>The Ole’ Larder!

>I like to pretend that I know what I’m doing in the kitchen. Granted, I’ve spent the majority of the past year or so learning to cook better…write better…live better…so I’ve picked up a lot of helpful things.

I watch this video blog sometimes called, “Working Class Foodies”. There was an episode that was devoted to what this person kept in their pantry (though I’m thinking “larder” sounds so much cooler than pantry these days).

It was helpful to see what kinds of things people kept on hand – especially if you find yourself cooking more so than eating out or buying pre-cooked food. I thought it’d be cool to share some things I’ve found useful in my recent excursion of learning to cook well.

First, I’ll start off with kitchenware – knives, pots, pans, etc.
I love my Dutch oven. It’s not the best brand, but it works just fine. It’s great for stovetop braising like making pot roast and pulled pork. It also works just as good in your oven. It’s an incredibly versatile piece of kitchenware that every cook needs. There are beautiful ones out there on the market, just make sure it’s big enough to cook whatever it is you like to cook.
A roasting pan is really helpful as well, but not super necessary.

I also love my stock pot. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but stocks are the base for any good soup, stew or braising liquid. Stocks are fun to make as long as you have a few hours to roast bones and skim the top for oil and fat. And like the pros will tell you, DO NOT BOIL YOUR STOCK. Keep it at a light simmer. Reduce. Skim. Strain. Reduce. Skim. Strain. The more you reduce, the better it’ll be.

Knives! I like Global knives. They look super rad and are all forged with one piece of stainless steel. The bolster and the tang are right on the money as far as how I hold my knife. I think it’s important to have good knives…it’ll help you cut better and look much sexier doing it… 😛
I have a 5in. cook’s knife, 6in. flexible boning knife, paring knife, and a 6in. Santoku.
I also have an F. Dick offset serrated knife. It’s great for cutting bread and slicing tomatoes.
All these knives serve different purposes, but really all you need is one good knife and I’d recommend a 6-8in chef’s knife. They’re all-purpose and look damn good in your kitchen.

I’m still in the process of switching to all nonstick pans to more “all-clad/stainless steel” type kitchenware. Nonstick pans are pretty sketchy to begin with and you should throw them away immediately if they start to chip off that black stuff (which unfortunately is NOT pepper.) It’s good to go with stainless steel if you can. Always keep around at least one or two smaller nonstick pans to cook eggs with or else it can become quite a pain in the ass to clean.

Mixing bowls. I used to think I had too many, now I don’t think I have enough. They really come in handy when I have to store dough in the ‘fridge, or epic amounts of leftovers. Never underestimate the power of the mixing bowl.

If you ever want to bake your own bread, it’s pretty crucial to have a baking/pizza stone. As the name suggests, it works great for pizza dough and breads all alike. It generates good, even heat that helps give your bread crispy crusts and even cooking.

Tongs are great. They’re perfect for grilling and come to the rescue when you’re figuring out how to turn that hot piece of food. I’ve seen some chefs recommend not using them as much because they can squeeze a lot of the juices out of your food. But I’m sure if you go at it with ease, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Now on to the pantry/stock items! (I know you’re so excited!!)

This is my list of “favorite” things I try to keep on hand at all times:
garlic. (Two heads)
onions. (At least two. One yellow and one red.)
shallots (A few should last you a bit, depending on how often you cook with them.)
sea salt.
kosher salt.
black peppercorns
white peppercorns (two different tastes — white peppercorns go great in just about everything — black pepper I use more for finishing a dish)
Tony Chachere’s (Of course!)
apple cider vinegar
white vinegar
bay leaves
louisiana hot sauce
worcestershire sauce
unsalted butter

olive oil (and lots of it!)
vegetable oil
milk
eggs
red potatoes
chicken stock
beef stock
white sugar
brown sugar
bread flour
all-purpose flour
yeast
pastry flour
baking powder
baking soda

I know it’s a lot of stuff, but once you have it all, you really don’t have to buy it all that much. I really can’t shop unless I know I have all these things in my cabinet. You really only need a few ingredients to cook once you have all these things.

Good luck, my friends and happy cookin’!!
I’d love to hear what you can’t cook without – feel free to post it in a comment or on that handy-dandy Facebook page.

Cheers!
Josh

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4 responses

  1. >I'm not a huge Tabasco fan, but I do keep some around for when I'm cooking. For some reason, good Louisiana brand hot sauce does it for me. Just has that vinegar taste I really dig…Haven't tried the chipotle tabasco — reckon' I should give it a shot!

  2. >My "can't do without" is Gravy Master. I make home-made gravy and this is my must have. My gravy digests easier than those made from packets from the grocery shelves. Also, I keep a good vanilla flavoring. I use this so much to add a fresh taste to foods. Vanilla is great added to the eggs to make french toast. Your G

  3. Pingback: advice to the frustrated home cook | southern belly

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