A functional pantry is an essential tool for a home cook. It not only should be brimming with staples, but it also should contain the occasional splurge item (I call them my hidden gems) and those ingredients that are most frequently featured in your family’s most beloved dishes.
One should be able to reach into the pantry (be it a walk in marvel or a modest cabinet) and find just the right thing that’s needed.
Looking through my recipes, you will find that I use many different kinds of ingredients (some common, some unusual). I like to keep a variety of staples (that I rotate depending of the season) always on hand, and an even greater variety of produce and spices that constitute the backbone of my cooking.
I do advocate for organic food whenever possible, (although I recognize that sometimes it might be difficult to find a particular item in its organic form). I feel that there is ample research that supports the benefits of organic food and its superior nutritional value compared to non-organic items. It is undeniably healthier for everyone and better for the environment. On both counts, I will always opt for organic when I am shopping and I will adapt my menus to whatever the market offers. I feel that buying organic is like “voting with my wallet”. I believe in it and I put my money where my mouth is.
I like to go shopping often. It’s a good habit. I grew up in Spain, where people go shopping for food everyday of the year to get their fresh baked bread and whatever is new at the market. In Spain fresh fish and seafood arrives to market (and is discarded) daily. Boxes and boxes of fruit are stacked and sorted by color and size. Seasonal vegetables are displayed in bundles or trays in every stand. There are so many different types of cheese, that if you ate a different one each day , you wouldn’t get through the lot in one year. Olives, nuts, spices, oils, grains and meats are all there ready to go each day. It’s a routine that faithfully repeats itself daily in every city and town in the country.
In this section, you’ll get a glimpse of what I find during my shopping expeditions. Your pantry might be different, but I hope that you can find a bit of inspiration by reading about the items that I choose to stock in mine. It’s fun to be adventurous sometimes, even when it does not translate into a smashing success. I’ve had pleasant surprises with unexpected ingredients that have become some of my favorite items. You just have to be willing to try them and decide for yourself.
I will cover all kinds of ingredients: oils and fats, sweeteners, grains, legumes, spices, vegetables, dairy, meats & fish….I don’t judge anyone by what they choose to eat, but I believe in the power of education. A little factual information goes a long way towards healthier food choices that help people stay fit and the planet a little greener…