Top 7 Ingredients

I know graphic artists who love to see the desks of other graphic artists. They like to see what helps get the juices flowing. The inspiration — the double screen setup — the place for one’s cup of coffee.

Cooks like to know what other cooks have in their kitchens.
And I could really go on and on about kitchens. In fact, I get a little teary eyed when I see a beautiful rustic kitchen and imagine cooking for other people and having family and all that other ooey-gooey gushy stuff that I really do love.

But, on this post, I wanted to narrow down the top seven ingredients I use almost everyday when cooking. These are staples. Things that I try to make sure never run dry in our kitchen.

1. Kosher Salt
I became hooked to kosher salt through my knife skills class and loved how I could see the amount of salt I put on food. Then I realized that most chefs recommend it for cooking, curing, etc. Kosher salt has more surface area than regular iodized table salt. You can actually see how much salt you put in or on top of something without going too far. Just remember, if a recipe calls for a certain amount of “salt” — you will need to match that amount in kosher salt, unless it is specified. Generally, I double it. (1Tbsp salt = 2Tbsp Kosher salt)

2. Butter (unsalted)
I always buy unsalted sweet cream REAL butter. Salted butter can be good with bread, but is hard to cook with because it varies how salty the butter actually is. We don’t always cook with butter, but we all know how good it is. Butter is fat, but don’t be afraid of it, okay? I’m not sure what margarine is or that healthy choice “butter spread” stuff that isn’t actually butter. I was comparing calories on “fake butter spread” and real butter only to see that real butter contained only 20 more calories [per tablespoon]. I mean, if you want butter, just eat the real stuff. I guarantee your body will process it better than those pre-processed oils. Just eat it in moderation.

3. Olive Oil
Use GOOD olive oil. It makes such a huge difference. I know we tend to buy the cheaper stuff because we don’t see a difference, but there really is. We use olive oil to cook with and to top foods. It’s really easy to throw together a salad dressing or use it as a dipping sauce or as an infused oil. Good extra virgin olive oil really goes a long way. You’ll be glad you got the good stuff.

4. Eggs
We all know that in a wide variety of studies, eggs have been both good and bad for us.  And…it’s still true. They say the average person should only consume three eggs a week. Let’s be honest, I can easily eat more than three a week, though I have been trying to keep it down. Eggs are great when it comes to baking — or needing a quick breakfast. I love them in all ways, but especially poached or fried in bacon fat. *drool*

5. Onions
Onions are the base of so much that I cook. Saute them before you make a soup, stew or stir fry. Cut up a few large onions and slooooowly caramelize them in a pan with your cough *butter and kosher salt *cough. One of the best things ever. Onions are a huge aromatic. They will make you cry, but it hurts sooo good.

6. Garlic
I love love love garlic. And, it’s absolutely great for you. It’ll make you stink if you eat too much and will maybe decrease the number of kisses you get the rest of the day. Along with onions, it is part of a great base for soups and such. Also, confit [to cook and store in fat] the garlic at a slow temperature with some canola oil or olive oil. The slower and longer you cook garlic, the sweeter it gets and it’s so, so lovely. Plus, it’s great to have garlic oil the ole’ fridge.

7. Stock
I’ve always stated the importance of good chicken, beef or veggie stock. But in all honesty, it makes a helluva’ difference. If you can’t make your own, buy some at the grocery store. Make sure to get low sodium because they tend to jack that stuff up with salt. Any way you can eliminate pre-packaged salt is good.

I originally started this out with five ingredients because I kept thinking of more — it’s so hard to even keep it to seven! I mean what about black pepper and milk and flour! Oh my…must…publish…quickly..!

Anyways, these are things I try my best to keep around.

What about you?
What are some things you MUST HAVE in your kitchen?

Thanks for reading folks!
Also, feel free to subscribe to Southern Belly — it’ll email you every time I update so you don’t have to worry about checking in on me — even though I love that too.

Josh

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2 responses

  1. Things I can’t live without in my kitchen include onions, bell peppers, Old Bay Seasoning (the low sodium one), worcestershire sauce, rice wine vinegar and mayonnaise. I hate to admit the mayo, but I use it in a lot of different recipes, salad dressings, and you can’t make pimiento cheese without it!

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