Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ten Kitchen Essentials

The San Francisco Chronicle's Food Section has a story this week titled Ten Kitchen Essentials. This list "goes beyond [the] basics like kosher salt and panko breadcrumbs" listed here and includes the following:

Mirin (Japanese rice wine);
Dark chocolate (at least 62% cocoa);
Fish sauce (the Southeast Asian clear sauce);
Salted capers;
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce;
Garbanzo beans (I prefer to call them chickpeas);
High quality honey;
Whole grain mustard;
Fancy tuna in olive oil

It happens that quinoa and chickpeas are a standard item in my pantry, piled on shelves in the garage, as well. I personally prefer rice to quinoa, but Zirpu likes quinoa's higher protein and lower glycemic index better, so we have both. It's also important to be able to whip up a batch of hummus anytime, and I have been known to use them as part of a whole non-chickpea-focused recipe as well. We like mustards here, and the kinds of mustards we buy - garlic mustard, jalapeno mustard, Jim Beam mustard - tend to be made with whole grain mustard. But we also keep the usual yellow on hand. I use fish sauce so slowly that it becomes part of the pantry after I buy a bottle for the few tablespoons I need for a Chinese recipe from my wok book.

The rest of this intrigues me. These are pantry items? I think of pantry items as the things you could make a meal of, not with. It strikes me that perhaps this list was mistitled as "essentials' and should have been called something like "Ten Versatile Pantry Items" and even then not including cream of mushroom soup is pretty questionable). Kitchen Essentials in my kitchen, in no particular order:

Olive oil
Mustard of some type
Tuna (not packed in oil)
Pasta (low carb, soy or whole wheat)
Barbecue sauce (because I have several slow cookers)

The top ten things we pack the boxes with at the food bank are:
Canned fruit;
Canned vegetables;
Canned corn;
Canned soup;
Canned tomatoes;
Canned chili, stew, or ravioli;

These are what I consider the "essential" essentials, the best guess for feeding folks from nonperishable goods for the best price (several commenters in the original article mentioned the cost of the Chron's list).

Now, please excuse me while I make biscuits out of flour and bacon grease to go with the slow-cooked ribs with barbecue sauce.

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