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Summer #8: My nine favorite homemade pantry staples
All the things I like to make to stock my shelves at home, so there's always something good to eat.
When we moved to the country two years ago, one of the big adjustments was learning how to keep a well-stocked pantry.
We’d been in our former little house in the city for about a decade, and it was within a five minute walk of two different grocery stores. One of these was a co-op almost directly across the street, full of all the bulk ingredients and hard-to-find hippy stuff I love to eat. Within a few blocks, there were all sorts of bars and restaurants. If we didn’t feel like cooking, there was great sushi, an amazing Swedish brunch spot, two favorite dimly-lit neighborhood dives to choose from, and more.
Now, we’re about half an hour from the nearest grocery store, and takeout and neighborhood restaurants aren’t really an option. I’ve always been a pretty dedicated cook, but now we really needed to plan. There was no running across the street for a forgotten ingredient, or replacing a single rotten tomato at the last minute.
Luckily, our house came with a sizable walk-in pantry, and we’ve learned how to stock it, almost to a ridiculous degree. I’ve also gotten better at improvising from pantry staples, and making my own foods that last.
Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes for pantry staples. These are the things I love to make and keep stocked on the shelves, so that I always have something delicious at hand.
Please share your own, because I’m always trying to add to this list!
Pickled jalapenos are easy to make and can, or you can make smaller batches for your fridge. These are delicious on eggs or in tacos. I always keep a bag of masa on hand so that I can make homemade tortillas, which can be filled with whatever you have in your fridge or freezer.
This seed mix from Pick Up Limes is delicious and so versatile. It goes equally well with sweet or savory dishes. You can sprinkle it on salads, use it to top your oatmeal, put it on yogurt, add it to soup. I keep a big jar on hand for all of the above.
I just love this stuff, and it can be used in place of vanilla extract for a more potent flavor. I buy vanilla beans in bulk, wait until they dry out a bit, and blitz them in a spice grinder to make this.
I always like to have some candied nuts on hand. When I want a salad, I just toss some greens with a simple vinaigrette, and top with candied pecans, some cheese, and fruit (fresh or dried). Fun ingredients like this will make you love salad, if you don’t already.
I’ve tried many granola recipes. This is the only one you need. You can vary the fruit and nuts depending on what you have (my current batch has almonds, cashews, dried apricots, and blueberries). I’ll warn you, it’s extremely hard to stop eating, like having a jar of cookies on the counter.
The recipe doesn’t mention this, but you should use kosher salt. Otherwise, it will be way too salty. It’s meant to be salty-sweet, but I use kosher AND cut the salt in half and it’s still very salty.
Have I mentioned that I love toppings? And sesame seeds? This sesame sunflower crunch from Naturally Ella is extremely simple to make, and absolutely delicious. I like to use it to top overnight oats or yogurt.
Nut butters are my weakness. I eat nut butter every day: on toast, rice cakes, yogurt, swirled into smoothie bowls. Fancy nut butters are expensive, but it’s easy to make your own and really customize the flavors. Adding spices like the cardamom in this recipe makes it extra special. It’s also quite shelf stable; I’m thinking about making some for gifts this holiday season.
I make sourdough bread constantly, and I’m always looking for things to do with the discard. Crackers are actually really easy to make, and always nice to have on hand. If you’re interested in sourdough as a lifestyle (as I am), Little Spoon Farm has all the recipes you need.
If you have an abundance of cherry tomatoes at this time of year, you’ll love this. I dry them in the oven, then use them in place of sundried tomatoes in recipes for the rest of fall and winter. You can keep these in the pantry if they’re sufficiently dried, but they’ll last longer in the freezer. You can also preserve them in olive oil.
What about you?
Any recipes you want to add to my list?
I’m still looking for a good, healthy hot cocoa mix, so let me know if you have one of those in particular.
No links this week, other than these delicious recipes! They’ll retrun next week.