“My first act before I went into the pantry was to fasten the door between the kitchen and the scullery. But the pantry was empty; every scrap of food had gone.” The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
How is 2016 going for you so far? Sticking to your resolutions?
For this post, I’m sharing with you the must-haves in my cupboards and pantry. With these ten pantry essentials, I’m ready to tackle any cooking or baking escapade that strikes my fancy.
I didn’t include salt and pepper; I assume they’re a given on every cook’s pantry essentials list. No cook worth one’s salt would be without salt and pepper.
(Sorry . . . I couldn’t help myself!)
My list is divided into ten categories. Ready to take a peek at my shelves? Come on over!
1. Whole grains. These two are in my “must never run out” category:
Whole-wheat flour. I’m spoiled when it comes
to whole-grains, and try to skip the refined stuff most of the time. I enjoy switching it up in the baking department with gluten-free flours, but whole-wheat must be on my shelf. Always.
Granted, “always” doesn’t always happen—these muffins are an example. And you know how much I like to make do with what I have around. I don’t like to be without whole-wheat flour for long, though.
By the way, have you tried whole-wheat pastry flour? Can you believe I haven’t? That needs to change ASAP.
3. Baking soda and baking powder. These two belong together. ‘Cause they both start with the word “baking.” Plus, if you have baking soda, you’re never far from baking powder.
4. Spices and herbs. Cumin, ginger, chili powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes—I love them all. But the one I reach for the most for anything and everything is . . .
Cinnamon. Mingled with savory spices in a cucumber chutney . . . sprinkled on a warm, oozy baked sweet potato . . . showered in a bowl of plain yogurt, apples, and granola . . . in my house, cinnamon is quickly depleted and quickly replaced.
5. Nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds are a great crunchy topper, almonds can be whirred in a food processor for instant almond flour/butter . . .
And then we have my favorite of all the nuts God ever created: peanuts. (Yeah, technically, peanuts should be grouped with the beans, but I don’t feel like being technical!)
A world without peanuts would be a world without peanut butter. Unthinkable! A” no peanut butter world” equals bland, naked fruits and veggies, unfulfilled Thai peanut sauce cravings, and a lackluster chicken salad. Face it:
life a pantry is not the same without peanut butter. Period.
6. Cocoa. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m a chocoholic. And I’m very proud of that fact. Cold, snowy days (Jonas, I’m looking at you!) are made for mugs of hot chocolate.
Here’s a tip: to combat the lumps I used to get microwaving my hot chocolate, I started adding a teeny bit of hot water to the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth, add the milk, and then, heat it up in the microwave. Problem solved.
7. Olive oil. Goodness, when do I not use this? I sauté with olive oil, whisk up dressings with olive oil, bake with olive oil, roast with olive oil . . . the list goes on.
9. Spicy mustard. I surround myself with packets of this zingy condiment to ensure I never run out. The spicier the mustard, the better—I can never have too much spice! (Okay, okay, maybe I can—which brings us to . . .)
10. Sweetener. I try to keep at least two in stock at all times. I may not like my food super sweet, but a honey-mustard sauce wouldn’t be the same without honey, and a brownie wouldn’t be as satisfying without a packet or two of a stevia blend. A sweetener also comes in handy when spiciness gets a little out of hand. (Yes, for me to have a few occasions to tone down heat is saying something!)
So, there you have it: the ten pantry essentials I can’t live without.
Now it’s your turn: what items are absolutely necessary for your pantry happiness?