Pimp my Pantry.

Last night after a forearm splitting night of rock climbing, I sat at my dining room table and stared down at my lukewarm meal. There, in a misshapen tupperware, sat a half cup of re-fried beans topped with an unseasoned microwaved egg. This halfhearted pile of dinner was a result of two things:

– my complete lack of motivation
– my paltry excuse for a pantry

Actually, I think my pantry is pretty awesome. But my eldest sister who tried to motivate me on the phone insisted that I was clearly missing some key ingredients. For example, simply adding salsa would have changed this meal from a catfood stand-in to a delightfully fresh !Huevos Rancheros!

Alicia then sent me her suggestions for a dozen essentials for the ultimate pimped pantry. Let’s see how the Pantry of Rock performs.

The List:

1. coconut milk
2. salsa
3. frozen spinach
4. canned beets
5. quick indian and thai curry sauces
6. Annie’s macaroni and cheese
7. brown, red, and green lentils
8. lots of canned, diced tomatoes (no salt added)
9. canned beans – don’t forget about canned chickpeas!
10. canned fruits (Lite in water) – pears, peaches, pineapple, etc.
11. I am assuming you have lots of pasta on hand!!! Especially great is vacuum packed gnocchi.
12. And spices: chili powder, curry powder, etc etc.

The Pantry of Rock spot check performance:

1. coconut milk – Yay. though it’s old. we’re talking 2003 old.
2. salsa – Nay. For shame Mike D.
3. frozen spinach – Nay. Though I do have canned spinach, a fact to which my sister audibly vomited
4. canned beets – Yay. I have canned beets aplenty.
5. quick sauces – Nay. I have most of the ingredients needed to make a curry, but no quick sauces for those nights without motivation
6. annie’s – Nay. For shame Mike D.
7. colored lentils – Kinda. I have a wealth of green lentils, but no other colors
8. canned tomatoes – Yay. Diced, Crushed, Whole, Paste, the House of Rock lacks no tomato
9. canned beans – Yay. Me? not have beans ready for consumption? Impossible.
10. canned fruits – Yay. Especially Pineapple. I freakin’ love pineapple.
11. pasta – Yay. though probably not a sufficient supply
12. spices – Yay. including saffron! (thanks viv!)

End total 7.5/12 that would be a D. Actually, a D-
And if you didn’t count the old coconut milk then I would fail outright. I’m still quite proud of my kitchen’s stockedness but perhaps it does need a bit of a boost.

Do any of you have recommendations for the ultimate pimped pantry?

21 thoughts on “Pimp my Pantry.

  • 8/26/2009 at 9:15 am

    Peanut butter and Jelly/Fluff
    Tuna Fish

  • 8/26/2009 at 9:51 am

    I second the peanut butter, wholeheartedly. I personally would be dead in the water without brown rice and miscellaneous grains (quinoa, farro, etc); oils (olive, sesame) and vinegars (red wine, rice wine, balsamic); and mustard! Soy sauce, hoisin sauce, capers, sun dried tomatoes and garlic are all other items usually found in my kitchen. How I love food.

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:21 am

    First I think your half hearted dinner could also be greatly improved by two things: fry the egg for goodness sake (microwaved egg?! NO!!) and use a plate. Dinner always seem more like a real meal with the use of a real plate.

    Besides regular cooking supplies (grains, oils, vinegars etc.) For my ready made food to have on hand we always have pasta and sauce, mac and cheese and I like to keep some canned/packaged soups also.

    But your pantry list excludes an imporant pantry section to me, snacks. I absolutely cannot fall asleep if I am hungry so I always like to keep a few tricks in the bag for easy before bedtime snacks, although many include fridge/freezer items, my favorites:
    -malt milk powder (for choclate malted milk or milkshakes)
    -graham crackers
    -dried fruit/nuts
    -chocholate chips (for emergency cookie making)
    -bakers chocholate (for emergency pudding/desert making)

    If we also want to include freezer items:
    -frozen fruit (Trader Joes)
    -orange juice (I know frozen isn’t as good, but so convient when you need some to make a smoothie or orange julius)
    -vanilla ice cream
    -scallion cakes
    -frozen dumplings

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:23 am

    I have all of that except the canned beets and the canned fruit… i really dislike canned fruit, but i don’t know what i would do with canned beets? I have a lot of fresh beets thanks to my CSA.

    Mmmm, beets.

    I’d add cartons or cans of stock/broth, arborio rice, and dried mushrooms…. you can make an amazing mushroom risotto with those three things and they all keep forever.

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:31 am

    Peanut butter: Check
    Grains: half check – we’ve got couscous and a few rices, though no quinoa or farro – I will update my supply
    Oils & Vins: Check
    Mustard: Check
    Sauces: half check – I don’t think I have hoisin sauce
    Capers and all olive type things: please excuse my disgust
    Sun dried tomatoes: Nay- but a very great idea!

    I will make those changes! Thanks!

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:35 am

    Malted Milk Powder – Nay. I’ll have to give this a shot. I don’t think I’ve ever used malted milk powder before
    Graham Crackers – Nay. you’re right. I should have these.
    Nutella – Another Nay. Mykal, you are defeating my pantry handily.
    Dried fruit – Nope! And yes, another must
    Chocolate chips – Check!
    Bakers Chocolate – Also check, I have hordes of chocolate

    Frozen fruit – Check.
    Frozen Juice – Hmm. no.
    Vanilla Ice cream – Check
    Scallion Cakes – I… don’t even know what these are
    Frozen Dumplings – nope!

    Mykal, I kneel before your superior kitchen.

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:38 am

    Stock/broth – Check
    Arborio Rice – This should be added along with Jill’s suggestions of Farro and quinoa
    Dried Mushrooms – Nay. Good suggestion.

    I think I might do a CSA next year, are you enjoying your participation? do you think it was financially a sound decision?

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:44 am

    Beets are under-appreciated. I also use fresh ones though. I do love pickeled beets, but we always make homemade, I wouldn’t buy them from the store.

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:57 am

    I’m loving looking at what everyone else likes to have around the house. I’m glad you are marvelling at our well stocked kitchen. The other day I was marvelling at how much crap we had packed in our cabinents.

    Scallion cakes are Chinese food, usually on the appetizer menu in restaraunts, they’re like naan/pancakes with chopped scallions in them. Tom makes homemade ones in large batches and we freeze them. Then they are great snacks, or emergency dinner when paired with the dumplings(also always on hand things to make dipping sauce with).

  • 8/26/2009 at 11:56 am

    I think since you have so many spices you may not need those ready made pastes. I would just make sure you have tomato paste on hand. With tomato paste and the amount of spices you already have, a good curry paste is only seconds away.

    I think my family relies less of pantry things and more on frozen stocks of meat, dumplings and yes, scallion pancakes! But often frozen foods take time to heat up so quick pantry items are a must. What is shockingly missing on this list is couscous. I LOVE couscous and I can’t imagine not having that on my pantry. It is so quick to cook up and with a sprinkling of salt and other spices, it super fancy and delish in no time.

    I know that ramen gets a bad rap here in the states, but any good HongKonger is going to have ramen in the pantry. Cook up some ramen, don’t use all of the soup base but add poached eggs and some canned or frozen vegetables and you have yourself a pretty hearty meal. Some essential condiments would be sesame oil, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. And with your already stocked chicken broth, or any other kind of soup stock, you can forgo that super salty ramen soup packet.

  • 8/26/2009 at 12:31 pm

    I want to make a note that these ideas were not for a “pimped” pantry, rather a “Make Sure Mike Can Make SOMETHING” pantry

  • 8/26/2009 at 12:46 pm

    Alicia’s totally right on the gnocchi. In fact, I think someone else may have said this same thing to you on your last trip. Who could that be??

    Other musts:
    -Pesto sauce
    -Raw sugar
    -Whole wheat flour
    -Copious amounts of honey
    -Sriracha! (Anything becomes good with sriracha. Anything.)
    -Canned pumpkin (Holy moly. Add a little curry powder and a grain and wow.)

  • 8/26/2009 at 1:12 pm

    Whats wrong with eating Beans every day? Nothing.

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve had to make cookies last minute on school mornings before the bus came. Chocolate chips are a must.

  • 8/26/2009 at 10:17 pm

    I keep pizza ingredients on hand at all times because pizza is relatively fast, easy, and always delicious. Same goes for chili. I once had the misfortune of running out of canned kidney beans on a cold day. It was terribly depressing.

    Couldn’t do without canned tomatoes. I can them myself, so I’ve always got plenty. They’re in three of the dishes I make most often.

    And I always have tuna, even though I hate it. Tuna casserole is just one of those things moms have to make sometimes when nothing else sounds good, or we’ve run through all the good recipes twice already. Frozen vegetables are a good thing to have on hand, too.

    Emergency chocolate cravings are usually satisfied by chocolate milk made with Nestle’s Quik powder, or 2-minute microwave fudge(good supply of powdered sugar required).

  • 8/27/2009 at 9:01 am

    I do two CSAs, one for meat and one for vegetables.

    I love them both, really an extremely positive experience. Every night this week my dinner has had meat and veggies and both were grown by someone i’ve met in the state I live in.

  • 8/30/2009 at 8:06 pm

    When I don’t know what to eat my back-up go-tos are:

    1. Pasta with sauce made from: garlic (real, not powder), carrots, onions, canned tomatoes. spices.

    2. Indian simmer sauce: chicken, chick peas, green peppers, onion. Served with rice.

    3. peanut noodles: sauce made of soy sauce, peanut butter, sugar, garlic, chili sauce. serve with spaghetti, cold carrots.

    4. Frozen perogies. Saute ’em with onion and frozen broccoli.

    :) t.


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