Last minute dinner guests, a stormy night in, or simply the desire to eat well without leaving the comforts of home… not a problem.
And the best argument of all for maintaining a few well chosen staples: No more high-fat, cardboard-tasting, fast food!
Healthy fats and oils:
Extra virgin olive oil: dark greenish-gold with a fruity taste. This is great for lower-heat cooking and non-cooking uses such as salad dressings, dips and marinades.
Light olive oil: paler yellow and mild flavor. It will not scorch as quickly when subjected to higher heat.
Coconut Oil: from Wiki, "Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Because of its high saturated fat content it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidification, lasting up to two years without spoiling." Rancidification? Do you think that's a real word? Surprisingly, coconut oil doesn't make everything you eat taste like you're throwing a luau. I love it in rice.
Oil sprays: Buy olive or coconut oil sprays and avoid chemically made oils, like canola.
Sesame oil: Good to keep on hand for any of your oriental dishes... a little goes a long way.
Vinegar: Vinegar types and flavors are as varied as ladies’ shoe styles. Names like apple cider, red wine, champagne, raspberry, rice wine, sherry and balsamic may boggle the mind. Vinegars made with different ingredients have different purposes. Be brave, be creative! Next time you are at the store, pick up a new vinegar and experiment.
Other lovely condiments:
Honey (raw and local)
Mustard: Yellow, Dijon, dry mustard, course grain, spicy brown and sweet hot, to name a few.
Sesame tahini paste
Spice mixes in a tube
Tomato paste in a tube
Bullion cubes, paste or powder
Flour: All-purpose, wheat, bread flour and self-rising are a few types.
Grits and cornmeal, white or yellow
Mushrooms, dried (like wild mixed, porcini and shitake) and canned
Pasta: Spaghetti, Rigatoni, Penne, Farfalle, Gnocchi and Pappardelle. Orzo and small pastas for soups such as stars, ditilani (small cut pasta) or alphabets.
Rice: Wild, Arborio, Basmati, yellow, white and brown
Sugar: White, brown, raw or turbinado.
Yeast, fast or instant
Anchovies... yes, trust me. they are useful for more than pizza topping. Available in a can or jar. The jar can be resealed & kept in the door of fridge after opening.
Beans, canned: Cannellini, garbanzo, Pinto, Red, black and baked.
Broth or stock: Beef, chicken, seafood and vegetable.
Evaporated milk: low-fat or fat-free available
Greek black olives, green olives stuffed with pimientos
Pimientos, diced, in jar
Roasted Peppers, red or yellow
Tomatoes: Crushed, whole, diced, fire roasted, stewed, sauce and paste
Tuna: packed both in oil and in water
Potatoes: red, Idaho, dutch baby and sweet, just to name a few. Keep track of these and use them before they spoil. Potatoes can be added to scrambled eggs, roasted in oven, mashed or fried. You can even make gnocchi, (pasta dumplings) out of them.
Onions: sweet or yellow. shallots, garlic... don't store these with the potatoes. They're not good neighbors.