CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I have assembled a list of must-haves in my kitchen. Every cook is different, but I wanted to share my favorite cookbooks, food magazines and pantry, refrigerator and freezer staples. Though it is nearly impossible to limit each category to 10 items, I find these to be the most indispensable for my everyday cooking and baking needs.
Cookbooks: I have cookbooks in every room of my house. They are always within easy reach in the kitchen or on my cookbook shelf. I turn to at least one of them daily and they show the wear of regular use:
"How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman
"In the Green Kitchen" by Alice Waters
"The New Basics Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Shiela Lukins
"Back to the Table" by Art Smith
"Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen" by Rick Bayless
"Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures" by Rick and Lanie Bayless
"Seductions of Rice" by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
"The Greens Cookbook" by Deborah Madison
"The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart
"Baking From my Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan
Magazines: Back in the day, the hip food magazines were limited to Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Southern Living. Today, the choices are dizzying; specialized vegetarian, vegan, carnivore and mixology magazines are intermixed with the classics. There are possibly hundreds of issues on the shelf at a large bookstore -- and Gourmet is no longer published! I am guilty of buying on impulse any magazine with something delicious on its cover; however, I subscribe only to Saveur (Gourmet meets National Geographic).
In the pantry: Canned diced and whole plum tomatoes; dried pasta -- angel hair, linguine, penne; rice; canned albacore tuna; canned beans; marinated artichoke hearts; extra-virgin olive oil; sherry vinegar; yellow onions; heads of fresh garlic.
Baking pantry: Unbleached flour, whole-wheat flour, bread flour (preferably King Arthur flours), granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, yeast, Ghirardelli double chocolate bittersweet chips, baking soda, baking powder and pure vanilla extract.
Spice rack: Penzeys.com is my favorite spice source. I always have ancho chili powder, garlic powder, telicherry black peppercorns, ground cumin, dried oregano, cinnamon, ground ginger, Cajun seasoning, curry powder and kosher salt and sea salt.
In the fridge: Salted butter, organic skim milk, eggs, lemons, organic romaine lettuce, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, plain yogurt, light sour cream and a wedge of Parmesan cheese.
On the counter: Fruit basket with apples, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, avocados, limes, dried fruits, nuts, granola and wrapped dark chocolates for nibbling.
In the freezer: Meats -- I buy nearly all of my meats from Sandy Creek Farms in Ravenswood; they deliver weekly in the Charleston area, and at least monthly to Teays Valley. I always keep boneless chicken breasts, ground round, sirloin sliced for Philly steak, "restaurant cut" sirloin steaks, ground pork, bacon and Italian sausage. Also frozen berries (preferably organic), ground coffee and sliced bread from Charleston Bread.
A jicama, watercress and red onion salad dressed with olive oil and fresh lime juice would be terrific with this meatless entrée. Serve with corn bread, if desired. Serves 3 or 4; recipe easily doubles.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder (I prefer pure ancho chili powder)
1 cup canned vegetable broth or water