Monday, January 21, 2008

Picture heavy post ahead - Staple Items part TWO

I have received a couple of comments and emails about this blog crashing browsers. I have never experienced this but I googled it and found it seems to be related to Internet Explorer, which I never use. It is something with the html on blogspot but I wasn't able to find much more in the short amount of time I looked. I apologize for this causing problems but can suggest (for many reasons other than my blog) that you use Firefox. If this happens for folks in Firefox please let me know. I don't have any crazy content on here so I am not sure what it could be!

Vix had another question about storing produce. I never refrigerate my tomatoes, I read somewhere that this causes them to get mushy. The only produce I regularly have on hand in my fridge are green onions, lemons, limes and spinach.

So lets get on with the show!

I have a standard spice rack given to me as a gift from my brother who works in housewares at a department store. He has been very gracious to me and a lot of my very nice cookware has been gifts from him. You would be surprised at the deals he can get on clearance and returned items. That beautiful red cast iron skillet I used to roast my game hen was from him and its one of my favorite pieces. (maybe I will get into my cookware and gadgets at some point also) Please note that I am 5'3" and this is the first time I have seen the top of my fridge in a long time, I am impressed it is clean!

Now you get to take a look into my nearly 50 year old kitchen cabinets. They are in need of a paint job so I apologize for their haggard looks.

I had to use flash as its dark in my pantry so I am sorry for how this photo looks. I hate flash! This is my pasta collection which thanks to an awesome surprise gift from my sister now contains all that beautifully colored linguine you see. She got some of this flavored pasta for Christmas and bought some for me to experiment with! I have some nice siblings! I keep angel hair, penne, orzo and a few other kinds of pasta on hand. It is so cheap so I just stock up on what I like when it is on sale. I have said before but I try to buy as much whole wheat pasta as possible.

Instant rice might be frowned upon by the snobby foodie culture, but I am not ashamed to say I use it.

I never have milk in my house, I can't stand to drink it. So, I keep powdered milk around for when I need milk in a recipe. Jif is and always will be my PB of choice. The Macallans 12 you see in the background falls into another of the SO's food groups, aged Scotch.

Somehow I have 3 containers of quick oats. I have a problem with buying food.

These pastes are great for quick cooking. Please do not say GAG ME over the anchovy paste. You would be surprised what anchovy is in that you may already eat and it adds a nice flavor to a lot of dishes. These pastes are great if you can find them.

This is a sampling of the many, many varieties of broth that I have. If it is on sale I buy it because this is used in so many recipes.

I love canned tuna, it is total comfort food to me.

I have dried and canned beans on hand and sometimes refried beans.

These are another thing that I have multiple cans of and if they are on sale I buy them. You just can't get good fresh tomatoes year round and you really can't even get good tomatoes at all here in AZ so I use canned a lot.

After I open a can or box of tomato paste I get the plastic wrap out and cut a million squares out. I then spoon 1 Tbs of tomato paste on a square and fold it up and drop it in a ziplock bag. I put the bag in the freezer and anytime I need tomato paste I have some already measured and ready to go.

Gotta have these guys around. I make a pretzel dip with yellow mustard so I like to have a lot of it on hand. I will post that recipe up here soon because it is so good and so easy.

Maille is my dijon mustard of choice, this stuff is SO tasty. You should be able to find this in a regular grocery store. The apple mustard I got on clearance at Sur La Table and I am going to smear it on some pork and grill it very soon.

My brother makes delicious hot wings, so I have a lot of hot sauces around. Maybe he can do a guest spot on the blog sometime. I really like that green tabasco, I kind of think of it as a gateway hot sauce. I was not able to tolerate hot sauces but I started with this milder sauce and it really tasted great and got me excited about getting a tolerance for hotter foods.

In addition to Olive Oil I like to have peanut oil for stir fries and that walnut oil was a splurge from Sur La Table. Somewhere I have some vegetable oil but I very rarely use it.

This is my collection of Asian sauces. You might recognize the 'rooster' sauce with the green top. This is Sriracha sauce and it also got me really excited about spicier foods. I used to think hot was just hot, but now I can recognize the flavors too. I have this in a garlic variety and I put it on popcorn and its DELICIOUS. left to right in this photo is: Fish Sauce, Sriracha, Oyster Oil, Sambal Oelek (I have not used this yet but have seen it in some recipes), Hoisin Sauce (kind of like a BBQ sauce), Sweet Chili Sauce.

I love love love vinegar. It is a fabulous way to bring flavor without fat. I think those are all pretty easy to read so I wont name them. The two on the right are store brand cooking wines. There is a balsamic vinegar in my fridge that I did not include. If I had to recommend a starter vinegar kit I would say, a good balsamic, red wine, and rice vinegar.

These two guys have been a staple for me since childhood. One of these guys also has anchovies swimming through it...

These are so important to me and I will pull the snobby foodie card on this one because iodized salt is GROSS. My friend Vix who asks me a lot of great questions remarked that she got Kosher salt but didn't realize how coarse it was and needed a grinder. I don't grind my kosher salt I just use it as is. The reason you can do this is because Kosher and Sea salts are not nearly as powerful as iodized salt. They are a much more subtle salt flavor and do not taste like chemicals. If you use Kosher for a month or so and then go back to iodized you will be amazed at how bad iodized salt tastes.

In addition to my spice rack that has the usual suspects I have a lot of supplemental spices. I do mean a lot. But these are the ones I cannot live without.

More preaching...use real vanilla, not that imitation junk. Also, use whole nutmegs if you can find them.

I have been replacing a lot of my honey and sugar with Agave Nectar. It has a lower glycemic index than any other sweetener and is derived from plants and is treated by your body as such so it burns the sugars more effectively. (at least that is what it says on the internet). I have molasses as well but its on the top shelf and I didn't feel like dragging out the step stool.

These guys are close by to my prep area because I make cucumber salad with them a lot. Rice vinegar has a delicious sweetness combined with tart that I love.

Wow, we are done! I really hope this helps you as you have helped me to stay motivated in my cooking. You do not need to buy all of the things I have but its a general idea of what basics I have around.

I can't stop thanking you guys for the comments but I will say again that I do appreciate them. If you make the dishes I feature here I'd be excited to see photos as well.

Tomorrow, more cooking!


  1. Have you tried the Chipotle Tabasco? It's also not too spicy, and it has great roasty flavour.

    Thanks for the tour of your pantry!

  2. I need to go buy tons of stuff:) thanks I actually do need to go buy some stuff but don't have room for nearly all you have.

  3. I just wanted to add a plug to your blog for those looking for some good kitchen utensils and things at cheap prices -- TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods stores often carry an interesting and unique selection of things at discount prices. I picked up these today for like $4 (granted, not much cheaper than they offer them online, but still).

    I've also been on a Corningware kick lately... the oldschool blue cornflower ones you could use in the oven for baking and transport directly to the table and they still look nice and are sort of indestructible? I bought a set of handles for them not too long ago and somehow just bought some tiny dishes that I don't have an immediate use for yet but they're so cute! How could I not?

    P.S. Awesome picture set!

  4. I admit, I use imitation vanilla. But it was 8 ounces for $2! How could I resist? :P
    Thanks for the tour! Gotta remember to put balsamic vinegar on my shopping list.

  5. mmmmmm! I adore anchovies, in paste, fresh, tinned, or anchovy sauce. I put a tea spoon of anchovy sauce in most recipes and a sprinkle in tuna mayonnaise sandwich mix makes it fit for a Queen!

    I liked the tour of your pantry very much......interesting to see some makes we have over here in the UK but in different packaging.

    Respect on the SO whisky hubby's fave is Highland Park Malt Whisky, it comes from the Orkney Isles and it is wonderful.

    I will call in again later to peruse more of your wonderful pantry!

    love and light, Jeannie!

  6. ooooh just be re browsing and saw the Agave Nectar, will take a look for that today. I am diabetic on insulin and this may be a good alternative for me. I do not use sweetners 'cos I don't like all the bad publicity they have and usually use maple syrup (small amount) or small amounts of brown sugar.

    Thank you for highlighting this product Agave Nectar, which is new to me.

    J x

  7. That's quite the larder! We use instant rice too sometimes!
    Mom is thrilled that her computer didn't act up today after reading this blog posting! yeaaaaaaaaaaa - she saved the best for last *wink*

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  8. NOTHING wrong with instant rice. I use the instant brown & Scott likes it better than regular. I've always wanted to buy anchovy paste as I cannot deal with those little hairy fish, but don't know what the conversion rate would 4 filets = how many t or T of paste.

    I LOVE this post! I have an unnatural obsession in seeing what others have in the cabinets.


  9. That truly is a well stocked pantry! I don't stock, which I should. I just buy for the need which is so ineffective and really doesn't lend itself to being overly creative. I really think I need to follow your lead.

    I started using agave nectar a few months ago and LOVE it. It really want to start baking with it. Also I couldn't live w/o cumin...I think that has to be my favorite spice.

    I'm with you on spicy...but I'm getting better. I have to try the green hot sauce.

    OK, will stop rambling! I so love your's been really inspirational!!! THANKS!!!

  10. Try mixing some Sriracha and Mayo and dip your French Fries into it. Pure Heaven!