You've had a long day, all you want is dinner (and preferably someone to make it!), but you don't have the right ingredients. For years, I have tried to teach my daughter that if you have the basic food staples, you can cook anything. Here are some basics which will take you a long way with pretty much any recipe.
1. Herbs and Spices - Dried herbs and spices are great to have on hand. If you do anything in 2010, build yourself an herb garden. We grow basil, chive, flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, sage, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, dill, tarragon and mint. (Note on mint: Grow in a separate container, it is invasive and will take over your garden. We planted ours in the center of flowers. See large gray pot above.) We were able to use our herbs all summer and well into the fall. These are dried herbs which you may use on a regular basis...
~ basil, thyme leaves, oregano, sage leaves, tarragon leaves, bay leaves, black pepper, red pepper (cayenne), red pepper flakes, parsley, onion powder, onion salt, garlic powder, rosemary, paprika, dill, salt (table salt, sea salt, kosher salt), cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla ~
2. Vegetables - Onions and garlic are a must. Second to that is carrots, celery, peppers and potatoes (red, yukon and sweet). We grow zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, green beans and peppers in our garden. Every once in a while, we will plant lettuce at the beginning or end of the season. If you have a summer garden, then you know how much better the food tastes.
3. Fruits - apples, pears, oranges, lemons and limes.
4. Canned goods - Canned tomatoes (crushed, sauce, diced and paste), beans (kidney beans, cannellini beans, northern whites), soups (cream of mushroom, tomato), chicken broth, beef broth, pineapple chunks, and mandarin oranges
5. Rice and pasta - Assortment- white rice, wild rice, arborio (for risotto), spaghetti, ziti, orzo.
6. Frozen - Peas, corn, spinach and broccoli, chicken breasts, ground beef, ground sausage.
7. Dry Ingredients - Flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, rolled oats, bread crumbs, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins
8. Oils, Vinegars and Wine - Olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, sesame oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white cooking wine, marsala cooking wine, white wine, red table wine, and soy sauce.
9. Assorted others - Milk, butter, orange juice, peanut butter, honey, eggs and of course, Hershey's chocolate syrup...just looking to see if you are paying attention.
Having these ingredients, within reach, makes meal planning easy for you or the person you get to cook!
Now that I have shared my list, what is a staple ingredient you can't live without?