10 Things That Should Be Always Present in Any Kitchen | by Mary Ellen Nov 15, 2015 yumme Food 0 I’ve had a handful of people tell me since returning to campus that they have been cooking 2Yum.Me recipes or were inspired by reading the website to do some cooking of their own. Every time I hear this my heart tingles. Keep it up folks! I get asked for cooking tips quite often and my biggest tip for people who want to start cooking or cook more often is making sure you always have certain, basic ingredients on hand. Tips and Tricks I shop at Morse Market in Rogers Park and there is something magical about that store. No, I’m not referring to the friendly manager who now knows me and says hello every week, the always fresh produce and fairly priced organic selection, or the frozen pizza dough made by their bakery that I just discovered last week. The magic quality of Morse Market is that no matter what I put in my basket, whether it be brimming with yogurt and heavy cans of artichoke hearts or bunches of red leaf lettuce and kale, my total always lands between $30-$33. I have staple items that I buy each week or I refill my supply of food(s) I always like to have on hands, of course I throw in extra fun stuff like a small container of dried cranberries or some pumpkin spice granola, but I think its the regularity of my kitchen cupboard that accounts for the lack of price fluctuation when it comes to my grocery bill and this regularity also helps me cook more often! Cooking is less enjoyable, especially mid-semester, if you’re darting to the grocery store so often that you begin to burn a path in the sidewalk. To help you out, and hopefully eliminate a few of those trips, here are 10 things always present in my kitchen that help me get through the week whether I’m in need of a fast meal, embellishing a well planned recipe, of staving off pesky cravings. Garlic, onions, spices. You will instantly love your food more if you season it properly! I put garlic into nearly everything I make (except desserts, but I have had garlic ice cream) because its so flavorful and I also use yellow onions quite often. Sauteing or roasting onions with other vegetables adds just enough kick to avoid some of the blandness you may associate with vegetables. I also make sure to always have various spices such as dried basil, cumin, cinnamon, dill, paprika, and of course, salt and pepper. White popcorn. When I get hungry at night or need a quick snack in the afternoon I reach for my bag of bulk white popcorn kernels and light up the stove. Air popped/stove popped popcorn is so delicious and better for you than packaged popcorn characterized by skyrocketing sodium levels. Yellow popcorn is okay too, but I prefer white, it tastes meatier (?). Sweet potatoes. My friend asked me the other day what she could do with the sweet potato she bought at the grocery store. You know when you ask someone a seemingly simple question and get an unexpected 20 min response? Well, this is what happened to Kristin. Sweet potatoes are so versatile! You can roast, bake, boil, mash, or shred them…and the possibilities within those techniques multiply the prospects of the sweet potato even further! I made these mashed sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving this year and they were a hit. Mashed sweet potatoes with coconut and macadamia nuts. Almond milk. Almond milk is great because it lasts 2 weeks in the fridge, possesses a subtle flavor making it ideal for adding to dishes without disrupting other flavors, and it’s low calorie/fat/sugar. I use almond milk when baking, in creamy soups and sauces, in my coffee, and when cooking oatmeal. I always opt for the unsweetened original variety. Dried beans. I buy bags of dried beans because the idea of beans sitting in a can of brine for months at a time really grosses me out. Yes, cooking your own beans is a bit of a time commitment, but I usually soak them overnight and cook them while I do my homework during the day. Beans are a great source of protein and can be eaten as a main course OR added to a stir-fry or soup.Baked chick pea burgers with sun dried tomatoes, cumin, cayenne, paprika and sunflower seeds. Whole wheat flour or spelt flour. Flour goes into so many things- pie crusts, bread, cookies, pancakes, veggie burgers, cornbread etc- so when an ingredient bears potential to be used this often it’s wise to always have a bag laying around! Fresh fruits and veggies. This should have been placed closer to the top but I don’t feel like reorganizing the whole list FRUITS AND VEGGIES ARE IMPORTANT. I always always always have bananas, carrots, and lettuce on hand and then I’ll usually buy bell peppers, winter greens, apples, grapes, zucchini and various squashes. I also like to pick up a new fruit or vegetable each week, it’s fun to try new things and experiment with new cooking methods- this is how I discovered parsnips and collard greens.Roasted veggies and chickpeas on a bed of arugula. Herbal tea. I buy the Sweet and Spicy Tea by Good Earth and you know its good when tea made my list of food items. It tastes so sweet yet there is no sugar in it, and for someone with a ginormous sweet tooth this is even better than discovering a new vegetarian restaurant or killing a 6 mile run (well, I may be exaggerating, but I still stand by my inclusion of herbal tea on this list). Oatmeal. I eat oatmeal everyday for breakfast but I also add it to other things like cookies and muffins to make them a bit heartier or grind up oats to make oat flour. Oatmeal is filling and digested slowly making it an ideal food to fuel your runs. Quinoa. I could sing endless songs of praise for quinoa. Quinoa is similar to sweet potatoes…so versatile! I eat a serving or two of quinoa on a daily basis and am always looking for new ways to prepare it. Quinoa can be expensive if you buy it in small quantities, so look for it in bulk bags or in the bulk section. Quinoa is a high protein seed, a cross between rice and couscous, and cooks in just 15 minutes. The perfect food for an impatient vegetarian like myself. And because I’m sure I just enticed you to run to the grocery store and buy a bag of quinoa, here is a recipe to help you utilize your new purchase. Baked Quinoa Burgers IngredientsDirections 1 c. quinoa (2 c. when cooked) 2 flax eggs (2 tbs. ground flax + 6 tbs. water) 1/4-1/2 c. spelt flour (until mixture reaches a good consistency) 2 carrots 1 celery stalk 1/2 med. yellow onion 2-3 cloves garlic 1/2 tsp dill 1/2 tsp basil salt and pepper Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Reserve 1 c. cooked quinoa and combine the remaining ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth, transfer to bowl and stir in 1 c. reserved quinoa. Shape into patties and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-20 min until golden brown crust form, flipping once. You can serve these many ways but I ate the leftovers (not pictured) in a pita with sauteed kale and onions…delicious! And of course, sweet potato fries are an excellent addition to any meal. Enjoy!