5 Must Have Ingredients!

Friday, August 25, 2006

I was helping out a friend recently who is learning to cook. She asked me what I insisted on keeping in my fridge. Aside from the basics such as salt, olive oil, eggs, butter, rice and so on what did I have that I could absolutely not live without and would easily help me bam out a quick, yet flavorful meal. I narrowed it down to five ingredients aside from garlic (whole and chopped) and vanilla (extract, beans, ice cream) because you can guarantee that I'll shrivel up and die without them.

1) Bacon: Be it pancetta, proscuitto, smoked bacon or whatever, I like to buy large amounts made by local pig farmers, split it up and freeze certain portions in air tight containers. Come winter I use it on meatloafs or cut it over winter squash and fruits with maple syrup and bake it. In summer, I use it to tie up bundles of green beans, or crumble it over pea soup.

2) Limes and lime juice: Perfect for a quick asparagus sautee, salsa, limeade, fish, and chutney! Let's also not forget mojitos, a gurl's best friend. Seriously, can you go wrong with limes?

3) Cilantro: This spicy and herby herb is great all year round. I use it in soups come every season, and even makes for an excellent garnish. Perfect for Mexican, Indian, North American Indian, Cajun, and various Asian cuisines! It's one of the most versatile things you can have in your fridge!

4) Frozen Fruit: Smoothies, Pies, Cakes, Tarts, Smoothies, Soups, Cocktails, and most importantly Smoothies. It's not fresh, but come winter, it does the job!

5) Udon Noodles: We do a lot of stirfrys and soups in this house. Lots. So Udon noodles and a must. They're quick, tasty, and complement any dish and flavor! I highly suggest stir-frying some with some fave veggies, roasted red pepper paste, brown sugar, and garlic.

Other staples I like to have, but not in the my top 5: Curry powder, cumin, tarragon, coconut milk, ancho chilis, chai, mint, and blood orange oil which I know is esoteric but shut up, it makes for awesome salads.


  1. Yay for udon! I like them frozen if fresh isn't available. Egg noodles or glass noodles are also good, I find.

    As for esoteric, good for you! If I could FIND blood orange oil I would order a case. Blood orange is one of my favorite flavors. If I play my cards right could I trade you a few cupcakes for a bottle?

    Great post :)

  2. Pancetta ... p-p-prosciutto ... wha-wha-what??? Are these the first chinks in the armor? ;-)

  3. garbanzo beans, canned tomatoes [for winter] and bananas! :-)

  4. Liz- I get the oil from World Market, along with good cheap vanilla beans. But, I can always trade for cupcakes. >^.^<

    Sean- Bite me. Bacon is bacon. I'm still not a fan for Italian food. >:P

    Rosa- I have to admit I do always keep garbanzo and black beans on hand. They're just so versatile!

  5. I'm totally there on limes. And for me, rice noodles. The next three? Hmmm.

    This would make a fun meme.

  6. I'd drop the limes and add some short of tinned bean - cannelini or chickpea or butter; or a tin of good tuna in olive oil.(I was going to say good olive oil, but have you ever seen a tin saying "in bad olive oil"
    A quick tuna pasta with coriander is great hot or cold and is a "pantry emergency" classic.

  7. We have similiar ingredients in the "must have" category! I also like to keep on hand cans of anchovies, chick peas & olives.


  8. Very interesting.... I would bet that just about everyone would have a different list. Actually, mine probably changes too much to nail one down. ;)


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