Cooking “Essentials”

Last night, as I was falling asleep I started thinking about what 15 items are essential to my cooking.  What do I always consistently have in my fridge, pantry or freezer that, when it runs out, I immediately buy more?

These are my cooking “essentials”:

  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • Sweet onions, such as Walla Walla Sweet
  • Button mushrooms
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Butter
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Frozen peas
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Wheat bread
  • Juice of some sort
  • Yogurt
  • Dried pasta

Thinking about my essentials, I realized they are really very basic.  And they tell a story — the story of what I eat most often, and the ingredients that I create my most simple, quick basic food out of for everyday cooking.

Really, everyone’s essentials list will be different, depending on their favorite things to eat on a regular basis.  They can even tell a story of a person’s lifestyle and life experiences.

I always have dried pasta, butter, parmesan cheese and pepper because I love to eat my Oma’s simple “butter noodles” that she used to make my brother and I every time we visited her when we were young.

Eggs, spinach, mushrooms and onions are a staple in my house because I love whipping up an easy scramble of these ingredients, and eat them with wheat toast.  Or I sauté mushrooms and onions to pair with steak or burgers.  Sautéed mushrooms and onions are heaven to me.

I cook most often with olive oil and butter, (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone), and my boyfriend eats yogurt and drinks juice daily.

I also throw frozen peas into anything I can.  I love peas.  Love.

My essentials also say things about me.  There’s not often alcohol because I usually only drink on special occasions or in bars.  I don’t do a lot of ethnic cooking (even though I dream of it).  I’m busy, so I tend to stock items that are hearty and not super perishable because I don’t always use everything right after I buy it.  There are no meats on my list, so maybe I’m not such a huge carnivore.  I like simple, uncomplicated, unpretentious food.

Yeah, so maybe I’m boring.  Or just poor.  I’m going to go with poor.  If I had a cash tree growing in my backyard (wait, I don’t have one of those either), then maybe my essentials would include wine, truffles and saffron.  Those are certainly a lot more interesting.  Maybe some day.

Everyone has different cooking essentials.  Think about the 15 items that are always in your kitchen.  Why are these your essentials?  Do they bring back memories, or provide insights into your life?

Food tells a story. What’s yours?

Note:  If your story is all about vodka, bacon fat, and boxed macaroni and cheese,  I must hear about it.  The world needs to know.

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