I have to admit that I approach life in a kind of “wing and a prayer” mode a lot of the time. I prepare to the best of my ability, sometimes I even over-prepare (expecting the worst), but I know that most of what I love to do in life requires a certain trust that, when I have to, when I get there, I will summon what it takes to get the job done. Sometimes living on the edge works spectacularly, (see Chopped episode), and sometimes it doesn’t (see Cutthroat Kitchen episode and my hair in the 90s).
While life holds many uncertainties, there is a kind of reliability in cooking that calms me: have the right ingredients, use the time-tested techniques, and you can produce some wonderful, nourishing, satisfying thing that is greater than the sum of its parts. A bowl of white powder, a cup of white granules, a chicken embryo or two, and some small amounts of other white powder, mixed with a little cow’s milk and YOU HAVE CAKE!! Visitors from another galaxy would witness this bit of alchemy and shout “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” and instantly worship us for our transformative powers.
Now, every culinary magician needs his/her bag of tricks and that, it turns out, is a well-stocked pantry (hereafter known as WSP). I talked about this recently in an interview for News Feed Daily, a news service out of the midwest. With a little planning (and my list, below) you’ll be more equipped to “fly by the seat of your pantry(tm)” and create quick, wholesome meals for you and your family. How, you ask? I need recipes, you say! Well, maybe, and in that case having a WSP will ensure that if you spontaneously decide to cook something from a recipe you happen to see in a magazine, you will likely have all the ingredients you need already, or you may just have to make a quick stop for a protein or fresh bread.
If you like to be creative, open the fridge and pantry and pretend you are on Chopped with 20 minutes to go before your kids get home for dinner, then having a well-stocked pantry will make you a champion! Either way, having a WSP requires a little shopping and planning, and willingness to keep a “restock list” going as you run out of things. It’s not rocket science, but getting in the habit of creating a list will also allow you to delegate shopping duties, thereby sharing the meal preparation tasks with another, perhaps culinarily-challenged member or your household.
See links below to access the WSP List and also a WSP Shop List you can take along to the store or post on your fridge to keep track of things you need on a weekly basis (circle what you need). Over the next few posts, (yes, I will begin posting again, I promise), I’ll be doing recipes that can be made directly from your Well Stocked Pantry so go out and stock up so you can play along!
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