Planning to Be SpontaneousNovember 17, 2009
As I have mentioned in previous posts here, some of the best dishes I’ve come up with have been purely impulsive, based on what I had on hand. But the key to success with this formula is having a good selection of supporting ingredients in reserve. There are a lot of dry and perishable items that will last a long time in the pantry or refrigerator, and will make creating a spur-of-the-moment recipe a lot easier when it sneaks up on you. So here is a list of things that I usually end up using every week in my planned recipes, but I also recommend you have in your kitchen to help you when dinner catches you by surprise.
Dry spices – these really do last a long time, as long as they are properly sealed after use (some of these will be obvious):
Garlic powder; onion powder; oregano; ground cumin; chili powder; black pepper; ground ginger; celery salt; rosemary; thyme; chives; crushed red pepper.
Fresh herbs – to make these last a couple of weeks, wrap them in a damp paper towel and seal in a sandwich bag in the fridge:
Cilantro; basil; mint; parsley.
Bottled/canned items – again, as long as you keep them tightly sealed (after opening canned items, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with tin foil), these will last quite a while:
Soy sauce; Asian fish sauce; Chinese red chili sauce; chipotles in adobo; Worcestershire sauce; lemon juice; lime juice; Thai peanut sauce.
Other foodstuffs: – you probably have some of these already, but just in case:
Vinegar varieties (red, white, rice, balsamic, cider), chicken or vegetable broth/stock, rice, garlic.