Is there anything better than a cozy kitchen with something delicious and fragrant baking or cooking on the stove? What could be better than sitting in a big chair with a cup of coffee and a pile of colorful cookbooks to browse? How pretty it is to dress up a table with colorful dishes and mix match china.
All wonderful. My personal style of cooking is heavily influenced by the Midwestern mantra of meat and potatoes. I was raised using the "meat and three (sides)" rule when planning a basic meal and you can be sure one of the "three's" is a starch like potatoes or rice etc. I enjoy Southwestern and Cajun elements. So I employee them whenever I can. It bothers me when my meal is all the same color or has to many "heavy" foods - veggies are a must for me!
In the spirit of good food, good cooking and my freshly painted kitchen here is my list of top 10 things you will always find in my kitchen (beyond the basics of flour, sugar etc.).
1) Garlic. I've recently converted to using fresh garlic in lieu of powder or a jar of minced. It goes in everything - except desserts of course.
2) Onions. Yellow are my preferred choice. White is ok and Red - special occasion only. Onions are in most of my dishes and I am not ashamed.
3) Pepper. I cannot be the only one who shakes it extra heavy on potatoes, gravy or mac 'n cheese?
4) Lowrey's Seasoning Salt. I come from a long line of Lowrey users. Its part of a trinity of basic seasoning...salt, pepper and seasoning salt. If something is missing in a dish one will be sure to ask, "did you add the Lowreys? Maybe it needs more?"
5) Real Butter. Not margarine. Nuff Said. Excuse my Paula Deen moment.
6) Mayo. Not Miracle Whip. Mayo is the only thing I use for dressings to sandwich fixing. Add a little chipotle and green chilies you get a delish sandwich dressing; yum!
7) Cayenne Pepper. My husband is not a spicy food person. His eating habits are pretty tame. I prefer a little a bit more adventure. So being the loving wife I am...I sprinkle just a bit in almost anything I can get away with. Especially on roast or chicken. I see it as building up his tolerance and providing me with a bit of zing.
8) Honey Mustard. One of my favorite condiments. I recently discovered BBQ Honey Mustard and use it on as many things as possible. Its sweet and zippy.
9) Olive Oil. I feel healthy using it!
10) Chicken Bouillon Cubes. These salty little devils are great in sometimes bland dishes. I use them to help season mashed potatoes, rice and grits.
Speaking of grits...here are some other honorable mentions...maybe not always on hand but used frequently.
Grits - yellow, white does it matter? Cheesy grits are good stand in for potatoes in my book.
Thyme - I like to use this in sautéed vegetables and in chicken.
Louisanna Hot Sauce
My mom's bread and butter jalapenos - the last batch she made was not for the faint of heart and have only been able to use them in my own personal bowl of chili, and tacos. Normally a couple will find their way into roast and other slow cooking recipes.
Mom's homemade ketchup. Used in chili, meatloaf and beyond.
What are your "secret" ingredients or kitchen must haves?