Cooking Essentials – Bounteous Pantry
Mar 24th, 2009 by Foodie

An essential part of cooking on the fly, or being able to throw a meal together, is a well stocked pantry. Having essential ingredients on hand can make the difference between preparing a fresh, tasty, homemade meal, or ordering a pizza. If you have what you need to put a quick meal together, you’re more likely to prepare something, and less likely to order that disgusting pizza (OK, I admit they’re good during football season, with a beer). Below are some essentials which should always be found in your pantry or kitchen cupboards.


Pure olive oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil for toppings and dressings. You should also keep sesame oil around for dressings and delicious Asian sauces.


Always have the essential standby vinegars on hand. These include white and red wine vinegar, aged balsamic, malt, and cider. It’s also a good idea to have some inexpensive sherry.

Sauces and Flavorings:

Ketchup, Tabasco, worcestershire sauce, and yellow, Dijon, and whole grain mustard.

Asian Ingredients:

Canned coconut milk, light and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce and rice wine.

Baking Ingredients:

All Pupose, as well as some self rising flour. Sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, baking soda, and corn starch.

Preserved Vegetables:

I always keep artichoke hearts in the fridge, as well as some sun-dried tomatoes and pickles.

Pasta, Grains, and Noodles:

Keep a wide selection of pasta on hand such as spaghetti, fettuccine, penne, and fusilli. Rice is easy to store and should always be accessible in your kitchen. Couscous, bulgur wheat, and rice noodles are also easy to throw together to complete a meal.


Although the above list is not conclusive, it’s a solid start to a well stocked pantry. Consider the above info a shopping list if you don’t already have the items on hand. It will be quite expensive to properly stock your pantry the first time, but once it’s done, you’ll never have to spend quite so much again. Most of these ingredients last for months and when you run out of something, it’s only a few bucks to replace that one item.

You can now look forward to a brighter cooking future!

Eating Snails from the Garden
Mar 4th, 2009 by Foodie

Admit it, you’ve suspiciously eyed those little snails in your backyard and wondered if they were the same thing being sold at the posh french restaurant down the street. If you’re a fan of Escargot, you’re in luck, because you can get it right out of your garden!

I was watching Gordon Ramsay’s F Word a few days ago and he paid his kids to get some snails out of the garden and cooked a great looking salad with them! Now before you run outside and begin greedily stuffing snails in your mouth, you should be aware that there’s a little bit of work which should be done before cooking the snails. Snails in your garden may have consumed toxins so you should purify them.

I would suggest gathering the snails right after or even during a heavy rain. Snails like to come out onto the sidewalk when it rains (they probably don’t like drowning). If you don’t anticipate rain anytime soon, you can spray the yard down with a garden hose and then wait awhile for the little guys to come crawling out. I don’t know how long it takes them to come out when it gets wet, but they are snails, so it’ll probably take a few hours.

After you’ve gathered your snails, place them in a jar with a tight fitting lid and a few holes for breathing and leave them alone for two days without feeding them. You want to make sure you don’t skip this step as it’s the detoxification process and will allow your snails to purge any toxins they’ve consumed recently. Gordon suggests putting a carrot in their jar after two days of detox and leaving them until their poo starts turning orange. I’ve also heard that you can feed them cornmeal which is supposed to make them taste good (I’m going to go with Gordon’s suggestion on this one). After they’re pooing orange, put them in an airtight jar and leave them in the fridge until they stop moving. Your snails are now ready to cook!

I’ll post a great recipe or two for Escargot and link to it soon. For now, I’m off to collect some snails since it just stopped raining (really, it did)!


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