This year, February was unusually warm. We are fortunate to live relatively close to the beach, so we decided on an impromptu Duffy Boat (electric boat) ride with our close friends. The only problem, was that we made the decision at about 11:30 am, and the reservation was at 1 pm. No real time to shop, and certainly no time to cook. We all raided our pantries and ended up with quite the spread. No shopping needed! I had some apples and pears that I sliced up and doused with lemon juice to keep them fresh. I took out some crackers and cheese from the pantry. Grabbed a bottle of wine from the cellar. Our friends brought some kettle corn, honey, nuts, and smoked salmon. Et voila! Lunch!
How to be neighborly: Always be prepared for an impromptu get together.
That’s the benefit of a well-stocked pantry- you will never be hungry, and you can always assemble a meal on the fly. Here’s my list of goods always present, and in general, they keep a long time:
- Olive Oil
- Champagne vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Canola Oil
- Granulated Sugar
- All Purpose Flour
- Dried Pasta
- Vanilla Extract/Paste
- Canned tomatoes
- Beans (dried or canned- I usually have black beans and lentils)
- Chunk of fresh parmesan cheese (not grated)
- Some melting cheese (such as cheddar, comte, gruyere, or fontina etc.)
- Better than Bouillon – Chicken Base
- Soy Sauce
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Plain Greek Yogurt
- Lemons/Lemon juice
- Garlic (pre-pealed)
- Dijon Mustard
- Heavy Cream
- White & Red wine (for cooking)
- Frozen Puff Pastry
- Ginger (frozen- you can grate it with a micro-plane grater)
- Good sliced bread (such as sourdough, frozen)
- Nuts (walnuts or pecans, almonds, pine nuts)
- Frozen Bacon
- Kosher Salt
- Garlic Powder
- Smoked Paprika
Quick & Easy Pantry Recipes
Here’s an example of some the meals you can make from these ingredients. No measuring needed, just keep tasting:
- Soup – saute onions and garlic, add chicken bouillon, a little cumin, salt and fresh ground pepper, water, can of tomatoes, throw in any veggies you have, rice or pasta if desired, allow ingredients to cook, and you have dinner. Toast some bread from the freezer for dunking. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken you could put some of that in too.
- Quiche– Make a pie crust with flour, salt, butter, and shortening. Slice off some frozen bacon and cook, add in some onions and cook until soft. Drain off bacon fat. Mix eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, melting cheese, bacon and onions. Pour into pie crust. Bake.
- Easy Peasy Tart– fill puff pastry with any fruits you have on hand, sprinkle with sugar. Bake.
- Easy Peasy Appetizer– top puff pastry sauted onions and melting cheese and bake.
- Simple Sauce for Chicken/Salmon– Mix together yogurt, garlic powder, and dill. Serve with baked chicken or salmon. Also good with smoked salmon.
- Healthy Asian Soup– combine water, Better than Bouillon – Chicken Base, Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Mirin, Ponzu, Sriracha, grated ginger from freezer, grated garlic, and Sesame oil to taste. Throw in any vegetables you have (carrots, cabbage, snap peas, and bok choy work well), noodles (spaghetti like noodles are best- I use soba noodles), and top with cilantro. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken you could put some of that in too.
- Easy Salad Dressing– Olive Oil, Champagne vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. You can add lemon juice, dill or garlic powder to spice things up a bit.