Monday, 7 February 2011

Things I have in my kitchen (ingredients)

From the very outset, I have aimed to share with you a range of recipes that could be prepared in the 'average' kitchen. Of course, there is no such thing as an average kitchen. There is quite probably an ingredient in your kitchen cupboard that you buy as a matter of course, but that I wouldn't even think of, unless I was trying out a recipe that called for it. And a lot of that will have to do with your culture, the part of the world you live in, the things you grew up with, the things your family members will/won't eat, the allergies and intolerances you have to cater for. All of that stuff.

In this post, I thought I'd look at ingredients. In about a week's time, I thought I'd do a similar 'stocktake' of equipment.

So what sort of things do I have in my kitchen? I'm not talking here about the sort of thing I buy every few days, like dairy products, fruit, vegetables or meat. I'm talking about the sort of ingredients I keep in the cupboard. These are the things I am never without (if I can help it). In case you're wondering about the order, I am working through my cupboards, top to bottom and right to left.

  • Red lentils
  • Green or brown lentils
  • Kidney beans (and possibly a couple of other varieties)
  • Barley
  • Split peas (green for preference, when I can get them)
  • Pasta (dried) - at least one packet. I prefer to use fresh, but it's nice to have a fallback just in case
  • Oriental noodles
  • Rice - brown Basmati for preference
  • Couscous - the quickest, easiest starch to prepare
  • Cook-in sauces - I always have one or two of these to hand, in case I need to turn out something 'exotic' at short notice. I don't use them very often, I have to admit
  • Vegetable stock - I swear by Vecon, even though I have to make a special trip to the health shop to get it
  • Meat stocks - I keep the jellied Knorr stocks in a few different varieties
  • Herbs and spices - far too many to name!
  • Salt and pepper - in various form
  • Flour - strong (bread) flour and plain (cake) flour of various types, including a plain, self-raising variety
  • Evaporated milk - I use this in various dessert recipes, and it makes a great standby dessert poured over canned fruit, or mixed into a jelly instead of half the water
  • Jelly powder - I can usually be depended upon to have about 6 boxes of this in a range of flavours. I have to get it from the 'South Africa shop' because UK jelly comes in cubes (and is only available in a tragically limited range of flavours). I use it to make desserts (obviously), but I have a salad recipe that needs peach jelly powder
  • Canned fruit, including canned granadilla (passion fruit) pulp, which I have to get from the aforementioned 'South Africa shop'
  • Flavourings: vanilla extract, almond extract are standards, others come and go
  • Baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar - how would I bake without them?
  • Cocoa powder
  • Custard powder
  • Cornflour (maizena)
  • Sugars: white sugar, brown sugars (various types), caster (which used to be spelled 'castor') sugar, icing sugar
  • Coconut - sadly my husband doesn't eat this, so I don't get to use it as often as I would like
  • Raisins (and occasionally candied citrus peel, currants and sultanas)
  • Sago, semolina, polenta and oats
  • Olive oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil - I tend to use olive oil for most things, so I buy a fairly cheap version of extra virgin
  • Balsamic vinegar - I use this pretty much anywhere vinegar is called for (including on my chips). I very seldom have any other kind of vinegar to hand. Needless to say, I have a cheap version for daily use and a more expensive version for specialist use!
  • Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, teriyaki sauce, sweet chilli sauce
  • Bottles of minced lemongrass, ginger and chilli paste. I use these a lot, so I go for the lazy option!
  • Oh... and of course ketchup, mayo (not the tangy kind), chutney (Mrs Ball's for preference) and barbecue sauce
How about you? How do we compare?


  1. My kitchen stand-bys are similar to yours as far as savoury stuff goes - although I've discovered Tesco does yummy purees in tubes that go in the fridge and taste way better than the bottles of minced ginger etc. And obviously I don't have the SA specials that you have (as I don't know about them!) My dairy intolerance means no milk products, and not a lot of pre-packed pre-mixed stuff as so much contains milk powder. I have a family who are all suspicious of pulses, so I have few of them. I don't know how I'd cope with those leftover bits and pieces of fish and veg without my Aborio risotto rice. And since my when-in-doubt recipes all seem to start with 'fry an onion, add a can of tomatoes, and....', I can't be without any cans of chopped tomatoes (the cheapest possible, of course) My daughter would never forgive me if there isn't a ready supply of tinned tuna chunks for her tuna suprise recipes (the suprise being mine when I go to use something and find she used the last of it without telling me...) Instant custard for her apple crumble and custard breakfast or late night snacks (small crumbles in the freezer, made with our apples)and obviously (being British) there's brown sauce for my son's bacon butties. And a huge selection of jams (mostly home-made) and honeys.

  2. @Catherine Ah. I didn't get into jams and such. Yes - we have a fair few of those, too. I also often have a can of tomatoes or two lurking.

    I shall have to explore the tubes of puree option...