January 8, 2009

Is Your Pantry Up To Par? Find Ideas Here!

Oh, how I love Mark Bittman (his nome de plume at the New York Times is 'The Minimalist'). His contributions to the Times are almost always very practical and unpretentious. Tuesday's column offered one of his most magnificent other. He literally coaches us through the necessities of our kitchens. You can find the entire article here but I thought it might be cool to highlight some of the 'ins' and 'outs':

OUT Bouillon cubes or powder, or canned stock.
IN Simmer a carrot, a celery stalk and half an onion in a couple of cups of water for 10 minutes and you’re better off; if you have any chicken scraps, even a half-hour of cooking with those same vegetables will give you something 10 times better than any canned stock.

OUT Canned beans (except in emergencies).
IN Dried beans. More economical (Is The Minimalist a TBS?), better tasting, space saving and available in far more varieties. Cook a pound once a week and you’ll always have them around (you can freeze small amounts in their cooking liquid, or water, indefinitely). If you’re not sold, try this: soak and cook a pound of white beans. Take some and finish with fresh chopped sage, garlic and good olive oil. Purée another cup or so with a boiled potato and lots of garlic. Mix some with a bit of cooking liquid, and add a can of tomatoes; some chopped celery, carrots and onions; cooked pasta; and cheese and call it pasta fagiole or minestrone. If there are any left, mix them with a can of olive-oil-packed tuna or sardines. And that’s just white beans.

OUT Canned peas (and most other canned vegetables, come to think of it).
IN Frozen peas. Especially if you have little kids and make pasta or rice with peas (and Parmesan!); not bad. Or purée with a little lemon juice and salt for a nice spread or dip. In fact, many frozen vegetables are better than you might think.
He also highlights non-traditional must-haves such as: frozen shrimp, capers and good olives.
I L.O.V.E. this guy!
How are you doing with the 'outs' vs 'ins' in your kitchen? Any ideas to share that might not be on The Minimalist's inventory?
Photo: New York Times


  1. I'm doing great. I don't have any can goods.

  2. Me and canned goods aren't friendly. I use canned diced tomatoes and a canned Campbell's soup mix for a recipe my husband loves but that's it.

    I ain't throwing away my bouillon cubes for nobody. LOL!


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