Food Topic: Pantry basics
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The month of January has been a review of the basic items needed in the kitchen and pantry to cook most recipes you may want to make.  The following is a list of items in a well rounded pantry:


  • Baking powder- run out? Mix equal parts of baking soda and cream of tartar together

  • Baking soda- keep in a sealed container for freshness

  • Barbecue sauce- add a splash of liquid smoke and simmer with 1 wedge of lemon for 5 minutes to remove
                                   any commercial taste

  • Beans- red kidney, white, lentils, split peas- don’t need to soak beans over night before cooking!

  • Cereal- watch the sugar content!  Add cornflakes to chocolate chip cookie dough for a great crunch

  • Chocolate- unsweetened squares, milk or semisweet chips, cocoa powder

  • Coffee- personal preference, though freshly ground beans taste great!

  • Cooking spray- a great way to cut back on added fats in cooking is to spray your pan w/a light coating of
                               oil instead of covering the bottom of the pan with oil

  • Corn starch- used mainly as a thickener, also used to coat meats for a great stir fry

  • Crackers- watch out for hydrogenated fats. There are crackers in the health food section in the grocery that don't contain                 
                       hydrogenated fats.

  • Cream of tartar- a must for baking

  • Dried fruits- raisins at the very least, but craisins are great as a salad topping

  • Ethnic items- hoisin sauce, chili paste, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, black and pinto beans,  
                            tortillas- corn and flour, water chestnuts, baby corn

  • Flour- unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat, bread, cake

  • Grains- barley, rice- long grain, preferably brown for the most nutritional value

  • Ketchup- lots of uses besides pouring on French fries

  • Milk- evaporated- use as a low/no fat substitute for heavy cream in sauces and soups
             -powdered- an inexpensive way to add milk to baked items, pancakes, cocoa mix
            -sweetened condensed- use in cheesecakes and the always popular 7-layer cookie bars

  • Nuts- almonds, peanuts, pecans, soy, walnuts- they contain good fats- great on salads or a quick snack

  • Oats- rolled- for best flavor and texture avoid instant mixes and make your own hot oatmeal- can control the amount of
                          sugar and can add fresh and dried fruits

  • Oils- olive- great for salad dressings and sautéing
           -vegetable- plain corn or soy is best for cooking and baking
           -peanut- used for stir fries and deep frying

  • Onions- yellow is the basic onion- can substitute white or scallions in many recipes, red is nice in cold 
                  dishes, as the color will wash out when cooked

  • Potatoes- I really like the versatile Yukon Gold’s creamy texture, whether you bake, fry or boil them

  • Pasta- elbow, egg noodles, spaghetti- there are high protein versions on the market today that taste great

  • Pasta sauce- pour over meatballs or Italian sausage to make a quick sub meal

  • Peanut butter- not just for sandwiches, mix with a little honey for a pancake topping, thin with water and
                             Soy sauce for an oriental peanut dip for chicken wings

  • Salad dressing/mix- use the packet mixes for the freshest taste, add to a little oil for a quick marinade

  • Tea- brew your own and save money and the flavor is superior to powdered or canned

  • Tomatoes- canned whole/crushed, chopped, paste, puree/sauce

  • Tuna- packed in water- mix equal parts of plain yogurt and mayo for a lighter version of tuna salad

  • Soup- assorted- for those emergency meals and casseroles

  • Stock/broth- beef, chicken- avoid boullion cubes- mostly salt

  • Sugar- brown, granulated, powdered

  • Vinegars- balsamic, cider, red wine- use with different oils for unique salad dressings

  • Other items you may randomly need: capers, chili sauce, corn meal, Corn syrup, gelatin- unflavored, honey, molasses, pine nuts (though walnuts can be substituted in most recipes like pesto, coconut (shredded), white wine vinegar, yeast

  •  Handy paper products to have on hand: aluminum foil, paper towels, parchment paper, plastic bags- resealable sandwich and gallon size, plastic wrap, wax paper, wooden toothpicks 



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