Some cooks like to keep a sparse pantry with only the most basic ingredients. Others stock up on both basic and not-so-basic things. I’m one of the latter. For instance, I keep jars and jars of dried herbs and spices. There’s is always more than six different kinds of noodles (both Asian and pasta). When someone asks for vinegar, one has to be specific — plain, black (Chinese), balsamic, spiced or cider? Because baking is a regular affair, we always have both white and brown sugar (and powdered sugar). Salt is either rock salt, table salt or herbed salt. In the fridge, there is a shelf dedicated to cheeses.
If, like me, you spend more time cooking than organizing, you’ve probably refilled jars and containers without updating the labels. A jar that originally contained dried marjoram may have been used to store a partially consumed packet of five-spice powder, for example. I’d know what’s in it even if the label is wrong. But when Alex started taking up cooking seriously, she was aghast at how disorganized the pantry was. And she did in one day what I couldn’t be bothered to do in more than a year. She cleared the shelves, threw out what could no longer be used, soaked and washed empty jars, re-labeled everything… And then, she went shopping with her father for what we didn’t have.
Of course, not all cooks are like us. Some truly talented cooks can operate with a very sparse pantry and still create magic in the kitchen. If you’re the kind of cook who prefers using the least number of ingredients yet still come up with a dish that simply explodes with flavor, here’s something to excite your taste buds. (more)