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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In My Pantry...

My friend Deb over at Cooking Up A Storm In A Teacup has kindly invited me to take part in her meme, Orderliness and Harmony. In anticpation (and because I'm on a bit of a Spring cleaning binge) I had a bit of a poke around and threw out a few things that were past their use-by date (always the same things rice flour, custard powder and yeast). I'm certainly not into aen-like simplicity but even though it looks like everything is crammed in but I know exactly where everything is to make all my favourite foods - a very comforting thought.

1. Nigella Lawson keeps a secret stash of pigs ears in her freezer that she deep-fries for a crispy, solitary snack. Do you have anything similarly sordid in yours?

Well no, not really, but one of the things I love about Nigella is her willingness to expose her unbridled gluttony to the world. I have been known to partake in one of Nigella's other snacks (small handfuls of freshly grated parmesan baked in the oven until crisp) but my freezer is quite small and holds few surprises. Once you add some soup, casserole, chicken breasts, beef mince, frozen fish, icecream, raspberries, blueberries and icypoles it won't accept much more.
2. What foods would I always find in your fridge and why?
Eggs, parmesan, marinated feta, broccoli , tomatoes and bacon. There are other things but these are the universal family favourites - a mixture of fancy and commonplace. I also have a ridicuously large number of sauces and condiments. I try not to use too much bacon but we all love it so! I've never been much of an egg eater but the kids really love them scrambled, boiled, fried and hard-boiled and after many years avoiding them I've come around to their way of thinking. The parmesan and feta are their to turn simple into special and broccoli is the only green vegetable we all agree on (I'm a big fan of green beans too.)

3. Do you have a standby, never-fail recipe that you like to have the ingedients on hand for unexpected guests?
My favourite standby recipe is Honey-Roasted Sweet Potato and Bacon Risotto. In my experience a lot of people seem to be afraid of making risotto. I'm not sure why as I've always found it very easy and satisfying to make. I think the secret is realising that the rice should still have a little bite to it so you don't over-cook it. I roast the sweet potato tossed in honey while the rice is cooking and I also fry off the bacon separately then add them both towards the end of cooking. I find it can all get a bit too salty if you fry the bacon off with the onion at the beginning of the recipe.

4. What is your favourite comfort food?
It would have to be something warm. Revenge may be a dish best served cold but as far as I'm concerned that's about the only thing that is. There's something about cold food that leaves me, well, cold (although I am going to make an effort to improve my salad repertoire this Summer). Comfort food for me would be something lovely and warm served in a bowl - Lamb Shank and Barley Soup, risotto, tuna pasta, beef casserole on a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes - something like that. If I did have to nominate a coldish food dish I'd say something very simple like sun-warmed, vine-ripened tomatoes and basil on hot buttered toast (see how I got the hot in there?).

5. Do you have a chocolate drawer or secret hoard of sweet or savoury snacks?
You mean there are people who don't?! I'm going for quality not quantity these days and favour Green and Black's Maya Gold, dark chocolate flvoured with orange and spices. I'm also partial to Lindt's mint, orange or ginger chocolate blocks and I'd never say no to a Mint Slice. They're all kept on the very top shelf of the pantry so even I have to do some exercise to access them!

6. What's inside your store cupboard? I wonder if like me you too squirrel things away like a little mammal preparing for a hard winter? Or maybe you favour zen-like sparsity. Don't you just love nosing inside someone else's cupboards?
Another thing I love about Nigella is that she frequently takes us into her enormous walk-in pantry for a squiz. I'd love to have a walk-in pantry a la Nigella but what I have is one big cupboard. In it keep all the things I need to make all our regular favourites - tins of tuna, cans of diced tomatoes, chickpeas and beans and bottles of pasta sauce also rice (basmati, arborio, brown and sushi), pasta (spaghetti, fusilli, risoni), couscous, polenta, stock, onions, garlic and potaotoes. I keep spreads in here too (Vegemite, Marmite, peanut butter, honey and Nutella) and all manner of liquid potions (Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, mirin, sushi vinegar etc) as well as things I use rarely but like to have on hand like orange blossom water and rosewater.

One whole shelf is, of course, dedicated to dry foodstuffs for baking... sugar, flour, rolled oats, coconut, dried fruits, seed and nuts. We also have an indecently large variety of breakfast cereals that perch on top of said cupboard. Zen-like sparsity? I think not but not incedible extravagance either.

So there you go a quick trip into my pantry. What's in your pantry? Do you keep your fruit and vegetables in the fridge or the pantry? What's the weirdest thing you've got in stock? I'll be tagging some friends soon to share the contents of their pantry with us too so stay tuned...


  1. Ooh what a lovely posting Caz. I just love to see all those jars and bottles....and the spice tins are so pretty.

    Your never fail risotto sounds delicious.....I'm now cured of my risotto making fear and you can't hold me back. I'm definitely going to have a go at this recipe....if I can substitute the bacon....or maybe just use a little bit....bacon is so yummy.....

  2. Mmm ... I love feta and parmesan ... the perfect additions to so many meals. Broccoli is one of my favourites! :)

    Loved reading your responses ... and the photos are great too! :)

  3. Glad you like it Deb. I hope you do try the risotto recipe it's very easy and always tastes great. I'm very stingy with the bacon so I only use a little anyway. Thanks again for inviting me to join your meme - I had a lot of fun doing it and have restored some harmony to my pantry!

    Tracey, you have very good taste!;)Thanks for saying you liked my photos too. I'm actually a bit paranoid about my photographic skills (or lack thereof) so your encouragement is much appreciated.

  4. Nice post- like you, I like to stickybeak into other people's pantries. :-)
    (And yes, my dream is to one day have a proper Butler's Pantry, a gigantic walk-in affair...mmm...)

    1) Sordid food: Hmm...nothing I can think of- tinned hotdogs are about as close to pig's ears as we get...I actually will eat them from the can without waiting for them to be heated.... ;-)

    2) Ever-present foods in my fridge: Cheese! (We can't live without it. :-) )
    Also: brocc and cauli (fave vegies); yoghurt (good for you! I prefer the Jalna brand); eggs (I looove hardboiled eggs as a snack); leftovers of all kinds (I hate waste, and try to be creative with leftover bits and pieces); St. Dalfour jams, (mmm...yummy and sugarfree)

    3. No-one ever visits us, so I don't need a standby recipe! ;-)
    I've been known to whip up a batch of quick bikkies for short-notice afternoon teas, though.

    4. Fave comfort food: you, warm food. Something like a nice meaty stew or baked potatoes. And chocolate and homemade bikkies are always comforting.

    5.) Secret hoard? Me? Never!
    Well okay. We have a whole section of the cupboards devoted to non-healthy food. I occasionally hide chocolate from myself in other cupboards, in a futile attempt to make it last longer...

    6) In my pantry? Lots of stuff. Vaguely organised by shelf into rarely-used; tea, coffee, and drink-related; spreads and sauces and crackers and whatnot; baking; pasta and rice; potatoes, onions, garlic.

    Fruit are always either out on the tree, or in the fruitbowl. A lot of vegies are out in the beds too, to be harvested as required. :-)

    I also have cupboards stuffed full of preserved fruit from the previous crop...really should get around to demolishing some of it!

  5. Great responses Manu! I was goin to tag you to do it on your blog but you've beaten me to the punch. I hide chocolate from myself too - pathetic isn't it?

  6. Once I hid some chocolate elephants...y'know, the Cote D'Or Bouchees? Mmmm.....
    Actually, I asked Mark to save them from me- so he hid them in his pyjama drawer....he found them a few weeks later (I'd totally forgotten by then!), with a hole chewed in the box, and one elephant reduced by half, shredded wrapper everywhere....
    I then had to check the rest were okay, and put them out of danger. Y'know, for their own good.