Pantry Essentials (#Goals)
You know that Nancy Meyers feeling of abundance? Well she knows all too well the power of a stocked fridge and an organized life — an almost universal appeal. The holidays are the time of the year when the shelves in our home are at their most full, and it’s a joy to be able to try new things without the need to run out for a spare ingredient or two. In this crazy year, when running out is more of an inconvenience than ever, i’ve set out the dream Thanksgiving pantry with the items I am certain to have aplenty to make cooking particularly easy.
FYI we have been using a mix of online orders for bulk but buying all of our perishables — bread, eggs, meat, vegetables, fruits — and luxuries — champagne vinegar, olive oil, olives, tapenade, cheeses — locally. The island we are living on functions a bit like Europe: a different farm stand for a different specialty! Each has a walk up window/pick up service for COVID safety so it feels easy to continue to support as it’s all outdoors.
For bulk dry goods we have fallen in love with THRIVE (not sponsored, unfortunately. Hi Thrive!). We buy all of our spices, dry beans, large packs of raw nuts for baking and granola, oats, flour, dried fruit, snacks and cereals and teas through THRIVE. If you’re on the mainland I suspect Prime or Instacart will work well, too. Without further adieu:
Olive oil (a beautiful one for salads and a cheaper bulky one) x 2
Vinegars (red-wine, white-wine, champagne)
Tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce (Rao’s is our favorite), chicken stock, vegetable stock (box not cubes)
Hot sauce – we really love red clay.
Salt (kosher fine salt and flaky salt like Maldon sea salt)
Pepper (I use peppercorns and put through the pepper grinder)
Other spices and dried herbs: Red-pepper flakes, cayenne powder, curry powder, cumin, bay leaves, paprika (smoked), garlic powder, dried thyme and oregeno, nutmeg, vanilla bean ($$$ but makes some AMAZING THINGS WHICH I WILL SHOW YOU)
Grains: Farro (or a grain you like), brown rice, long-grain white rice, dried pasta (we use cavatappi and penne the most), plain bread crumbs, crackers, canned and dried beans (white, black, chickpeas), dried lentils (french, green, red). We also stock a bean mix or make one with kidney beans, black beans, navy — this is dried and works well for last minute instapot chilis.
Peanut butter, almond butter
Honey, maple syrup (the nice, natural kind)
Fruit jams and preserves: raspberry jam is my favorite, anchovies are great to have on hand but I can’t really stomach them so your call there
Condiments: Dijon mustard, mayonaise, ketchup, pickles
Advanced class: pine nuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, cornichons, chiles (dried whole ones like ancho), horseradish,
Flour (I have five packs of All Purpose and 2 small whole wheat) For those of you who are gluten free, THRIVE has all the alt. flours of your dreams!! also, cornmeal
Eggs (tons, I have four dozen in the fridge at all times), 2 Baking packs and 2 farm fresh for scrambled eggs, etc.
Unsalted butter (you can freeze this, I buy six at a time… yes six packs of four so 20 sticks and i’m constantly amazed by how quickly I get through them).
Sugar: confectioners, white/cane, brown (both light and dark brown, light being the most used)
Milk (whole) — I usually make buttermilk vs. buying as I never get through an entire buttermilk. It’s pretty easy. If your recipe calls for buttermilk, just squeeze half a lemon into a cup of milk at the start and it will curdle by the time you need it.
Heavy cream ** extra around Thanksgiving b/c we use a lot of whipped cream.
Whole milk greek yogurt
Vanilla*** and Vanilla bean
Baking chocolate (bittersweet, semi sweet, unsweetened — lots of bars, they keep and are instant brownies, chocolate mousse, etc.)
Chocolate chips (semi-sweet, regular size). BTW I finally found the best chocolate chip recipe on earth.
Cocoa powder (unsweetened = untainted 😉
Lemon curd I have been making and it’s really easy and delicious
Advanced class: tins of condensed milk. I have yet to use it but a few recipes I have my eye on call for it.
Fresh, Herbs & Essentials
Potatoes (waxy, bakers and red)
Carrots (multicolored but regular size, not baby)
Japenese Yams (I prefer these to sweet potatoes)
Delicata Squash/Butternut/Honey Squash, pick your fav.
Arugula (for me I can’t forgo a salad every night, even on Thanksgiving, hi mom!*), boston and spring mix.
Herbs, fresh: Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Basil, Mint, Dill ** a window sill herb garden is a great idea
Whole milk, gruyere or compte, parmsan (I like to use a peeler to take big shreds off a block), a HUGE block of beautiful sharp cheddar
Smoked salmon/smoked fish
FREEZER: puff pastry, vanilla ice cream, frozen fish (cod, salmon, scallops for us) and whole chickens + chicken breast, thick country bread pre-sliced, NYC bagels if you can, spinach, peas, berries for smoothies (and peaches + mangos)
Also one must have copious amounts of vanilla ice cream on hand (I am a diehard Ben & Jerry’s girl because of their stance against white supremacy, it happens to be SO delicious and actually relatively local to where we live now).