Cooking. “Bah! Humbug!” Stay at home public health recommendations have created issues for those of us who love to go out to eat. Many of us might be lacking the necessities and/or know how to start cooking in our own kitchens and have been left to figure it out on our own. No worries! The library is here to provide some resources for you.
It is difficult to cook properly when not stocked with pantry essential ingredients. According to The Art of the Pantry by Claire Thomson, “A well-stocked pantry is an empowering thing, and with it, the possibility of cooking something from anything . . . is entirely achievable.”
So what constitutes a “well stocked pantry”? According to Geoffrey Zakarian’s My Perfect Pantry, there are 19 “foundation items” that he “…suggests stocking up in small quantities and replacing at least once per year.” They are: Allspice, Bay Leaves, Cayenne Pepper, Celery Salt, Cinnamon (ground), Cloves (whole), Cream of Tartar, Cumin (ground), Fennel Seeds, Garlic Powder, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg (ground), Oregano (dried), Peppercorns (black), Salt (kosher), Salt (sea), Thyme (dried), Vanilla Beans (whole), and Vanilla Extract.
Then, there are his “50 Essential Pantry Ingredients”: Almonds, Anchovies, Baking Soda, Barley, BBQ Sauce, Beans (black, cannellini, & lima), Bread Crumbs, Chickpeas, Chocolate (semisweet), Cocoa Powder, Coconut Milk, Espresso (instant), Flour (all-purpose), Gelatin, Honey, Jam (raspberry), Ketchup, Maple Syrup, Milk (evaporated), Mustard (yellow), Oats (steel cut), Oil (canola & EVOO), Pasta (elbow macaroni, orecchiette, & spaghetti), Peanut Butter, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Popcorn (kernels), Raisins (golden), Rice (long-grain brown & white), Soy Sauce, Stock (chicken & vegetable), Sugar (confectioners’ & granulated), Tea (earl grey), Tabasco (red), Tomatoes (canned), Tuna (canned in olive oil), Vinegar (cider, red, & white), Worcestershire Sauce, and Yeast.
The Denver Post has a fantastic article, “How to Make the Most of a Stretched-Thin Pantry” 1 that might be helpful to you during quarantine. I encourage you to also check out Eat This, Not That’s “20 Healthy Foods to Add to Your Coronavirus Grocery List” 2. Remember, many grocery stores are now offering free pickup. It might be a good time to try grocery pickup or delivery if you have not attempted to try it before.
Always pay close attention to the word usage and commas in recipes. In Hack Your Cupboard by Alyssa Wiegand & Carla Carreon, they state, “There is a difference between ‘1 cup peanuts, chopped’ and ‘1 cup chopped peanuts’ . . . In the first example, you measure out 1 cup of peanuts and then chop them. In the second example, you chop a bunch of peanuts, then measure out 1 cup. You can fit a lot more peanuts in 1 cup when they’re already chopped up, so watch those commas!”
A sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. More cutting force has to be applied to a dull knife and a dull knife can slip off of the food you are attempting to cut. Look up different ways to keep your knives sharp and always use proper knife skills when using your knives. Check out this infographic from Illustrated Bites 3 :
Many restaurants are closed currently, so use this quarantine as an opportunity to get creative or experiment with your cooking. Staple dishes can change radically by altering a few ingredients or steps in the process. Chef Roy Choi has a wonderful and easy way to spice up your typical ramen noodle dish that, frankly sounds crazy, but is actually delicious. Feel free to check out the recipe on Tasting Table here 4 or check out the video on Youtube here 5.
Although it might not be possible to attend your favorite restaurant, changing things up in the kitchen might make your quarantine a little more tolerable. Feel free to use this time to brush up on some new kitchen techniques or recipes or experiment and see what you can create!
Librarian, Science & Technology Division