Back to Basics
Julia Childs - “People who love to eat are always the best people.”
In days of yore human-beings stocked their kitchen cupboards. These closets of wonder even had special names - the Pantry for posh types in big houses or Larder for the not so grand. Folk got in the essentials which meant that on a freezing cold winter's evening when someone staggered in from an 18 hour shift gravel mining or peasant beating (depending on social status) they could rustle up a plate of filling hearty fare for next to nothing.
Somewhere along the way we've lost the plot when it comes to food. Yet, with a few kitchen basics and a smidgen of time & thought we can get back on track and eat healthier, tastier & indeed way cheaper food.
However, in order to do this sort of thing you must:
A. Be able to cook to some extent (easily learned).
B. Have a few basic ingredients to hand.
C. Possess some kind of cooking pot/pan & the means to heat it.
This all probably sounds a tad obvious but having in my youth flat-shared with several folk who quite literally couldn't boil an egg I don't think I'm too far off the mark. Funnily enough they couldn't wash dishes, clothes or hoover either. Thank God for those fondly remembered all-too-rare 'roomies' who could make something out of nothing.
So, after the usual preamble as you've probably guessed I want to go right Back to Basics. Let's start at the very beginning because, according to Julie Andrews, it's a very good place to start. You're staring at the cupboard. It's bare. It demands to be filled. You want to fill it. But with what? Where to begin? So many foodstuffs, so little time (and money). Right then. Here we go.
Do remember - we're talking basic here - just enough to get you up & simmering.
(you can get these for around 40 cents a pop in Lidl, Aldi or any semi-decent supermarket)
Spices: (see Lidl/Aldi tip above)
(As with the herbs these are what I tend to have in at all times. Go crazy - you get whatever you want!)
Stock is totally brilliant stuff. Well, you've seen the Marco-Pierre White Knorr ads haven't you? Just so happens he/they are right. If you want flavour - add stock. Simple.
Last but not least grab one of these. God forbid you don't know what it is. (I'm thinking of a 15 year-old lad in my daughter's Home Economics class who picked one up - it's a garlic bulb - and said, 'Jesus. Like, what's with the weird mushroom?') Anyway, I'm going to get into Veggie basics at a later stage but all will become clear at the end of the post as to why the pungent little tyke has made an early appearance. Stay calm - the answer is a mere paragraph away.
Reckon you've spent enough now - if in Ireland I'd say about €25 for the lot. With your last tenner grab a bottle of plonk. If you've got more grab two. Stagger home with your bags if you drank the wine outside the shop. My advice is to wait & have it when you get in. Lovingly fill your shelves. Feel a bit smug. Take 'selfies' standing in front of your stocked larder & share with friends. Realise you're starving. What to cook? Well, that's easy & that's why you needed the garlic & spaghetti. I couldn't do a food blog & let you go hungry now could I? Here's my great friend Merven's totally deliciously fab recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Spaghetti with Oil & Garlic - there are chilli-flakes in there too - zingy & very, very good)
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Love food, from the Sunday fry-up to Octopus mezze. If it tastes good I'll eat it. And there's so much great wine and beer out there to wash it all down with. Having said that you can't beat a pot of good strong tea with the Sunday fry.