We eat out very little and a take away is a rare treat. I suppose it is a combination of running a business and having young children.
Therefore I do tend to cook from scratch most nights and I have been thinking a lot lately about the staples in my kitchen.
You know, the things I never run out of. The items which I can make anything with and form the basis for many, many meals and variations.
So I thought I would share with you, my five farmhouse kitchen cooking essentials.
1. Onions. The humble onion. Whether brown, red or white, these humble vegetables form the basis of most meals. To be honest, I often feel a bit sad if a meal doesn’t start with an onion. Years ago, I used to cry every time I peeled and cut one but now, I think I have become immune. It has to be a very, very strong onion to make my eyes water. I can always find one knocking around at the back of the cupboard. I keep them in my larder cupboard where it is cool and dark. As long as they are loose, ie not wrapped in the dreaded plastic, they last for months.
2. Lemons. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, goes the saying but at the farm, when life gives you lemons you can make salad dressings, squeeze it onto fish, drop it in to Middle Eastern dishes, Indian food and even a large G&T after a particularly hard day. I don’t know whether to admit this but Boo and G like sucking on lemons. It all started one Shrove Tuesday but I figure there are worse things they could be licking and they do enjoy them.
3. Butter. I actually blame butter (along with the caesareans) for my expanding waistline. I use it for all of the regular things like toast and sandwiches but also for seasoning vegetables, thickening sauces and smothering on crumpets. I love it. I once gave up butter for a month and lost a stone. How embarrassing is that? I will do it again. On Monday.
4. Red wine. I use red wine a lot in cooking. Bolognese sauce, lamb casseroles, beef dishes, creamy dishes, mushroom dishes. Only a drop but it makes it so much richer. The alcohol is cooked off so I still give the meals to the children. At Christmas, I change to port and I once made a Diane sauce for steak using brandy which was delicious as was one with whiskey when we were out of brandy. I digress though, red wine is always handy to have. Even if it has been open too long to be drunk, it is always suitable for cooking.
5. Like onions, the lowly carrot is also on my list. It is, in my opinion, the most versatile of veg. We eat them cooked or raw. In casseroles, soups, salads. I even put them into things like Italian meat sauces for the extra veg option (I am obsessed with getting vegetable into the kids). Grated, chopped, cut into batons or eaten whole (and unpeeled), the lowly carrot is a champion in my eyes.
I love the fact that all of my staples are simple things. Low priced (depending on the wine although, if you’re cooking with it, it really doesn’t matter to me).
What are your kitchen staples?