The In and Out to your Pantry- part 1
I like to make supper each night- but I like to do it fast! My noted specialty is how fast the meal gets on the table… To be able to do this it is important to have what I need in the pantry and fridge. I only want to stock the pantry every week or so, but stop for fresh produce more often.
Keeping the pantry well organized, and getting rid of things not often used is an art I am working towards.
Some items in the pantry are really unnecessary – in that they are easy to duplicate on my own.
OUT- get rid of packaged bread crumbs or croutons
IN- use bread and make crumbs, cubes or slices of bread, and either toast evenly in a low oven until dry and lightly browned, tossing occasionally- they keep a long time. Or cook in olive oil until brown and crisp, stirring frequently, then best used quickly, but are really yummy.
OUT- there is no need to purchase bouillon cubes or powder, or canned stock
IN- just simmer a carrot, a celery stalk and half an onion in a couple of cups of water for 10 minutes, but if you have any chicken scraps, cook for ˝ hour with those same vegetables to get a great chicken stock
OUT- spray cooking oil. This is way more expensive than a good extra virgin olive oil which contains no additives
IN- Buy a good olive oil and get a hand-pumped sprayer if you mush spray. Or get a silicone brush or just use your fingers.
OUT- Premade salad dressing and marinades. Very expensive!
IN- use a shaker and mix good oil and vinegar or lemon juice, add a little salt, pepper, maybe a little Dijon, in a proportion of about three parts oil to one of vinegar. Make your own mixes by using more or less vinegar, different vinegars, add some honey or garlic… whatever you want.
OUT- bottled lemon or lime juice
IN- Lemons. Try buying six at a time; grate the zest, then squeeze the juice to use. If you don’t need it now, freeze in ice cube trays. Soak the lemon in warm water to bring to room temperature if cold- you will get more juice.
OUT- toss those spices that are older than a year. Take a smell and if you smell dust toss even if not a year old.
IN- Fresh spices – it is always worth the price to get the best. The ones you use frequently are worth having the fresh alternative. Some favorites are cardamom, fennel seeds, cinnamon, dried chilies, fresh ginger.
OUT- Dried parsley and basil- no taste at all
IN- Fresh parsley will keep at least a week in the refrigerator. Try using it lots of recipes even if it isn’t called for. Toss it in a salad, over cooked carrots, and in any olive oil or melted butter when roasting chicken. Another good fresh herb is dill which is good with chicken; on plain broiled fish, with lemon; or in many simple soups.