If I am over to your home, you best know I shall be snoopin' in your pantry.
Do you mind?
It tells a lot about you. A glimpse into your foodie soul.
I'll try not to judge you.
I have a friend, poor thing. This friend has the saddest little collection of goods I have ever seen. It's OK, he knows this. He lives on cheese and olives. But not even good cheese and olives. We're talking Velveeta and the ones with pimentos. It's OK, he knows this. But this friend wants to grow! He wants to eat real food. He came to me for advice. I shall now pass along the same advice to you.
First step. Do a clean sweep. Just purge. Anything that looks funky toss it. Even if you think you might eat that half used bottle of 3 year old rainbow sprinkles or all 600 packets of ketchup from Wendys --you won't, so just toss it.
Here we go y'all...I know I said pantry, but I'm gonna throw in some things that might need the fridge. With these staples on hand you can make anythang!
Fat! It's real good. No lard for us folks.
Must haves: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Butter(for richness!) or a non-dairy sub like Smart Balance.
Step it up: Flaxseed Oil--this is so good for you. I use it in salad dressings. Don't cook with it. Just raw.
Feelin' Fancy: Coconut Oil. This is my new favorite. I know what you are thinking. "Dani, that is saturated fat!--Isn't that bad for us?!?" Coconut oil is actually very good for you. Check out the link.
I put a bit (.25 teaspoon) in my tea!
*Fat makes things taste extra delicious. But if you are anti-fat you can saute things perfectly using broth or stock--be it veg or chick.
Acid!How rock-n-roll. Acidic foods balance out flavors.
~ Lemons and Limes: Real ones. None of that fake plastic fruit silliness. Keep them handy. They last quite a while.
~Balsamic Vinegar: BV is a a great deglazer. It makes wonderful sauces and is great for marinades and dressings.
~A white vinegar: You choose. Frankly, all vinegars have their speciality. And their own unique taste. But you don't need 5. Either Apple Cider or White Wine will do the trick.
Spices! This is really about personal taste. You could get a spice rack and have all your bases covered, but those spices aren't usually the freshest. Even though spices are dried their potency wears out over time. Below are just some of my faves. Do what you like, but create a variety. "Italian Spices" won't work in every dish.
Must haves: Sea or Kosher Salt and A Pepper Mill(Grind it up!)
My faves: Cinnamon, Red Pepper Flakes, Curry, Dill(I'm in a dill phase...), Fennel Seeds, Chili Powder, Cumin.
These are spice combos that rock: Garam masala(Indian), Chinese 5 Spice, Herbes de Provence( make sure to get the one with lavender), Pumpkin Pie Spice (I use it all year round!), a Grill Seasoning, Old Bay(Best seafood spice eva!).
Feelin' fancy: Saffron(...it takes anything from 70,000 to 250,000 flowers to make one pound of saffron-- so it's pricey!), Pure Vanilla(derived from the pods of the only edible Orchid--pure is amazing.)
*Some herbs are best fresh: Mint, Cilantro, Rosemary-- for example. You can get these dried, but dried Basil does not produce the same effect as fresh! Mix and match. Grow a wee herb garden!
Ok that's a start.
More to come.
"To eat good food is to be close to God." said Primo!