Monday, November 8, 2010

Building a Kitchen from Scratch

You'll have to excuse my slow start as I'm quite literally building my kitchen arsenal from scratch!

We've finally moved into our awesome Brooklyn apartment with a huge kitchen and many possibilities.  One of the most difficult parts about moving across the country from Seattle has been to literally give up any collection of food, condiments, and pantry staples. So now is a time to slowly rebuild, which is both cleansing and a bit frustrating at times (we don't even have flour in the house at this point!).

What I've been super excited about since we found this place in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is the sheer size of the kitchen, meaning I can finally have a real pantry instead of sharing cabinet space with dishes.

I get excited about nerdy things, namely organization, so get used to it!

The next step however, is filling said pantry with the staples we need on a daily basis as well as items that are nice to have around for those "in a pinch" times. This can be accomplished by a one fail swoop shopping trip, but what I like to do is pick up a few non-perishable items each time your at the store. Before you know it, your pantry/refrigerator/freezer will be full with ingredients to throw together and never have one of those "there's no food in the house" realizations. This keeps you from ordering take-out one too many times!

So as I make my shopping list of kitchen staples for myself, I wanted to share with you my foundation for a well-stocked, modern arsenal.


  • Sea Salt Crystals
  • Black Peppercorns
The raw form of salt and pepper are leaps and bounds more flavorful than their processed counterparts we've all known. Get these and fill your own grinders. Simple and affordable way to add more flavor to anything on a regular basis.
  • Flour: White and Whole Wheat
Don't get me wrong, I'm an advocate of substituting whole wheat flour almost anywhere, especially when baking, but you need white flower to make creamy sauces and gravies. I even use whole wheat white flour when I can find it to get the best of both worlds. 

  • Organic Sugar 
Also leaps and bounds more tasteful than the processed counterpart. Must be evaporated cane sugar, not that white stuff that reeks havoc on your system. I've found you actually need almost double the amount of white stuff as the organic to get the same amount of flavor. But even then it doesn't compare. Do yourself a favor and spend a little more on the organic. Your taste buds and thighs will thank you!

  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda 
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Herbs 

    I have not found a more flavorful or healthy way of punching up almost every dish than having fresh herbs around. I used to be afraid I wouldn't use them and they would go bad, but when they're there, you find ways to incorporate them. I haven't had room or enough sunlight (Seattle does not afford you much) to grow my own garden indoors before, but that will change come springtime. My favorites are Parsley, Dill, Thyme and Cilantro. There will definitely be more posts in the future on where and how to use these.

    In The Pantry
    • Pastas: Spaghetti, Bowties, Penne, Lasagna, Angelhair, etc.
    • Grains: Brown Rice, Cous-Cous, Quinoa, etc.
    • Beans: Black, Pinto, Kidney, etc.
    • Canned Diced Tomatoes
    • Canned Tuna (organic, not Starkist, Trader Joe's has awesome versions)
    • Pasta Sauces: Marinara and Alfredo
    • Salsas
    In The Freezer
    • Frozen ready made rices (again, TJ's has great frozen brown and jasmine rice)
    • Frozen Vegetables and Fruit
    • Tortillas (I always have these around for quesadillas and the like)
    • Frozen Cooked Shrimp (easy,add-in protein for almost anything)
    In The Fridge
    • The usual suspects: Ketchup, Dijon Mustard, Mayo, Relish, etc.
    • Preserves: Strawberry, Rasberry, Fig, Apricot, etc.
    • Shredded Cheese (few things are not made better with this, am I right?)
    • Eggs (easy and cheap protein)

    Keep in mind this is just a starter list and by no means complete! I will be posting regularly about items to keep around and the meals to make with them.

    What can you not live without in your kitchen?

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