"Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one'."

My pantry overfloweth...

For future reference, all my cooking posts will be pre-titled Joyeux Kitchen, (joyeux means happy, merry, and joyful in French, which is how I feel in the kitchen).  I would love to start my own catering business... today it seems like a pipedream, but when the kids are in school and I have more time in the kitchen, it might start looking more like a reality.  So until then, wishing you much "joie" and cooking success.

Here's a list of ingredients that most often appear in my recipes (for my benefit as much as anyone else's :).

From the pantry for cooking:
  • All kinds of (preferably organic) canned tomatoes (stewed, peeled/diced, paste, sauce, whole plum).  Stock up when they're on sale or buy them in bulk at CostCo.
  • Seasoned bread crumbs
  • Cream of celery and chicken soups
  • Chicken and beef bouillon cubes (or boxed broth, but I find cubes or granules to be the most convenient)
  • White and brown rice
  • A variety of canned beans (black, kidney, pinto)
  • A variety of sizes and shapes of noodles
  • Vinegar: red wine, apple cider and white
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Wondra Sauce and Gravy Flour
From the pantry for baking:
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour (Why unbleached?  Click here.)
  • Softasilk Cake Flour
  • Quaker Oats
  • White sugar
  • Light and dark brown sugar
  • Baker's superfine sugar
  • Light and dark corn syrups
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Canola oil
  • High quality unsweetened cocoa powder (Ghirardelli if you can find it)
  • Milk chocolate chips
In the fridge:
  • Butter (I usually have salted on hand.  If a recipe calls for unsalted and you don't have any, just reduce or eliminate the amount of added salt in the recipe.)
  • Heavy cream/half and half/buttermilk (I don't always have all three, but a surprising number of recipes call for them.  Everything in moderation!)
  • Celery, parsnips, spinach, carrots, sweet onions (WallaWalla or Vidalia are my favorites)
  • Finely chopped garlic
  • Extra large eggs
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Cheeses: Parmesan, sharp cheddar, mozzarella, monterey jack, occasionally Gruyere or Fontina
It's impossible to have everything you need on hand at all times.  I'm guilty of numerous trips to Safeway for last minute ingredients after watching Barefoot Contessa cook something I just had to have.  Meal planning helps... so I've heard.  I'm terrible at it.  It requires a definite commitment and doesn't take into account the aforementioned cravings from watching Food Network during naptime.  What if cheeseburgers are on the schedule but you just watched Sunny Anderson make maniladas and nothing else will do?  Anyway, if meal-planning is something you're interested in, here are a couple great sites:

Once-A-Month Cooking

Frugal Mom -- 7 Steps to Once-A-Month Cooking

If you're looking for conversions, there's a great website I know called Smitten Kitten with the most in-depth conversion chart I've seen. In fact, the whole website is fantastic, so spend a little time there--you won't be sorry.  Another quality site for ingredient substitutions and conversions is Domino Sugar Measurements and Conversion Charts.

Need some tips for organizing your pantry?  I can't help you, I'm hopeless.  But HGTV has some great ideas.  Five Easy Steps To ReOrganize Your Pantry.  Maybe someday I'll have a pantry like this...