on special occasions. All of which is not to say we eat eggs every day in our house. Far from it. Oh, yes… You’ll also need Eggs for Baking and Battering…
Olive Oil. No, I don’t buy it almost every time I go to the Grocery Store. But I always have it in the house, for Cooking, Salads and Pizza Crusts. You need fat in bread, and I use Olive Oil to enhance my crust.
Corn Oil. I do a lot of Stir Frys, and I’ve learned that Asian cooks use a lot of Corn Oil, along with Peanut and Sesame Oils, in their cooking. I also use it in some Bread and Baked Goods recipes.
Canola Oil. Before it was given a marketing makeover the PC era, it was known as Rapeseed Oil and it is now a favourite of cooks of all stripes who want a high-temperature, flavourless Oil for everyday Frying ans Baking. It’s more expensive than plain old Soy-based Vegetable Oil, but it’s also much better for you.
Real Butter. Yes, I use it. It’s my go-to for spreads and some Frying tasks, like Omelets. Like Eggs, the reputation of this once much-maligned staple has lately been rehabilitated by science and medicine. And, really, there’s nothing else quite like it!
Sour Cream is my go-too goo for Dip Bases, Garnishing and Sauce Thickening (think Noodles Romanov).
Garlic is a daily necessity in my kitchen. I use it in many, many ways. I like the plain old medium-sized heads, not the ‘Elephants Foot’, Purple or other Garlics. Along with Black Garlic, they’re more generally costlier than they’re worth. There is no substitute for freshly chopped Garlic.
Onions – by which I mean plain old Yellow Cooking Onions – are definitely a staple with me. I use them in any number of recipes; at least once a day. They’re inexpensive and indispensable!
Scallions go by many names: Pullers, Green Onions, Onion Scapes. But they’re a mainstay of Asian cooking, and I love them in Soups and Stews. I also like to garnish Soups, Stews and other dishes with a little finely chopped Scallion, at least until my Chives come up in the garden.
Milk is a must-have for Cream Sauces and other uses. I always have 2% in the fridge. It can do anything you want Milk to do.
Cream is also a standard item in my fridge. I use 35% Cream everywhere Cream is called for, and I like to have a cup handy for quick Whipping when a Dessert needs a little extra touch. One of my fave Cream-reliant dishes is Fettuccine Alfredo.
Bread Flour is something I use often. In fact, Erin has been baking our Daily bread for years, now. We haven’t bought a loaf of bread from the store since 2011!
Pastry Flour is a thing I insist on when baking. Recipes that call for All-Purpose get a 50-50 mix of Pastry and Bread Flour. There’s nothing like real Pastry Flour when making a good, old-fashioned Two-Egg Cake, or, especially, a light, flaky Pie Crust!
I could go on and on…
… But this seems a long enough list for today. Tomorrow, Saturday, it’s Fast Food Week!, but I’ll be back Sunday with a list of the Herbs and Spices I consider essential!
~ Maggie J.