In one location, I will give you my ever-expanding but necessary list of things that every household should always have on hand.
And you will see that I like things that have, when possible, a long shelf life and versatility. You may have to take an extra step for different purposes (shaving vs. shredding cheese; grinding vs. soaking dried peppers, etc.) but you will cut down on the number of things you have to stock and you will also have mor options.
Cream. Real-honest-to-goodness-don’t-forget-the-fat heavy cream. (As I write this, it struck me that this essential became the name of my blog. That is how basic it is! Forget half and half, if you need that, mix your cream with the whole milk that you are also stocking. If there is a dairy near you, buy your products there. The quality differences are astounding and will change your recipe from good or even great to fantastic!
- Cream. (Shocker!) From your local dairy, if you have one.
- Creme Fraiche
- Salted & unsalted butter. Always have both. Irish butter is fantastic, but I don’t want to go overboard.
- Chicken stock
- Parmesan cheese – a nice block if you can, or shredded if you don’t like to shave or shred it yourself. And not the stuff in the green can, real Parmesan Cheese from Parma, Italy. If it is not from Italy, it is not Parmesan cheese. This is serious. 🙂
- Tomato paste
- Garlic – fresh from your local farmer’s market, if you are lucky enough to have one. 🙂
- Wine. A red and a white for cooking and a really nice bottle for sipping. Oh, and if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. Please.
- Superfine Sugar
- Sea Salt
- Low sodium, gluten free, Soy Sauce. La Choy is the most common, but lots of gf versions are hitting the market so find one that you like.
- Corn Starch (for slurries)
- Homemade: ketchup, spicy mustard, sweet mustard, zucchini relish, bacon jam and pickled jalapenos. (Watch for upcoming posts.)
- Choice of: sour cream, greek yogurt, or buttermilk. All make your mashed potatoes better, and can add sass to many other recipes when used with restraint.
- A fruity extra virgin olive oil (don’t skimp on the quality of any of your oils) (“EVOO” for short. You may see this in recipes.)
- A peppery extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- A nice canola oil and if you deep fry regularly, peanut oil. If not, skip the peanut oil.
- A growing basil plant, rosemary plant and any of your favorite herbs. If you have a green thumb, which I do not but I never stop trying, to the chagrin of my family, grow arugula and alway have it on hand. It is a fantastic addition to any salad, soup, vegetable, grit, you get the idea. It will make almost anything better.
- Cocoa powder
- Dark chocolate chips, 60% cocoa is my favorite. Be sure to get a good, quality brand.
- Dried hot pepper of your choice (mild to hot, or a mix). They are versatile this way, you can rehydrate them for sauces, chutneys and condiments, or grind them to make hot pepper flakes.
- Instant espresso powder. Even if you don’t drink it, the powder is a great additive to dusting powders for steaks and anything with chocolate.
- Maple Syrup. Not pancake syrup, real maple syrup. Splurge, you literally are what you eat. Be sweet.
- Simple Syrup (that you made yourself, directions in my margarita recipe)
This list is not intended to include actual groceries that you should stock, just the things that you will use regularly in your recipes. Your grocery list is, well, personal and should suit your lifestyle. While I would suggest always having cooking onions, carrots, celery, (the “trinity”), potatoes, fresh gf pasta, quality protein of your choice (chicken, beef, pork, soy…), vanilla ice cream, lemons, limes, seasonal fruits and vegetables….I certainly do not presume to know what is best for you and your family.
Finally, keep lots of humor handy. No matter how accomplished you are, you will need it at times. And it always goes well with wine.